What is Information Science?

Woman looking at screens (AI-generated)

This AI-generated image showcases one of many possibilities of information science. By studying information science, students can learn how to analyze, manage and lead the transition into an AI-fueled future.

The Expanding Universe of Information Science:
A Pathway to Dynamic Careers

In today’s data-driven world, the field of information science has become a cornerstone of how we understand and interact with the digital landscape. From artificial intelligence to big data analytics and from digital libraries to social networks, information scientists are pivotal in shaping our access to, and understanding of, information. The University of Arizona School of Information (iSchool) stands at the forefront of this revolution, preparing undergraduate and graduate students to lead in a variety of dynamic careers.

The Rise of Information Science

Information science is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on understanding the dynamics of information. This includes the collection, organization, manipulation, storage, retrieval, dissemination and sharing of information and data, as well as the evaluation of information’s impact on users and society as a whole—diving into the worlds of social media, gaming, artificial intelligence and data science. Information science also encompasses gamification: applying game design elements to non-game contexts in industries from retail to finance and beyond.

As society generates data at an exponential rate, the importance of this field only grows stronger. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, computer and information sciences alone claimed a 42% share of the total enrollment gains in higher education in 2023, demonstrating a robust and growing interest in this field.1

Key Skills in Information Science

Students of information science develop a robust set of skills, including:

Data Analysis

Parsing large datasets to find trends and make predictions.

Information Architecture

Designing data and information systems for easy access and use.

Technology Fluency

Understanding and applying the right technology solutions to create, manage and protect information.

Ethical Judgment

Ensuring the privacy and ethical handling of sensitive information.

Diverse Competencies

The study of information science also provides a diverse set of core competencies:

Computational Thinking

Problem-solving using computer science techniques, such as algorithms and coding, to solve complex problems. This skill is essential for developing software, automating tasks and creating systems that can handle large-scale information processing.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

Understanding how users interact with technology and designing interfaces that are intuitive and user-friendly. This skill is crucial for developing applications and systems that are accessible and effective for all users, integrating principles from psychology, design and ergonomics.

Digital Humanities

Applying information science to the humanities to uncover new insights and understandings through digital tools. This includes text mining, digital archiving and the visualization of historical data, connecting technology with cultural and artistic expressions.

Information Policy & Ethics

Beyond the basics of ethical judgment, this involves understanding the broader policy implications of information management, including issues of data governance, open access and the digital divide. It’s about crafting policies that ensure fair and equitable access to information.

Social Informatics

Studying the social aspects of computerization, including the role of information technology such as artificial intelligence in social and organizational change, the use of IT in social contexts, and the ways that the social organization of information technologies is influenced by social forces and practices.

Career Opportunities

The surge in higher education enrollment in information science is not just academic; it mirrors broader employment trends. Specific areas within information science such as data science, cybersecurity, computational arts, artificial intelligence and IT management not only saw substantial increases in student interest but are also fields where job growth is robust. Fields under the computer and information sciences umbrella are among those with the highest job growth, number of jobs and median pay for workers and graduates, making them highly attractive career paths for graduates.2

Information science graduates are prepared to excel in a wide array of in-demand positions, including:

  • Application or systems analyst
  • Application developer
  • Computational art technician
  • Database administrator
  • Data analyst, scientist or engineer
  • Digital artist or graphic designer
  • Digital marketing specialist
  • Digital repository specialist
  • Engagement manager
  • Game designer or developer
  • Game tester
  • Information architect
  • Information security or cybersecurity analyst
  • Social media specialist
  • Software developer or engineer
  • Technology consultant
  • User experience designer
  • Web programmer or producer

Why Study at the University of Arizona iSchool?

The iSchool offers cutting-edge programs that combine theoretical insights with practical application. Our faculty are active researchers and industry experts committed to student success in this rapidly evolving field. We offer undergraduate degrees in Information ScienceInformation Science and ArtsInformation Science and eSocietyGame Design and Development, and Games and Behavior, as well as graduate degrees in Data ScienceInformation Science, and Library and Information Science, all tailored to equip students with the necessary skills to thrive in any information-centric role.

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected through technology, the demand for skilled information science professionals continues to soar. Arizona’s iSchool is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of leaders in this vital field, leaders who are eager to embrace the challenge of shaping the future of information.

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  1. National Student Clearinghouse, Current-Term Enrollment Estimates (https://nscresearchcenter.org/current-term-enrollment-estimates/), Fall 2023.
  2. Eduventures, “What I Learned in 2023: Five Analyst Reflections” (https://encoura.org/what-i-learned-in-2023-five-analyst-reflections/).
  3. Lightcast Reports Generated for the University of Arizona, November 2023.
  4. Zippia, Information Scientist Salary (https://www.zippia.com/salaries/information-scientist/#), May 2024.
  5. PayScale, Master of Information Science Degree (https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Information_Science_(MIS)/Salary), May 2024.