The number of new undergraduate computing majors continued to grow last year, rising 13.4 percent, according to a report from the Computing Research Association. Although that’s smaller growth than has been seen in years, it does represent the sixth straight period of growth. Enrollments bottomed out in 2007, just before the recession.
New computer science enrollments grew by nearly 30 percent in 2011-12 and 23 percent the year before. Last year, 63,873 students enrolled in computer science programs, compared with 56,307 in 2012.
The survey of doctorate-granting institutions found that the number of students who earned a bachelor’s degree in the field grew 3.7 percent last year, to 12,503. The number of Ph.D. degrees grew 3.2 percent, to 1,991. (Fifty eight percent of those went to non-U.S. citizens.) Meanwhile, the proportion of women who received bachelor’s degrees increased to 14.2 percent in 2012-13 from 11.7 percent in 2010-11.
Some speculate that one reason for the growth is the low reputation of the financial industry, which shifted the attention of mathematically inclined students from business to technology. InformationWeek points out that while it’s difficult to make a direct comparison between the two industries, the number of business bachelor’s degrees awarded rose 12 percent between 2006-07 and 2011-12, while those earned in computer science rose 55 percent over a roughly similar period.
Though many dispute the notion, the tech industry claims that the U.S. doesn’t produce the tech talent it needs. That’s been behind its push to increase the cap on H-1B visas. Meanwhile, others maintain a college degree isn’t required for a successful tech career. A recent study found that 44 percent of New York City’s tech jobs do not require a college degree.
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