Information Sciences Degree Programs
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An information sciences degree teaches students to collect, manage, and evaluate information resources to solve real-world problems. Graduates with an information science degree can pursue careers like information security analyst, computer systems analyst, and computer and information systems manager.
The information sciences field offers higher-than-average salaries and a positive career outlook. The National Center for Education Statistics reports steady growth in the number of bachelor's degrees in computer and information sciences awarded since 2009. In the 2018-19 school year, 88,633 students received an information sciences bachelor's degree, up 11.4% from 2017-18.
This page discusses how to find the best schools for information sciences. We explain what to expect from a typical program and the benefits of getting an information sciences degree. Explore our lists of the best bachelor's and master's in information sciences programs.
Why Get a Degree in Information Sciences?
Earning a degree in information sciences can prepare students for various computing and information technology (IT) careers. This field continues to grow as more organizations digitize their operations and rely on tools like cloud computing. The shift to online technologies also leads to an increased focus on information security and big data collection.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13% growth for all computer and information technology occupations between 2020 and 2030, a total of 667,600 new computing and IT jobs. These careers also offer higher-than-average wages, as all professionals in this broad category earned a median annual salary of $97,430 as of 2021.
Typical employers for graduates with an information science degree include industries like computer systems design, finance and insurance, and government. Types of jobs available in this field include information security analyst, computer and information research scientist, and computer and information systems manager.
Other reasons to pursue this degree include:
- Employment Opportunities: Because careers in this field are in such demand, this can translate to an array of job options for applicants.
- Dynamic Career: The ever-changing nature of the tech industry means that employees in this field must keep their knowledge updated and vary their duties from day to day.
- Versatile Skills: Information science programs can develop technical knowledge and skills that students can apply to various tech jobs.
Should You Get a Degree in Information Sciences or Cybersecurity?
Though information science and cybersecurity programs share commonalities, they differ in key ways. Both include a foundation in computer science and require tech skills. Although information science covers aspects of computing security, it is a broader field than cybersecurity.
Because of this breadth of knowledge, information sciences degrees can provide multiple skill sets to students who aren't sure about their career goals. The versatile outcomes of these programs can lead to multiple job opportunities and further education.
A student may want to choose a cybersecurity degree over an information sciences program if they want a specialized career in information security. Cybersecurity programs typically develop specific, in-demand skills relevant for careers like information security analyst and help prepare students for professional cybersecurity certifications.
Are Information Science and Data Science Degree Programs Similar?
Information science and data science degree programs often overlap, but they also differ in key ways.
Data science is an interdisciplinary field that explores how to extract meaningful information from data. Data science programs focus on computing, statistics, and math to explore artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and algorithms. The best schools for data science can prepare students for roles like data scientist, data analyst, and data manager.
Information science, on the other hand, concerns itself with the storage, retrieval, and management of information. Information science programs typically explore topics like human-computer interaction, data management, and programming. Some information science programs offer minors or concentrations in data science.
What to Expect From the Best Schools for Information Sciences
The best schools for information science teach students to research, evaluate, and manage information from digital sources. Common courses for information science programs at all levels include programming, databases, and information retrieval.
Applicants should investigate if programs offer specializations in areas that align with their career goals. For example, some institutions include options for minors or concentrations in areas like cybersecurity, computer science, and data science.
Below, we explain the different types of information science degrees that schools offer.
Types of Information Sciences Degrees
Schools offer various levels of information sciences degrees. Below, we describe what to expect from an associate degree in information sciences, bachelor's degree in information sciences, master's degree in information sciences, and Ph.D. in information sciences.
Associate Degrees in Information Sciences
Most schools do not offer information sciences associate degrees. Students can find associate degree programs in related fields like computer information systems or information technology. A typical information sciences-adjacent associate program provides an introduction to computing and a foundation in basic computer skills, programming, and databases.
Many associate degrees require 60 semester credits and take two full-time years to complete. Common courses include introduction to PC applications, database design and development, software development concepts, and information technology concepts. After completing associate degrees in information science, students transfer to four-year programs, complete internships, or take entry-level IT jobs.
Bachelor's Degrees in Information Sciences
A bachelor's degree in information sciences covers topics like information organization, knowledge management, information-seeking behavior, and information architecture. Graduates can qualify for many jobs, including computer and information system manager, software engineer, and IT project manager.
A typical information sciences bachelor's degree requires 120 credits and four full-time years to complete. Classes include programming for information sciences, information ecosystems, database concepts and applications, and information systems analysis and design. Potential concentrations include data science, project and knowledge management, human-computer interaction design, and web design.
Common admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED certificate, a minimum GPA, and completion of prerequisite courses. Many universities accept applicants through the Common App website, which lets students apply for multiple programs by submitting one general application.
Master's Degrees in Information Sciences
A master's degree in information sciences develops leadership skills in the design, administration, and evaluation of information systems. These programs prepare students for jobs like IT project manager, computer systems analyst, and computer and information research scientists. A typical program takes two full-time years to complete.
Common classes include information retrieval, programming for information professionals, and theory of computation. Some programs offer specializations in areas like data governance or user experience. Information sciences master's students often complete a thesis or master's project to finish the degree.
Information sciences graduates sometimes enter a Ph.D. program. Others take advanced or management-level positions like computer and information systems manager or computer and information research scientist.
Ph.D.s in Information Sciences
A Ph.D. in information sciences develops specialized expertise in a narrow area of the field. Doctoral candidates must research, write, and defend a dissertation that addresses a current issue in information science. Graduates can teach information science in post-secondary schools or work as computer and information research scientists.
Common admission requirements include a bachelor's or master's degree, a minimum GPA, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and a CV or resume. Programs may welcome applicants from diverse academic backgrounds, but may require completion of prerequisite courses. Students typically take 5-7 years of full-time study to complete a Ph.D. in information sciences.
Jobs for Graduates of Information Sciences Programs
Graduates of information sciences programs can apply for jobs like information security analyst, computer and information systems manager, and computer support specialists. The types of jobs you may qualify for varies depending on your level of education and previous experience.
According to BLS data, median salaries for professionals in this field range from $57,910 to $159,010 as of 2021. Salaries vary by experience, job title, and location.
Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts protect their organizations' information systems by planning and overseeing digital security measures. Frequent duties include researching IT security trends, making security upgrade recommendations to managers, and investigating security breaches. With experience, information security analysts can advance in their careers to become computer and information systems managers.
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer and information research scientists study computing problems and create new technologies to solve problems in fields like healthcare and business. Typical job tasks include creating new computer languages, conducting computer experiments, and writing about their research. Employing industries include the federal government, research and development, and computer systems design.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Computer and information systems managers oversee organizations' computer-related activities. These professionals usually need several years of related IT experience. Computer and information systems managers can advance to become IT directors or chief information officers. They need excellent analytical, leadership, and business skills.
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts study computer systems and find ways to improve them. Industries employing these professionals include computer systems design, finance and insurance, and management. Computer systems analysts with experience can advance to become project managers, chief technology officers, and IT directors.
Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists offer tech support to computer users. They also maintain computers. Education requirements for these positions vary, though many require at least an associate degree. Gaining experience and completing professional certifications qualify computer support specialists for advanced roles like information security analyst and software developer.
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How to Choose the Best College With Information Sciences Programs
Many considerations go into choosing the right information sciences program. To find the best schools for information science, consider the factors below:
- Accreditation: Make sure that any school you consider holds institutional accreditation. Accreditation ensures an institution meets standards of academic quality. Most schools only accept transfer credits from accredited institutions, and students who do not attend accredited schools do not qualify for federal financial aid.
- Cost/Financial Aid: Estimate and compare the cost of attendance for potential schools. Factor in tuition, student fees, textbooks, and housing. Contact the institution to ask about financial aid opportunities.
- Competitiveness: Prestigious programs often have larger applicant pools and stricter admission requirements. Confirm that you meet each school's minimum GPA and standardized test score requirements as you apply.
- Program Length: How long do you want to be in school? Program length varies by institution. Some programs offer accelerated options, allowing students to graduate in a shorter period of time.
Should You Get Your Degree Online?
Some of the best schools for information sciences degrees offer fully online or hybrid (mixing online and in-person learning) programs. Benefits of online education include flexibility, convenience, and affordability. Full-time workers and students with other responsibilities may find it easier to complete an online degree because of less rigid course schedules.
Weigh whether or not the online experience is the right fit for you by thinking about personal learning style, time commitments, and career goals.
Some online programs offer synchronous classes, where learners use technologies like web conferencing to attend live virtual lectures with instructors and peers. Other distance programs take place asynchronously, letting students complete coursework on a more flexible schedule.
Top Schools for Bachelor's in Information Sciences Degrees
Learn about the five top schools for information sciences in 2022 for students seeking a bachelor's degree. The link below explains how we rank schools for all degree levels.
#1 Online College in California
California Institute of Technology
A private school, California Institute of Technology is one of the best schools in the country. The school delivers a bachelor's in data science which provides a strong academic experience. While completing their bachelor's program, degree-seekers gain the knowledge and skills necessary to impress employers. Bachelor's programs feature general education classes in areas such as English and mathematics.
Specialized major classes explore field-specific topics to prepare learners for careers or graduate studies. The institution allows degree-seekers to add a minor to their bachelor's degree.
The school delivers accredited programs, ensuring degree-seekers receive a high-quality education. Bachelor's degree-seekers typically complete their program in four years, if studying full time. Information on the acceptance of transfer credits can be found on the institution's website.
Degree-seekers may receive credit for service-learning opportunities. The school’s website provides details about experiential learning opportunities. Learners can access the school's student support services, including tutoring, online and in person. Students can attend networking events to connect with peers and professionals in their field.
To fund their degree, 71% of the school's students obtain financial aid and 4% take out loans. Students can reduce the cost of earning a degree by applying for grants and scholarships. The school reports an admission rate of 6% for undergraduate learners.
#2 Online College in New York
Columbia University in the City of New York
|Location||New York, New York|
|Percent Online Enrollment||
A private institution, Columbia University in the City of New York can pursue a variety of bachelor's degrees. Graduates of bachelor's programs can continue their education or enter the workforce.
Bachelor's-level curricula include general education and major classes. Degree-seekers can use elective credits to earn a minor or concentration in a specialized area. The school maintains a 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, which promotes personalized learning. To get the most out of their educational experience, learners can attend events and join student organizations.
Enrollees at the institution benefit from affordable tuition rates, which help minimize debt. The institution charges in-state learners $57,763 annually. The school accepts 5% of applicants.
The institution holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Prospective applicants can contact the admissions department for information about enrolling in a bachelor's degree program.
#3 Online College in Missouri
Missouri University of Science and Technology
|Percent Online Enrollment||
Missouri University of Science and Technology is a public school in Rolla. Bachelor's in science in information science and technology learners complete general education coursework in areas such as English and mathematics.
Bachelor's programs help learners gain the knowledge and skills necessary to secure positions in their field. After completing general education classes, students fulfill major requirements to gain specialized knowledge in their field. Degree-seekers can use elective credits to earn a minor in a specialized area.
Learners may receive credit for service-learning opportunities. Students can explore the school’s website for details about experiential learning opportunities. Student support services such as tutoring and career counseling prepare learners to succeed academically and professionally. Student organizations provide degree-seekers with professional development and networking opportunities.
The school has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
#4 Online College in New Jersey
New Jersey Institute of Technology
|Location||Newark, New Jersey|
|Percent Online Enrollment||
New Jersey Institute of Technology offers a comprehensive catalog of 110 academic programs, including online options. Bachelor's programs require foundational coursework in addition to program-specific classes.
After completing general education classes, students take upper-division courses focused on their field of study. Undergraduate curricula help students gain analytical, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills. Bachelor's programs typically require about four years of full-time study. Part-time students may need more than two years to earn their bachelor's degree.
The school reports that 92% of students receive financial aid and 43% take out loans. Undergraduate students at the school pay an average net price of $18,359 annually. The school accepts 73% of applicants.
#5 Online College in Massachusetts
|Percent Online Enrollment||
Massachusetts-based Northeastern University offers a comprehensive catalog of 186 academic programs, including bachelor's programs. General education requirements for bachelor's degree-seekers include classes in areas such as English and the liberal arts.
While completing upper-division credit requirements, learners gain specialized knowledge in their major. Undergraduate curricula help students gain the analytical, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills they need for their careers. Bachelor's programs usually take about four years for first-time undergraduate students to complete. Part-time students may need more than two years to graduate.
Per credit, enrollees pay an average of 1,640. The institution reports that 78% of learners receive financial aid and 33% take out loans. The school accepts 18% of undergraduate students.
Top Schools for Master's in Information Sciences Degrees
Explore 2022's five best colleges for information sciences for master's degree students below. Consult our methodology page to read about how we rank schools.
#1 Online College in North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
|Location||Chapel Hill, North Carolina|
|Percent Online Enrollment||
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public institution offering master's degrees. While attending the school, graduate degree-seekers can pursue a master's in information science. The data science program incorporates a rigorous curriculum and experiential learning opportunities designed to help graduates reach their career goals.
The program features core coursework, which helps students prepare for high-level data science classes. As an accredited institution, the school delivers high-quality educational programs. Support services including faculty mentorship and career counseling prepare learners to succeed academically and professionally. Master's degree-holders can apply for high-level positions in the field.
Degree-seekers at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, scholarships, and other funding sources. Of the school's graduate students, 65% obtain financial aid to pay for their degree.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at a Glance:
Number of Master's Programs: 84
Number of Online Master's Degrees: 14
Tuition Per Credit: $1,767
Graduate Tuition In-State: $10,552
Graduate Tuition Out-of-State: $28,278
Transfer Credits Permitted: No
#2 Online College in California
University of California-Irvine
|Percent Online Enrollment||
University of California-Irvine provides academic programs for online and on-campus degree-seekers. The school provides distance degree-seekers with some of the country's top master's programs.
Learners can pursue the master's in data science program to gain advanced knowledge in the field. The program features a rigorous curriculum that helps enrollees develop transferable skills and specialized knowledge. Elective classes and experiential learning opportunities allow students to tailor the curriculum to their career goals. Faculty advisors provide graduate students with professional advice and insights into the field. Graduates of the data science program can apply for positions in the field or advance their current career.
Students with financial need can apply for federal grants and loans. Student support services such as tutoring and career counseling prepare learners to succeed academically and professionally. Prospective students can contact the institution for details about application deadlines and requirements.
#3 Online College in Michigan
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
|Location||Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|Percent Online Enrollment||
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is a public institution delivering top-ranked master's programs. The school offers a master's in data science for graduate degree-seekers. The data science program's rigorous curriculum helps enrollees develop field-specific knowledge, which they apply during experiential learning opportunities.
In addition to core coursework, students complete advanced classes in data science. The institution's accredited programs prepare learners to excel in their field. The school delivers faculty mentorship and career counseling for graduate students. The master's program can benefit learners who are new to the field and those with established data science careers.
Degree-seekers at the accredited institution can qualify for federal grants and loans. Of the school's graduate students, 65% obtain financial aid to pay for their degree.
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Numbers:
Number of Master's Programs: 140
Number of Online Master's Options: 4
Average Per-Credit Tuition: $1,522
Graduate Tuition In-State: $23,890
Graduate Tuition Out-of-State: $48,204
Transfer Credits Allowed: No
#4 Online College in Florida
Florida State University
|Percent Online Enrollment||
Florida State University is a public institution delivering top-ranked master's programs from its campus in Tallahassee. The school's master's programs include a respected master's in data science. The data science program's curriculum provides fundamental knowledge through core coursework.
Master's students gain specialized knowledge during advanced data science classes. As an accredited institution, the school delivers graduate programs that meet high standards of quality and confer widely recognized credentials. Master's students also benefit from faculty mentorship and career counseling services. Master's degree-holders can apply for high-level positions in the field.
The institution holds accreditation, which means degree-seekers can submit the FAFSA to receive federal grants and loans. Of the school's graduate students, 97% obtain financial aid to pay for their degree.
Florida State University Numbers:
Number of Master's Programs: 102
Online Master's Offered: 13
Graduate Tuition In-State: $9,684
Graduate Tuition Out-of-State: $24,116
Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No
#5 Online College in Virginia
University of Virginia-Main Campus
|Percent Online Enrollment||
From its campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, University of Virginia-Main Campus enrolls degree-seekers in undergraduate and graduate programs. The public institution delivers a total of 72 master's programs. The school delivers some of the country's top graduate programs in online and on-campus formats, including a master's in data science.
Learners can enroll in the institution's m.s. in data science to develop advanced knowledge and skills in the field. Enrollees develop specialized knowledge and soft skills that apply to many professional roles. Students pursue experiential learning opportunities and choose electives to customize the degree. Graduate students work with faculty advisors during the course of their studies. After earning the master's degree in data science, graduates can launch a new career in the field.
Online master's programs at the school cost an average of $1,337 per credit. Students at the accredited institution can receive federal financial aid. The school delivers student support services to on-campus and online learners, including academic advising and career counseling. Prospective applicants can reach out to the program for more information about application deadlines and requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions About Information Sciences
Are the best schools for information science hard to get into?
Admission requirements for the best schools for information science vary. However, the most prestigious programs may attract more applicants and maintain stricter requirements for admission.
What is an information sciences degree?
A degree in information science helps students learn the best practices for collecting, analyzing, and managing information resources. A typical program covers topics like information retrieval, human-computer interaction, and information evaluation.
What can I do with an information sciences degree?
The best degrees in information sciences can prepare graduates to apply for jobs like information security analyst, computer systems analyst, and computer and information research scientists. The jobs for which you qualify may vary by degree level.
Should I attend a degree program in data science or information science?
Choose between information science and data science degree programs by considering your academic interests and career goals. If you want to focus more heavily on math and computers, choose data science.
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