What’s going on with CS PhD Enrollments: Guest Blog Post from Betsy Bizot

May 20, 2016 at 7:31 am 2 comments

Betsy Bizot at Computing Research Association (CRA) dug into the question that I posed about CS PhD’s, and came up with these answers. Thanks, Betsy!


Percentages are computed from those who answered the question about their postdoctoral status, about 90% of all SED respondents. They include those who said they were returning to or continuing with predoctoral employment, or who have a definite commitment for employment or postdoctoral study. Those who were negotiating with one or more possible employers were not counted.

Values in the Engineering column are from Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2014 (for the 2004 and 2009 figures) and Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013 (for the 2013 figure), Table 42, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, available from the “data” tab at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvydoctorates/ These were reported in Mark Guzdial’s Computing Education Blog https://computinged.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/what-really-happens-to-new-cs-phds-starving-the-beast/

Values in the Computer Science column are computed using data from the Survey of Earned Doctorates licensed to the Computing Research Association through the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics at the National Science Foundation. The use of NSF data does not imply NSF endorsement of the research methods or conclusions contained in this report. Licensing of this data was supported by grant B2014-12 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dennisfrailey  |  May 20, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Here is a possible explanation of what is happening. The percentage of non-US citizens in PhD programs keeps rising and, as a result, a certain percentage of them will pursue careers in their home countries and, as a result, they typically have not yet committed to a position at the time the survey is taken. This is the experience I’ve had, but I acknowledge that that’s only one data point.

  • 2. Betsy Bizot  |  May 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

    That’s plausible. I see a little of that in the detail-level CRA Taulbee Survey data but not as much as you might think. For 2015, of the 1721 PhD graduates reported to Taulbee with known residency, 58% were nonresident and 42% citizens or permanent residents. Looking at the employment type and employment location for those two groups, employment type is reported as unknown, unemployed, or self-employed for 20% of the residents and 22% of the nonresidents. Employment location is listed as unknown for 15% of residents and 20% of nonresidents (other choices are US, Canada, EU, China, India, or other).

    Note that this Taulbee data includes Computer Engineering and Information degree recipients as well as Computer Science, and also differs from the Survey of Earned Doctorates data by being reported by the departments and not by the individuals.


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