Posts tagged ‘graduate education’

Computer Science as a great target for Science Careers

Nice interview with Ed Lazowska of U-W in Science about the state of computer science education and research.  The below section is getting picked up elsewhere as an argument for CS as a great choice for students interested in a career in science.

I would have to say “about right.” Ph.D. production in computer science is far lower than in fields with far fewer employment opportunities. And Ph.D.s in computer science have a broad range of employment opportunities that take full advantage of their training. In most other STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] fields, the vast majority of graduates at all levels take jobs unrelated to their field of study. In computer science, the opposite is true: The vast majority of graduates at all levels take jobs that are in their “sweet spot.” Google hires roughly the same number of graduate students as undergraduate students from the University of Washington. Microsoft also hires a large number of our best Ph.D. students, both for Microsoft Research [MSR] and for the development organization.

I do think we need to be cautious. We need to avoid the overproduction—and, honestly, exploitation—that characterizes other fields. Hopefully we’ll be smart enough to learn from their behavior.

via “We Are the World” | Science Careers.

April 19, 2013 at 1:25 am Leave a comment

Where did CS PhD’s get their undergraduate degrees?

The latest issue of Computing Research News has a report from CRA-E (their Education subcommittee) on where CS PhD’s come from.  Research universities, institutions that stop at Masters degrees, four year colleges, or top liberal arts institutions?  Turns out the answer is that the vast majority of CS PhD’s get their undergraduate degrees from research universities, but the sum of the PhD’s who get their undergraduate degrees from the top 25 liberal arts institutions is greater than any single research institution.  There’s also evidence that the research universities produce better graduate students, using NSF fellowships as the quality metric.  That was quite unexpected — I would have guessed that the four years and the liberal arts institutions would have played a much greater role.

In 2010, 1665 Ph.D.’s were awarded in computer science of which 714 went to domestic students.   Approximately 71% of the domestic Ph.D.’s received their undergraduate degrees from research universities, 15% from master’s institutions, 11% from four-year colleges, and 4% from other colleges.  These proportions have remained essentially unchanged since 2000 with all four types seeing similar increases since 2005.

via Computing Research News – Online – Computing Research Association.

January 22, 2013 at 1:04 am 15 comments

New Masters of Arts in Teaching Engineering (MAT) Program at Tufts: For CSEd too? (#CSedWeek)

I visited Tufts this week, and they got me thinking about the possibilities of using the umbrella of engineering education to advance computing education. Engineering Education is growing, with units devoted to that at Virginia Tech and Purdue. They have a new Masters degree for teaching about engineering (see below). Would this be a useful degree for the high school CS teacher?

I’m interested in exploring further the relationship between engineering education and computing education. The key difference that I see right now is that engineering education is focused on teaching engineering and design skills and concepts related to the physical world, where computing education has to teach about the virtual world. The design skills and methods are certainly in common. We can use methods from teaching about the physical world in the computational world, but they may not transfer. The laws are different. I believe that the greatest challenges of understanding computation are exactly outside the intersection set with understanding the physical world.

Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Tufts University School of Engineering are proud to announce the new Master of Arts in Teaching Engineering (MAT) program, which will prepare teachers for teaching engineering. Engineering has become an essential component of STEM disciplines at the middle and high school levels. There is a clear need to prepare engineering teachers who have a strong academic background in engineering as well as a research-based understanding of how students learn the concepts and design process of engineering. Engineering teachers must also have an intellectual appreciation for the ways in which mathematics and science fields intersect with engineering.

The program builds on the successful teacher preparation programs of the Education Department and the successful collaborations the department has had with development of engineering curriculum and STEM outreach in the Tufts School of Engineering, in particular the work of the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. The program is designed to create a deeply reflective, intellectual culture of considering engineering in schools that bridges the traditional tensions between research and practice in teacher preparation. Learn more about the program at the Education department’s MAT in Engineering site.

via CEEO Main Site – New MAT Program.

December 12, 2012 at 9:45 am 2 comments

Learning Science and Engineering Professional Masters Program at CMU

I admit jealousy. This sounds like a great program that I wish we could offer at Georgia Tech. A CS Ed track would be natural in a program like this.

The Learning Science and Engineering Professional Masters Program (LSE)

The Master of Science in Learning Science and Engineering program offers students who have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in such areas as psychology, education, computer science, information technology, business, or design the opportunity to improve their training with advanced study in Learning Science and Engineering. Our students will gain the knowledge, skills, and techniques to develop and evaluate programs in learning settings that range from schools to workplaces, museums to computer-based environments—as well as other formal, informal and non-traditional educational settings. Graduates of the program will take key positions in corporations and private and public universities and schools; they will become designers, developers, and evaluators of educational technologies and learning environments as well as domain experts, learning technology policy-makers, or Chief Learning Officers.

via Learning Science and Engineering Professional Masters Program – Overview | Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

November 27, 2012 at 9:17 am 1 comment

Where are the graduate CS Education programs?

There is a flip side to Matt’s question which is even more disappointing — the programs that exist are woefully undersubscribed.

About a week ago (although it was before Sandy and seems like a year ago), I asked one of our GAs and to compile a list of graduate programs that focus on Computer Science Education or Teaching Computer Science; programs that prepare people to teach Computer Science in K-12 schools. I’m thinking that Adelphi should offer a degree with this focus. I knew that we would be the first in the region, but I didn’t expect the options to be so limited, nationwide.

via Where are the CSE programs? | Matthew X. Curinga.

November 12, 2012 at 7:06 am 3 comments

Call for participation in SIGCSE 2012 Doctoral Consortium


Auckland, New Zealand, Sunday September 9th 2012 (prior to ICER 2012)

Deadline for applications: 4 June, 2012


The Doctoral Consortium (DC) will provide an opportunity for a group of PhD students to discuss and explore their research interests and career objectives with a panel of established researchers in computing education research. The consortium has the following objectives:

(1) to provide feedback on participants’ current research and guidance on future research directions;

(2) to develop a supportive community of scholars and a spirit of collaborative research;

(3) to support a new generation of researchers with information and advice on research and academic career paths; and

(4) to contribute to the ICER goals through interaction with other researchers and participation in conference events.

DC participants will have the opportunity to present their ideas to the rest of the ICER attendees via a short presentation before a poster session during the conference.


The consortium is designed primarily for students who are currently enrolled in any stage of doctoral studies with a focus on computing education research.  Students at any stage of their doctoral studies are welcome to attend. The number of participants is limited to 12.

In addition to the organizers, senior researchers in the field will provide feedback and suggestions for improvement of the research proposals.


Each applicant should submit an application that includes the following information:

* Curriculum Vita

* summary of their research, including motivation, background and literature to contextualize the research, research questions, methodologies used or planned, and any results obtained to date.

* questions related to the research that the applicant would like to discuss and get feedback on at the doctoral consortium


The research summary should be 1-3 pages long, depending on the stage of the research.  This summary will be made available to other participants of the doctoral consortium to allow them to provide feedback and prepare questions on the research.

Important dates:

Applicants should send their application by email to: Judy Sheard ( by 4 June 2012.

Notification of acceptance will be sent by email by 18 June.

Registration deadline is 2 July.

Note:  When submitting the applications, please put ICER DC 2012 in the Subject line!


Venue and registration

The doctoral consortium will be held at the Auckland University of Technology  on Sunday 9 September from 9.30-17.00. See ICER web site  for more information about travelling and hotels.

There is no participation fee for the DC; student registration rates are available for ICER.  Some financial assistance for travel and expenses

will be available.


If you would like more information, please contact:

Judy Sheard

Faculty of Information Technology

Monash University



Phone: +61 3 9903 2701


Doctoral Consortium co-chairs


Judy Sheard

Allison Elliott Tew

April 5, 2012 at 7:54 am 1 comment

Picking a PhD Research Topic: For passion or curiosity, for funding, for job?

PhD programs, at least here at Georgia Tech, have changed dramatically in the last five years — with the economic downturn and with increased cutbacks in federal and state funding. A PhD student without funding can’t last long in the program now. A student can’t get admitted to the program without a faculty member making a commitment to getting the student funding.

There’s also the case of picking a topic in order to get a job in the future. I recently met with an undergraduate who said that she wants to be a teacher at a four-year liberal arts college. She was talking to me about doing research in CS Education. I told her that I’d be glad to work with her, but it’s not in her best interest to get a PhD in CS Education Research given her job focus. Few teaching-oriented schools hire CS Ed people. She has time now, as an undergraduate, to develop research skills in some area that could lead to a graduate career that would make getting her dream job more likely.

Here in Australia, there is a real boom in CS Ed PhD students. There were 20 at the Doctoral Consortium in Melbourne. University of Adelaide has one now, two more starting in September. One of those starting next year had to re-do her proposal because she’s getting a CS PhD and there wasn’t enough CS in there, but not because she couldn’t do CS Ed. It’s striking that Australia has this boom in CS Ed PhD’s because of student interest — no increase in funding, and I don’t know what the job prospects are like.

Selecting a topic for your PhD dissertation is critical. You need something promising, but do-able within the time available. It has to be something you really care about, but also something that your advisor cares about and is reasonably knowledgable about. It’s already a highly constrained problem. Needing funding from Day One complicates things further. If I need to find the money before the student, then I need to organize PhD admissions around finding the best fit for my particular project. That may not be the best student available–it’s just the one who fits. It feels backwards–buy the shoes first, and then look for someone with the right size feet. It’s also not a time efficient process. If a grant proposal takes six months to be evaluated and I can’t hire someone until the money is in hand, then I may have to wait up to a year to find the person who fits in those shoes. My annual report for year one I fear will end up saying “so far I think we’ve found someone who might want to work on this. We haven’t spent any of the money yet. Can you give us an extra year?” And what if I make an offer of admission to the one person who fits those shoes, and they choose a different graduate program? My fear is that this will lead to 1) lots of unhappy students working on projects that are not their first choice, and 2) lots of projects with no labor available for a medium to long amount of time.

via Research Topics: The PhD Student’s Passion or What We Have Money For? « The Next Bison: Social Computing and Culture.

November 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm 2 comments

The PhD factory

This article from Nature has been leading to a lot of discussions where I’m at.  It relates to the CRA’s call for more discussion about post-docs.  Are we producing too many PhDs?  Or should we preparing more PhD’s for non-academic jobs?

In some countries, including the United States and Japan, people who have trained at great length and expense to be researchers confront a dwindling number of academic jobs, and an industrial sector unable to take up the slack. Supply has outstripped demand and, although few PhD holders end up unemployed, it is not clear that spending years securing this high-level qualification is worth it for a job as, for example, a high-school teacher. In other countries, such as China and India, the economies are developing fast enough to use all the PhDs they can crank out, and more — but the quality of the graduates is not consistent. Only a few nations, including Germany, are successfully tackling the problem by redefining the PhD as training for high-level positions in careers outside academia.

via Education: The PhD factory : Nature News.

April 27, 2011 at 8:03 am 5 comments

New NRC Rankings: “A little bit unsatisfactory, but at least it’s honest”

The long-awaited new ranking of doctorate programs by the National Research Council came out yesterday.  I’ve been playing with an interactive tool produced by the Chronicle of Higher Education to explore the rankings.  The new ranking system uses both quantitative inputs and subjective opinions about the programs to come up with “statistical ranges” to describe each program, rather than a hard-and-fast linear progression.  (Georgia Tech’s CS PhD program, in case you’re interested, is ranked as falling between 14 and 57.)  The quote in this post’s title comes from the leader of the effort, describing the result as “A little bit unsatisfactory, but at least it’s honest.”

The advance briefing for reporters covering Tuesday’s release of the National Research Council’s ratings of doctoral programs may have made history as the first time a group doing rankings held a news conference at which it seemed to be largely trying to write them off.

While the NRC committee that produced the rankings defended its efforts and the resulting mass of data on doctoral programs now available, no one on the committee endorsed the actual rankings, and committee members went out of their way to say that there might well be better ways to rank — better than either of the two methods unveiled.

via News: You’re Not No. 1 – Inside Higher Ed.

September 29, 2010 at 9:52 am 1 comment

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