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Shortage of Computer Science Grads

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — No longer does a college degree mean instant employment, but Oregon State University expanded its computer science program for students who have graduated, but might be struggling to find work.

“We have a lot of companies that come down here to recruit,” said Terri Fiez, the head of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at OSU. “From all over the nation, as well as from Oregon. They were recruiting more and more students. And we just didn’t have the number of students to really help them in the way they needed it.”

So a year and a half ago, the program expanded.

“What we thought is, why can’t we create a program where former students who have degrees could get a second degree in computer science? And that’s why we launched this one-year online program in computer science,” she said.

It’s the only program of its kind in the nation, one that allows students who already have bachelor degrees to return to school for a year – via the Internet – to get the additional computer science degree.

“Our graduates are very heavily recruited,” Fiez said. “They all find jobs. There are so many opportunities right now. It’s a great field to be in.”

The idea behind the online program is to give students around the globe the same opportunity.  And to help meet the demand of workers companies need.

“We came up with this creative idea to help people who are unemployed, or else students who graduate in other fields, to realign their skills with where the jobs are.”

The term “computer science” might sound intimidating, but Fiez says it is a broader term now than it used to be.

“There’s been a big shift in terms of the way computing is done. It used to be that if you graduated in computer science, you went to a software company and worked in software. Now, computing crosses every business sector.”

She says for example, maybe someone who has a psychology degree has no experience in computer science.

“Now they could be really good at designing user interfaces for software,” Fiez said. “And that’s a really important field for today. They’re in very high demand and are also very well paying jobs.”

The program has over 750 students.

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