How Online Computer Science Degrees Can Solve the On-Campus CS Crunch

Computer science (CS) degrees are in demand — and for good reason. Jobs that rely on CS skills are growing fast in exciting fields like artificial intelligence, data science, and biotech. Many of these career paths offer six-figure salaries straight out of school.  

Unfortunately, a recent story in The New York Times highlights growing challenges for on-campus CS education programs. This means that programs like the high-quality CS degrees delivered through Coursera are becoming essential for more and more computer science students.

As detailed in The Times, the supply of quality CS teachers hasn’t kept up with the surge in demand for CS education. A new survey from the Computer Research Association indicates that the number of undergraduate CS major more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, while tenure-track faculty grew by only 17%.

This has caused a growing number of universities to take steps to limit access to CS classes, leading in turn to frustration among aspiring CS students. For example, Swarthmore College is holding lotteries for CS classes, and capping the number of courses that CS majors may take. The University of Maryland is making CS a limited enrollment major.

These limits may lead to new challenges for groups that are already underrepresented in CS, including women, people of color, and low-income students. That’s because some universities are requiring students to get accepted into CS majors before they arrive on campus, which disadvantages those who lack opportunities to take CS courses in high school.

This shortage isn’t just a matter of waiting for the supply of teachers to catch up with soaring demand for CS degrees. High entry-level salaries are luring undergraduate CS majors into the private sector instead of graduate school and teaching, and top tech companies increasingly recruit professors and PhDs. Ironically, the success that CS skills make possible is limiting access to an on-campus CS education.

Online degree options help solve the on-campus CS demand crunch by allowing professors to reach more students. Coursera’s industry-leading education platform hosts four high-quality CS degrees from top universities:

  • The Arizona State University Online Master of Computer Science program offers the opportunity to dive deep into a range of advanced CS topics like AI, cybersecurity, big data, and blockchain.
  • The University of Pennsylvania Online Master of Computer and Information Technology is the only online Ivy League Master’s degree in Computer Science tailored to non-CS majors, allowing students from diverse fields like chemistry, literature, and medicine to succeed in tech-oriented career paths.

Between these four programs, Coursera offers a CS education that matches practically every need — regardless of your past academic background or your future career goals. Most importantly, they each provide the opportunity to learn from the same great faculty as on-campus students with the affordability, accessibility, and flexibility of online courses.



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