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Computer science with Kapow explosion graphic

Computer science enrollments exploding

On several occasions now, I’ve written about the growing phenomenon of exploding interest in computer science. I’d like to update you on these trends. As a reminder, during the years after the dot com bust, enrollments in computer science fell as low as about 700 undergraduates here at UT. We started this year with 2,100 students. Early estimates next year are starting to crystallize now, and we expect to pass the 2,300 marker, which brings us fully back to dot-com levels with no sign of a slow down in sight.

Very recently, TechCrunch published an article reporting on NCWIT conducted research looking at computer science trends at a larger selection of universities, including UT Austin. The statistics are absolutely eye-popping. Stanford, MIT, the University of Washington, Michigan, and any number of others are seeing demand for their intro CS classes doubling and tripling. Students are continuing on to more advanced coursework at record levels, and there are early signs at some universities that the percentage of women in the field may be slowly starting to creep upward as well. If you’d like view the complete article and accompanying slide deck, it’s well worth your time.

Perhaps most importantly, with computing now lying at the core of the world economy, all signs point to more permanent demand. These trends mark the beginning of enormous potential for our field and equally difficult challenges as we try to manage this explosive growth.

While only time will tell how these patterns will play out, it is clear to us that as one of the leading institutions in the field, we carry significant responsibility as stewards of the field’s next generation. As these patterns evolve, I will continue to keep you updated on these remarkably exciting shifts and what they mean for all of us who care deeply about the future computer science education at the University of Texas at Austin.

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