Postgraduate study in IT
Across the island of Ireland there continues to be a yawning gap between the number of IT positions available and the number of skilled IT professionals able to fill them.
Governments across Europe forecast a high level of demand for software development graduates. As IT continues to become increasingly prevalent across all types of work, the opportunities for applying the skills acquired on a postgraduate course will also increase.
Skilled software practitioners are required in various industries, ranging from banking to manufacturing, and of course the IT industry itself. Graduates can also combine skills in areas such as consultancy, software localisation, training and support, and technical writing.
There is a wide variety of courses available, with new disciplines emerging all the time. Depending on the area you wish to specialise in, it's worth shopping around. Taught, full-time and part-time courses are on offer and distance learning is also an option, aided by developments in e-learning. Most masters programmes have a major project as part of the course requirement.
IT is one of the easiest fields to convert to. The discipline welcomes graduates of all backgrounds who have an interest in the area and are keen to develop it. Merging specialisations in this way seems to be a growing trend, encouraged by government investment in ICT and science at postgraduate level.
The Graduate Skills Conversion Programme aims to provide graduates with the opportunity to acquire qualifications for employment in the ICT area (see www.hea.ie/en/skills+funding).
A composite fee (€2,500 in 2010-2011) applies to all courses under the programme.
While funding is available from funding bodies such as Science Foundation Ireland, this is usually awarded to senior/lead researchers who in turn make funding available to research students who apply directly to the college itself for research awards. Additional funding is also available from IRCSET as well as grants from the local authority.
Issues to consider
- Even taught courses have a substantial element of research.
- The level of progression at postgraduate level is much faster and more intense than at undergraduate level. Unless you can make a full commitment to the course, you might find yourself quickly falling behind.
- The college year is very short and you might feel as if you have just started the course when the graduate recruitment fairs and application deadlines appear. Don't miss out on these important events and dates!