Computer Science Rankings on the Rise

Computer Science Rankings on the Rise
UH Program among Top 50 in Nation

Computer Science at University of Houston is on the rise, placing in the Top 50 in the nation according to two objective ranking programs.

The Department of Computer Science is among the top 50 U.S. universities listed in the 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). In addition, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges places UH’s funding for computer science in the Top 50. Only two Texas universities are ranked higher than UH.

“It is satisfying to receive these excellent rankings. We’ve known for a while that our department is quite competitive with the best U.S. computer science departments; to see that showing up in the rankings and statistics is extremely gratifying,” said Jaspal Subhlok, chairman of the UH Department of Computer Science.

For the ARWU computer science category, institutions are evaluated according to their academic or research performance. Factors considered include faculty and alumni winners of Turing Awards, the number of highly cited researchers and of papers indexed in the Science Citation Index-Expanded, and percentage of papers published in the top 20 percent of computer science journals.

“The department has made great strides in the last 10 years in cutting-edge research. We have world-class research programs in a number of areas of computer science, including databases and data mining, graphics and visualization, high performance computing, image analysis and pattern recognition, and security,” Subhlok said.

Emphasis on Interdisciplinary Research
The department places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research, especially at the intersection of health and computing, with world renowned groups in Biometrics, Bioinformatics, Cardiovascular Informatics, Computational Physiology, Computational Surgery, and Medical Robotics.

The combination of talented faculty and an emphasis on areas of national strategic importance has led to a quadrupling of research funding in the last decade. The NSF’s Survey of Research and Development Expenditures ranks expenditures in the field of computer science from all sources of funding. Computer science at UH ranks at 45 in the most recent survey, which uses FY2009 data.

Subhlok cites several initiatives that have helped the department rise in the rankings and that set it apart from other computer science departments. First and foremost is a strong emphasis on recruiting outstanding faculty and providing them with resources to help them establish world-class research programs. The department boasts four winners of NSF CAREER awards.

Student Recruitment – Scholarships and Innovative Coursework
Attracting the most talented students into the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. programs is a high priority of the department. Scholarship programs, such as GANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, are an important ingredient in successful student recruitment.

“In just a few years, the department has achieved the remarkable feat of doubling the size of the Ph.D. program and tripling the size of the undergraduate program while at the same time significantly enhancing the quality of both programs,” Subhlok said.

Innovative coursework also plays a key role in attracting and retaining the best students.

“Our Interactive Game Development Program is wildly popular and has rapidly gained a national reputation after phenomenal student successes at the Microsoft Imagine Cup in the past three years. A Software Development Practices course provides hands-on industry experience by matching student teams with diverse organizations, such as NASA, BP, and Deloitte,” he said.

Departmental Vision
Subhlok’s vision for the department focuses on improving the quality and expanding the size of the department’s research and academic programs.

“The city of Houston has a growing need for talented computing professionals as new jobs increasingly require computing expertise. We have shown that our students can compete with the best,” he said. Plans on the drawing board include M.S. degree programs targeted to specific industries, in particular medical, energy, and entertainment, and research programs in areas of rising importance, such as human computer interfaces and robotics.

To learn more about undergraduate and graduate opportunities in UH’s Department of Computer Science, visit

- Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics