Number of U.S. Computer Science Majors On The Rise: Report


For the first time since 2002 and the tail end of the dot-com bust, the number of undergraduates going after computer science degrees is increasing.

That's according to the Computing Research Association, which released a report Tuesday stating that new enrollments in computer science and engineering in North American programs went up 6.2 percent, year-over-year, during the 2007-2008 school term from the year before.

If only declared majors are considered, the rise was 8.1 percent, CRA said, and the number of PhDs rose 5.7 percent. The number of computer science degrees awarded was down 10 percent from a year earlier, but, the CRA pointed out, the percentage decline was half that of the previous year.

The CRA surveyed 192 U.S. colleges and universities, whose total number of computer science majors was about 12,500. That accounts for only 20 percent of all students presently majoring in computer science in the United States, but CRA suggested it's a representative sample.

"The perception that IT jobs are hard to come by is over, and the field is now considered an interesting place to be," said Peter Harsha, director of government affairs for CRA, to USA Today.

Talent shortages have been dogging the IT landscape for years, and the scarcity of qualified talent being graduated at North American universities has seen IT vendors pleading with the U.S. government to ease restrictions on H-1B visas so they can recruit from abroad as often as possible.

Everything Channel CEO Robert Faletra described the talent shortage as a "perfect storm", while many VARs and vendors alike told Channelweb.com that H-1B visas are crucial to keeping the U.S. competitive with other countries graduating out top engineers .