Field of Study: Information Science
Information science programs teach people about the collection, organization, and use of information. Students learn about computer data storage and processing. They learn about systems planning and design. They also learn to develop databases that meet user needs.
For many of us, the digital age means we never go to the bank anymore. Money can be withdrawn and deposited at ATMs at 3 a.m. What's more, you can pay bills, make transfers, and view your balance with the click of a mouse button. (You can also do this at 3 a.m. if you want.) Did you ever wonder, however, how online banking works? Somehow, by clicking on a few buttons on the banking website, your computer tells the bank's computer what information you want to see and in what format. Chances are, your bank has thousands of customers. Yet, in an instant, your specific information is displayed. How does it work and work so well? Information science is the aspect of computer science that studies how information is used by humans and the technology that makes it all happen.
In information science programs, you take traditional computer science courses, including courses about operations systems (think Windows and Mac OS X), networks, and computer hardware and software. Your remaining courses focus on how databases and other information storage systems work. You learn how people use information, including developing user-friendly ways to search and display data. You also study ways to store data and transfer it from computer to computer. In addition, you study ways computer information can be applied, from designing websites and video games to computers that tell cars how to run.
With a degree in information science, you can work as an entry-level database administrator or network administrator. You can work for all kinds of organizations, from small businesses to software start-ups to government agencies. After all, nearly every professional organization uses computers and databases to keep things running. That means people are needed to keep the database, networks, and computers – the entire system - running itself.
Most four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in information science. Most community colleges offer two-year programs that can be transferred to a four-year school. Many schools offer graduate degree programs in information science. These programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree. Most people who get graduate degrees in information science become high-level computer scientists or professors.