EAGER:Broadening the Pathway: A case study analysis of the implications of math and science on computer science graduate's employability Grant

EAGER:Broadening the Pathway: A case study analysis of the implications of math and science on computer science graduate's employability .


  • This proposal is designed to understand the salary potential and employability of students who graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science (BACS) – primarily distinguished by the removal of calculus and physics requirements from the traditional computer science curriculum. Given the numerous studies that identify gateway courses like calculus and physics as impediments to students’ persistence in engineering and computer science AND their particular impact on women, Black and Hispanic students, the removal of this barrier has incredible potential for broadening participation in computing. This critical instance case study was designed to explore the student and administrative motivations for pursuing this alternative pathway and compare student employment and salary information to their Bachelor of Science in Computer Science peers. The study will consist of the following data elements: curriculum analysis and comparison, interviews with administrators that advocated for the new degree, interviews with administrators that did not advocate for the new degree, interviews with students that completed the BACS – prior to graduation and 6 months after starting their new job (or post-graduation). Likewise, a survey of all graduates from both degrees will capture data such as degree awarded, employment status, and self-reported starting salary information. The guiding theoretical frameworks will be cultural-historical activity theory, social identity theory and anti-deficit achievement frameworks. The results of this work could either serve as a cautionary tale for institutions considering similar programs OR it could serve as the basis for a deeper, more critical review of the requirements currently in place in BSCS programs. Are calculus and physics courses required for prosperity in computing or are they simply a barrier to equity? Furthermore, this inquiry aligns with the exploration prompted by the National Science Foundation’s Computing in Undergraduate Education (CUE) solicitation that inspires questions related to expanding computing beyond the boundaries of traditional Computer Science programs, increasing diverse population participation, and scaling interventions for broader impact. The risk and reward associated with this work is contingent on the fact that underrepresentation in computing is such a prolific problem that potentially unmasking a long-standing barrier could have immense implications for how we design curriculum moving forward. Results from this study are high reward because computer science is an area of critical national need and national data suggest that broadening participation is paramount in the continued success and preeminence of the nation on the global technology stage.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • October 1, 2020 - September 30, 2022

sponsor award ID

  • CNS 2035326

local award ID

  • AWD000000011624