Information technology takes increasing precedence in the lives of people today, with the pace of change being almost faster than the changing faces in a Beijing opera.
In order to keep professionals up to the hectic pace of such progress, City University of Hong Kong offers programmes under the department of Computer Science. There are two masters in science (MSc) degrees available: computer science and electronic commerce (E-Commerce), and a postgraduate certificate in information security.
While the MSc in Computer Science programme requires 33 credit units with three compulsory courses and eight electives; the MSc in Electronic Commerce with study of both technological and business aspects of E-Commerce requires 36. Both programmes can be completed full time or part time, which offers professionals greater flexibility.
"The master in science in computer science is a relatively flexible programme. There are three required courses but the attractive feature is the large number of elective courses so the students can choose areas they are interested in," says Edward Chan, associate professor and programme leader of the Computer Science department.
The three required courses are software engineering, computer networks and Internet, and distributed systems. The elective courses include multimedia and information security, which has become a hot topic in the IT world today because of the security concerns over Internet banking and online payment services.
Most of the students are working professionals who come from a background in business, information technology (IT) or computer science, and wish to upgrade their skills and knowledge for their jobs, or for career advancement or career change. Most believe that obtaining an MSc is a vital step in their career towards advancement.
In addition to such students from the professional IT field, the MSc programmes are also being taken by students immediately moving on from their undergraduate degree. They want to gain still more specialised and in depth knowledge so that they enter the workplace with the highest qualifications and most extensive IT background, says Dr Chan.
The resources available to the students are the same as those on government-funded programmes and also at well-equipped computer science labs. But the best resources are human - the full time teaching staff who have a strong teaching record plus the charisma to keep their students interested in the programme, other than the elective courses.
"This is a big advantage over some institutions which employ part-time staff from outside," says C H Lee, associate head and associate professor. "In addition, all the teaching takes place on campus which means that students need not travel to different locations for courses."
Those who look for career upgrade but with little time available for study can take the postgraduate certificate in information security. This is a shorter programme which selects courses from the MSc programme and equips the students with the most up-to-date knowledge in Information security.