Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

NSF: Slight Increase in Ph.D.s in the Computer Sciences;
CS Experienced “Fastest Growth” in Past Decade

December 13th, 2011 / in pipeline, policy / by Erwin Gianchandani

NSF's Survey of Earned Doctorates [image courtesy NSF].The National Science Foundation (NSF) is out with a brief overview of the results of its annual Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) for 2010, finding that the numbers of Ph.D.s in the computer sciences increased by 3.5 percent that year, more than in any other discipline. (The total number of doctorates awarded by U.S. academic institutions declined for the first time since 2002 — and NSF notes that reclassification of degrees and discontinuation of data collection in certain areas contributed at least in part to this drop.)

According to the NSF InfoBrief:

The number of doctorates awarded in science and engineering (S&E) fields of study dipped slightly from 2009 after 7 consecutive years of growth... In total, 33,141 S&E doctorates were awarded in 2010 (68.9% of all doctorates), 1.0% fewer than in 2009 but an increase of 27.6% since 2000. Doctoral awards were down from 2009 in five of the eight major science fields of study, with agricultural sciences showing the largest decrease (15.7%) and much smaller decreases (none greater than 2%) in physical sciences; psychology; social sciences; and earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences. Computer sciences posted the largest gain (3.5%) over 2009.

In actual terms, the number of Ph.D.s in the computer sciences increased from 1,609 to 1,665, according to NSF.

In addition, over the past decade, “computer sciences experienced the fastest growth (albeit starting from a lower base number of doctorates), nearly doubling in number over the decade.”

Some more context for the 2010 numbers — and the overall decline in the doctorates awarded:

U.S. academic institutions awarded 48,069 research doctorates in 2010, down from 49,554 awards in 2009 and the first decline in doctorates awarded since 2002. The 2010 decline was magnified by the recent reclassification of many Doctor of Education (EdD) degree programs from the research doctorate to the professional doctorate category, and consequently the discontinuation of data collection from the reclassified degree programs by the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). The reclassification resulted in a substantially lower number of doctorates awarded in education than would have been the case had the graduates of the reclassified EdD degree programs participated in the 2010 SED (see “Data Sources and Limitations” for details). The total number of doctorates awarded in fields other than education also declined from 2009 to 2010, but by a much smaller amount than the decline in number of education doctorates.

Read more in the NSF release available here.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

NSF: Slight Increase in Ph.D.s in the Computer Sciences;<br>CS Experienced “Fastest Growth” in Past Decade