Continued Drop in CS Bachelor’s Degree Production and Enrollments as the Number of New Majors Stabilizes

Continued Drop in CS Bachelor’s Degree Production and Enrollments as the Number of New Majors Stabilizes

Yet another article on CS enrollment, but this one from the Computing Research Association (CRA).

According to HERI/UCLA, the percentage of incoming undergraduates among all degree-granting institutions who indicated they would major in CS declined by 70 percent between fall 2000 and 2005.[1] Unsurprisingly, the number of students who declared their major in CS among the Ph.D.-granting departments surveyed by CRA also fell (Figure 1). After six years of declines, the number of new CS majors in fall 2006 was half of what it was in fall 2000 (15,958 versus 7,798). Nevertheless, this was only a slight decline from the 7,952 new majors reported in fall 2005, and may indicate that the numbers are stabilizing.

It’s a very short article with several enlightening graphs. I particularly like the concluding paragraph, which lends some historical perspective that seems to be lacking in almost every other article I’ve seen on this subject.

It is important to note that a steep drop in degree production among CS departments has happened before. According to NSF, between 1980 and 1986 undergraduate CS production nearly quadrupled to more than 42,000 degrees. This period was followed by a swift decline and leveling off during the 1990s, with several years in which the number of degrees granted hovered around 25,000. During the late 1990s, CS degree production again surged to more than 57,000 in 2004.[2] In light of the economic downturn and slow job growth during the early 2000s, the current decline in CS degree production was foreseeable.

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