Information Sciences (BSIS)

College of Information Sciences

What is the Information Science (BSIS) major?

The Information Science (BSIS) major provides students with the skills to anticipate consequences of new information technologies and prepares students to design solutions, create systems, and lead teams that bring together information, technology, and people to meet critical individual, organizational, and societal needs.

Technical skills such as database design, information architecture, web and mobile development, and data analytics are combined with the social sciences (psychology, sociology), leadership, design, and the humanities (history, English). Through coursework, internships, and networking, students will build a career that places them in leadership roles in information management, information technology, user-centered design, or data analytics.

What are the interests of students who major in Information Science?

The typical BSIS student is someone who encounters new technology, like Artificial Intelligences or Data Visualization and immediately begins thinking of the problems it could solve.

Building information systems, managing information resources, and designing interfaces are just a few of the things that Information Science majors “do” – but what motivates them is addressing challenges of bringing together diverse groups of people, complex collections of information, and powerful technologies to create solutions to problems that make the world “work better.”

What are the possible jobs opportunities for students with an Information Science degree?

The Information Science degree prepares students for a variety of careers in information management and design.

Students interested in working with data to find novel information to guide strategic decision-making, or help others analyze data may want to pursue positions such as Data Analysts, Data Scientists, Data Stewards, or Database Administrators.

Students who want to work with individuals and teams to understand their information needs may want to consider positions such as User Studies Specialists, User Experience Designers, or User Interface Designers.

Students interested in jobs that work on gathering, organizing, and disseminating information to an organization to address their information needs, may want to consider positions such as Content Management Specialists or Digital Curation Specialists.

Students interested in designing or developing information systems, or manage individuals and teams who do such work may want to consider Requirements Analysts, Systems Architects, Data Architects, or Project Managers.

What is the day-to-day work of an Information Science graduate?

Data analysts, Data Scientists, and Data Stewards work with data to help people make better decisions. On a typical day, these information professionals are:

  • Working with systems to obtain, clean, and organize data
  • Creating visualizations and other tools that help users explore and interpret data
  • Presenting data analyses that enable high-quality decision making

Database administrators (DBA) are responsible for the development, performance, integrity and security of organizations’ critical data infrastructure. They work with users and managers to create new systems and troubleshoot any issues that arise. A typical DBA spends their time:

  • Working with users and managers to understand their data
  • Creating databases, reports and websites that provide access to data
  • Teaching users how to work with the available systems and data
  • Leading efforts to improve data security, quality, and usefulness

User Experience, User Interface Design and User Studies specialists design interfaces that make the power of websites, mobile devices, and other technologies useful for our daily lives. In these careers you will focus on:

  • Conducting usability tests to identify strengths and limitations of existing systems
  • Working with users to understand their needs
  • Creating innovative designs, prototypes, and interface plans that make technology accessible to everyone

The amount of digital content that is created each and every day is overwhelming. To deal with this organizations are increasingly relying on Digital Curators and Content Management Specialists to create, organize, and manage collections of high-value content. In these emerging careers your work will involve:

  • Creating high-quality digital content
  • Developing systems that enable the collection, organization, and use of digital content (including but not limited to social media content, images, video, and audio material)
  • Training individuals to effectively use available resources
  • Leading efforts to create websites and mobile applications that provide broad access to digital content

Although information is the critical resource, many organizations focus on creation of information systems. Professionals that develop and deploy information systems spend much of their time:

  • Working with users and managers to identify and prioritize critical needs
  • Designing data structures, processes, and systems that meet identified needs
  • Managing projects and teams which will create new information resources and systems
  • Testing new and existing systems to identify their strengths and weaknesses

What are the lower level requirements of the Information Science major?

Students complete Pre-Calculus (MATH115) or a higher-level course, Psychology (PSYC100), Statistics (STAT100), Introduction to Programing in Information Science (INST126), and Introduction to Information Science (INST201). These requirements ensure that Information Science students have a basic exposure to computational, mathematics, social science, and information science concepts.

How is math applied to the major?

Math courses ensure that students have a foundational knowledge of core mathematical and statistical concepts and the basic mathematical problem solving abilities. Students who meet these requirements have the basic “toolkit” necessary to develop the next level skills they need to succeed in the major.

What are the strengths of students in this major?

BSIS students’ strengths include analyzing data, managing information resources, and designing interfaces. BSIS students bring together diverse groups of people, collections of information, and powerful technologies that can make the world “work better.”

Information Science students are intrigued by the possibilities presented by new technologies, skilled at working with data, and excited about helping others use these resources to solve problems. Successful information Science students change the world by:

  • Helping people make the most out of technology by teaching, troubleshooting, and just “trying it out”
  • Designing innovative interfaces and systems that bring the power of cutting-edge technologies to bear on the every-day problems of families, patients, organizations, and communities
  • Gathering, analyzing, and presenting data that helps people understand problems and see new solutions
  • Creating content, collections, and systems that give everyone access to the information they need

What are some of the experiences BSIS students have had prior to college?

BSIS students are exceptional at building relationships and communicating using creative platforms such as a blog or social media. Prior to college, students should have made valuable contributions to their community to illustrate a commitment toward providing accessible technological for all.

Examples of what BSIS students have done prior to college is reorganized a club’s records, created a website, blog, and social media accounts to increase public awareness, taught senior citizens to use social media safely to maintain their connections with family, and worked as part of a team to create and modify open source software to allow broader participation.

These activities, and others like them, give students experience with the challenges of understanding information needs, developing technical systems, organizing complex information collections, and coordinating diverse individuals to create information-based solutions to real problems.

What is cyber security?

Cyber security, at its core, is the process of creating and maintaining socio-technical systems that are able to function reliably in the face of both incidental and malicious threats. Accomplishing this requires the combination of robust technologies, appropriate policies and practices, and vigilant engagement with dynamic, often hostile environments.

How does an Information Science major prepare students to work in cyber security?

With their focus on anticipating the implications of particular technologies, practices, and information strategies, BSIS graduates are uniquely trained to work as information analysts, cybersecurity risk analysts and managers, information security specialists, and security conscious systems developers. BSIS students have training in human-centered design, teams and organizations, and information technology, and are well prepared to assess, design, and implement a reliable and robust socio-technical system.

What is Data Science?

Data science is an interdisciplinary field focused on collecting, organizing, managing, analyzing, and presenting data in ways that enable people to understand their world, see new solutions, and make more effective decisions. Data science brings together methods, processes and tools from a variety of disciplines, including archival science, statistics, mathematics, computing, data processing, information management, decision science, learning science, and visual design. Data science has a broad application range, including areas of business, production, marketing, government services, military, law enforcement, healthcare, and education.

Do Information Science majors work as data scientists?

Information Science majors are able to design and implement efforts to organize, analyze, and deploy data for addressing particular problems and questions – the primary goal of data science efforts. Moreover, with their knowledge of information needs assessment, information resource design, and analytics, Information Science majors are well-prepared for the application of data science techniques in real organizations, communities, and teams.

Job Definitions

Data Analyst:

The advent of the Internet and other modern information technologies has allowed humanity to collect massive amounts of data on about every aspect of life. However, most available data is not useful or understandable in its raw form. Data analysts help understand data collected through a variety of means, whether it's sales figures, market research, logistics, or transportation costs. A data analyst's job is to take the data and use it to help organizations make better decisions. A typical work day would include using tools to organize and query data, finding insights, and visualizing them. (Adapted from Snagajob.com.)

Data Scientist:

A Data Scientist is someone who makes value out of data. “Data Analyst” and “Data Scientist” titles are often interchangeably used, but in general, data scientists are more focused on modeling data and developing the data analytics infrastructure, whereas data analysts are focused on hands-on data analysis. A data scientist proactively fetches information from various sources and analyzes it for insights that will improve the performance of the organization. (Adapted from Toptal.com.)

Data Steward:

A data steward is a person responsible for the management and fitness of data elements, so that others can analyze and make use of that in an effective and efficient way. The overall objectives of a data steward are data quality and data availability. Data stewardship roles are particularly important when organizations attempt to exchange data precisely and consistently between computer systems and to reuse data-related resources. (Adapted from Wikipedia.org.)

Database Administrator:

A database administrator (DBA) is responsible for the performance, integrity and security of databases. The DBA may also be involved in the planning and development of the database, as well as troubleshooting any issues on behalf of the users. The responsibilities may sometimes overlap with those of a data steward. A DBA’s job may involve installing, configuring, securing, migrating, and troubleshooting database servers, as well as backing up, recovering, and restoring databases. (Adapted from Prospects.ac.uk.)

User Studies Specialist:

User studies specialists are concerned with researching the user experience, trying to understand user behavior, the reasons behind that behavior, and the wants, needs and priorities of people interacting with information products and systems. The responsibilities of a user studies specialist include analyzing user behavior by conducting surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations, task analysis, and other usability research methods. (Adapted from Artisantalent.com.)

User Experience Designer:

A user experience (UX) designer is responsible for how an information product, application, or website feels. The UX designer’s job is to zero in on users’ underlying emotional and functional needs — then use that understanding to create an enjoyable and beneficial experience. A typical day in the life of a UX designer involves creating wireframes, storyboards, sitemaps and screen flows, and creating product prototypes. (Adapted from Roberthalf.com.)

User Interface Designer:

User interface (UI) designers work closely with user experience (UX) designers and other design specialists. Their job is to make sure that every click, every page and every step a user will experience in their interaction with the finished information product will conform to the overall vision created by UX designers. UI designer roles are more focused on the visual aspects such as colors, shapes, fonts, and styles. Many UI designers have a good understanding of front-end development and possess some coding skills. (Adapted from Toptal.com.)

Content Management Specialist:

A content manager is someone who oversees the content presented on websites and blogs, and may also be responsible for creating, editing, posting, updating, and occasionally cleaning up content. This role usually requires knowledge and skills necessary for administering content management systems (CMS), and relevant coding skills for creating or modifying CMS modules or plugins. (Adapted from Sokanu.com.)

Digital Curation Specialist:

Digital curation specialists are responsible for creating, converting, editing, storing, and disseminating various types of digital objects. Their daily tasks include digitization of non-digital information objects, creating metadata for making it easier to categorize, find, and retrieve digital objects, managing digital repositories, and practicing a variety of digital preservation practices. (Adapted from ijdc.net.)

Requirements Analyst:

Requirements analysts play a crucial role in information product or systems development by ensuring that proper functionality is achieved as an information product or system is developed. A requirement analyst works with users, domain experts, and developers to identify, articulate, and document the features and functionalities of an information product or system under development, and make sure that those features and functionalities are not redundant for the users or unrealistic for the developers. The requirement analyst may also be responsible for making sure that the agreed-upon features and functionalities are indeed delivered by the time the development is concluded. (Adapted from Seilevel.com.)

Systems Architect:

Systems architects define the architecture of a computerized system that is composed of software and hardware in order to fulfill certain requirements. A systems architect develops and implements policies and procedures to ensure that systems support the organization's activity requirements and meet the needs of end users. A systems architect may develop specifications, prototypes, or initial user guides relevant to the systems in question. (Adapted from Wikipedia.org.)

Data Architect:

Data architects define how the data will be stored, consumed, integrated and managed by different data entities and IT systems. A data architect provides a standard common business vocabulary, expresses strategic data requirements, outlines high-level integrated designs to meet these requirements, and aligns with enterprise strategy and related business architecture. (Adapted from Wikipedia.org.)

Project Manager:

In the field of information science, a project manager is a professional who is responsible for the overall planning, resourcing, and execution of projects that focus on developing, acquiring, deploying, repurposing, or restructuring an information system or an information product, or applying an existing information system or product to a new problem or need. This individual usually does not participate directly in the project tasks, but rather maintains and coordinates the progress of and the interaction between the parties that carry out the direct tasks, in order to maximize the benefits, and minimize the costs associated with the project. (Adapted from Wikipedia.org.)

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