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1996-1997 CRA Taulbee Survey

By Dexter Kozen
and Stu Zweben

Date:March 1998
Section: CRA Taulbee Survey

This article and the accompanying tables present the results of the 27th annual CRA Taulbee Survey1 of Ph.D. granting departments of computer science (CS) and computer engineering (CE) in the United States and Canada. This survey is conducted annually by CRA for the purpose of documenting trends in student enrollment, employment, and faculty salaries. Information is gathered during the fall and early winter. Responses received by January 22 are included in the tables.

Information on degree production and enrollment applies to the previous academic year (1996-1997). Information on faculty salaries applies to the current academic year (1997-1998). Faculty salaries are those effective January 1, 1998. Readers should keep in mind that survey results are from Ph.D. granting departments only.

This article reviews the most significant results of the survey, with particular attention to those that differ markedly from last year or that appear to indicate long-term trends.

This year we received responses2 from 129 (bachelors) 133 (masters and Ph.D) departments regarding production; 129 (bachelors), 133 (masters), and 135 (Ph.D.) departments regarding enrollment; 135 departments regarding faculty growth; and 130 departments regarding salary data (this includes US CS, US CE, and Canadian) for a response rate of over 80%. We thank all respondents for their timely completion of the questionnaire

Degree Production (Tables 1–6)

Production Tables

There were a total of 894 Ph.D. degrees awarded in 1997 by the 131 responding departments. This is down from 915 last year and continues a slight but steady downward trend from the peak of 1,113 in 1992. The prediction from last year’s survey that 1,110 Ph.D’s would be awarded in 1997 was again overly optimistic, but this year the discrepancy was even greater than normal. The forecast for next year is a continued decline, perhaps as much as 8%. However, new enrollment in Ph.D. programs is up significantly for the second straight year (see the section on enrollments, Table 9) and there was a 14% increase over last year in the number of students passing the qualifying exam, so a long-term upswing in Ph.D. production is likely if programs can retain their newly enrolled students.

Table 4 gives the areas of specialization and types of first appointments for last year’s Ph.D. recipients. The expanded format introduced last year was kept, with 10 areas of specialization instead of the previous 6 and further breakdown according to the type of position in Ph.D. granting departments. There was significant improvement in the percentage of unknown areas of specialization, dropping to 19.0% from 21.3% last year.

The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in 1997 by 131 responding departments was 8,063, off 4.1% from the 8,411 produced by 128 departments in 1996, but still significantly higher than the 7,561 awarded in 1995. The number of master’s degrees, which was essentially flat between 1995 and 1996 with 130 departments reporting, rose about 4.3% in 1997 with 131 departments reporting.

The gender and ethnicity statistics for bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients remained fairly static with the exception of master’s degrees awarded to Native Americans or Alaskan natives, which dropped precipitously from 45 to 4. However, the percentage of master’s degrees awarded to women (among degree recipients of known gender) rose from 20.4% in 1996 to 22.7% in 1997. For Ph.D. recipients, the combined gender and ethnicity statistics were not reported this year because of the difficulty in collecting the data, but gender and ethnicity were reported separately (Tables 2 and 3). There was an alarming drop in the number of Ph.D. degrees awarded to Native Americans (from 5 in 1996 to 0 in 1997), African Americans (from 11 in 1996 to 6 in 1997), and Hispanics (from 27 in 1996 to 8 in 1997). The percentage of Ph.D. degrees awarded to women showed a modest rise from 12% in 1996 to 14% in 1997.

Student Enrollment (Tables 9–11)

Enrollment Tables

The big news is the continued explosion in undergraduate enrollments for the second straight year (Table 9). Still reeling from last year’s 40% increase over the previous year, academic departments were hit with another 39% jump in 1997. This will undoubtedly translate to a significant rise in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded starting next year. Meanwhile, many departments are finding their resources stretched to the limit as they struggle to cope with overflowing classrooms. At Cornell, more than a quarter of those freshmen engineers expressing a preference listed computer science as their major of choice (more than any other engineering major) and by 1999, the number of graduating computer science majors will have more than doubled since 1995. At Ohio State, the number of premajors (those who haven’t yet completed all the requirements to formally be admitted to a major) in computer science jumped 35% over last year. As a percentage of undergraduate engineering students, computer scientists have risen to 19.5%, up from 15.8% last year and 10.9% the year before.

Enrollments also increased at the graduate level, but somewhat less dramatically. From 1995 to 1996, new enrollment in Ph.D. programs rose sharply by about 26%. In 1997 the trend continued with 1,440 Ph.D. students enrolled, a rise of 7% over 1996, with 131 departments reporting in 1997 versus 130 in 1996. Master’s degree enrollments remained relatively static.

The percentage of women enrolled in Ph.D. programs increased slightly from 16.2% in 1996 to 17.0% in 1997. But the major demographic change is in ethnicity of students in the Ph.D. programs. The percentage of nonresident aliens jumped from 35.6% in 1996 to 45.3% in 1997. In contrast, the percentage of Asian and Pacific Islanders dropped sharply. This may be partially attributable to a change in the survey form, which more clearly distinguished residents from nonresidents. It may be that in previous years many nonresident aliens were classified as Asian or Pacific Islanders. Adding the two groups together accounted for 49.5% of the total in 1996 and 53.7% in 1997.

Faculty Demographics

Faculty Demographics Tables

Fauclty Growth Tables

In 1996, 77.7% of tenure-track faculty were associate or full professors, while in 1997 the percentage rose to 80.1%.

Faculty Salaries

Faculty Salary Tables

Average salaries at US institutions rose 2.5-4.3%, with the smallest increase at the full professor level and the largest at the assistant professor level (Table 27). Canadian salaries fared worse, posting only a 1-3.5% increase. Salaries for US institutions are 9-month salaries and are reported in US dollars; those for Canadian institutions are 12-month salaries and are reported in Canadian dollars.

The overall mean salaries reported in the center column in Tables 20-28 are unweighted means, calculated by averaging the mean salaries as reported by each school. They are not weighted by the number of faculty.


For tables that group computer science departments by rank, the rankings are based on information collected in the 1995 assessment of research and doctorate programs in the United States by the National Research Council.

The top 12 schools in this ranking are Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Princeton University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard University, and California Institute of Technology.

The departments ranked 13-24 are Brown University, Yale University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Maryland at College Park, New York University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Rice University, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, University of California at San Diego, Columbia University, and University of Pennsylvania3

The departments ranked 25-36 are University of Chicago, Purdue University, Rutgers–the State University of New Jersey, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Rochester, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of California at Irvine, University of Virginia, and Indiana University.


Stacy Cholewinski, Phillip Louis, and Jean Smith assisted with and monitored data collection. Stacy also handled the data tabulation and Jean helped in following up with the institutions. We appreciate their fine support.




Table 1

* Includes 29 CE degrees granted by these CS departments
@ Includes 6 CE degrees granted by these Canadian departments
# Includes 10 CS degrees granted by these CE departments
+ Includes 39 CE degrees granted by these CS departments
~ Includes 10 CE degrees granted by these Canadian departments
& Includes 14 CS degrees granted by these CE departments

1 The title of the survey honors the late Orrin E. Taulbee of the University of Pittsburgh, who conducted these surveys for the Computer Science Board from 1970 until 1984.

2 In some instances, departments only answered selective questions within a table or a section. Therefore, for individual fields within tables the response rate may vary + 3.

**Totals do not match: The reader may find that totals from certain tables do not equal each other, even though theoretically they should. These discrepancies stem from inconsistencies in the way departments answered different questions. We tried to minimize this by calling departments that provided inconsistent answers.

3 Although the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago were tied in the National Research Council rankings, CRA made the arbitrary decision to place Pennsylvania in the second tier of schools.

All ethnicity tables: "Asian" includes people originating from the Pacific Islands, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, Samoa, India and Vietnam; "white" includes people originating from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

All tables with rankings: Statistics sometimes are given according to departmental rank. Schools are ranked only if they offer a CS degree and according to the quality of its CS program as determined by reputation. Those that only offer CE degrees are not ranked, and statistics are given on a separate line, apart from the rankings. In Table 1, the "Ph.D.s Produced" column shows the number of CS and CE degrees produced throughout the rankings. While CE degrees are mixed into all rank categories, there are no CS degrees in the CE category.

All faculty tables: The survey makes no distinction between faculty specializing in CS versus CE programs. We tried to minimize inclusion of any faculty in electrical engineering.


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