The continuing demand for PhDs in computer science combined with this instability of international student participation requires bold action to increase the number of domestic students completing a PhD in computer science, especially as the percentage of domestic PhD students has decreased from 69% in 1985 to 37% in 2018. This report presents bold ideas on how government, industry, and academia can take action to engage domestic students to enter PhD programs and retain them through graduation. It focuses on increasing opportunities and funding for undergraduate research, creating new pathways into PhD programs, engaging students from admissions through PhD, and strengthening industry’s role in increasing the number of PhDs in CS. (The report is one of the 2020 CRA Quadrennial Papers.)
This report is a concise guide for academic leaders and interested faculty in CS to support and expand pathways for undergraduates to engage in research. The report explains the benefits of supporting undergraduate research, highlights critical decisions in creating pathways, and shares many best practices for scaling undergraduate research in ways that are mutually beneficial to faculty and students.
In June 2020, CRA conducted a survey of computer science faculty members at doctoral and non-doctoral institutions who made the transition from teaching in person to teaching online as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey asked faculty members about their perceptions of the challenges in moving to emergency online instruction, both for themselves and for their students, and about what resources were available (or not) to help with the transition. It also asked about planning for the fall 2020 term.
In summer 2020 the COVID-19 situation for computing departments continued to change rapidly. In early July, CRA surveyed the chairs of doctoral and non-doctoral departments. They were asked about the impact of COVID-19 so far on their faculty, department operations, student job searches, and budgets. They were also asked about their expectations and concerns for fall 2020. Key results include an especially strong impact on junior faculty, a higher than usual stress level and workload for the chairs themselves, and concerns about faculty, students, and budget for the fall. This snapshot of the situation in July can help chairs.
Across the United States and Canada, universities and colleges are facing a significant increase in enrollment in both undergraduate computer science (CS) courses and programs. The current enrollment surge has exceeded previous CS booms, and there is a general sense that the current growth in enrollment is substantially different than that of the mid-1980s and late 1990s. To investigate the current situation, the Computing Research Association (CRA) produced an enrollment survey to measure, assess, and better understand enrollment trends and their impact on computer science units, diversity, and more. Part of this effort included a survey of doctoral- and non-doctoral granting academic units in fall 2015. Generation CS: CS Enrollments Surge Since 2006 reports the survey results with respect to majors, nonmajors, diversity, impact on academic units, and units’ actions in response to the surge.
Recruiting domestic students (i.e., U.S. citizens and permanent residents) into computer science Ph.D. programs in the U.S. is a challenge for most departments, and the health of the “domestic Ph.D. pipeline” is of concern to universities, companies, government agencies, and federal research labs. CRA-E conducted a study that analyzed applications, acceptances, and matriculation rates to 14 doctoral programs. Informed by findings from these studies, recommendations to strengthen the domestic Ph.D. pipeline are presented.
A related CACM Viewpoints article: Understanding the U.S. Domestic Computer Science Ph.D. Pipeline, Vol.58, Nr. 8, July 2015.
Increasing the number of US students entering graduate school and receiving a Ph.D. in computer science is a goal as well as a challenge for many US Ph.D. granting institutions. Although the total computer science Ph.D. production in the U.S. has doubled between 2000 and 2010, the fraction of domestic students receiving a Ph.D. from U.S. graduate programs has been below 50% since 2003. This article provides an examination of the baccalaureate origins of domestic students who have matriculated to Ph.D. programs in computer science.
This 2010 report offers guidance on developing undergraduate curricula that support a computationally-oriented research mindset. The report was written by a committee chaired by Professor Andy Van Dam. Read the full report.