Is Computer Science Making a Comeback?

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The latest statistics on computer science students in the United States, while not wildly encouraging, do contain a glimmer of hope for those concerned about the decline in computer science enrollments.


According to the Computing Research Association, which tracks year-over-year enrollment and degrees granted in computer science and computer engineering at 170 institutions in the United States, the number of students who declared computer science as a majorrose slightly in the fall of 2007, to 7,915, up from 7,840 the previous fall. (Both numbers are a dramatic drop from the fall of 2000, when there were 15,958 students with a computer major.)


Jay Vegso of the CRA writes on the association's Web site that this may mean interest in computer science and computer engineering is "stabilizing" after years of decline. However, even if so, it will take several years for the numbers of degrees granted in these fields to reflect this increased interest.


The number of bachelor's degrees granted in these areas dropped 43 percent between 2003-2004 and 2006-2007, when 8,021 students received them. Given the slow growth in tech jobs during the early part of this decade, the decline in degrees was "foreseeable," writes Vegso.


A shortfall of computer science graduates is often cited by Microsoft's Bill Gates and other folks seeking an increase in the number of annual H-1B visas allowed in the United States. According to an MSNBC story from last May, a number of U.S. schools are trying to attract more computer science majors by making their courses more entertaining.