Harvard has seen a surge in applicants who want to concentrate in a particular field

Harvard: It's Time to Make the SAT Optional
Harvard: It's Time to Make the SAT Optional

For the second year in a row, Harvard College had a record-breaking number of applications — with a particularly big surge in students seeking to major in computer science.

The Harvard Crimson reports 39,044 students applied for around 2,000 spots in the class of 2020, narrowly beating last year's total of 37,305 applicants.

Moreover, the number of applicants interested in pursuing computer science increased by 22.1% over last year.

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Admissions director Marlyn E. McGrath told The Crimson this huge increase may have been due to the wildly popular onlineComputer Science 50: "Introduction to Computer Science 1" class. That class enrolled 12% of Harvard students when it was offered last fall, and counts Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki among its alumni.

The dean of admissions and financial aid, William R. Fitzsimmons, told The Harvard Crimson that he also thinks more applicants were drawn to the program because of major donations from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and hedge-fund power player John Paulson.

Though Harvard's computer science program has grown immeasurably in size, and prestige, the Silicon Valley-based Stanford is still slightly more competitive. In 2015, Stanford had a 5.05% acceptance rate, narrowly edging out Harvard's 5.3%, reports Business Insider's Peter Jacobs.

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