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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s B U.S. Degree Programs in Computing A. Joseph Turner Department of Computer Science Clemson University INTRODUCTION Many different titles are used for academic programs in computing in the United States. However, graduates of programs with such different titles as Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Science, Management Information Systems, Management of Information Systems, and Computer Engineering can be classified in various reports as having the same occupational specialty (such as computer specialist). This is undesirable because different types of programs produce graduates with quite different capabilities, and these different capabilities are not readily interchangeable as desirable preparation for different jobs. Finding a solution to this problem is complicated by the fact that degree titles are not used in a consistent manner. Different titles are sometimes used to designate programs that are essentially the same, and the same title is sometimes used for programs that are quite different. This paper provides an overview of programs in computing that are currently offered in the United States. The term computing as NOTE: A paper prepared for a computer science and technology workshop sponsored by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and the Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of the National Research Council, and held at the National Academy of Sciences Beckman Center, Irvine, California, October 28–29, 1991.
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s used here refers generally to disciplines that emphasize fundamental concepts of computer software and hardware, or the development of software for applications in general domains such as business and management. Programs that emphasize computer hardware are only of peripheral interest here, as are programs that are oriented toward teaching skills or applications of computers, and programs that are oriented toward the management of computing resources. The primary interest is baccalaureate programs, but two-year and graduate programs are considered as well. An overview of all programs is given in the next section, followed by a more detailed look at baccalaureate programs. Subsequent sections provide some comparison and characterization of baccalaureate programs, briefly discuss two-year and graduate programs, and offer some observations on the need for standardization and the need for further work to provide data and characterizations. OVERVIEW OF PROGRAMS As might be expected, several different degree designations (A.A., B.S., B.A., M.S., Ph.D., and others) are used for each of the various major programs (computer science, information systems, and so on). These programs have many different orientations, both in terms of the application domains that are addressed and the program objectives. The graduates of these different programs are not generally interchangeable in terms of their preparation for employment, and so distinctions in names (titles) are both appropriate and needed. Two-Year Programs At least 600 of the 2,340 two-year colleges in the United States offer at least one degree or certificate program in computing . The degree programs are generally designated A.A., A.S., or A.A.S. Some of the program titles and the number of such programs (according to the Chronicle Two-Year College Databook ) include Computer and Information Science, 510; Computer Programming, 315; Data Processing, 240; Information Sciences and Systems, 120; Microprocessor Applications, 115; Computer Service Technician, 90; and CAD/CAM, 80. Some general characteristics of these programs are the following: They are oriented toward skills acquisition and current technology; They are oriented toward the job market, usually with a strong local influence;
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s They are intended to produce graduates for entry-level jobs; and They attract some students with a baccalaureate degree who want to change careers. There is substantial variation among two-year programs with similar titles. For example, one program designated "Computer Science" can have a computing component that is similar to the computing component of some respectable four-year programs, while the computing component of another program with the same title can consist mostly of courses in various programming languages. Similarly, "Microprocessor Applications" can emphasize programming in Basic, or its "computing'' component can consist mostly of courses in word processing, spreadsheets, and database software use. Curriculum recommendations for two-year programs were provided by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in the late 1970s, but these recommendations are now outdated. The ACM Two-Year College Education Committee currently has an effort under way to produce new recommendations for two-year programs. This committee has grouped these programs into four areas: (1) computing and engineering technology (hardware oriented), (2) computing in information processing (information systems oriented), (3) computing science (computer science oriented), and (4) computer support services (e.g., operations). (The committee has also listed a fifth area, computing for other disciplines, but it is not relevant here.) Baccalaureate Programs As is the case for two-year programs, baccalaureate programs in computing have many different titles. Most existing programs have a major designation similar to one of the following: Computer Engineering Computer Science and Engineering Computer Science Computer Information Systems Information Science Information Systems Management Information Systems Management of Information Systems Most of the degrees are designated B.S., but there are also B.A. degrees and variations such as B.C.S. (Bachelor of Computer Science). A difference in degree designation is not necessarily meaningful, however.
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s For example, a designation of B.A. is generally thought to denote a program that provides a broad, general education with a less intensive major than might be expected in a B.S. program. However, some institutions offer both B.A. and B.S. programs with identical requirements, and each graduate can choose the designation that is used on the diploma. Except for some B.A. programs, most of these programs are intended to prepare graduates for entry into the computing profession. They ideally emphasize foundations and principles, rather than skills and current technology, with the goal of preparing graduates for lifelong learning, career growth, and further study. These programs are discussed further in "Baccalaureate Programs" below. Master's Programs Master's-level programs generally can be classified as (1) traditional (or research oriented), with degree designations such as M.S., or (2) professional, with degree designations such as M.C.S. (Master of Computer Science) or M.B.A. The degree designation is not a reliable indicator of the nature of a master's-level program, however. For example, many, if not most, M.S. programs in computer science have a non-thesis option, and many of these also have a course-work-only option. Master's degrees are offered in the areas listed above for baccalaureate degrees. Accurate information on the number of master's-level programs does not appear to be available. However, Peterson's  lists the following numbers of programs in the United States and Canada in the areas indicated: computer science, 333; information science, 95; information systems, 72; and management information systems, 33. On the basis of the number of accredited computer engineering programs (50 to 60) and the number of Ph.D.-granting computer engineering departments (34), it is estimated that there are about 40 master's programs in computer engineering. The number of master's graduates in Ph.D.-granting computer science departments has averaged about 30 per department per year for the past five years , and the same holds for computer engineering departments. It seems likely that the average number of graduates would be smaller in non-Ph.D.-granting departments (because these departments are usually smaller than the Ph.D.-granting departments), and under this assumption an estimate of the annual production for master's degrees is about 9,000 in computer science and about 1,200 in computer engineering. Science and Engineering In-
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s dicators: 1989  indicates that there were about 8,000 computer science master's graduates in 1986, and comparison and projection using the data in the Taulbee report  indicate that the estimate of 9,000 master's graduates in computer science is not unreasonable. No data were found on the number of graduates in the other programs. However, under the assumption that the number of graduates produced annually per department should not be far from that for computer science and computer engineering, rough estimates are about 2,500 master's graduates in information science, 1,900 in information systems, and 900 in management information systems. Thus, there appear to be about 15,000 "computer specialists" who graduate with master's degrees annually. One additional category of master's programs should be discussed: software engineering. Degree programs in software engineering are relatively new, but there are already 15 master's programs in existence, and at least 6 M.S. programs in computer science offer an option in software engineering . Given that there were only three or four such programs five years ago, and one of those no longer exists, there might well be a significant number of these programs within five more years. The growth of master's programs in software engineering has been stimulated by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University. The SEI has published curriculum recommendations for these programs  and has also produced a variety of materials to help faculty teach software engineering courses at the master's level. Doctoral Programs Doctoral programs in computing are offered in essentially the same major areas as are master's programs. Almost all of the degrees have the designation Ph.D. or an equivalent such as Sc.D., and they are research degrees. (That is, there are apparently no "professional" degree programs at the doctoral level.) Excellent data on Ph.D. programs in computer science and computer engineering can be found in the Taulbee report . There are 123 Ph.D. programs in computer science and 34 in computer engineering in the United States. These programs produced about 670 Ph.D. graduates in computer science and 170 in computer engineering in 1989–1990. The number of Ph.D. graduates in computer science tripled over the preceding six-year period, and the number of Ph.D. graduates in computer engineering experienced similar growth. About 50 percent of the computer science doctoral graduates ac-
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s cept teaching and research positions in academia, and a little over 25 percent take industrial research and development positions, with about 15 percent in basic research  . These percentages have been relatively constant over the past few years. No corresponding data for doctoral programs in information science, information systems, and management information systems were found. BACCALAUREATE PROGRAMS Given the degree titles listed above for baccalaureate programs in computing and adding electrical engineering (E.E.; with computer emphasis) for convenience, one way to view general characteristics of typical programs in each category is shown in Figure B.1. Figure B.1 It should be noted that the placement of information science (InfSc) is somewhat arbitrary. It is doubtful that information science programs are, in general, more management oriented than are computer information systems (CIS) programs, and so it might be more accurate to interchange CIS and InfSc in this scheme. Unfortunately it is not possible to form such a characterization based on program titles because of the inconsistencies in their use. For example, there are programs called Management Information Systems (MIS) that span the range between computer information science and management of information systems (MOIS) in Figure B.1. Similarly, there are programs called Computer Science (CS) that span the range between computer engineering (CpE) and information science (or perhaps even management information systems). Thus it is difficult to discuss program characteristics on the basis of program titles. On the basis of program objectives and characteristics, the baccalaureate programs of primary interest here can be grouped into four categories:
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s Information systems Information science Computer science Computer engineering It should be noted that each of these category names is intended to be relevant to and descriptive of the nature and characteristics of programs in that category, but not necessarily indicative of the titles of programs in the category. A degree program with a title that is similar to one of the category names usually falls into that category, but this is not always the case. The confusion between degree titles and category names could have been avoided by using different category names, but the names used here were chosen because they are fairly standard. Each category is discussed below, followed by a discussion of software engineering and computational science. Information Systems The category information systems includes most programs titled Information Systems and Computer Information Systems and many, if not most, of the programs titled Management Information Systems. Programs titled Management of Information Systems, and some titled Management Information Systems, produce, for the most part, graduates who are managers more than computer specialists. These latter programs are considered here as specialties in management rather than specialties in computing, and they are therefore not included in any of the categories of programs in computing here. Peterson's  lists 106 programs in information systems and 53 programs in management information systems. However, a survey conducted on behalf of the Data Processing Management Association, which used the Peterson's list and other sources, generated a list of 1,002 programs in the United States and Canada to which the survey (about information systems curricula) was mailed . The results of the survey listed 122 different program titles for ''information systems" programs, but many of these, such as Accounting, Accounting Information Systems, Computer Science, Software Engineering, and Computer Engineering, clearly do not all represent programs that would normally be included in this category. It seems likely that there are at least 150 programs in this category, and there may be considerably more. No information was found regarding the number of graduates of these programs. The Data Processing Management Association has recently published a report that contains recommendations for undergraduate pro-
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s grams in information systems . The ACM also published curriculum recommendations for information systems programs in 1982 . These documents specify that information systems curricula should include: A reasonable core of basic computer concepts, including software development, computer hardware, algorithms and data structures, programming languages, operating systems, and data communications; More advanced work in databases, information storage and retrieval, and software engineering; Organizational concepts and systems theory; and Work in basic business areas such as accounting, economics, finance, management, and marketing. The coverage of computer concepts in an information systems program is usually more functionally oriented than is the case in a computer science/engineering program. That is, students in an information systems program are primarily interested in understanding the concepts of hardware and operating systems rather than in being able to build hardware or operating systems. This is not to say that there is no technical content to these programs or that they do not produce some graduates who can function quite well as, for example, systems programmers. However, the main focus of information systems programs is the development of software to solve managerial, financial, and other business problems. There is quite a variation in the requirements and the level of quality in information systems programs. The number of courses in computing ranges from about 8 to 12 (semester courses), but these are sometimes more similar to service courses in computing than to courses taken by computer science majors. The good programs have strong computing components, however, and their rigorous requirements produce graduates who are well prepared to play leadership roles in software development and other activities involved in the application of computers to business problems. Information Science The computing components of information science programs are actually quite similar to the computing components of programs in information systems, although there is less variation in information science programs and their computing component is usually stronger than that of many information systems programs. Information science programs do not generally have the strong business component
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s that is found in information systems programs, but the information science programs usually have a stronger emphasis on cognitive science. Additionally, strong programs in information science require solid decision science foundations, building on mathematics and statistics. Peterson's  lists 143 undergraduate programs in information science. However, the programs included by Peterson's self-select the category in which to list their programs, and it seems likely that many of these are not information science programs as described here. No other data were found to indicate the number of programs or graduates. It appears that the title of most programs in this category is Information Science, and that the converse also holds. Information science programs are often administered by the same academic unit as an institution's library science program. However, there is no longer any significant similarity between the two types of programs in most institutions. Computer Science Two significant sources help characterize computer science programs. A recent report published jointly by the ACM and the Computer Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-CS) provides curriculum recommendations for programs in computer science (and computer engineering as well) . These recommendations apply to broad programs at liberal arts colleges as well as to more intensive programs in universities and colleges. A second source can be found in the criteria for accreditation of programs in computer science . These criteria provide specifications for programs that are intended to produce graduates who are prepared to enter the computing profession. Computer science accreditation is provided by the Computer Science Accreditation Commission of the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board. The accreditation criteria include requirements for at least 40 semester credits of computer science and at least 32 credits of mathematics and science. The two curriculum specifications do not conflict. Both call for a broad base of fundamental work followed by appropriate advanced work. The ACM/IEEE-CS report specifies common requirements for all computing programs (including computer engineering) in terms of the subject material to be covered. This includes material from nine areas: (1) algorithms and data structures, (2) architecture, (3) artificial intelligence and robotics, (4) database and information retrieval, (5) human-computer communication, (6) numerical and sym-
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s bolic computation, (7) operating systems, (8) programming languages, and (9) software methodology and engineering. Additionally, substantial work in programming skills and in social, ethical, and professional issues is included. It should be noted that the coverage of the various areas is not even in the common requirements: some areas, such as human-computer communication and numerical and symbolic computation, are covered only in an introductory manner in the basic course work, while other areas, such as algorithms and data structures or architecture, receive more extensive coverage. Good programs in computer science provide a solid foundation based on theoretical principles and concepts, and these principles and concepts are reinforced in extensive practical exercises and examples. Hands-on laboratory work, both structured and unstructured, is important. Graduates of a computer science program should be well grounded in the fundamental concepts and problem-solving skills needed to design and develop new applications, usually software, or to design and develop computer systems software and utility programs. Peterson's  lists 1,058 programs in computer science. However, Peterson's not only allows institutions to designate the categories in which they have programs, but also allows multiple listings. Thus some programs in other areas, such as information systems, may also choose to be listed in computer science, and so it seems unlikely that there are 1,058 programs in computer science in the United States. Based on the experience of the first six years of operation, the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB) estimates that 200 to 400 programs may be appropriate for possible accreditation. (Currently there are 107 accredited programs at 106 institutions.) Additionally there are a good many programs at strong liberal arts colleges, but these colleges do not consider their programs to be professionally oriented so that accreditation is not appropriate. Many, if not most, of those programs would qualify as computer science programs as the category is intended here. There remain an undetermined number of very weak programs, whose computing components most often consist essentially of a few courses in programming, that may call themselves "computer science" but do not qualify under the characterization of that category here. We see, then, that there is a wide variation in the nature and quality of programs in computer science. Science and Engineering Indicators: 1989  shows 42,195 bachelor's graduates in computer science in 1986. Given the significant decline
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s in graduates from most programs that has occurred since then, it seems reasonable to expect that the current annual number of graduates should be about 28,000 to 30,000. This would seem to indicate that about 1,000 programs is not unreasonable. However, it is not clear what definition was used for "computer science" here. Thus, the actual number of programs that fall into this category and the number of graduates of such programs are no clearer for computer science than for the other categories. Computer Engineering Programs in the computer engineering category differ from the others in one significant way: they require a basic engineering core of science, mathematics, and engineering science. Accreditation of engineering programs by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology is generally accepted as important and expected. Currently there are 43 accredited programs titled Computer Engineering, and there are additional programs with alternative titles, such as Computer Science and Engineering, that are accredited under the criteria for computer engineering programs . Thus probably about 60 programs fall into this category. Data on the number of graduates were not found. The computing component for the computer engineering programs is essentially the same as for strong, professionally oriented programs in computer science. In general, the engineering programs tend to place more emphasis on computer hardware than do the computer science programs, and topics such as real-time systems and CAD/ CAM are also more heavily emphasized in computer engineering. Software Engineering There apparently are no undergraduate programs in software engineering currently. However, some efforts have been made to move toward offering undergraduate degree programs in software engineering, and a few departments are considering doing so. The Software Engineering Institute has published curriculum recommendations for undergraduate software engineering programs . Software engineering programs, as envisioned by the Software Engineering Institute recommendations, emphasize an engineering approach to developing software. Such programs would have substantial components in mathematics and science and would also include such subjects as project management and team management. Graduates of these programs would be familiar with basic concepts
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s of computer science, but the programs would emphasize disciplined, engineering approaches to software development. A great many, if not most, computer scientists in academia feel that software engineering is more appropriate as a track or concentration within a computer science (or computer engineering) program than as a separate degree program. However, there is increasing pressure from industrial and government representatives to address what they perceive to be an inadequacy in the capabilities of computer science graduates. A new DARPA program offers the possibility of substantial funding to initiate an undergraduate program in software engineering. Computational Science Computational science is an area that refers to the capabilities needed to work efficiently and effectively in the application of large-scale computing to problems in science. Subjects such as numerical computation, parallel computation, and significant work in science are important components. There are very few, if any, undergraduate programs in computational science currently. The impetus for computational science programs came from physical and biological scientists who felt that computer science was not producing the capabilities needed to solve their computational problems. (This is similar to the impetus for software engineering programs.) Several efforts are under consideration to offer tracks within existing programs, or perhaps separate degree programs, in computational science, but most of this activity is confined to the graduate level. COMPARISON OF BACCALAUREATE PROGRAMS In summary, the following are characteristics of the baccalaureate program classifications given in the previous section: Information Systems Programs Have significant computing and business components. Emphasize software development and information management in the computing component. Are different from MOIS programs (more technical, less behavioral or functional). Have curriculum recommendations  . Have no program accreditation mechanism. Produce graduates for information systems development.
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s Information Science Programs Have significant computing, cognitive science, and decision science components. Have substantial overlap of computing components with information systems programs. Have no standard curriculum recommendations. Have no program accreditation mechanism. Produce graduates for information systems development, especially decision-oriented and highly interactive systems. Computer Science Programs Have a stronger and broader computing component than programs in the previous two categories. Have stronger mathematics and science than the previous two categories. Have standard curriculum recommendations . Have an accreditation mechanism for professionally oriented programs . Produce graduates for a variety of applications, depending on advanced work. Computer Engineering Programs Have significant computing and ''engineering" components. Have significant overlap with computer science in computing components. Have standard curriculum recommendations . Have an accreditation mechanism . Produce graduates similar to those for professionally oriented computer science programs. One way to view these four categories is that their intersection is in computer science, and that other categories represent specialties related to computer science. This view works better for information science and information systems than for computer engineering, because there is substantial overlap between computer engineering and the category computer science as defined here. Further, many, if not most, programs in the other categories include computer science courses in their curricular requirements. Thus computer science can be viewed as providing the primary subject-area basis for the other three categories.
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s SUMMARY FOR TWO-YEAR AND GRADUATE PROGRAMS Two-Year Programs The four categories that were used for baccalaureate programs are not good for the two-year programs. Appropriate categories for these programs were mentioned in "Overview of Programs" above. One aspect of the two-year programs that is quite different from the baccalaureate programs is that many of the two-year programs are highly specialized or are oriented toward office functions. Examples are programs with titles such as CAD/CAM and Microprocessor Applications. Additionally, programs such as "Computer Service Technician" are not comparable to any four-year programs. Two-year programs do include programs that would generally fall under the information systems and computer science categories. However, the two-year programs do not generally have the depth of course work in the major or the level of supporting science and mathematics course work that is found in baccalaureate programs. Two-year programs are usually intended to teach sufficient skills and current technology to allow graduates to obtain entry-level jobs. Graduate Programs Both master's and doctoral programs exist in information systems, information science, computer science, and computer engineering. There are also master's programs in software engineering and computational science, and doctoral programs in computational science. Many master's programs are professionally oriented (rather than research oriented) or have a professionally oriented track. Some variations, such as programs specializing in telecommunications and decision support systems, are more prevalent at the graduate level than they are at the undergraduate level. These more specialized programs provide advanced work that is in general more focused than in most undergraduate programs, and they are usually professionally oriented. CONCLUSIONS Baccalaureate programs in computing generally fall into four categories: information systems, information science, computer science, and computer engineering. However, the title of a particular program does not necessarily indicate the category to which it belongs,
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s because there is a great deal of variation in the titles of programs relative to their content. Similar categories exist at the graduate level, but there are more specialized programs at the graduate level than at the undergraduate level. Examples are programs with software engineering, decision support systems, medical information systems, or telecommunications systems specializations. These may exist as tracks in more general programs, such as computer science or information science, or they may be separate degree programs. The lack of any standardization for degree titles makes meaningful classification of graduates for reporting and analysis very difficult, if not essentially impossible. It should be noted that accreditation criteria for information systems and information science programs would help here. However, even the existence of an accreditation mechanism for these programs would not be effective without strong support from industry, and significant industrial support has not occurred for the existing computer science accreditation mechanism. Another serious problem in trying to do a reasonable analysis of existing programs is the lack of data, especially meaningful data. Obtaining such data would be a formidable task, and it is doubtful that obtaining accurate data for the four categories identified for baccalaureate programs would be feasible. However, even having accurate data on such things as the number of programs and the number of graduates for various degree titles would be helpful in determining the nature of the products of U.S. degree programs in computing. It should also be noted that it would be feasible to develop good estimates of degree production for the four categories, but it would require a substantial effort to do so. A final point is that what academic institutions are producing and what industry needs can be successfully identified only through cooperative efforts among academia, industry, and government. This may seem obvious, but it is stated to emphasize that, for example, industry cannot develop specifications for its needs without working with appropriate representatives on the academic side, because such a set of specifications would not be understood correctly by those in academia. Similarly, if academia attempts to design programs to meet the needs of industry without doing so in cooperation with industry, these efforts are bound to miss the mark. Industry participation is key here, because without clear interest and support from industry, neither academia nor government will be motivated to make the required effort to address the problem. Indeed, if there is no interest from industry, then it can be argued that there really is no problem.
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Computing Professionals: Changing Needs for the 1990s REFERENCES  Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), 1990. Criteria for Accrediting Programs in Engineering in the United States . Computing Science Accreditation Board, Inc., Stamford, Conn.  Chronicle Data Publications, 1990. Chronicle Two-Year College Databook. Chronicle Press, Moravia, N.Y.  Computing Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB), 1990. Criteria for Accrediting Programs in Computer Science in the United States . Computing Science Accreditation Board, Inc., Stamford, Conn.  Ford, G., 1990. 1990 SEI Report on Undergraduate Software Engineering Education. Technical Report CMU/SEI-90-TR-3. Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, March.  Ford, G., 1991. 1991 SEI Report on Graduate Software Engineering Education. Technical Report CMU/SEI-91-TR-2. Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, April.  Gries, D., and Marsh, D., 1991. "The 1989–1990 Taulbee Survey Report." Computing Research News 3(January):1.  Longenecker, H.E., Jr., and Feinstein, D.L., 1991. "A Comprehensive Survey of USA and Canadian Undergraduate Programs in Information Systems." Journal of Information Systems Education 3 (Spring):1.  Longenecker, H.E., Jr., and Feinstein, D.L. (eds.), 1991. Information Systems. Data Processing Management Association, Park Ridge, Ill.  National Science Board, 1989. Science and Engineering Indicators , 1989. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.  Nunamaker, J.F., Jr., Couger, J.D., and Davis, G.B. (eds.), 1982. "Information Systems Curriculum Recommendations for the 1980s: Undergraduate and Graduate Programs." Communications of the ACM 25 (November):11.  Peterson's Annual Guides to Graduate Study. Vols. 1–6. Peterson's Guides, Inc., Princeton, N.J.  Peterson's Guide to Four-Year Colleges. Peterson's Guides, Inc., Princeton, N.J.  Tucker, A.B., et al., 1991. Computing Curricula 1991. ACM Press, New York.
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