About Us



The year 2023 marks a significant milestone for the University of South Florida (USF). We proudly became the first public university in Florida to be invited to join the Association of American Universities (AAU) in nearly four decades. USF is one of only two institutions from the State University System of Florida to hold this prestigious AAU membership. Despite being among the youngest institutions to be inducted, our swift ascent to the AAU is a testament to our dedication to excellence.

The Computer Science and Engineering department at USF, the second-largest department on campus, has substantially contributed to this achievement. With a robust student body of over 3,000, our efforts are further underscored by the Academic Analytics Scholarly Research Index (AAD 2021). By this comprehensive measure that considers grants, articles, conferences, awards, and citations, the USF CSE department proudly stands out with a strong mid-tier ranking among Computer Science departments at public and private AAU universities, showcasing its robust academic performance and significant contributions to the field.

The timing of our AAU induction is right, considering the rising tech sector in the Tampa Bay region. Over the past five years, we've witnessed a 30% increase in tech job growth, and projections suggest an addition of more than 3,700 jobs by 2027. Forbes has recognized Tampa as Florida's technological nexus, accounting for over a quarter of the state's tech employment. With 405 Bachelor's, 68 Master's, and 11 Ph.D. graduates in computer science, computer engineering, information technology, and cybersecurity in the academic year 2022-23, USF is poised to continue supplying top-tier tech professionals to the region's expanding tech enterprises.

Despite significant enrollment pressures, USF CSE continues to hold top ranks. We are in the top 15% (rank 40) of 260 CS units in both public and private institutions, according to Academic Analytics AAD 2021. Additionally, we find ourselves in a prestigious company of peer-ranked departments, including the University of Florida, Duke University, the University of California at Davis, and the University of Texas at Austin. U.S. News ranked our Computer Engineering graduate program at 42nd  and the Computer Science program at 65th among U.S. public universities in 2024.

Our undergraduate program, the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity, recently underwent an ABET review and now stands as our third ABET-accredited degree. With an enrollment exceeding 675 students, this program is seeing rapid growth. In a significant stride for our department and local high schools, we secured a $1.39 million grant from the Florida Department of Education to enhance our cybersecurity capabilities. Furthermore, a new $3.7 million NSF CyberCorps Scholarship grant will amplify our commitment to cybersecurity education.

USF CSE's online initiatives are flourishing. The Pathway to Computing graduate certificate program, a precursor to our Master of Science in Computer Science, has grown from 8 to 30 students within a year. Our newly introduced online graduate AI certificate is already showing promising results.

Research, too, has been a hallmark of our achievements. Our department’s annual research expenditure for 2022-23 reached $4.5 million, maintaining last year's figure and marking a 75% increase over the past five years. Our faculty is executing $18 million in active awards for impactful research initiatives funded by esteemed bodies like the NSF, IARPA, US Army, DoD, NIH, NIST, and more. 

In addition to the existing programs, we continue to forge innovative academic collaborations like a school of computing. With cross-disciplinary initiatives like the USF Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI+X), the USF Center for Cryptographic Research, and the USF Quantum Initiative, we are pushing the boundaries of what's possible in computing education.

Our dedication to broadening participation in computing is unwavering. A grant from Melinda Gates' Pivotal Ventures, in collaboration with the Center for Inclusive Computing at Northeastern University, has been instrumental in implementing evidence-based strategies to attract and retain more women in computer science. The results are evident, with our recent graduating class boasting 28.7% women, up from 18% two years ago.

The importance of external partnerships cannot be overstated. A notable example is the $1.5 million investment by The Rapid7 Cybersecurity Foundation, which will provide hands-on learning opportunities for our budding cybersecurity professionals by establishing a Cyber Threat Intelligence Lab. This gift was recently followed by CSE Professor Simon Ou and researchers from Rapid7 securing another $1.5 million in external funding from the National Science Foundation and Office of Naval Research. Furthermore, our active Computing Partners Program, boasting members like Amazon Pay, CAE, Johnson and Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Nielsen, and Raymond James, ensures that our students get practical experience through internships and job opportunities.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape fueled by AI, Cybersecurity, and Quantum Computing, the importance of a robust CSE department cannot be overstated. Investing in USF CSE is investing in the leaders, innovators, and creators of tomorrow and the transformative technology they will bring.

Sudeep Sarkar
Distinguished University Professor and Chair