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Professional doctorate a New Zealand first

Professional doctorate a New Zealand first

I.T professionals can now do an advanced qualification while improving their work skills with New Zealand's first professional doctorate in computing.

UNITEC's Donald Joyce, Director of the institute's postgraduate computing programmes, says that unlike research-based PhDs, the Doctor of Computing is a career-oriented qualification that allows practitioners to explore issues from their workplace.

"It offers a higher level of professional qualification than has been available in the past. The research the students conduct for their theses will be informed by, and relevant to, their practical work."

Professor Joyce says this applied-research approach has already worked successfully in UNITEC's Master of Computing programme. "Masters students have undertaken applied research in areas such as the use of software in engineering project management, wireless network security, internet payment systems and e-commerce, and it is expected that doctoral students will conduct more advanced research in similar areas.

Before starting research for their theses, students complete advanced coursework on weekend block courses, supplemented by e-learning resources.

The timetables are designed so students don't have to put their careers on hold while they study. "We expect the students to bring their specialised interests, perspectives and experience to class."

A group of representatives from the IT sector helped develop the DComp and Professor Joyce says computing professionals are positive about the doctorate. "The feedback we've been getting from industry has been heartening."

Andrew Mason, a senior partner at IT company BSA Consulting Group, welcomes the new qualification. "Any move which provides more academic stiffness to the spine of the IT industry is a good thing and to be encouraged."

The Doctor of Computing is available at UNITEC's Mount Albert campus from February this year.

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