Recession-Torn U.S. Sees a Computer Science Renaissance

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High-school grads hoping to geek out on computer science courses at college will find their classrooms a little more crowded in coming years. According to the Computing Research Association, the number of new students seeking degrees in the field has seen a huge jump recently.

The CRA polled 192 universities for its annual Taulbee Survey (PDF) during the fall of 2008, and found that enrollment for computer science majors increased 8.1 percent from 2007 to 2008. That’s the biggest increase in six years, when the dot com bust last sent numbers skyward.

“The fact that computer science graduates usually find themselves in high-paying jobs accounts for part of the reversal,” said Peter Lee, incoming Chair of CRA, in a stattement. “Increasingly students also are attracted to the intellectual depth and societal benefits of computing technology.”

Despite previous CS degree booms that had made jobs harder to come by, that salary premium remains real. According to the United States Depart of Labor, CS grads still earn 13 percent more than the average college graduate.

Though the surge will bring a pool of fresh young talent to the field, statistics show that the overall makeup of that pool hasn’t changed much to challenge the stereotype of CS degree holders: only 11.8 percent of 2008 grads were women.

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