What is information science? Why it is important? What are the typical career paths for information science majors?
As the Assistant Director for the University of Maryland, College Park’s undergraduate Information Science program offered at the Shady Grove campus, I get these questions often.
The study of information science focuses on the following:
- Data and information collection, analysis, manipulation, storage, retrieval, visualization, and dissemination;
- The application and usage of information and data by people, organizations, and society; and
- Interactions between technologies, information, and people including identifying the most efficient ways for those three areas to work together.
Information science is often considered a branch of computer science, which is actually not correct. Unlike computer science, information science is interdisciplinary and incorporates not only aspects of computer science, but also cognitive and social sciences, including economics, psychology, communication, artificial intelligence, etc. In addition to coding, information science professionals are experts in organizational practices and strategies, as well as technology solutions supporting people behavior, information, and knowledge sharing. They are well equipped to deal with all the challenges and opportunities presented by this digital era coming from various disciplines including business, education, healthcare, and others.
According to the iSchool Inclusion Institute, information science helps people “discover better information, design and use better technology, and make better decisions to solve problems.” Let’s break that down:
- Discover better information. Daily, we receive about 105,000 words/23 words per second through social media platforms, TV, radio, and print media. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025 “463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally – the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs per day.” What information do we need to pay attention to? What do we need to ignore? Information science professionals are well equipped in helping people and organizations browse through all the information and data, and locate the most reliable, unbiased, and correct information sources to further utilize in communications and decision-making processes.
- Design and use better technology. Information science professionals are experts in analyzing current technology solutions and assessing their support of the company’s goals, mission, and vision. Also, information scientists bridge the communication gap that exists between a company’s IT and business teams by facilitating the conversation, translating business challenges to technology teams (or technical terms to business people), and work to get everyone aligned from the very first requirements gathering meeting, all the way to product delivery.
- Make better decisions. Data enables companies to create new business opportunities, generate more revenue, predict future trends, and optimize current operational strategies. Information scientists facilitate and promote data-driven decision-making. Instead of basing decisions on intuition and observations alone, information science professionals encourage and help companies leverage various data analysis techniques and methods to support organizational decisions.
So, what are some of the typical career paths of information science majors? The following is a list of the most common job titles among information science graduates:
- Data Analyst or Data Scientist
- Database Administrator
- User Experience/Interface Designer
- Content Management Specialist
- Systems Architect
- Data Architect
- Project Manager/Business Analyst
- Information Security Specialist
Interested in learning more about UMCP’s Information Science undergraduate program offered at the Shady Grove?Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the program, or to set up a pre-advising appointment.Our cohort-based program provides curricular and extra-curricular activities to support our students and ensure their success. You will learn skills and credentials to launch a successful career as an Information Science professional in all types of organizations, including government institutions, non-profits, educational and cultural institutions, the private sector, and the intelligence community.
Bilton, Nick. (December 9, 2009). Part of the Daily American Diet, 34 Gigabytes of Data. The New York Times.
Andrea, Harris. The Human Brain is Loaded Daily with 34 GB of Information. Tech 21 Century.
The iSchool Inclusion Institute. What are the Information Sciences?
Desjardins, Jeff. (April 17, 2019). How Much Data is Generated Each Day? World Economic Forum.