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Department of Computer Science

University of California, Santa Barbara

15 Years of Growth in Computer Science at UCSB

Over the past fifteen years, the Computer Science Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) has been growing at an amazing pace. Between 1996 and 2011, the sizes of our graduate and undergraduate programs have more than doubled, and the average research funding our department receives per year has quadrupled. More importantly, this outstanding growth has been accompanied by significant increases both in quality and recognition of our programs.

Growth in Faculty and Funding

chart of growth in funding

In 1995, our department received a total of $1.7 million in research funding. In 2009, our research funding peaked at $11.8 million - six-fold increase in the amount of funding. In the most recent statistics published by the National Science Foundation (NSF), our department ranked #21 in federal funding for academic research.

chart of growth in faculty

This six-fold increase in funding was achieved by a 100% increase in the size of our faculty. In the last fifteen years we added 16 new faculty positions to our department to reach our current faculty size of 33. Our 33 permanent faculty are committed to excellence in teaching and innovative research programs at the leading edge of computer science. Research interests of our faculty span a broad spectrum of areas in computer science and related disciplines: theory of computation, algorithm design and analysis, software engineering, computer engineering, parallel and distributed computing, databases, data mining, bioinformatics, computational science and engineering, networks and internet technologies, multimedia computing, and computer security. Interdisciplinary research in our department increased significantly in the last fifteen years. Several faculty members have joint appointments in other departments such as Geography, Mechanical Engineering and Physics and have leadership positions in interdisciplinary programs such as Media Arts and Technology and Computational Science and Engineering.

Our faculty received numerous awards in the last fifteen years. Among our faculty are a member of the National Academy of Engineering; Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Fourteen faculty members in our program are recipients of the NSF CAREER award. Three members of our faculty were included in the MIT Technology Review's list of top innovators under the age of 35.

Graduate Program

chart of growth in grads

In 1996, 45 PhD and 39 MS students were enrolled in our graduate program. Fifteen years later, in 2011, we had 130 PhD and 52 MS students, corresponding to a 189% increase in our PhD enrollment. While increasing the size of our graduate program, we also improved the success rate of our students. In 1996 we graduated 2 PhD and 16 MS students, whereas, in 2010, we graduated 14 PhD and 27 MS students. This corresponds to more than 6-fold increase in our PhD production, and more than 50% increase in our MS production. In 2005, our department ranked 23rd among the Computer Science Departments in the nation in terms of the number of PhD degrees granted that year. In conjunction with this impressive growth during the last fifteen years, our graduate programs also significantly improved in quality and recognition. The National Research Council (NRC) ranked UCSB among the top-10 CS programs in the United States.

chart of growth in grad degrees

Our department's efforts in creating an outstanding graduate program has been recognized at the UCSB campus by two awards in 2007. In addition to an Outstanding Graduate Mentorship Award given to a member of our faculty by the UCSB Academic Senate, our Department received the Departmental Graduate Mentorship Award from the UCSB Graduate Council and Graduate Division. Our department was recognized for its exemplary efforts to recruit and retain top candidates, to increase diversity, and to create an open and collegial environment conducive to student success. The success of our graduate students after graduation has been a testament to the success of our graduate program. Our graduate students have been employed by top industry and academic institutions including: UCLA, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Case Western Reserve, Purdue, University of Florida, University of Delaware, University of Rochester, Cal Poly, Mount Holyoke, Cisco, Boeing, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Inktomi, Yahoo, IBM, Citrix Online,,, Apple, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon, Lucent and others.

Undergraduate Program

Our BS and BA degree programs are based on an undergraduate curriculum that contains a durable foundation and a comprehensive set of electives. The computer science B.S. program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. Additionally, the department offers advanced degrees and opportunities for research experience through our 5-year B.S./M.S./M.A. programs.

chart of growth in enrollment

In the last fifteen years, enrollment to our undergraduate programs increased from 246 students to 536 students. However, following a national trend, enrollment to our undergraduate programs decreased in the last couple of years compared to the peak enrollment in 2002.  In the past two years, the enrollment rebounded. Recognizing the increasing need for computing professionals with an interdisciplinary background, our department launched the Computer Engineering Program jointly with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in 2000. More recently, we created three new interdisciplinary emphases in our BA program. The new BA program emphases focus on computing as a way to impact diverse areas, such as biology, geography and economics.

chart of growth in ug degrees

In creating these new programs and emphases and maintaining our existing programs our goal is to help our students become computer professionals who are prepared for long-term careers in information technology. Our department maintains a very high standard for teaching. In the last five years, three members of our faculty received Distinguished Teaching Awards from the UCSB Academic Senate.

In summary, in the past fifteen years, our department has shown an outstanding performance in increasing the size and the quality of our graduate, undergraduate and research programs. While the data presented above point to an obvious upward trend of a department that is gaining visibility and reputation, we are particularly proud of our conscientious effort in fostering an open and collegial atmosphere for our students. We have extremely dedicated, award winning faculty and staff who consider the success of our graduate and undergraduate programs a top priority. Our goal is to continue the momentum we gained in the last fifteen years in improving the quality of our graduate, undergraduate and research programs.

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Updated 21-Sep-2011
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