The Texas State University System Board of Regents has authorized Texas State University to offer an innovative new applied computer science Ph.D. program that will be the first in Texas to combine the application of computer science practice and theory with entrepreneurial and commercialization skills.
The board, meeting May 26 on Texas State’s Round Rock campus, also approved master of arts and master of science majors in sustainability studies, consolidating various existing programs at the university under the Department of Geography.
Texas State will begin offering the sustainability degree programs in the fall of 2016, pending final approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The computer science Ph.D. will be offered in the fall of 2017, following approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in addition to the Coordinating Board.
“These programs are important not only because they are addressing academic demands, but because they are critical to the sophisticated jobs of tomorrow that will help keep Texas’ competitive edge in a global economy,” said Gene Bourgeois, Texas State’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.
The Ph.D. in computer science degree recognizes that the future global competitiveness of Texas and the United States is heavily influenced by technological and computing innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The proposed program will extend the already substantial economic impact of Texas State on the Austin-San Antonio high-tech corridor and will address the critical shortage of graduates with the skills to sustain the technology-driven economy in Texas and beyond.
The unique focus of the curriculum sets the proposed program apart from all other Ph.D. programs in the state. The new program will integrate entrepreneurship and commercialization and is bolstered by faculty research areas that produce skills and knowledge needed in technology industries. The emphasis on collaboration with industry and on preparation of students for leadership positions in academia, industry, non-profit organizations and government laboratories is expected to drive not only original research but also innovative products and services.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that STEM will be one of the fastest growing job markets in the foreseeable future in the U.S. and that computing will be its fastest growing area. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the need for workers in Texas with a Ph.D. in computer science is growing rapidly and outpaces the predicted production of existing doctoral programs.
In addition to data from state and national labor market reports, the Department of Computer Science developed a software program to systematically collect and analyze the job postings on 18 relevant websites over a one-year period. This method resulted in 9,800 job postings stating that a Ph.D. in computer science or information technology is required or desired, but the U.S. only produces a total of 1,606 computer science Ph.D. graduates annually. There were 490 positions posted in Texas, yet the state’s existing programs only produced an average of 107 computer science Ph.D. holders per year in the last six years.
The Texas State University System Board of Regents is the governing body for Texas’ oldest university system, which comprises eight institutions: Lamar University; Sam Houston State University; Texas State University; Sul Ross State University; Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College; Lamar Institute of Technology; Lamar State College-Orange; and Lamar State College-Port Arthur.