After experiencing unprecedented enrollment over the past several years, the computer science department at the University of North Carolina has been stretched to the limit, says department chair Kevin Jeffay. The tipping point happened in November, when staffing and budget constraints prevented the department from offering even half of the seats demanded by students.

While the issue has since been resolved, growing stress on the department’s limited resources will remain a challenge for at least the near future.

Interest in computer science is not a trend unique to UNC. Across the country, college students are realizing the value of the skills the degree offers. As a result, enrollment in computer science courses has skyrocketed over the past several years. 

Jeffay says there are many reasons for this trend. Skills learned in computer science are applicable to a number of fields. Students also want to build apps and websites, they want to contribute in the workforce of the future and they want jobs with high starting salaries. He says there is a “huge feeding frenzy for grads” as tech recruiters set up shop in Sitterson Hall to talk directly to students. 

National stats show a need for the skillsets too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of computer science jobs will grow by 22 percent by 2020. Talented students are flocking to computer science classes and companies are flocking to computer science departments to hire them.

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Editor’s note: ExitEvent is a news partner of WRAL TechWire.