It’s not just CS: All of science is hurting for majors

June 23, 2010 at 9:37 pm 1 comment

Two competing reports suggest that it’s been pretty bad, but maybe it’s now getting better:

The number of computer science degrees awarded to U.S. citizens from 2004 to 2007 (the latest figures available) declined 27%, according to the National Science Board. But the shortfall isn’t just in computer science. Neither universities nor high schools are preparing enough U.S. students in so-called STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math. While observers blame different causes — lousy secondary schools, boring college courses, lazy students — few deny a crisis exists.

For every new Ph.D. in the physical sciences, according to the Aerospace Industries Association, the U.S. graduates 50 new MBAs and 18 lawyers; more than half of those with bachelor of science degrees still enter careers having nothing to do with science. The ACT testing service says only 17% of high school seniors are both interested in STEM majors and have attained math proficiency. Even among students who begin college pursuing a STEM degree, only half wind up with one. Finding new STEM teachers has become especially urgent: As of two years ago, nearly 60% of U.S. workers with STEM degrees were 45 and older.

via Where have all the science majors gone? – Jun. 9, 2010.

In contrast, from NSF news report in June:

In 2008, there were more students enrolled in U.S. science and engineering (S&E) graduate programs than in the previous year. New National Science Foundation (NSF) data show graduate enrollment in S&E programs grew 2.5 percent over comparable data for 2007. Noteworthy was the 7.8 percent increase in first-time, full-time enrollments of S&E graduate students, and the increase occurred across all S&E fields.

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Proving and Improving Teaching Programming Languages How much does undergraduate education really cost?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alan Kay  |  June 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    What needs to be done to make these commensurate? Hard to see what they mean in this presentation.

    For example, if the standards are as high as they were in the 50s and 60s, 17% of high schoolers with interest *and* proficiency (the two standard deviations above normal) seems pretty good compared to then.

    What are the thresholds like in graduate school these days? It is certainly easier to get a PhD in CS now than it was in the 60s … but maybe the physicists are holding firm …




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