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 Money can be withdrawn and deposited at ATMs at 3 a.m. What's more, you can pay bills, make transfers, and view your balance with the click of a mouse button.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.
For this program, schools recommend that you know how to use a computer and the Internet.
You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.
- Advanced Algebra courses
- Probability and Statistics
- Business Computer Applications
- Computer Science and Programming
In addition, many programs require you to apply for admission even after you've been admitted to the school. Typically you must complete introductory computer science courses as well as math and engineering courses before you are admitted.
Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a similar field, good grades, and good test scores.
Additional requirements at some schools include:
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Computer Science
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
- Professional computer experience
Typical course work
This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:
- Client/Server Systems
- Computer Hardware
- Computer Science
- Data Communication and Networks
- Data Structures and File Processing
- Database Management Systems
- Human/Computer Interaction
- Information Storage and Retrieval
- Information Systems Analysis and Design
- Operating Systems
- Programming Techniques
- Relational Databases
- Software Engineering
- System Development
Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:
- Required courses
- Thesis (master's degree)
- Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
- Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)
Things to know
It is common for employers to require you to have a bachelor's degree to gain entry-level work in the field.
Information science degrees are sometimes offered as part of an overall computer science program. Often they are combined with computer science into a single program.
Similar fields of study
- Computer Programming
- Computer Science
- Computer Systems Analysis
- Database Administration
- Health Records Administration
- Information Technology
- Library Science
- Management Information Systems
- Management Sciences
- Medical Informatics
- Operations Research
Careers you may qualify for
Association for Computing Machinery
Click on "Educational Activities."
Schools that offer program
Click on the school name to see a list of their programs related to this field of study.
Alexandria Technical and Community College
, Located in Central
Alexandria Technical and Community College - Online , Located in Central
Augsburg College - Minneapolis , Located in Metro
Bemidji State University , Located in Northwest
Century College - White Bear Lake , Located in Metro
College of St. Scholastica - Duluth , Located in Northeast
College of St. Scholastica - St. Paul , Located in Metro
DeVry University - Edina , Located in Metro
Metropolitan State University - St. Paul - Saint Paul , Located in Metro
Minnesota State University Moorhead , Located in Northwest
Normandale Community College - Bloomington , Located in Metro
Rochester Community and Technical College , Located in Southeast
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota - Minneapolis , Located in Metro
St. Cloud State University , Located in Central
TechSkills - Bloomington , Located in Metro
University of St. Thomas - St. Paul , Located in Metro
Walden University - Minneapolis , Located in Metro