Computing Majors

Students at the University of Maryland may select from over 90 different majors. Nine of those majors focus on computing, data, and information sciences. This page offers detailed descriptions of each of these majors as well as information about required courses and possible career opportunities. 

computer code on screen

A. James Clark School of Engineering

What is the Computer Engineering major?

Students in the Computer Engineering major learn how hardware and software interact. They become familiar with electrical circuitry design, signals, digital logic design, and the organization of modern computing. Students also learn programming in various languages, designs of algorithms, computer operating systems and various computer science topics such as machine learning, and cybersecurity.

What are the interests of students who major in Computer Engineering?

Computer Engineering students have many interests. Some enjoy taking things apart and putting things together such as Legos, robots, and programming computers and smartphones. Many Computer Engineering students enjoy science, programming, logical thinking, and math, and many are interested in high school robotics projects. Students are interested in how systems work, designing security measures to protect against cyberattacks, and improving communications between operating systems.

What are the possible job opportunities for students with a Computer Engineering degree?

There is no shortage of jobs in this field. Our graduates work as software engineers, developers, reliability engineers, cybersecurity analysts, industrial and automation engineers, consultants, technical writers, web developers, patent examiners, entrepreneurs, embedded system developers, national security officers.

What is the day-to-day work of a Computer Engineering graduate?

New employees typically obtain some form of certification to get started on projects and then are assigned to work in teams to complete specific projects. Most tasks are multidisciplinary, which makes it very important to have the ability to learn new things outside computer engineering. Apart from technical expertise, these jobs require good communication and most importantly, teamwork skills. A degree in Computer Engineering offers students versatility in the workplace. Collaborating with others to design and manage microchips, computers, software, hardware, and digital applications.

What are the lower level requirements of the Computer Engineering major?

New students take programming, written and oral communication skills, and design thinking. The lower level math courses include Calculus (MATH140/141), Differential equations (MATH246) and Discrete structures (CMSC250).

The Computer Engineering major is a Limited Enrollment Program (LEP). For more information: see LEP requirements.

How is math applied to the major?

Calculus (MATH140/ 141) is used for describing both physical and theoretical concepts that change in time or in space. Differential equations (MATH246) are used for understanding signals, and for extracting or conveying information. Discrete Structures (CMSC 250) applies to digital logic implementation in computing systems.

What are the strengths of students in this major?

Computer Engineering students have been successful in math and science, are persistent and hardworking, and think of unorthodox ways to solve problems. Students who are great team players often get involved with high profile competitions and are offered internship opportunities early in their careers.

What are the some of the experiences Computer Engineering students have had prior to college? Students participate in robotics, science and math fairs in high school, or attend STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) boot camps. However, many students have had these no previous experiences with computing in high school and do very well in the major.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the process of protecting computer software and hardware systems from unauthorized access. Cybersecurity is necessary to protect data from theft, alteration or destruction. Evolving technologies constantly threaten the security of information making this field of study both important and in high demand.

How does a Computer Engineering major prepare to work in cybersecurity?

Computer engineers are exposed to both the software and network side of cybersecurity, as well as cyber physical systems found in hardware for Internet of Things.

What is data sciences?

Broadly speaking, data science is a technical field that pertains to the collection and analysis of data in various forms. It involves statistical methods, data visualization and data analytics to form coherent conclusions from vast amounts of data. This field requires one to independently research, synthesize and present findings.

Do Computer Engineering majors work as data scientists?

Computer engineers can work as data scientists. ECE graduates have ample courses in CMSC that allow them to work as data scientists.

College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

What is the Computer Science (CS) major?

Computer Science is the study of computing and computational systems, ranging from the design and development of applications to the theory behind them. Principal areas within computer science (alphabetically listed) include artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, computer systems and networks, database systems, human-computer interaction, scientific computing, programming languages, software engineering, theory of computing, and vision and graphics. A computer scientist is concerned with problem solving on the abstract level, the analysis level, and the application level often in ways that overlap and intersect with other areas of study.

While knowing how to implement a computer program is essential to the modern study and practice of computer science, programming is only one element of the field. Computer scientists also design and analyze algorithms to solve both abstract and real-world problems, and study the performance of computer hardware and software. The problems that computer scientists encounter range from the abstract (such as determining what problems can be solved with computers and the complexity of the algorithms that solve them) to the tangible (such as designing secure, easy-to-use applications for desktop and handheld computers, distilling information from huge data sets, and analyzing interactions between humans and computers).

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

Computer Science majors have a broad range of interests in various forms of computing that include solving practical challenges via computational analysis, exploring how computing can enhance the abilities of companies and society, designing computational systems in order to develop the tools required to build large software systems, or even solving theoretical problems. In addition to computing related activities, Computer Science majors also participate in essentially every extracurricular activity at Maryland, from hack-a-thons and coding challenges to the music and other arts, to entrepreneurship and business.

What is the day-to-day work of a Computer Science graduate?

Computer Science graduates may work as software developers, software engineers, systems analysts and project managers, and solve all types of problems via computing. They can build novel products at large or small tech-focused companies, but can also choose to work in environments like financial institutions, hospitals, hotel chains, or shipping companies satisfying in-house computing needs. Some students go on to graduate studies, work in the research divisions of government labs and companies, or launch their own startup ventures.

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

In their first year, CS students take two semesters of Object-Oriented Programming (CMSC131 and 132). They then spend a year taking introductory courses in Computer Systems, Discrete Structures, Programming Languages and Algorithms. Math requirements for the major include two semesters of Calculus (MATH140 and 141), a 400-level Statistics class, and one additional Math or Statistics class that has MATH141 or higher as a prerequisite.

How is math applied to the major?

Mathematics is an integral part of much of what computer scientists do, from analyzing the performance of algorithms, to proving properties of programs, to numerically solving systems of equations, to creating visual displays of data.

What are the strengths of students in this major?

Computer Science majors develop strong math and analytical skills, and become good problem solvers. Most importantly Computer Science projects are collaborative, often with people who are not computer scientists, so majors must exhibit patience and develop clear communication skills.

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

Computer Science students come from widely varying backgrounds. Some students have limited or no past experience with computer science concepts, programming, or theory. Other students have significant experience; including taking classes in high school or community colleges, or participating in coding camps and other computing related activities, or being self-taught.

What is cybersecurity?

From a Computer Science perspective, cybersecurity is the study of the theory and practice of protecting computing systems (hardware, software, and data) from accidental or intentional damage or unauthorized access. Areas of special interest include network security, programming language security, and cryptography.

How does a Computer Science major prepare to work in cybersecurity?

Computer Science has specializations in both cybersecurity and in data science, with coursework for either specialization also fulfilling requirements for the Computer Science major. The cybersecurity specialization prepares students for careers related to systems, network, and programming language security, and cryptology.

What is Data Science?

From a Computer Science perspective, data science is an emerging interdisciplinary field that creates data-centric products, applications or programs to address specific scientific, socio-political, or business questions. Data science is about the scientific methods, processes and systems used to extract useful data to inform companies of trends in social and economic behaviors. Data science is also commonly referred to as big data analytics, predictive analytics, advanced analytics, etc.

How do Computer Science students prepare to work in data science?

Computer Scientists who want to work in data science related fields learn statistical methods for analyzing data, and develop tools using database and machine learning techniques to manage, analyze, and extract information from large datasets. Data science requires the ability to integrate data, operate on data at scale, analyze data, make predictions, find patterns, and form and test hypotheses. It incorporates practices from a variety of fields in Computer Science, chiefly machine learning, statistics, databases, and visualization.

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

What is the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) major?

The fields of GIS (a computer technology that manages and analyzes different forms of digital geographic data) and remote sensing (the science of obtaining geographic information from aircraft and satellites), have revolutionized traditional map making by improving visualizations of geographic information in a multimedia environment (t3D, web maps, and dynamic visualizations). The application of GIS can be a tool to tackle global issues such as food security, urban planning, military intelligence, international development, or natural disasters. Students majoring in Geographic Information Science gain the technical skills needed to acquire, manage, and analyze large amounts of spatial data. The major also goes beyond the techniques for gathering and analyzing data by providing an understanding of the environmental and social processes contexts in which geographic data is used.

What are the interests of students who major in GIS?

One of geography's strengths is its ability to integrate ideas about human behavior and the natural environment. Students in the GIS major can combine their interests in computational topics and see how these skills can be applied in a broad range of subjects. Geography is a unique discipline as it offers the chance to learn about different phenomena from multiple perspectives. Many geographers specialize in a particular part of the world. The faculty members in Geographical Sciences conduct research in the US and all over the world, including Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and more. Students take course work in the fundamentals of handling digital geographic data in GIS, visualizing and mapping geospatial data, geospatial databases, geospatial programming, geospatial analysis and statistics, and digital imagery and remote sensing observations, using software such as ArcGIS, ENVI, and open source platforms.

What are the possible job opportunities for students with a GIS degree?

The sample career titles below provide some examples of positions that GIS students are qualified for based on their major coursework, co-curricular activities, and internships. GIS majors work in many different areas including physical, environmental, economic, geospatial intelligence, urban planning among others. Visit the department website for a more comprehensive list. Examples of positions Community Developer GIS Coordinator for Local, County or State government Emergency Manager at all levels (County, State, Federal) Geospatial Analyst/Developer Geospatial Intelligence Analyst Park Ranger Urban Planner Web Mapping Specialist

The sample list below includes employers who have hired UMD Geographical Sciences undergraduates:

  • American Red Cross National Headquarters
  • Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI)
  • IBM
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission
  • Montgomery County
  • Maryland Department of Permitting Services
  • Northrup Grumman
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • U.S. Federal Government (NASA, NOAA, Census Bureau, DOD [NGA, CIA, FBI, NSA], National Park Service, etc.)

Additionally, the Association of American Geographers collects information regarding careers in Geography

What is the day-to-day work of a GIS graduate?

Most students apply the skills they learn to real life situations. For example, someone who works for the US Census Bureau will use GIS to analyze demographic data collected by this Agency and create maps and other geo-visualizations using census data. Employees at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) use GIS to make maps used by mariners as they navigate US waterways and view remotely sensed imagery to research sea level rise, sea surface temperatures, and more.

The Association of American Geographers Jobs & Careers page contains profiles of geographers who use GIS, which details the daily lives and responsibilities of Geographers in a variety of jobs.

What are the lower level requirements of the GIS major?

The first required Geography courses include Geography of Environmental Systems (GEOG201/211), Introduction to Human Geography (GEOG 202), and Career Development for GEOG, GIS, and ENSP Majors (GEOG212). Elementary Calculus I (MATH120, MATH140 or MATH130).

How is math applied to the major?

Elementary Calculus I is important for both the analytic thinking and problem solving skills necessary to succeed in GIS. Math skills also provide students the background needed to apply statistical spatial analysis to global issues.

What are the strengths of students in this major?

Students who excel in GIS are able to think critically and solve problems using creative solutions, possess quantitative reasoning skills, enjoy learning about emerging technology, and strive to stay at the forefront of technological development. Students are interested in issues such as poverty and disparities, sustainability, and environmental conservation. GIS majors like to design and interpret maps and satellite imagery, and are “big picture” thinkers.

What are the some of the experiences GIS students often have prior to college?

Google Earth and ArcGIS Explorer or ArcGIS Online are wonderful free platforms that introduce working with geographic data. Introductory programming courses that involve learning languages such as Python, or using platforms such as R, are helpful (but not required).

What is cybersecurity?

There are increased threats to our society and organizations from hacking and it is important that the information systems we use daily are designed in such a way that protects against these threats. The field of cyber security is broad and includes many different topics, and GIS can play numerous roles with respect to this field.

How does a GIS major prepare to work in cybersecurity?

GIS is a vital part of the world’s cybersecurity strategy as businesses and government authorities do their best to win the war against cybercrime (source). Students in the GIS Major learn about programming and software development as well as geospatial databases and spatial analysis. This provides an excellent foundation upon which they can build if they desire to go further in the field of cybersecurity. For example, the geospatial component of data commonly needs protection (e.g., security of customer addresses), or cybersecurity threats may need to be tracked over space-time in order to understand the geospatial pattern of intrusions and undertake an analysis of these patterns.

What is data sciences?

Spatial Data Science (SDS) centers on applying computational techniques for automatically discovering or learning spatial knowledge from big datasets, and explaining spatial patterns of natural and human activities based on this learned knowledge. The principals of SDS are taught to GIS Majors and opportunities for learning how to compute using big geospatial data are available for students who wish to get this experience. The Geographical Sciences computing resources includes opportunities for getting hands on experience with big data computing and data science techniques.

Do GIS majors work as data scientists? (What kinds of jobs?)

GIS majors can go on to data science careers, such as Urban Planners, Community Developers, Geospatial Analysts, and more. SDS can be applied widely to many areas such as smart city and transportation, urban and regional planning, and sustainable development.

What is the Immersive Media Design major (IMDM-BA)?

The Immersive Media Design major (IMDM) is an interdisciplinary program in which students create immersive and emerging media and interactive experiences for a range of audiences and applications. The media and experiences focus on technologies that go beyond traditional flat screen computers, monitors and tablets to take the user into impactful, interactive immersive experiences that surround the user in a sense of larger, 3D space. These technologies include virtual reality, augmented reality, large scale projective systems, interactive performances, as well as smaller scale uses of tablets and smartphones as windows to augmented reality. The applications of immersive media range from the visual and performing arts, entertainment, data visualization, medical training and procedures, engineering design and robotics, education, marketing and communication. An immersive media specialist integrates artistic and technical skills as part of a team to initiate, design and implement complex experiences.

Students in the major can focus on the technical side, in Track 1 of the major which results in a B.S. housed in the Department of Computer Science, or in the artistic side, in Track 2 of the major which results in a B.A. in the Department of Art. Track 2 students focus their work on the artistic side of the major, with a substantial number of studio art courses. 

What are the interests of students who major in Immersive Media Design?

Students in IMDM are interested in merging the arts and technology in new ways to create compelling, effective experiences. Some may be interested in advancing the technology to enable new experiences, or more effective versions of current technology. Some may be interested in the artistic applications of the technology and how it can enhance the immediacy of artistic installations, performance, and other works. Some may be interested in practical engineering applications as the sense of immersive 3D space can be used in visualization for engineering design and control, or in scientific applications for visualization of weather, medical or space data. Some may be interested in immersive media for games or entertainment, either as the experience or as a tool for design of 3D animation spaces. 

What are the possible job opportunities for students with an IMDM degree?

Job opportunities exist in a number of fields as companies and industries explore new opportunities and applications of immersive technologies. Education, engineering, entertainment, the arts, medical and scientific fields, marketing and communication. 

What is the day-to-day work of an IMDM graduate?

Typically part of a team, an immersive media specialist may contribute by writing and designing an immersive media experience; by creating digital content and assets for that experience; by programming the interactivity and control; by building new software and digital tools to support the content creation and the interactivity; providing technical support to immersive media teams; or providing production and organizational support to bring elements of the project together.

What are the lower level requirements of the IMDM major?

In the first two years Immersive Media Design majors take a sequence of IMDM courses, and then additional Computer Science (CMSC) and Studio Art (ARTT) courses depending on their track. Both tracks take IMDM101, Introduction to Immersive Media, and IMDM150, Theory of Immersive Media, their first year. In the second year they take IMDM227, Introduction to Computational Media, and IMDM290, Conceptual Studio I. Students in both tracks also take a common set of studio art courses: ARTT100 (2D Design), ARTT200 (3D Design), and ARTT255 (Digital Imaging).

Students in Track 2 (Art, B.A.) parallel the studio art major requirements. In their first year, Track 2 students take ARTT100 (2D Design) and ARTT110 (Drawing), and in their second year ARTT200 (3D Design), ARTT210 (Drawing II) and ARTT255 (Digital Art). Track 2 students also take IMDM127 (Creative Coding) and CMSC122 (Web Programming).

How is math applied to the major?

Track 2 (Art) students take MATH115.  In either track, mathematical principles are used as a foundation for the digital media and algorithms that power immersive media. Immersive media experiences can be based on simulations of real or artificial environments, and simulations can use a range of mathematical techniques. 

What are the strengths of students in this major?

The individual strengths of students may vary. Those in Track 1 (Computing) are expected to master computer science and technical principles, while those in Track 2 (Art) are expected to master artistic and design principles, with those in both tracks learning skills from the other. The common strength across the tracks will be an ability to work collaboratively on design teams, understanding both the technical and artistic aspects of a project so as to bring to bear the required skills.

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

IMDM students arrive at the major from a variety of backgrounds. They may have been involved in studio art with experiences in drawing, painting, sculpture, or in digital arts with photography, video, animations, or in theater, fashion, or any number of artistic disciplines. They may have taken computing courses, or been involved in computer or robotics clubs, or attended a summer camp in computing. Whatever the experiences, they likely fostered an interest in art and technology.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity, and the related field of information assurance, are ways of protecting information and information technology from compromise that can result from malicious attacks or accidents.

How does the Immersive Media Design major prepare to work in cybersecurity?

Of the computing disciplines at the University of Maryland, Immersive Media has relatively less to do directly with cyber security that most. While IMDM is not designed to prepare students for careers in cyber security, students working in immersive media still have to understand how to ethically use and protect data, particularly personal information, that might result from or be involved in immersive media works, so they have to understand the essentials of cyber security. Also, immersive media techniques can be used to visualize networks and aspects of information systems so as to better understand points of vulnerability. 

What is data sciences?

Data sciences is a new, evolving discipline that combines traditional statistical methods with newer machine learning algorithms, data visualization techniques, and understandings of data applications so as to use data sets to answer practical scientific, social, political or business questions. As a discipline the importance of data sciences is being driven by the availability of large data sets on which a number of algorithms can be effective.

Do Immersive Media Design majors work as data scientists?

Immersive media design majors will be prepared to work with data scientists on innovative and complex data visualizations. Computer algorithms can find patterns in data, but remain most powerful when augmented with interactive, exploratory immersive visualizations that allow a data scientist to find complex relationships that can escape purely automated tools. Immersive media technology like stereoscopic projection, or VR/AR, can engage the visual sense of depth on a large scale in ways beyond ordinary monitors.

Admissions

What is the Immersive Media Design major (IMDM-BS)?

The Immersive Media Design major (IMDM) is an interdisciplinary program in which students create immersive and emerging media and interactive experiences for a range of audiences and applications. The media and experiences focus on technologies that go beyond traditional flat screen computers, monitors and tablets to take the user into impactful, interactive immersive experiences that surround the user in a sense of larger, 3D space. These technologies include virtual reality, augmented reality, large scale projective systems, interactive performances, as well as smaller scale uses of tablets and smartphones as windows to augmented reality. The applications of immersive media range from the visual and performing arts, entertainment, data visualization, medical training and procedures, engineering design and robotics, education, marketing and communication. An immersive media specialist integrates artistic and technical skills as part of a team to initiate, design and implement complex experiences.

Students in the major can focus on the technical side, in Track 1 of the major which results in a B.S. housed in the Department of Computer Science, or in the artistic side, in Track 2 of the major which results in a B.A. in the Department of Art. Track 1 students focus their work on the technical side of the major, with a substantial number of computer science courses.

What are the interests of students who major in Immersive Media Design?

Students in IMDM are interested in merging the arts and technology in new ways to create compelling, effective experiences. Some may be interested in advancing the technology to enable new experiences, or more effective versions of current technology. Some may be interested in the artistic applications of the technology and how it can enhance the immediacy of artistic installations, performance, and other works. Some may be interested in practical engineering applications as the sense of immersive 3D space can be used in visualization for engineering design and control, or in scientific applications for visualization of weather, medical or space data. Some may be interested in immersive media for games or entertainment, either as the experience or as a tool for design of 3D animation spaces.

What are the possible job opportunities for students with an IMDM degree?

Job opportunities exist in a number of fields as companies and industries explore new opportunities and applications of immersive technologies. These fields include education, engineering, entertainment, the arts, medical and scientific fields, marketing and communication.

What is the day-to-day work of an IMDM graduate?

Typically part of a team, an immersive media specialist may contribute by writing and designing an immersive media experience; by creating digital content and assets for that experience; by programming the interactivity and control; by building new software and digital tools to support the content creation and interactivity; providing technical support to immersive media teams; or providing production and organizational support to bring elements of the project together.

What are the lower level requirements of the IMDM major?

In the first two years Immersive Media Design majors take a sequence of IMDM courses, and then additional Computer Science (CMSC) and Studio Art (ARTT) courses depending on their track. Both tracks take IMDM101, Introduction to Immersive Media, and IMDM150, Theory of Immersive Media, their first year. In the second year they take IMDM227, Introduction to Computational Media, and IMDM290, Conceptual Studio I. Students in both tracks also take a common set of studio art courses: ARTT100 (2D Design), ARTT200 (3D Design), and ARTT255 (Digital Imaging).

Students in Track 1 (Computing, B.S.) parallel the CS major requirements. In their first year, Track 1 students take two semesters of Object-Oriented Programming (CMSC131 and 132), as well as ARTT100 and 200. They then spend a year taking introductory courses in Computer Systems, Discrete Structures, Programming Languages and Algorithms. Math requirements for the major include two semesters of Calculus (MATH140 and 141), a 400-level Statistics class, and one additional Math or Statistics class that has MATH141 or higher as a prerequisite.

How is math applied to the major?

Students in Track 1 (Computing) take MATH140 and 141, Calculus I and II.. In either track, mathematical principles are used as a foundation for the digital media and algorithms that power immersive media. Immersive media experiences can be based on simulations of real or artificial environments, and simulations can use a range of mathematical techniques.

What are the strengths of students in this major?

The individual strengths of students may vary. Those in Track 1 (Computing) are expected to master computer science and technical principles, while those in Track 2 (Art) are expected to master artistic and design principles, with those in both tracks learning skills from the other. The common strength across the tracks will be an ability to work collaboratively on design teams, understanding both the technical and artistic aspects of a project so as to bring to bear the required skills.

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

IMDM students arrive at the major from a variety of backgrounds. They may have been involved in studio art with experiences in drawing, painting, sculpture, or in digital arts with photography, video, animations, or in theater, fashion, or any number of artistic disciplines. They may have taken computing courses, or been involved in computer or robotics clubs, or attended a summer camp in computing. Whatever the experiences, they likely fostered an interest in art and technology.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity, and the related field of information assurance, are ways of protecting information and information technology from compromise that can result from malicious attacks or accidents.

How does the Immersive Media Design major prepare to work in cybersecurity?

Of the computing disciplines at the University of Maryland, Immersive Media has relatively less to do directly with cyber security that most. While IMDM is not designed to prepare students for careers in cybersecurity, students working in immersive media still have to understand how to ethically use and protect data, particularly personal information, that might result from or be involved in immersive media works, so they have to understand the essentials of cybersecurity. Also, immersive media techniques can be used to visualize networks and aspects of information systems so as to better understand points of vulnerability.

What is data sciences?

Data sciences is a new, evolving discipline that combines traditional statistical methods with newer machine learning algorithms, data visualization techniques, and understandings of data applications so as to use data sets to answer practical scientific, social, political or business questions. As a discipline the importance of data sciences is being driven by the availability of large data sets on which a number of algorithms can be effective.

Do Immersive Media Design majors work as data scientists?

Immersive media design majors will be prepared to work with data scientists on innovative and complex data visualizations. Computer algorithms can find patterns in data, but remain most powerful when augmented with interactive, exploratory immersive visualizations that allow a data scientist to find complex relationships that can escape purely automated tools. Immersive media technology like stereoscopic projection, or VR/AR, can engage the visual sense of depth on a large scale in ways beyond ordinary monitors.

Admissions

College of Information Studies

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, 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 needs
  • 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 cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity, 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 cybersecurity?

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.  

Robert H. Smith School of Business

What is the Information Systems major?

The Information Systems major in the Business School prepares students to be effective planners, users, and managers of information technologies and systems in business.

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

Students in the Information Systems major are the “doers,” applying modern information technologies to transform business and create competitive advantages. They master a wide range of skills that are essential to business, such as system design and implementation, knowledge to manage the “Big Data” in this rapidly changing world, and essential data skills for business, including spreadsheet, database, web design, and popular data analysis tools used by business analysts. Students also build analytical skills for both strategic Information Technology (IT) planning and performance evaluation. Interested students display a wide range of skills that are essential to business, such as problem-solving, leadership skills, and the motivation to independently research and compile information.

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

Students with a degree in Information Systems are prepared for careers as business and technology consultants, business analysts, system developers and integrators, and entrepreneurs in technology-intensive domains.

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

Our graduates work on understanding customer needs, analyzing business data and processes, identifying critical gaps in existing technologies, designing information systems to support business operations, implementing and evaluating IT projects, and managing technology teams.

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

The Information Systems major lower level requirements include accounting, statistics, and Elementary Calculus I (MATH120). The Information Systems major in the School of Business is a Limited Enrollment Program (LEP). Please see the LEP website for more information on requirements for LEPs.

How is math applied to the major?

The major relies heavily on analytical thought, data skills, business sense making, leadership, and teamwork. Knowledge and application of quantities tools is essential to conducting data visualization and analytics.

What are the strengths of students in this major?

An important strength of the Information Systems student is the ability to comprehend the interdependencies between data, people, and business processes. Such strength is most valuable in translating the business needs of the end users in a business enterprise to the technical developer (often programmers) in technical terms they can understand. Like all Smith School of Business majors, IS majors obtain a broad grounding in the key functional areas of business, including marketing, operations, accounting, and finance. These core concepts provide an excellent foundation to ground the IS major in key concepts of systems analysis and design, and the strategic use of business data.

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

The Information Systems major is not coding intensive, but coding skills for business applications will be taught in various courses. Prospective students may wish to take online introductory programming courses to understand their individual preferences towards coding.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the protection of Information Technology assets (hardware, software or information) from the theft, unauthorized access, or damage as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.

How does Information Systems major prepare to work in cybersecurity?

The Information Systems major provides an overview of the challenges pertaining to information security and the activities that organizations can take to defend against any cyber threats. Course work in the major uses examples of recent incidents, and addresses the motivations behind them. Information Systems highlights the potential organizational weaknesses that criminals exploit and provides information on the ways that both firms and individuals can prevent security breaches. A key outcome for the majors is that students recognize the management challenges, ethical dilemmas, and economic impacts associated with cybersecurity.

What is data sciences?

From a business perspective, data is one of the most important resources that enables competitive advantages. In recent years, companies have been adopting technologies to better capture and manage data from all aspects of the business. Data scientists are required to turn data into insights and actionable knowledge in terms of better understanding the market demand, better prediction of consumer purchases, and better monitoring and adjustment of business operations.

Do Information Systems majors work as data scientists?

Yes. The Information Systems major at the Smith School provides essential skills in statistics, data management, data analysis, and introductory data modeling. Therefore, the major provides a solid technology foundation for students who are interested in pursuing advanced degrees in data sciences.

Major: Multiplatform Journalism

College: Journalism

What is the journalism major?

The journalism major teaches students how to prepare news of interest to the general public. Journalism students interested in computer programming or data science have three potential tracks - user interaction design, data journalism and data visualization, and computational journalism, which includes automated production of content and building tools to help journalists do their jobs better.

What are the interests of students who major in journalism?

Students who are interested in combining interests in data and journalism tend to focus on one or more of the following: user experience design, data analysis, information science, data science, web design and development, and artificial intelligence. They are also interested in making a difference in the world and having a positive impact on society. Students produce journalism that impacts national conversations and helps bring uncovered issues to light through investigative reporting or other methods.

Students also tend to be interested in one or more topical areas: sports, politics, government, the environment and climate change, health care, business and others. They gain expertise in skills such as writing, broadcast, podcasting, coding, data analysis, storytelling, graphic design and communications, and investigative reporting.

What are the possible job opportunities for students with a journalism degree?

Students with a journalism degree who have computer programming skills tend to work in one of the following roles after graduation.

  • Data journalist - A journalist who uses data programming and data science skills to analyze large data sets to find patterns and stories worthy of sharing with the public in one of several formats: text, data visualization, graphics, podcasts, video, motion graphics and other types.
  • Data visualization and graphics specialist - A journalist who combines data programming, user experience design and data visualization techniques to present newsworthy information in a visually compelling format.
  • Computational journalist - A journalist who uses programming skills to build tools that help journalists find and tell stories more effectively. For example, computational journalists are frequently employed to develop software to ingest data and tell stories automatically or to “scrape” data from public websites.
  • Newsroom software engineer - A journalist who works with other journalists to build the technical infrastructure newsrooms rely on to share their work with the public.
  • Web designer and developer - A journalist who combines graphic design, programming and user experience design to build engaging web presentations for stories.
  • Investigative data reporter - A reporter who combines data programming skills and “traditional reporting” methods like interviewing and research.
  • Product development specialist - A journalist who works with other journalists to develop new products for news organizations, including mobile apps.

There are many other jobs in journalism for students who may not want to use programming, including:

  • Multiplatform reporter
  • Broadcast reporter
  • On-air analyst
  • Radio and podcast journalist
  • Photojournalist
  • Social media manager

What is the day-to-day work of a journalism graduate?

The day-to-day work depends on the job, but there’s a great deal of overlap between programming and data analysis jobs.

  • Data journalist - In a given day, a data journalist may use a programming language like Python, R or SQL to load, clean and analyze interesting data; share findings with others through text and data visualization in a “data notebook”; and work with others to report out news stories using data analysis as a foundation.
  • Data visualization and graphics specialist - Work with data journalists to obtain interesting information to share through static and interactive graphics that present data in an appealing manner; use software tools like the Adobe Creative Suite to design graphics; and use computing languages Python, R, SQL, JavaScript, HTML and CSS.
  • Computational journalist - Use programming skills to build tools that help journalists find and tell stories more effectively. Use programming languages like Python. Work with others to develop ideas for new tools.
  • Newsroom software engineer - A journalist who works with other journalists to build the technical infrastructure newsrooms rely on to share their work with the public.
  • Web designer and developer - Design and develop web pages using languages like HTML, CSS and JavaScript.
  • Investigative reporter - Takes deep dives into important issues, often uncovering malfeasance or giving voice to those less powerful. Uses interviewing, documents, data analysis and other methods.
  • Broadcast reporter - Interviews sources and often reports on important issues from the field.
  • Broadcast anchor - Reports and reads the news.
  • On-air analyst - Usually a sports analyst who brings insights about games to a broadcast audience.
  • Play-by-play announcer - Radio or television announcer who describes the action, often in great detail.
  • Radio journalist - Interviews and reports the news for a radio or podcast audience.
  • Audio engineer - Produces radio shows.
  • Photojournalist/Video journalist - Shoots and edits photographs and video that accompany news articles or that tell stories on their own.

What are the lower level requirements of the journalism major?

Students take a one-credit course on journalism grammar, spelling and punctuation (JOUR181), a three-credit course on journalism history, roles and structures (JOUR200), a three-credit course on news writing & reporting (JOUR201), a one-credit course on storytelling with code, a three-credit course on videography (JOUR262) and/or a three- credit course on photojournalism (JOUR370). These lower-level courses give students fundamental skills in writing, reporting, history, coding and visual storytelling that they will need in subsequent major courses. The coding course introduces students to the way journalists use programming skills and computational thinking to report the news and tell stories. They learn about the growing cadre of journalists who write code, and how their programming skills set them up for rewarding careers as journalists at some of the nation’s best news organizations.

How is math applied to the major?

  • Students must take a statistics course for the major and can take a “Breaking News With Numbers: Statistics for Journalists” class that is tailored for students in the major.
  • All students must demonstrate basic math skills to successfully complete the introductory reporting course.
  • There are several courses in which applied statistics play a role, including storytelling with code, interactive design and development, sports analytics, data journalism and computational journalism.
  • In advanced classes, higher-level students learn to apply data journalism and artificial intelligence techniques to the practice of investigative reporting.

What are the strengths of students in this major?

  • Interest in using programming skills to tell meaningful stories
  • Ability to extract knowledge from large and complicated data sets
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Data analysis programming -- ability to acquire data from multiple sources (open source, public records laws, web scraping, etc.) and prepare it for analysis and the execution of original analysis
  • User experience design
  • Development of automated programming
  • Advanced communications and writing skills
  • Multiplatform storytelling ability
  • Critical thinking skills
  • News judgement
  • Ethical and legal standards

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

Some students have worked for a high school student newspaper or broadcast outlet. Others have produced their own podcasts. But many of our students do not have previous journalism experience. They are passionate doers who care about making a difference. Some are news junkies. Others are huge sports fans. They likely matriculate with little to no data journalism experience.

What is cybersecurity?

Using information technology to protect computer systems and networks from intrusion. In journalism, it can mean reporting on cybersecurity issues or protecting journalists and their organizations from malicious cybersecurity attacks.

How does the journalism major prepare students to work in cybersecurity?

It doesn’t. There are roles in journalism for people who protect frontline journalists and their news organizations from cyber security attacks.

What is data sciences?

Data sciences is a discipline that analyzes large amounts of data for insight, scientific and otherwise. Do journalism majors work as data scientists? Yes, an increasing number of journalism graduates work as data scientists in news organizations to analyze large amounts of data for storytelling and investigative purposes, as well as for marketing, product development and other business uses.

Social Data Science
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences & College of Information Studies

What is the Social Data Science major?

Understanding data science is becoming increasingly important in a variety of fields as data sets grow larger and larger. Social Data Science (SDSC) is a new major that builds expertise in the complex skills needed to create and work with information that captures aspects of human behavior, including both technical know-how and expertise in ethical, legal, and social responsibilities. SDSC students will learn to applying data science techniques within social science domains: African-American Studies, Anthropology, Economics, Geographical Sciences and GIS, Government and Politics and International Relations, Psychology, and Sociology. The new SDSC major blends cross-campus strengths to help students learn the technical skills they need to succeed in applied data contexts.

What are the interests of students who major Social Data Science?

SDSC students are interested in using data to solve major social challenges. They should have an interest in quantification and data analysis, social theory, and applied problem-solving.

What are the possible job opportunities for students with a Social Data Science degree?

Graduates can work across many industries and career sectors. A recent estimate is the workforce has over 2.7 million new jobs each year requiring skills in data science and analytics (“Investing in America’s data science and analytics talent”). These jobs will be in industry, government, and nonprofits. For example, economics cognate students will qualify for both GS-5 data science and GS-5 economist positions; geography cognate students will qualify for both GS-5 data science and GS-5 geographer positions.

What is the day-to-day work of a Social Data Science graduate?

SDSC graduates will spend their days determining how to gather the best data as evidence to address a social concern or solve a social problem; will use data analysis tools like Python and Jupyter Notebooks to clean, process, and analyze that data; and use visualization techniques to help others understand their findings. The SDSC core courses will prepare students to work with data science practices, technologies, tools, and sources across disciplines and industries, while the track courses will provide students with opportunities to apply these skills while gaining expertise in a particular social science context.

How is math applied to the major?

Math is integral to the major, particularly a deep understanding of probability and statistics. The major is designed to teach these skills in conjunction with benchmark courses such as STAT100 and MATH115 or 120. Calculus is not required.

What are the strengths of students in this major?

Quantitative thinking, problem solving, appropriate and ethical data use. What are the some of the experiences Social Data Science students have had prior to college? Social data science students could have a diversity of experiences before college – we welcome anyone interested in solving social problems.

Do Social Data Science majors work as data scientists?

Yes

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