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1995-1996 CRA Taulbee Survey

Grad, undergrad student enrollments up

By Gregory R. Andrews
Chair, CRA Surveys Committee

Date: March 1997
Section: CRA Taulbee Survey

The accompanying tables present the results of the 26th annual CRA Taulbee Survey1 of Ph.D.-granting departments of computer science (CS) and computer engineering (CE) in the United States and Canada. Information was gathered during the fall and early winter. The tables include all responses received by the first week of February.

An innovation this year is that the survey could be submitted online or on paper. About half of the respondents used the online form for at least part of their input.

Information on degree production and enrollment applies to the previous academic year (1995-96). Information on faculty applies to the current academic year (1996-97). Faculty salaries reflect those in effect as of Jan. 1, 1997. Readers should keep in mind that survey results are from Ph.D.-granting departments only; there are hundreds more departments that only award bachelor's and master's degrees.

This article draws attention to the most significant results of the survey, especially results that are substantially different from last year.

The first notable difference is that the response rate was much lower (81% versus 91% a year ago). This is surprising, because we simplified the survey form and provided both hard copy and online versions. Part of the reason may be that we held to a firm deadline for responding. The major reason is probably that we made fewer follow-up calls than last year. However, the response rate is certainly high enough for the results to be meaningful.

Degree production (Tables 1-7)

The tables and graphs show that a total of 915 Ph.D. degrees were awarded in 1996 by the 130 responding departments. We believe that about 100 degrees were awarded by the other 30 Ph.D.-granting departments. This estimated total of 1,015 degrees is down somewhat from last year. But as Figure 2 shows, Ph.D. production has been essentially flat for six years.

Production should hold steady next year as well, based on the predicted number of new Ph.D.s (Table 1) less the usual correction of about 150 for overly optimistic predictions by departments. Longer-range predictions are harder to make however: Enrollment of new Ph.D. students was down about 300 students last year, and about 100 fewer students passed their Ph.D. qualifying exam this year than last. On the other hand, enrollment of new Ph.D. students rose back to the level of two years ago (see next section).

Table 5 shows the areas of specialization and types of first appointments for last year's Ph.D. recipients. The table has been changed in two ways relative to last year. First, there are 10 columns for specializations rather than six, and the columns have more descriptive headings. Second, there are now several rows rather than just one for the positions taken by new Ph.D.s who were hired by Ph.D.-granting CS or CE departments. Despite these improvements, the number of unknown degree specializations and unknown types of first positions are much too large (10% to 20%). We plan to investigate why in hopes of having more accurate data next year.

The number of bachelor's degrees that were awarded is up about 850 (more than 10%), which reflects a recent and continuing increase in the number of undergraduates majoring in CS/CE. However, the number of master's degrees awarded is about the same as last year.

The gender and ethnicity percentages remain relatively stable. The notable exception is that the number of master's and Ph.D. degrees earned by Native Americans or Alaskan Natives is way up-from three to 45 for master's degrees and from one to five for Ph.D. degrees.

Student enrollment (Tables 8-12)

To put it succinctly: Enrollments are up.

The number of new Ph.D. students rose from 1,072 to 1,345, which puts it back to the level of two years ago. The number of new master's students rose from 2,173 to 3,354, which is also about the level it was two years ago. Most dramatically, the number of new bachelor's students is up from 10,099 to 14,239, a 40% increase on top of last year's 5% rise!

The marketplace and the Web are clearly having effects. In fact, the increases are actually quite a bit greater than shown in Table 8, because 10% fewer departments completed the survey this year than last.

Faculty demographics, including New Hires (Tables 13-18)

Table 13 illustrates current and predicted numbers of full-time equivalent faculty members, with rows this year for different faculty ranks, including researchers and postdoctorates. We also include a table that presents faculty data by different groups of departments.

For some reason, departments are pessimistic about next year but then predict a slow growth back to this year's total number of faculty. By contrast, past surveys have always predicted growth and have been overly optimistic.

As expected, the gender and ethnicity percentages for faculty remain almost the same as last year. Of note, however, are the differences between percentages in Table 6 (ethnicity of new Ph.D.s) and Table 19 (ethnicity of newly hired faculty); a much smaller percentage of nonresident aliens are hired into tenure-track positions than are awarded Ph.D.s. And a much larger percentage of white, non-Hispanics are hired into tenure-track positions than are awarded Ph.D.s.

Faculty salaries (Tables 20-28)

Faculty salaries again rose about 3% in all ranks relative to a year ago. (The overall averages in Table 20 are slightly higher than those reported in January.)

This year, salaries for newly reported faculty are listed by type of position (tenure-track, researcher, postdoctorate and other) rather than by groups of departments.


For tables that group computer science departments by the rank of 1-12, 13-24 and 25-36, we based our ranking on information released in the 1995 assessment of research-doctorate programs in the United States done under the auspices of the National Research Council.

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

The departments ranked 13-24 are Brown University, Yale University, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Maryland at College Park, New York University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Rice University, the University of Southern California, the University of Michigan, the University of California at San Diego, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.2

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


Juan Osuna drafted the survey and prepared the online version. Phillip Louis collected data and handled follow-up e-mail and telephone calls. Andy Goldstein prepared the accompanying tables. Joan Bass coordinated production and layout.


All ethnicity tables: "Asian or Pacific Islander" includes people originating from the Pacific Islands, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, Samoa, India and Vietnam; "White, Non-Hispanic" 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.

*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.

Nonresident faculty: A small percentage of faculty were nonresident aliens when they were hired to work in fiscal 1996-97. In many cases, these new employees were gaining residency based on their new employment prospects.

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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