by Ally Hutzler
Manhattan College recently announced that it will begin offering a master’s degree in computer science starting in the fall of 2018.
The 30-credit curriculum is designed to prepare students for leadership roles in the industry, as well as serving as a basis for those students who wish to continue their education through a Ph.D. program.
Igor Aizenberg, professor and chair of the computer science department, said that the idea for the master’s program started when he was being interviewed by the college for his position in December 2015. It took about a year for the program to be developed by the school and approved by New York state this past September.
“The college is working to have more master’s programs because this may help to have more students,” Aizenberg said. “Not only in the graduate programs but in the undergraduate population as well.”
Aizenberg stressed the importance of a computer science master’s program in particular because in five to ten years from now, in order to excel in a professional career in the computer science industry, one will essentially need to have a master’s degree.
“We’re surrounded by computers there is a very high demand for professionals with a fresh knowledge of computer science,” Aizenberg said.
At MC students can typically finish the master’s program in computer science in two semesters and only technically need to take 24 credits because two classes that they complete during their undergraduate career will count towards their master’s degree.
There are currently 109 undergraduate students in the computer science program, and Aizenberg stated that many of them are already expressing interest in staying a fifth year to get their master’s degree. Due to the peaked interest, Aizenberg thinks that the department will need to hire at least one more professor to teach at both the undergraduate and graduate level because right now faculty members are fully loaded.
Aizenberg is excited that the master’s program will allow faculty to do research at a much higher level because graduate students can be more involved in doing qualitative research. This can even lead to projects being published in journals and academic publications.
The computer science department has faculty from all over the world including India, Nepal, China and Ukraine. The master’s program hopes to draw in international students, Aizenberg states, adding a multicultural element to the student experience.
“I believe that this is a right step in the development of not only the department but for the school of science and Manhattan College because this will attract more people here and we hope to attract international students to this program so this will be a contribution to diversity,” Aizenberg said.
College also offers minor in Chinese
The College continues to add to its catalog offerings with a new minor in Chinese. Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, and the minor will allow students to gain the necessary language skills for international careers in business, economics, engineering, and government.
Marlene Gottlieb, professor and chair of the modern languages and literatures department, states that while the college has been offering courses in Chinese for the past five years the student interest in continuing to learn the difficult language sparked the need for the creation of a minor program.
“[Chinese] isn’t like Spanish or French where after two semesters you can really get around and talk to people,” Gottlieb said. “Not Chinese, it’s really difficult, it’s probably one of the most difficult languages.”
Ting Bell, an adjunct professor in the modern languages and literatures department, states that the Chinese language is very interactive.
“An MRI scan shows that while you study Chinese, four parts of the brain lights up,” Bell said. “The Chinese language is more like looking at a picture, meanwhile the English language only lights up one part of the brain.”
The Chinese language has over 5,000 writing characters as well as different speaking tones and sounds, making it extremely difficult to learn anything of true value after just two classes. As a result, the modern languages department kept creating courses as students needed and wanted them.
Gottlieb is still waiting for the statistics to come through, but she believes that the department already has about six students completing the minor in Chinese and ten MC students taking the first year of the language.
Manhattan College has a partnership with Lehman College in languages. That means that MC students who want to take a course that we don’t offer can go to Lehman, without paying any tuition fees, to take the class and vice versa. Typically, Lehman students come to Manhattan to take Chinese and Arabic, and Manhattan students attend Lehman for advanced Japanese courses.
Bell, who has been teaching Chinese at MC for the past four semesters, states that the rise in student interest in the language is partly due to the increased corporate partnership between China and the United States.
“The country needs it,” Bell said. “In the coordination between business and engineering sectors, people are saying they want to learn from the West and now the West is saying that there are things we can learn from China as well, and they need people who know the language to do it.”