Analysis of Current and Future Computer Science Needs via Advertised Faculty Searches for 2021

By Craig E. Wills, Professor and Department Head, Computer Science Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

This work uses the same methodology as previous work to study where Computer Science departments are choosing to invest faculty positions using data obtained from advertised tenure-track searches for the current hiring season.  This work also provides an opportunity to understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on faculty hiring in Computer Science for hires starting in 2021.

We analyzed ads from 235 institutions seeking to fill hundreds of tenure-track faculty positions in Computer Science.  This number is a 40% decrease from last year at this time (mid-November) and the lowest number in six years.  The number of tenure-track positions sought shows a 47% decrease from last year and is at a similar level as six years ago.  PhD institutions show a 50% one-year decrease where public PhD institutions are at a seven-year low and a 62% one-year decrease in the number of positions being sought.


We clustered the specific Computer Science topics mentioned in ads into 16 areas.  In terms of specific areas, we found that the clustered area of AI/Data Mining/Machine Learning again accounts for 20% of all sought positions with Security again second at 18%.  The area of Data Science is at 11% of positions, but aggregating the Data Science, AI/DM/ML and Databases clusters again resulted in roughly one-third of all hires sought in these data-oriented areas.  The area of Theory/Algorithms again increased with 10% of all positions sought due to an increase in demand for the topic of Quantum Computing.

Differences are also seen when analyzing results based on the type of institution.  Positions in the clustered area of AI/Data Mining/Machine Learning have the highest percentages for PhD institutions.  Positions related to Security have the highest percentages for MS and BS/BA institutions.  These two clustered areas are the two most sought areas for all types of institutions except for top-100 PhD institutions in which Theory/Algorithms is the second-most sought area.


We do plan to follow-up these results to understand if the severe reductions in searches observed up until mid-November is the result of non-existent or simply delayed searches for 2021.  We plan to augment this report with those results in January 2021.

The full study is available at: