Careers abound for Purdue’s plentiful computer scientists

Published September 2017; Updated January 2020

Professionally minded Purdue University undergraduates know the computers that run everything from phones to refrigerators are running up the number of rewarding computer careers. A steadily growing number of Purdue computer science (CS) alumni will help fill an estimated 530,000 computer jobs open now nationwide. That surging demand has boosted enrollment in Purdue's undergraduate computer science (CS) program 93 percent from 2014 to 2019.

Keenly tuned radar at the top

Anticipating the nationwide demand for computer scientists, Purdue President Mitch Daniels decided in 2013 to make the expansion of the University's CS program part of his Purdue Moves initiatives. Since then, the big increase in Purdue CS applications — 5,500 for the 2019 fall semester alone — has forced the program's admission percentage rate down, even as the quality of applicants has gone up.

An appealing payoff

The placement rate for graduating Purdue CS students is nearly 100 percent. They are also statistically likely to earn higher starting salaries than their CS peers from other schools. Forbes reported the average annual starting salary of computer science majors as $56,974, but Purdue computer science graduates report starting salaries averaging $83,700.

Women on the rise

Amid so many great numbers, everyone wishes one number registered better: the diversity percentage. Despite the fact that 57 percent of all U.S. undergraduate degrees go to women, just 18 percent of the computer and information sciences degrees do. However, Purdue is changing that, with rising rates of female CS majors on campus. The total number of female CS undergraduate majors at Purdue has grown by 260 percent over the past five years, and women made up 27 percent of the incoming freshman class of CS majors in fall 2019.

Data science: a major new major

With the surge in available computer careers, Purdue is now offering a data science major and a master's program called Information Security for Computer Professionals. Students enrolled in both programs in fall 2017.