Full-time/Cooperative Education Diploma 5500dipma


Become a software developer

BCIT's Computer Systems Technology (CST) two-year diploma program combines computer systems theory with hands-on practical experience in software development. You'll learn software engineering and programming from industry professionals, and gain experience working on real projects, from concept to deployment. In second year, specialty options add depth and further hone your skills.

The CST diploma is a widely-recognized credential that is highly regarded by employers. Graduates emerge with the well-rounded skills essential for a career analyzing, designing, and developing software solutions.

Start Here
Apply to Enter into CST
Acquire fundamental software development skills in a
Common First Year
Advance to Second Year
(a combination of common courses
and option-specific courses
) and
Choose a Specialty Option

Enter Workforce


  • Common first year sets the foundation – here are the core skills you'll need as a professional software developer
  • Work on at least two industry projects so you're ready to work in the real-world
  • Optional co-op component for broader applied experience (competitive entry)
  • Second year options allow you to further your skills in specialty areas

Who should apply for Computer Systems Technology?

The CST diploma program is right for you if:

  • You're interested in software development
  • You enjoy problem-solving, often in teams
  • You're enthusiastic about using technology, computers, and software systems to make things better
  • You're ready to apply yourself to prepare for a career in the evolving and rapidly expanding Computing and IT sector

What grads can do

As a CST graduate, you'll be able to:

  • Participate in all aspects of software development and maintenance
  • Contribute and communicate effectively as a member of software project teams
  • Design and code with widely-used programming languages and scripting tools, such as JavaScript, Java, C#, C++, and C
  • Develop and maintain complex software systems that integrate scalable components
  • Apply logical, critical, and creative thinking to synthesize solutions to computing and IT problems
  • Work productively and meet deadlines in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment
  • Independently learn and adopt new tools, technologies and methods to remain up-to-date and effective

Program Entry

Application processing

This program is open to applications:

  • November 1st* to March 1st* for the Fall (September) intake
  • March 15th* to August 28th* for the Winter (January) intake

*or next business day

Entrance requirements

Competitive Entry: Two-step process

Preference will be given to applicants with:

  • Academic grades above the minimum

Step 1: Meet the following entrance requirements

  • English: two years of education in English in an English-speaking country with one of the following:
  • Math: one of the following:
    • Principles of Mathematics 12 (67%) or
    • Applications of Mathematics 12 (73%) or
    • Pre-Calculus 12 (67%) or
    • Note: Foundations of Mathematics 12 is not acceptable

Read more about how to meet BCIT’s entrance requirements

Step 2: Department assessment

All applications will be reviewed by the program area at the application deadline. Admission is competitive and will be offered to the most qualified applicants. The competitive calculation formula takes the average of the applicant’s English 12 and Math 12 scores.

A waitlist of eligible applicants, ranked in competitive order, will be kept in the event that a seat becomes available prior to the end of the first week of term. The wait list is cleared once the program intake is full and closed; unsuccessful applicants must re-apply to be considered for the next intake. Unsuccessful students may wish to upgrade their math and English before considering re-applying.

Advanced Placement

You may be eligible to apply to an advanced level of the program through 1. re-admission or 2. direct entry. The following applies to all advanced placement applicants:

  • Complete applications: you must show proof of completing all requirements (proof of registration is acceptable for advanced placement applicants) to be considered.
  • Competitive entry: if the number of applications exceeds available seats, BCIT will accept those deemed to have the best opportunity for success.
  • Acceptance based on seat availability: confirmation may not be available until approximately one week before the term begins.
  1. Re-admission: Have you completed part of this program at BCIT and want to apply to resume your studies?

    Applications are accepted throughout the year. You must submit the Course-by-Course Self-Assessment form [PDF] with your application.

  2. Direct Entry: Are you new to this program but have completed an equivalent part of it at BCIT or elsewhere and want to apply to an advanced level?

    BCIT accepts complete applications starting*:

    • February 1st for the Winter (January) intake – Levels 2 or 3
    • November 1st for the Fall (September) intake – Levels 2 or 3

    You must submit the Course-by-Course Self-Assessment form [PDF] and proof of meeting the entrance requirements with your online application. View the Direct Entry sheet [PDF] for details.

    *Applicants submitting overseas documents should apply early - assessment may take up to three or four months.

Apply to program

Apply directly to the Computer Systems Technology Diploma program. This program shares a common first year of core subjects. In the second year, students choose a specialization.

BCIT accepts only complete applications. In order to apply:

  • Include proof of meeting all entrance requirements prior to submission
  • Convert all transcripts and supporting documents to PDF files
  • Have a credit card ready to pay the application fee
Apply Now

You can check the status of your application online at any time using the Student Information System.

Scheduled intakes

September and January each year.

Technology entry

The Technology Entry (TE) program is a full-time, day school program which provides academic upgrading to students wishing to enrol in Computing, Engineering, Electronic, and Health Sciences programs at BCIT.

The TE program provides courses in chemistry, communication, mathematics, and physics that meet program prerequisites for selected programs at BCIT. The TE program also includes an introductory course in computer applications and a learning skills course. The program is supportive to those who require English-language training.


Within two business days of submitting your completed application, BCIT will send a message to your personal and myBCIT e-mail addresses. All correspondence regarding your application will be posted to your online myCommunication account at my.bcit.ca. We'll send you an e-mail when a new message is posted. It's important to watch for these e-mails or regularly check your account online.

You can expect to receive communication concerning the status of your application within four weeks.

Costs & Supplies

Tuition fees

Please see the Fees, Payments and Refunds section of the website for information on full-time tuition fees.

Books and supplies

Books are expected to cost $500 to $800 per term. (General estimated cost, subject to change).

Although a substantial amount of teaching and instruction occurs in labs using BCIT computers, students in CST must also have their own Windows-compatible laptop for use in the program. Information on the required specifications will be provided to accepted applicants. Costs for such a computer will vary depending on configuration chosen, but will likely range from approximately $1000 to $2000.

Financial assistance

Financial assistance may be available for this program. For more information, please contact Student Financial Aid and Awards.


Program matrix

First Year - Level 1 Credits
  BUSA 2720 Business in a Networked Economy 4.0
  COMM 1116 Business Communications 1 4.0
  COMP 1100 CST Program Fundamentals 1.0
  COMP 1111 Essential Skills for Computing 4.0
  COMP 1113 Applied Mathematics 4.0
  COMP 1510 Programming Methods 7.0
  COMP 1536 Introduction to Web Development 4.0
First Year - Level 2 Credits
  COMM 2216 Business Communications 2 4.0
  COMP 2121 Discrete Mathematics 4.0
  COMP 2510 Procedural Programming in C 5.0
  COMP 2526 Object-Oriented Programming with Java 4.0
  COMP 2714 Relational Database Systems 5.0
  COMP 2721 Computer Organization/Architecture 4.0
  COMP 2910 Projects* ** 6.0

Note: At the end of the first year, students apply to a specialty option.

Second Year - Level 3 Credits
  COMP 3512 Object Oriented Programming in C++ 6.0
  COMP 3711 Object Oriented Analysis and Design 4.0
  COMP 3721 Introduction to Data Communications 4.0
  COMP 3760 Algorithm Analysis and Design 4.0
  COMP 3900 Computer Projects Practicum 1 5.0
   Client/Server Option:
  COMP 3717 Mobile Application Development with Android 4.0
  COMP 3940 Client/Server Computing 1 5.0
   Cloud Computing Option:
  COMP 3717 Mobile Application Development with Android 4.0
  COMP 3962 Cloud Computing Platforms 5.0
   Combined (Web and Mobile) Option:
  COMP 3717 Mobile Application Development with Android 4.0
  COMP 3975 Server-side Web Scripting with PHP 5.0
   Database Option:
  COMP 3920 Database Systems 1 5.0
  COMP 4925 Selected Topics in Database Systems 5.0
   Data Communications and Internetworking Option:
  COMP 3717 Mobile Application Development with Android 4.0
  COMP 3980 Data Communications/Internetworking 1 5.0
   Digital Processing Option:
  COMP 3770 Programming Windows 4.0
  COMP 3931 Digital Image, Video and Audio Fundamentals 5.0
   Information Systems Option:
  COMP 3717 Mobile Application Development with Android 4.0
  COMP 3910 Information Technology Management 5.0
   Technical Programming Option:
  COMP 3717 Mobile Application Development with Android 4.0
  COMP 3951 Technical Programming 1 5.0
Second Year - Level 4 Credits
  BLAW 3600 Computers and the Law 4.0
  COMP 4100 Career Preparation* ** 2.0
  COMP 4735 Operating Systems 5.0
  COMP 4900 Computer Projects Practicum 2* 5.0
   Client/Server Option:
  COMP 4560 Computer Graphics for Computer Systems Technology 4.0
  COMP 4711 Introduction to Internet Software Development 3.0
  COMP 4941 Client/Server Computing 2 5.0
  COMP 4945 Special Topics in Client/Server 5.0
   Cloud Computing Option:
  COMP 4560 Computer Graphics for Computer Systems Technology 4.0
  COMP 4711 Introduction to Internet Software Development 3.0
  COMP 4964 DevOps Engineering (Cloud) 5.0
  COMP 4968 Programming in the Cloud 5.0
   Combined (Web and Mobile) Option:
  COMP 4560 Computer Graphics for Computer Systems Technology 4.0
  COMP 4711 Introduction to Internet Software Development 3.0
  COMP 4976 Web Application with ASP.NET 5.0
  COMP 4977 iOS Application Development for iPhone and iPad 5.0
   Database Option:
  COMP 3717 Mobile Application Development with Android 4.0
  COMP 4560 Computer Graphics for Computer Systems Technology 4.0
  COMP 4711 Introduction to Internet Software Development 3.0
  COMP 4921 Database Systems 2 5.0
   Data Communications and Internetworking Option:
  COMP 4560 Computer Graphics for Computer Systems Technology 4.0
  COMP 4711 Introduction to Internet Software Development 3.0
  COMP 4981 Data Communications/Internetworking 2 5.0
  COMP 4985 Selected Topics in Data Communications/Internetworking 5.0
   Digital Processing Option:
  COMP 4560 Computer Graphics for Computer Systems Technology 4.0
  COMP 4711 Introduction to Internet Software Development 3.0
  COMP 4932 Advanced Topics in Digital Processing 5.0
  COMP 4995 Gaming Systems 5.0
   Information Systems Option:
  COMP 4870 Intranet Planning and Development 7.0
  COMP 4911 Managing IS Development 5.0
  COMP 4915 Special Topics in MIS 5.0
   Technical Programming Option:
  COMP 4560 Computer Graphics for Computer Systems Technology 4.0
  COMP 4711 Introduction to Internet Software Development 3.0
  COMP 4952 Technical Programming 2 5.0
  COMP 4956 System Programming 5.0
Co-op Work Term Courses (Optional)
To be completed after Level 2 and prior to Level 4, commencing in January or May
  COMP 2990 Cooperative Education Workterm 1 16.0
  COMP 3990 Cooperative Education Workterm 2 16.0

All courses are 15 weeks in duration except where otherwise noted.

* denotes a five-week course, delivered from late April through to the end of May.

** COMP 2910 and COMP 4100 are optional for students who successfully complete one term of co-op education.

Total Credits: 125.0

Transfer credit

Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at BCIT? Check out BCIT's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.

Program Details

The CST Diploma is a two-year full-time program.

Common First-Year

The first year of CST introduces the core skills and theory used in all areas of software development. Web development, programming, scripting, and computer architecture are all introduced. First year culminates in students working as part of a team to build an application of their own design.

Second-Year (with Specialization Options)

The second year is comprised of:

  • common courses which develop and enhance fundamental software development skills (about 60%)
  • option courses to learn advanced techniques in specific computing areas (25%)
  • real-world industry projects (15%)

Students have a choice of option courses, however, there is limited space in each option, and first year grades are considered for option approval.

Note: availability of options is subject to change

Specialization Options

Client Server

The Client/Server option offers specialized courses in the areas of client/server computing, distributed computing, and mobile computing. Topics include architecture, modeling and structural issues, inter-process communications, and strategies to ensure performance, reliability, scalability, availability, interoperability, and security in such systems. Students develop client/server based systems and solutions using state-of-the-art tools and technology including TCP/IP sockets/datagrams/multicast-sockets, multithreading, multiprocessing, and thread/process synchronization involving desktop as well as mobile platforms.

Cloud Computing

Students in the Cloud Computing option will obtain hands-on experience using a wide variety of resources and services available on the world’s leading cloud computing platforms. Students will learn to create and maintain complex virtual computing environments. Students will also learn how to utilize automated software deployment, continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous monitoring tools in cloud computing environments according to DevOps (development and operations) practices. The option culminates in students designing and developing software natively for cloud computing platforms. This type of development involves creating microservices and containers designed for serverless architectures.


The Database option focuses on the design and development of applications, with an emphasis on the modelling, storage, access, and analysis of data. The option covers the use of advanced SQL, data analytics tools and frameworks to create data-driven applications. Students learn how to host data in a variety of formats in traditional relational databases, cloud databases, NoSQL databases, and Hadoop databases. Data analytics including descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive analysis, as well as business analytics using data cubes for online processing, are also covered.

Data Communications and Internetworking

The Data Communications and Internetworking option specializes in network architecture design, software development, and network security skills. Courses in the option place a heavy emphasis on practical software development skills such as design, coding and testing. Topics covered include protocol design and implementation; low-level systems programming on the Linux, Android, and Windows platforms; network application software development using the TCP/IP protocol suite; wireless protocol design; and the design and implementation of device-level communications applications. Devices used include Embedded Linux boards, Android devices, Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID), Wireless modems, and GPS devices. Practical work is focused around the analysis, application design, and implementation of the TCP/IP protocol suite. The environment is very team-oriented and "real world".

Digital Processing

The Digital Processing option focuses on the development of digital image, video, and audio systems especially as it relates to gaming. Emphasis is placed on development of tools for new media applications. Topics include image processing, fundamentals of audio and video streams, 3D gaming environments using DirectX, and performance improvement with concurrent programming and MMX/SSE. Various techniques are studied for making filters (Finite Impulse Filters, Infinite Impulse Filters, Gausian smoothing, First-Order and 2nd-order edge-detection), morphing and warping techniques, compression (JPEG, MPEG, Wavelets), mirrors, and picking in 3D worlds. Advanced projects are usually drawn from IEEE papers such as template matching, face recognition, image stitching, and others. Team projects in game development on phones/tablets and the PC are encouraged.

Information Systems

The Information Systems option specializes in developing web-based and mobile applications required by medium and large businesses. Students develop large applications with state-of-the-art tools and application servers, and learn to administer Linux and Windows Servers. Topics include system architecture, performance, scalability, and security in distributed systems. Technologies covered include both Enterprise Java (including Java Server Faces, Java Persistence Architecture, Enterprise Java Beans) and Microsoft's .NET (including ASP.NET, C#, Web services).

Technical Programming

The Technical Programming option covers advanced techniques in design and software development. Topics include design principles of human-computer interaction, code techniques used for desktop, web and distributed applications (client-server and three-tier architectures), concurrent programming (multi-threading, synchronization and interprocess-communication), and project management. Students gain programming skills at the low-level of the Win32 API and Windows operating system kernel, and at the high-level in the area of human-computer interaction and web development.

Web and Mobile

The Web and Mobile option is aimed at students who want to specialize in developing software applications for Apple iOS devices, as well as websites. After learning how to script and write code in the first year of CST, students in this option develop hands-on skills in PHP, ASP.NET, Java, C# and Objective-C. Working in teams they apply industry standards, design patterns and use Agile development with Scrum. Graduates of the CST Web and Mobile option will able to develop and use client-side and server-side code with multiple programming languages to create mobile/responsive websites, plus web and mobile applications for the iPhone.

Industry Sponsored Student Projects (ISSP)

During the second year, students work directly with external industry sponsors on computing or IT-related projects via the Industry Sponsored Student Project (ISSP), applying their newly-learned skills, and acquiring real-world experience. Students work in teams with an industry sponsor, proceeding through the development life-cycle to develop an IT or software solution. All students participate in two projects.

Program length

Two years, full-time beginning in September and January of each year. The September term is 15 weeks in length. The January term is also 15 weeks in length, followed by a five week projects term.

In order to be eligible for graduation, students must complete the diploma program requirements within three years of entering the program.


The Computer Systems Technology two-year diploma program has been accredited by the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS). Consequently, a CST graduate may receive an ISP (Information Systems Professional) designation after five years of relevant work experience.

Continue your education

Degree Completion

Graduates of the Computer Systems Technology Diploma program may pursue a BCIT Bachelor of Technology in Computer Systems degree. The degree program is an extension of the diploma program, covering advanced technological and management skills, which can help position graduates for further progression in the IT workplace.

Co-operative education

The optional co-op education component of the CST program provides students with substantial benefits in their IT career preparation, given that employers are more eager to hire graduates who have had some co-op experience. Students opting for co-op education are required to meet year one performance qualification criteria. Students will require a minimum of two four-month co-op terms to graduate with a co-op designation on their CST diploma. These two co-op terms could be back to back, or in two separate terms, but they must happen before the final term of the program.

Graduating & Jobs

Sector Snapshot

Job opportunities

Computer Systems Technology Diploma graduates have a wide variety of career options in the IT industry. Many start their careers as an entry-level software developer, application programmer, software tester, or network or database administrator. Later they can progress to positions such as systems analyst, IT project managers, team leads, software architects, information security analyst, and senior consultant.

Some students take the IT entrepreneurial path by starting their own business. Companies founded by our grads include Burton Software, CAMS Software, PlentyofFish, and Shyp.

Our graduates work in companies including:

  • Active Network
  • AirG
  • Electronic Arts
  • Fortinet
  • Global Relay
  • Habañero
  • Hootsuite
  • IBM
  • ICBC
  • IUGO Mobile
  • Lululemon
  • MDA
  • Microsoft
  • Mobify
  • PMC Sierra
  • SAP
  • Sophos
  • Telus
  • Vision Critical

Furthering your education

Graduates of the Computer Systems Technology program can also pursue a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Systems at BCIT.

Graduate employment outcomes

The BCIT student outcomes reports present summary findings from the annual survey of former students administered by BC Stats one to two years after graduation. These reports combine the last three years of available results for the 2013-2015 BCIT Outcomes Surveys of 2012-2014 graduates and for Degree 2010-2012 graduates. The reports are organized into three-page summaries containing information on graduates' labour market experiences and opinions regarding their education. More detailed information can be accessed at the BC Student Outcomes website.

To view these results, you may need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in your Web browser.

Faculty, Advisors & Staff

All general inquiries

Email: Program_Advising@bcit.ca


Cindy Chan
Senior Program Assistant
phone: 604-412-7433

Trevor Lord

Program Head, CST Diploma

Shebia Leung
Marketing Coordinator/Industry Liaison
phone: 604-453-4021

Full-time faculty

Aaron Hunter, Instructor
Albert Wei, Instructor
Aman Abdulla, Option Head - Data Communications & Network Security
Arron Ferguson, Instructor
Benjamin Yu, Option Head - Database
Bill Klug, Option Head - Cloud Computing
Borna Noureddin, Instructor
Bruce Link, Option Head - Information Systems
Carly Wong-Orr, Instructor
Chi En Huang, Instructor
Christopher Thompson, Assistant Instructor
D'Arcy Smith, Instructor, Option Head - Web & Mobile (iOS)
Dennis Richards, Option Head - Digital Processing
Jason Harrison, Instructor, Option Head - Web & Mobile (PhP)
Jim Parry, Instructor
Keith Tang, Instructor
Medhat Elmasry, Instructor, Option Head - Web & Mobile (.NET)
Mirela Gutica, Option Head - Technical Programming
Richard Chau, Instructor
Rob Neilson, Instructor
Steve Fabiszewski, Instructor
Tejinder Randhawa, Option Head - Client/Server

Advisory committee

BCIT is well-respected by employers for its ties to industry. In Computing, this connection is formalized through a Program Advisory Committee (PAC) comprised of experts in a range of roles from a cross-section of companies. The department consults regularly to ensure program currency and relevance.
  • Ed Capko, Chair, Microsoft Corp, Canada
  • Al-Karim Kara, Land Title & Survey Authority (LTSA) of BC
  • Andre Brisson, Whitenoise Labs Inc
  • Derek Manky, Fortinet
  • Donabel Santos, QueryWorks Solutions
  • Dr. Carson Woo, Sauder School of Business, UBC
  • Gord Locke, Tata Consultancy Services
  • John Tolkamp, Ainsworth Engineered Canada
  • Jose Gonzales, Worksafe BC
  • Lawell King, SalesForce
  • Mark Allen, HootSuite Media Inc
  • Martin DesRosiers, Nucleus Networks Inc
  • Nelson Gillette, Telus Vancouver
  • Noel Pullen, Hootsuite Media Inc
  • Peter John McFarlane, Habanero Consulting Group
  • Ritzwan Kheraj, National Research Council - IRAP Pacific
  • Sarah Spratley, SAP Canada
  • Ted Singh, TASC Systems Inc, Embedded Automation
  • Tom Handley, Fujitsu Consulting (Canada) Inc

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Questions or comments?

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The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the College and Institute Act (RSBC 1996, Ch.52). BCIT will use this information to communicate with you regarding relevant BCIT programs, courses and services. This information is only used by authorized BCIT staff. Email communication sent to and from BCIT is routed through the United States of America. If you have any questions about BCIT's collection and use of this information, please contact BCIT’s manager of Information Access and Privacy.

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"The trick in growing a company or moving forward is to identify trends that have staying power: in programming, everything is always about adaptability, change and survival. Back at BCIT they really gave us the foundation and framework to constantly learn new things."
Markus Frind, Founder, Plenty Of Fish Media, and CST Diploma graduate, 1999


"Being a student at BCIT is very busy and hard, and the workload is compressed – there was a vast amount of work. But BCIT taught me, above anything else, time-management skills. [...] I got hired by SAP before even graduating." Chris Chapman, CST Diploma 2014


"I very vocally recommend BCIT because it worked for me, and I think it will work for others. Besides knowledge and skills, my BCIT education also gave me courage. I believe in what BCIT stands for – job-ready career-building skills, extensive networking, and lasting friendships. BCIT was the road that paved the way to where I am now." Donabel Santos, BCIT CST and BTech Grad, Business Intelligence Solutions Architect, SQL Server MVP, instructor, consultant and author

Missed an Info Session?

If you've missed a Computing Full-time Programs information session, you can watch the full video.

Note: This information session was held December 1, 2016 and topics discussed in this session are subject to change without notice.