Indranil Banerjee was distraught after he failed to crack the engineering entrance exams. He thought he would never be able to realise his dream of becoming a software engineer. Little did he know his dream would be reality a few years later! After completing bachelors degree with statistics and mathematics, he opted for a masters in computer application (MCA) degree from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, on the advice of his college teacher. Even before he could complete the last semester of his course, he was flooded with job offers from software companies. “I never thought my MCA would be so much in demand. In fact, I found to my surprise during campus interviews that MCAs have the same job opportunity as those with bachelors of technology (BTech), bachelors of engineering (BE) or masters of computer science (MSc) degrees,” says Banerjee a software architect with an IT major.
Agrees Soumya Sen, a faculty member of Calcutta University’s A.K. Choudhury School of Information Technology (AKSIT), which offers MCA. “Most big IT companies don’t differentiate among an MCA, a BTech and a BE. However, where an MCA scores is in the level of maturity and education. It takes three years to pursue MCA after graduation, whereas BTech or BE requires four years after Plus Two. As such, MCAs are perceived to be more mature because they go through a longer duration of academics. Moreover, MCA is a postgraduate qualification and hence such degree holders are eligible to appear for different examinations where masters is essential.”
“MCAs stand tall in the job market,” says Ranjeet Srivastava, a software architect at Oracle. “They are in demand not only in the private sector but also in the government sector in the railways, ministries, various research institutions such as the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Defence Research and Development Organisation and in public sector banks,” points out Srivastava.
“The present employment opportunities for an MCA are just as good as it is for any student with a BE in computer science, which makes for tough competition in the job market. A student who has done MCA is comparable with those who have done other degrees in computer science. And an MCA is in no way less skilled,” says Krishnamoorthi Makkithaya, head of the MCA department, Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Manipal, Karnataka.
An MCA degree can also be useful for those who want to join academics. “MCAs can appear for the National Eligibility Test, an entrance examination for postgraduate candidates who wish to qualify for university-level teaching jobs. They can also appear for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering and pursue MTech. They also have the opportunity to join PhD programmes,” says Sen.
Basically, the job opportunities are immense. MCAs can work as systems analysts, systems developers, web designers, consultants and trouble shooter for IT companies, says Ch. Aswani Kumar, associate professor, Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore.
So, what is MCA all about? “MCA is concerned with the design and development of computer applications in various domains such as web applications, e-commerce, multimedia applications, security applications, and applications in mobile and wireless computing domains,” explains Amlan Chakrabarti, head of AKSIT.
Chakraborty says students desirous of studying MCA should first set their sights on getting a first class honours, as most recruiters take students who have an overall 60 per cent throughout their career. Second, they should prepare well for the various MCA entrance examinations. Third, they should take computer science as a pass paper in graduation, which will help them to acquire knowledge about the basics of computer science. This will be of much help for the advanced courses they will be learning in MCA. Fourth, they should try to keep mathematics as one of their honours or pass papers in graduation. “One can have a better grip on computer-related subjects if he or she is good in maths,” explains Chakraborty.
Though students applying for MCA programmes at the universities of Calcutta and Jadavpur need to have mathematics as one of their subjects in graduation, many others don’t. “MCA is a degree where students from almost all backgrounds (pure science, bioscience and commerce) could join though most recruiters give preference to those who had mathematics in graduation,” says Sen. Ideally, MCA is a good choice for those who have spent three years in a general science discipline, says Goutam Paul, assistant professor, department of computer science, Jadavpur University. As software applications require high analytical ability, those with mathematics and physics backgrounds are in demand in the job market, adds Kumar.
So, what does it take to succeed in this profession? “One should have problem-solving skills, analytical skills, the ability to apply one’s knowledge to practical situations, communication skills, and above all the passion to excel,” says M. Murugesan, director, education, Computer Society of India, Chennai. He has some advice for those who want to pursue MCA. “Choose a reputed institution after careful evaluation of the infrastructure, faculty profile, industry collaboration and reputation,” says Murugesan.
There are many institutions which offer MCA through distance education but experts believe it’s best not to opt for these courses. “Recruiters do not take into account degrees obtained through distance education,” says A.K. Karunakar, associate professor, MIT, Manipal. Vasudha Bhatnagar, head of the department of computer science, University of Delhi, says the yardstick for choosing a good MCA course is that it must include rigorous computer science courses, accompanied by a plethora of programming assignments that teach application of the taught concepts.
However, to join an MCA programme it is important to do well in the entrance test. Primarily an MCA test comprises mathematics, logical and quantitative reasoning, computer science and English. “But students are also tested for aptitude, temperament and attitude. Most MCA entrance questions (except a few like Delhi University and Jadavpur) are of multiple choice ones, in which one is either right or wrong and hence one has to be trained to be fast, confident and knowledgeable to be able to answer correctly. So, a thorough learning of the concepts is important. Subject knowledge backed by common sense can make you a winner,” says Sanjay Aggarwal, director, Sanmac, which prepares students for MCA entrance exams.
So, if you are waiting to make a mark in the IT sector, just go for it.
- Starting level: Rs 3 lakh to Rs 6 lakh per annum
- Mid-level: Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per annum
- Senior level: Above Rs 12 lakh per annum
WHERE YOU LEARN
- Indian Institute of
- Birla Institute of
- National Institute of
Technology, Kurukshetra and Jamshedpur
- Jadavpur University,
- Calcutta University
- Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi
- Delhi University
TOP MCA EXAMS
- IIT Joint Admission Test for MCA
- NIT MCA Common Entrance Test (NIMCET)
- Jawaharlal Nehru University MCA Test
- West Bengal Joint Entrance Exam MCA (WB-JECA)
- Birla Institute of Technology