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Information Science Major Overview

By Lisa Freedland

Lisa Freedland is a Scholarships360 writer with personal experience in psychological research and content writing. She has written content for an online fact-checking organization and has conducted research at the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Irvine. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California in Fall 2021 with a degree in Psychology.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: April 11th, 2024
Information Science Major Overview

If you enjoy working with computers (and on a team), then information science may be a great major for you! Information science majors learn everything they need to know about computers. They learn how technology can be used to best fulfill the needs of companies and organizations. So, if you’re interested in learning programming languages, problem-solving skills, design theory, and more, consider majoring in information science!

Keep on reading to learn all about the information science major. Learn what it entails, typical coursework, and post-graduation job opportunities.

Related: Top college majors for the future

What is an information science major?

The information science major, sometimes called computer information science (CIS), teaches students how to organize and manage data by computing. After graduation, this knowledge is used to help organizations and businesses of all kinds reach their goals. Rather than focusing on the latest computer or software technologies, the information science major prepares students to help such groups.

CIS students learn skills that allow them to create and execute computer-based solutions for problems that come up. With these skills, they create, build, maintain, or enhance the existing computer-based systems at their workplaces. 

See Also: Top computer science scholarships 

Coursework to expect

Early on into college, CIS majors can expect to take a few introduction courses. Such courses will teach them the basics of programming and give them an overview of the field itself. Besides these, CIS students should expect to enroll in a variety of mathematics courses in their first few years of college, which will prepare them for the extensive computing they will do later on. Computer architecture and design principles are also very typical for underclassmen majoring in information science, as these give students a thorough understanding of computer systems – which is essential to the field.

Further into undergrad, students will likely take a variety of courses regarding data structures, algorithms, and software design and development. By choosing specific elective courses, students will also have the opportunity to take more niche classes they’re interested in or that are relevant to their career goals. CIS majors may also be expected to take some ethics and law classes, to teach them how their work can impact people, in both positive and negative ways. And, in addition to their major requirements, CIS majors’ general education classes may help them better communicate what they do to those who don’t work in the same field. These courses will also introduce them to other fields (many of which will be very different), which may help CIS majors discover what type of industry or organization they’re interested in working for.

Below are some potential courses you may encounter as an information science major:

  • Computer Concepts
  • Computer Networks
  • Web Design
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Software
  • Introduction to Programming Languages
  • Data Structures
  • Artificial Intelligence

Opportunities after graduation

As we’ve discussed, information science majors often use their computing knowledge to help different types of companies and organizations to reach their goals. And, when we say “different,” we really mean it! Not only are those with information science degrees often hired by software and hardware companies, but CIS majors are also often hired by banks, hospitals, nonprofits, government agencies, corporations, and more! Since nearly every company nowadays utilizes computers and technology, CIS majors should have little trouble finding employment out of college.

With this in mind, though, the exact responsibilities one has will depend on where they work and what their job title is. Still, CIS majors might expect to be responsible for product development, creating and maintaining computer software systems, building data management or security systems, or anything along these lines. Alternatively, some CIS majors choose to pursue further schooling, looking to expand their knowledge in the areas of business administration or more specific subtopics of CIS.

Related: Majors and careers for introverts

Jobs you can get with an information science degree

So, what are some of the actual jobs that those with an information science degree can secure? What are their salaries? Well, luckily for you, we’ve gone through and created a list of potential jobs that you can pursue with a CIS degree (with descriptions and salaries included)! Let’s take a look.

1. Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers

Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers each work with computers and computer software – just in different ways. For example, Software Developers create computer applications that allow users to do specialized tasks, as well as underlying programs that allow devices to run. Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers, on the other hand, design and perform software tests to learn how the software works and identify any potential problems with it. Each of these professions typically requires individuals to have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or a related field. However, employers may sometimes prefer to hire those with master’s degrees. 

2022 Median Pay: $124,200 per year
Projected Growth (2022-2032): 25% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Database Administrators and Architects

As their titles suggest, Database Administrators and Architects are responsible for creating new databases based on user’s needs and interests. Such databases hold a wide variety of information, from financial records, to shipping records, to consumer information, and more. Database Administrators and Architects also make sure to back up such data in case of emergencies, and make sure that the databases are error-free. To become a Database Administrator or Architect, one typically needs a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology (or science), or a related field.

2022 Median Pay: $112,120 year
Projected Growth (2022-2032): 8% (Faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Web Developers and Digital Designers

Web Developers and Digital Designers create, design, and maintain websites. While those in either profession manage a site’s more technical aspects, web developers may also be tasked with creating content for a website. Digital designers, on the other hand, may create and test different functional aspects of websites to check for usability. Both Web Developers and Digital Designers may meet with clients or other team members to discuss the ideal needs, design, and functional aspects of a website. Educational requirements tend to vary for Web Developers and Digital Designers. While some hold a bachelor’s degree, others may only have a high school diploma. 

2020 Median Pay: $80,730 per year
Projected Growth (2022-2032): 16% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Computer Systems Analysts

Also known as systems architects, Computer Systems Analysts create solutions to help organizations’ computer systems run more efficiently. Besides determining which IT systems to install, Computer Systems Analysts also prepare cost and benefit analyses which allow their companies to determine whether new IT programs and structures will be financially beneficial. If new systems are approved, Computer Systems Analysts will then oversee their installation to make sure everything goes according to plan. While many Computer Systems Analysts hold bachelor’s degrees in computer science or related fields, others have been hired with unrelated degrees simply because they have computer programming skills or experience.

2022 Median Pay: $102,240 year
Projected Growth (2022-2022): 10% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How do I know if a major is right for me? 

Knowing whether or not you’re majoring in the right subject is tricky. Even after being in college for multiple semesters or years, it is not uncommon for students to wonder whether they truly enjoy their major. However, many students also love their majors from the start. They end up sticking with the same one for their entire college experience. So, if you’re thinking about majoring in information science, ask yourself these questions first:

  • Are you comfortable working with technology?
  • Do you value working as a team?
  • Would you consider yourself good at math?
  • Do you enjoy thinking critically (and creatively)?

If you answered “yes” to a majority of these questions, then information science may be a great fit for you. We wish you good luck. Have fun in college, and happy computing!

Also see: How to pick a major

Further reading

To learn more about the intricacies of computer science and information technology majors (and their possible career paths), be sure to check out our Computer science major overview and Information technology major overview articles. Whatever major you choose, make sure that you apply for all the scholarships you qualify for while you are eligible!

Frequently asked questions about information science majors

What is the difference between information science and computer science?

Both information and computer science have similar goals and a focus on information and technology. However, a computer science degree aims to teach students how to create, maintain, and improve computer software. This offers them a wide foundation of knowledge in technology and computing (from theories, to programming, to the development of new computing solutions) in order to do so. Information science, on the other hand, is more concerned with how data from computer systems can help companies or organizations achieve their goals.

What is information technology?

Information technology is another field with a focus on computing and data that is very similar to information science. However, information technology degrees more specifically prepare students to assist with the computer technology needs of schools, businesses, health care agencies, and all other types of organizations (and is more problem-solving than goal-achieving oriented).

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