Computer science major sees seven-year increase in enrollment


Photo Credit: Qiling Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Computer science is among three majors at UT that have seen an increase in enrollment each year from 2007–2014, according to the Office of Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems.

In addition, communication sciences and disorders and information, risk and operations management have seen consecutive increases in enrollment.

According to computer science professor Calvin Lin, the primary reason for this is an emerging job market for computer science students.

“The better answer is that if you look at what’s happening now in so many fields, there are revolutions going on inspired by technology and computing,” Lin said. “Everything is being enhanced by what you can do with computers and data mining.”

Because coding is increasingly applicable to a greater number of fields, computer science should be a part of the mandatory core curriculum at UT, according to Kathryn McKinley, computer science adjunct professor.

“Every university should require one or two computer courses with computational thinking, algorithms and some coding,” McKinley said. 

According to Lin, computer science would work to further the capabilities of students within their own respective majors, even those in the field of liberal arts.

“There is a movement known as digital humanities, and it’s the idea that, instead of having artifacts stored in repositories like libraries, we can now have digital versions of those, and they can enhance the way that we do research in liberal arts and social sciences,” Lin said.

English junior Brooke Burnham believes computer science should be a mandatory core class because many professions are becoming increasingly centered around computer technology.

“Computer science is where our future is going, like with cellphone apps and digital business,” Burnham said.

Mandatory computer science courses would work best if they were introductory and allowed students to test out with AP or IB credits, civil
engineering freshman Gretchen Bella said.

Despite the support behind including computer science in the core requirements for UT, it is currently not possible because there are not enough computer science staff members to teach such a large number of students.

UT can expect to see a steady increase in computer science enrollment in the coming years, according to Lin.

“Historically, computer science enrollment has gone up and down in boom and bust cycles. But in general, my guess is that it’ll stay high because it’s a skill that is so universally useful now,” Lin said.