What are some areas of concentration in a Master’s in Information Science?

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Information science, being a multidisciplinary field, has several specialties or concentrations at the graduate level. With the offer of specializations comes the possibility of prerequisite courses during your undergraduate studies. Therefore, you have the option of deciding during your undergrad program, so you have the required background or take additional classes as part of the master’s requirements. For the latter, you could have more hours than the standard 36 credit hours. In this post, we will look at examples available at colleges and universities in the United States.

The following are master’s programs with areas of concentration:

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Big Data Analytics

Students learn about the technologies involved in big data management, which refers to the way organizations access and store large volumes of data. The management of the data concerns itself with the volume, the velocity, and the variety. For example, business transactions and social media add to the quantity of information. In addition, the data must be handled promptly; hence speed is a factor. And there could be different types of data that need categorizing. Experts in this area use their knowledge and skills to design, develop, and utilize complex information systems.

Students interested in data analytics might need undergraduate courses in data structures. Individuals with an aptitude for computer languages should do well in this subject as data structures deal with algorithms. Knowledge of C++, Java, and Python is helpful.

Database and Web Systems

This specialization examines the concepts of database management systems (DBMS) and the complexities of extensive enterprise data management.  Students learn the practical skills in building and administering realistic database systems, data warehousing, data integration, and Web-based data management.  All of which are vital to the storage and dissemination components of information science.

DBMS refers to a computerized data-keeping system. A manufacturing facility, for example, may have a data structure that stores information by part number, cost, inventory, and forecast. Spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel, worked well for small amounts of data. However, as more extensive collections occurred, computerized databases became paramount for storing, accessing, and manipulating the data.

Human-Centered Computing

A concentration in HCC entails the development and management of systems focused on the user. Research explores the building of adaptive interfaces, navigation through information spaces, social computing, and virtual environments in information science. Courses cover human understanding, interests, preferences, and knowledge, resulting in designing systems with intuitive interfaces.

HCC and information sciences are a convergence of human-computer interaction, cognition, gaming systems, social computing, user-centered design, and more.

Information Security

The proliferation of computer technology created a target for hackers to access crucial information such as medical records, credit card numbers, banking information. Organizations and corporations realized how susceptible their stored information was to hackers. Consequently, companies spent millions on information security to protect data and technology from cyber threats. As a result, the profession of cybersecurity has blossomed into one of the fastest-growing sectors.

Courses in this concentration include how to develop and utilize secure information systems. Knowledge of software applications helps the student answer the question: How do we protect proprietary information and data?

The examples above are from the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh’s M.S. in Information Science.

The Department of Information Science at the University of North Texas has an online Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) or Information Science. The former is a separate major from information science and is geared for those who want a career in academic, law, medical, government, or public libraries. The MSLS has concentrations in:

  • Information Organization
  • Law Librarianship
  • Music librarianship
  • Youth Librarianship

The School of Information at the University of Michigan has a Master of Science in Information that allows you to tailor the coursework. These are the three concentrations:

Data Science, Data Analytics, and Computational Science:  Courses cover data manipulation, data analysis, database design, information economics, and information visualization.

Digital Archives, Library Science, and Preservation:  Within this specialization are three subspecialties:

  1. Managing and Sustaining Collections,
  2.  Representing and Sharing Information
  3. Connecting Information and Communities

User Experience (UX) Research and Design, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Social Computing:   Students learn about theories of human behavior, social media, virtual reality systems, product design, and mobile applications.

The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois-Urbana offers a Master of Science in Library & Information Science (MS/LIS) or Information Management (IM). The MS/LIS program, accredited by the American Library Association, emphasizes the management, analysis, and preservation of information. Graduates from the IM will qualify for a career as a data scientist, cybersecurity analyst, knowledge manager, information consultant, digital content manager, and others.

As highlighted above, there are concentrations and degree choices in the arena of information science. Each student can pursue a specialty that most interests them. Information is the lifeline for most corporations, which makes this a diverse career opportunity. However, individuals with computer technology to match the science of information should have more job possibilities.

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