Sign In

Communications of the ACM


Understanding the U.S. Domestic Computer Science Ph.D. Pipeline

Understanding the U.S. Domestic Computer Science Ph.D. Pipeline, illustrative photo

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates / Shutterstock

Recruiting domestic students (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) into computer science Ph.D. programs in the U.S. is a challenge for most departments, and the health of the "domestic Ph.D. pipeline" is of concern to universities, companies, government agencies, and federal research labs. In this column, we present results from two studies on the domestic research pipeline carried out by CRA-E, the Education Committee of the Computing Research Association. The first study examined the baccalaureate origins of domestic Ph.D. recipients; the second study analyzed applications, acceptances, and matriculation rates to 14 doctoral programs. Informed by findings from these studies, we also present recommendations we believe can strengthen the domestic Ph.D. pipeline.

While international students are—and will remain—crucial to the vitality of U.S. doctoral programs, an increasing number of these graduates return to their countries of origin for competitive job opportunities. The demand for new computer science Ph.D.'s is high. Currently, approximately 1,600 computer science Ph.D.'s are awarded each year from U.S. institutions, with approximately 55% of these Ph.D.'s hired by companies and federal research labs. Of the 1,600 Ph.D.'s, approximately 47% go to domestic students.1 Lucrative salaries and compelling jobs for new college graduates add to the challenge of encouraging domestic students to pursue a Ph.D.


Suzanne Matthews

The 17% number for women is a bit disingenuous. If you look at the Taulbee survey cited, that number represents all women who received PhDs from U.S. institutions, not just domestic women. The number of domestic women receiving PhDs is closer to 7%.

Ran Libeskind-Hadas

Thanks for your comment, Suzanne. Indeed, the 17% of Ph.Ds awarded to women refers to all degrees awarded - not solely to domestic students. There was no cause or intent to be disingenuous, but we see that the juxtaposition of this sentence and the previous one could be potentially confusing.

Suzanne Matthews

I realize now that my wording was too harsh, and apologize for it. I really appreciate that you and your co-authors are drawing attention to the domestic Ph.D. pipeline. I don't think many people understand how narrow it is.

Displaying all 3 comments

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.
Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account