Where, and how, higher ed computing programs are growing

More female students were enrolled in information systems and information technology programs than in computer engineering
By: | September 10, 2020
Degree completion grew by about 5% in all computing disciplines between the 2017-18 and the 2018-19 academic years. (GettyImages/izusek)Degree completion grew by about 5% in all computing disciplines between the 2017-18 and the 2018-19 academic years. (GettyImages/izusek)

Software engineering degree programs are growing steadily while the more Black and Hispanic students are enrolling in some areas of computer science, an annual higher ed study has found.

African Americans and Hispanics are actually over-represented—based on their percentage of the U.S. population—in some computing disciplines, according to the Association for Computing Machinery’s eighth annual Study of Non-Doctoral Granting Departments in Computing.

However, more African Americans and Hispanic students were enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs than in graduate programs.

The highest numbers of female students were enrolled in information systems and information technology programs, where they represented about 24% and 21% of degree earners, respectively.


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In computer engineering, on the other hand, female students accounted for only 12% of degree earners.

“Increasing the participation of women and other underrepresented groups has been an important goal for leaders in academia and industry,” said Stuart Zweben, the study’s co-author and a professor emeritus at Ohio State University. “Having a clear picture of the current landscape for underrepresented people is an essential first step toward developing approaches to increase diversity.”

Overall, degree completion grew by about 5% in all computing disciplines between the 2017-18 and the 2018-19 academic years, the study found. Software engineering and computer science saw the greatest jumps in enrollment, growing at 9% and 7.5%.

There was also a noticeable increase in cybersecurity program offerings between the 2017-18 and 2018-19, which is a trend that will likely continue to grow, said co-author Jodi Tims, a professor at Northeastern University.

As for faculty, the average median salary for a full professor was $109,424, based on figures from 89 non-doctoral-granting computer science departments at public and private institutions.

The study has broadened the number of institutions in its analysis this year thanks to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.


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