tioning academic units by tenure-track faculty size (as done by
the CRA Taulbee Survey). Figure 2 shows the average number
of CS majors in “small” and “large” units, where “large” is defined as units having at least 25 tenure-track faculty. In 2015-16,
70 large and 75 small units completed the survey. Both groups
experienced significant enrollment increases, with large units
having roughly twice as many majors as small units. In percentages, however, the increases are very similar. We also examined
the growth at public versus private institutions and found the
increase in enrollment similar at both types of institutions.
Reporting means on enrollments could allow a few units to
excessively skew the overall growth patterns. Figure 3 shows the
cumulative percentage of units experiencing different levels of
increase from 2009-2014. Only 18% of the units experienced
growth under 50% and only 37% experienced growth under
100%. To express this differently, over 60% of the units more
than doubled their enrollment since 2009.
cation Data System (IPEDS) data. This section helps advance
our understanding of the data collected in the CRA Enrollment
Survey, and provides more information about the current surge
in computer science at non-doctoral granting units (where data
from the CRA survey is limited). Lastly, we consider the widespread increase of nonmajors taking computer science courses
and discuss the data that units reported on the increase in computer science minors. Follow-up articles will appear in ACM
Inroads (in the September and December issues) to provide
what we learned from the CRA Enrollment Survey regarding
diversity and institutional impacts/responses.
We are grateful to the 134 doctoral-granting units and 93
non-doctoral granting units that responded to the CRA Enrollment Survey, which produced a response rate of ~70% (for
doctoral institutions via Taulbee) and ~13% (for non-doctoral
institutions via NDC). The data collected from the CRA Enrollment Survey is extremely rich, and allows us to consider a unit’s
context (e.g., size, public or private) and resources available
when considering the impact from enrollment growth.
THE PHENOMENAL GROWTH
OF CS MAJORS SINCE 2006
The average number of undergraduate CS majors is larger today
than at any previous time, and greatly exceeds the peak enrollment
of the dot-com boom period. For example, the average number of
CS majors at doctoral-granting academic units has more than tripled since 2006 and more than doubled since 2011 [ 3].
Academic units are undertaking a range of actions to handle the increased enrollment and the demand on resources.
Without question, the demands are putting enormous stress on
academic units and their faculty. Institutions will need to respond with actions that recognize the reasons for the increased
student interest from both majors and nonmajors, and the role
that computing plays in a wide range of disciplines and jobs.
This section provides details on the magnitude of the growth
of CS majors since 2006. We provide data on the growth of the
number of majors as well as the cumulative growth of majors,
compare the cumulative growth of majors with the growth in
tenure-track and teaching faculty, and illustrate the enrollment
increase for courses at three different levels of the curriculum.
Most of this section focuses on doctoral-granting units, for
which more abundant data is available. Data on non-doctoral
granting units is included when available.
ENROLLMENT GROWTH IN
NUMBERS AND PERCENTAGES
The current growth period began a decade ago. Figure 1 shows
how the average undergraduate enrollment has increased each
year during this period3. While this growth is impressive, it is
natural to ask just how pervasive enrollment increases have
been. To illustrate this, we first show enrollments when parti-
Figure 2: Average enrollment by CS majors at large and small academic
units (based on number of tenure track faculty). The percentages denote
cumulative changes since 2006.
Figure 3: Cumulative percent of units with the indicated level of growth
in CS majors from 2009 to 2014.
3 The years shown in the figures indicate the start of an academic year. For example, 2006
denotes academic year 2006-07 with data typically available in early 2008. Enrollment
for 2015-16 is based on preliminary analysis of data from the 2016 Taulbee Survey.
Figure 1: Average number of CS majors per unit since 2006.