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I've Seen Why the Number of Computer Science Majors is Declining
Date 10/2/2008    Tags Rant, Development    (0)

Seems a popular discussion online these days is the decline in the number of Computer Science students these days. The Computing Research Association reports that the number of freshman who list Computer Science as a probable major has fallen by 70 percent since 2000 so there is definintely truth to this perseption.

I just so happen to be a Computer Science major, having completed my degree in 2003. And I believe I saw firsthand one of the big reasons for this decline.

When I began my schooling, there were a couple introductory Computer Science classes that had quite a few people in them wanting to be Computer Science majors. Many of these people though didn't really want to program (or like programming at all for that matter), but they wanted to go into a computer related field and little else was offered in terms of a computer major.

My school begin offering an Information Technology major coincidently in 2000. This new major encompassed more general computer classes on things like opperating systems, computer repair, networking, and multimedia. It also had a lot less math required than the Computer Science major.

After this new major was created, there was a mass exodus from Computer Science to Information Technology. The people going to Information Technology were typically those that were interested in a career with computers but either disliked the heavy emphasis on math or the heavy emphasis on programming. Most had gone into Computer Science because that was the only real degree program offered in the computer field at my college. When I toured the campus and initially talked with the Computer Science department, I told them I wanted to work with computers, I never specified that I wanted to be a programmer. I suspect that was the case with many who switched too.

I'm sure this isn't the only reason for the decline, certainly things like the dot-com burst and the general difficulty of the major play a part (I also have a business minor and my business classes were so much easier than my Computer Science ones), but it has to be one of the top reasons. I suspect that if you took a count of the students going into technology/computer related fields as a whole, you wouldn't see the same amount of decline.

I'm not going to complain too much though... there are still lots of smart people out there programming, many without degrees. And the fewer new additions, there will be more demand for my services. In a business driven world, that's not exactly a bad thing./tds/go.php

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