Sunday, May 25, 2008

High demand for Stanford's CS majors

October 17, 2007
By Eric Messinger

A computer science (CS) degree from Stanford has always been a valuable possession, and it is only getting more lucrative.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported on Sep. 12 that the average starting salary nationwide for a 2007 CS graduate was $53,051, a 4.5 percent increase from the year before.

The salary increases were in part due to a nationwide decrease in CS degrees in recent years. The Computing Research Association reported that only 10,206 bachelor’s degrees in CS were awarded in 2006, compared to more than 14,000 degrees per year at the start of the decade.

Increasing demand leads to more competition to hire those holding CS degrees, allowing students to be selective when confronted with various job offers, in turn raising salary offers from employers.

“Our graduates have the pick of the job market,” said Verna Wong, a CS student services specialist.

Students agreed, citing the ease of finding a job in the tech sector.

“It’s pretty easy to get interest from a lot of different companies,” said CS graduate student Matt Jachowski, a former intern for instant messaging company Meebo.

“A lot of my friends’ offers are between $70,000 and $90,000 a year,” said Chase Yarbrough ‘07, a CS major. “I haven’t heard of anyone who’s not content with their salary.”

While CS degrees have decreased nationwide, the number of CS majors at Stanford has stayed relatively consistent throughout the decade. Stanford granted 70 CS bachelor’s degrees in 2007 and 82 in 2006. By comparison, there were 79 majors in the department in 1998. On the graduate level, according to Wong, the department “hadn’t noticed any decline in applicants.”

The increasing popularity of interdisciplinary majors such as symbolic systems could cut into CS degree numbers. Conversely, the resurgence of interest in technology brought about by the Web 2.0 phenomenon could lead to a boom in CS popularity.

According to Axess figures, there are over 350 students enrolled in either CS 106A or CS 106X this quarter, which Jachowski said is a one-third increase from last year.

Overall, despite the ups and downs of Internet business, Silicon Valley remains an excellent job market for qualified CS majors.

“There’s a feeling of high demand for top-notch engineers,” said Adam Sadovsky ‘07, who currently works for Google. “And it’s easier for a Stanford student to find jobs interesting to him or her, and to find a company with matching interests. There are so many of them looking, both start-ups and large companies.”

“The truth is that there aren’t enough programmers to go around,” Jachowski said. “It’s a good time to graduate.”

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