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Communications of the ACM

Profiling computer science master's programs


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Master's level computer science programs have experienced significant and sustained growth during the past two decades. According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics [4], a total of 1,588 master's degrees were conferred in computer and information sciences in 1971. This figure increased 508% to 8,070 in 1986—a larger percentage increase than any other major discipline. The 1970s and 1980s have also been an era in which computer science has experienced major theoretical and technological advances. The period has been marked by severe faculty shortages which are only now beginning to ease. Complicating matters further, the discipline is so young that it is still in the process of defining its intellectual framework [3]. Considering all of these factors, it is not surprising that there is a considerable amount of diversity and flux among computer science master's programs. What is surprising, however, is that little data is available pertaining to this degree.

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