This article is published in the September 2021 issue.

Since 2013, Data Buddies Survey Has Collected 93,000 Responses from Undergraduate and Graduate Students in Computing

Two sets of line graphs displaying survey data from 2013 to 2020

The CRA Data Buddies Survey (DBS), managed by the CRA Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP), is a rich data source providing important information to the community on the state of computing in higher education from the students’ perspective. Undergraduate and graduate students in computing-related degree programs across the United States and Canada have been recruited by participating Data Buddy departments since 2013, after approximately two years of piloting. In 2014, CERP added a longitudinal component to its data collection efforts and started recruiting cohorts of students who take the DBS to follow up with them on an annual basis [1]. As students graduate from their degree programs and enter the workforce, those survey respondents filter into a new pathway designed specifically for alumni and professionals.

This graphic provides an overview of the amount of data collected since 2013 when CERP was established to run the Data Buddies Project. From 2013 to 2020, CERP has collected approximately 93,000 total responses between both undergraduates and graduates, and 41,000 (44%) of these respondents are part of CERP’s longitudinal cohorts [2] [3].

For the 2020 survey cycle specifically, CERP collected 13,320 responses from undergraduate students and 4,505 responses from graduate students. Of those responses, about 46% of undergraduates and 55% of the graduate student responses were part of CERP’s longitudinal cohorts.

Have you thought about joining the project? Participating departments gain insight into their students’ experiences in their computing degree programs at their institutions compared to students at similar institutions. Departments are also able to track their departments’ progress over time through customized department reports that they receive every spring. Visit to find out more about the Data Buddies Project, view a sample department report, and sign up to become a data buddy!

For the 2021 survey cycle, departments should submit a volunteer form by November 1, 2021 for the CERP team to have time to engage with the university Institutional Review Board (IRB), ensuring the project can move forward prior to the close of the survey.


[1] More details on the history of CERP and the Data Buddies Project can be found here.

[2] Numbers rounded to the nearest thousand.

[3] Respondents included in the “longitudinal cohort” numbers include undergraduate and graduate students who volunteered to complete future surveys directly from the CRA.

horizontal CERP logoThis analysis is brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. Subscribe to the CERP newsletter here. Volunteer for Data Buddies by signing-up here.

The Data Buddies Project is currently supported through National Science Foundation (NSF) awards CNS-1840724, CNS-2036717, DUE-1821136, sub-awards and contracts, and direct CRA contributions. Previous NSF awards that supported DBS include CNS-1246649 and DUE-1431112. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.