Enrollments in master’s CS degree programs continue to rise. Compared to master’s students in traditional degree programs, online master’s students report lower levels of mentorship support. Departments should consider ways to increase accessibility and visibility of mentorship resources to online students. Examples discussed in main text.
Computing Research News
Articles of interest to graduate students.
Compared to White and Asian students, who are considered the racial and ethnic majority in computing fields, students who are members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and students with disabilities (URMD) were 1.5 times more likely to report having seriously considered leaving their graduate program.
Ph.D. students’ interest in a faculty position at a research university declined over time. This may be cause for concern for the academic community given that almost half all Ph.D. granting institutions with open searches for the 2017-2018 academic year were not able to fill all of the positions advertised.
The CRA Education Committee is now accepting applications for the CRA-E Graduate Fellows Program. The program provides opportunities for Ph.D. candidates in computing fields to contribute to CRA-E projects, network with computer science education advocates on the committee, engage in advocacy for mentoring undergraduate students and promote undergraduate research and education at the national level.
CERP data indicate first year and second year students were proportionally less likely to attend a technical conference in computing over the past year compared to upper division students. This finding is important because participation in conferences may help foster engagement and retention in computing, particularly among first and second year students.
Mentorship is an important part of graduate school as it can foster students’ growth into successful computing professionals. CERP’s Data Buddies survey for computing graduate students found that Ph.D. and Master’s level students consider different groups of individuals to be their mentors.
While almost all computing graduate students have advisors, recent CERP data indicate many of those students do not have a mentor. Specifically, 17% of a sample of graduate students enrolled in computing programs (sample N = 2,617) indicated they did not “have a mentor with whom [they] have an ongoing relationship, and who provides [them] advice and assistance in advancing in [their] career.” The graphic above presents evidence toward a potential implication of not having a trusted mentor as a graduate student: relatively low self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to beliefs about one’s ability to plan for and execute steps necessary for future success. Indeed, the current analysis indicates students without a mentor report lower self-efficacy in their computing career track than students with a mentor, p ≤ .001.
In 2015, CERP asked 1,335 students enrolled in Ph.D. programs to report their interest in a variety of computing professions. The distribution of students’ year in their program was as follows: 22% first year, 21% second year, 13% third year, 12% fourth year, 10% fifth year, 10% sixth year or greater, and 12% unspecified. As seen in the graphic above, students were most interested in pursuing a computing research job in industry, followed by tenure track computing faculty at a research university, computing researcher in a government lab, and entrepreneurial work in computing. Students were least interested in becoming a middle or high school computing teacher.
Overall, non-US residents received 1,210 (54%) of the 2,244 computing related Ph.D. degrees awarded in the U.S. in 2013. This map illustrates that while non-U.S. residents received more than 50% of the Ph.D.s awarded in the majority of states, there was considerable variation across the states. Interestingly, a Pearson correlation test indicates that the proportion of computing Ph.D. degrees awarded to non-residents in each state was not related to the number of Ph.D. programs available in each state, r = .03, p = .83.
CRA-WExpanding the Pipeline
Every computer science graduate student learns early in their career which publication venues best match their research interests and where the best work in their area is appearing. These conferences are your research home. Every year, you should endeavor to submit, attend, network, and read the papers in these venues. For example, because I work in programming language design and implementation, I regularly read, attend, and submit to PLDI, OOPSLA, and ASPLOS. These activities build research expertise, expose you to new ideas and methodologies, help you focus your research efforts on important problems, and integrate you into your research community (Matthews, 2014).