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3/17/2009
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More U.S. Students Majoring In Computer Science

The increase represents a significant turnaround from a multiyear trend of American students shying away from computer-related degrees.

After years of decline, the number of undergrad students majoring in computer science at U.S. universities rose last year for the first time since the dot-com bust, said a new study released Tuesday by the Computing Research Association.

The new figures represent a significant turnaround from a multiyear trend of American students shying away from computer-related degrees in the aftermath of the dot-com bust and fears about offshoring replacing U.S. technology workers.

The Computing Research Association's annual Taulbee Survey of 192 U.S. universities with doctoral programs found that total enrollment by majors and pre-majors in computer science increased 6.2% last year. If only declared majors are considered, the figure jumps to an 8.1% increase, the first boost in computer science majors in six years.

The total computer science majors at those schools were 12,500, representing about 20% of the total of all students majoring in computer science across all U.S. colleges and universities. And while the universities surveyed are only a snapshot of all college computer science majors, the survey is "an important indicator of enrollment trends" happening in the United States, said Peter Harsha, director of government affairs at the Computing Research Association, a nonprofit research organization for academia.

"This is good news for U.S. industry, it's always easiest to find younger people in the U.S." to employ right out of college rather than compete for foreign students with a limited number of H-1B visas available annually, he said.

For years, U.S. employers, especially in the tech sectors, have complained about falling enrollment among U.S. students seeking advanced degrees in computer science.

The rise in undergrad majors should provide hope that more U.S. students will go on to seek advanced degrees in technology fields.


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