The number of new undergraduate computer science majors at Ph.D.-granting U.S. universities rose by more than 29% last year, an increase that the Computing Research Association called "astonishing."
It was the fifth straight year in which the number of students enrolled in computer-related degree programs increased, according to the CRA's annual Taulbee Survey of computer science, computer engineering or information departments at Ph.D.-granting institutions.
The 2011-12 academic year also marked the third straight year in which the percentage increase in bachelor's degrees awarded in computer science hit double digits. In U.S. computer science departments, the year-over-year increases were 19.8% overall and 16.6% among those departments that participated in the survey this year and last year, according to the CRA.
Computer science enrollment trends "are somewhat cyclical based on the perceived strength of the IT sector," said Peter Harsha, the CRA's director of government affairs.
He noted that CRA members have speculated that the recent upward trend is due in part to the fact that "students are much more aware of the importance of computational thinking in just about every other field of science and technology."
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.