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.


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 [2]. 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 [2]) 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;

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement