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Degrees Offered: BS MS PhD

Information science students study the relationships between people, technology and information—and then design ways to make those connections more useful to society. They also design and create virtual environments, such as mobile applications and social media platforms, that really engage people in the topics and communities of interest to them.

Mobile and crowd computing, though, are just the start of what will become possible in the new socio­technical world. Students will be creating the future—starting now. For example, they might work with fellow students to create interactive maps that emergency responders can use to assess damage after a natural disaster. Or they could create a social network to enable people around the world to collaborate on helping a blind person “translate” a photo he or she has uploaded but can’t see. As students study and try out new ideas, they will learn how to evaluate the success of their software solutions and discover the kinds of business opportunities they might create.

Undergraduate Opportunities

The Department of Information Science is part of a major new movement in teaching and research, and CU Boulder is among the few universities that will offer an undergraduate degree. The department at CU­ Boulder advances the research of the discipline and delivers an innovative educational program to its students while aligning with the aims and guidelines of the Information School (I­School) Caucus, a 52­member international association with 26 members located in the United States. As such, the Department of Information Science at CU­ Boulder is home to grant­driven empirical research that matches the national research goals of the discipline.

Students of the program acquire skills in multiple forms of analysis of information, from small data to big data, from quantitative to qualitative and including information integration, ontology creation and data visualization—because to work with information artifacts, industries and populations means to interact with data inputs and outputs. Students are also trained in computing to support their information analytic skills. Such training includes building prototypes and writing scripts to be able to model and implement information artifacts and solutions.

Graduates also acquire skills in human­-centered design, participatory design and research design, specifically to be able to craft solutions and evaluate trajectories for those solutions in a real­time relationship with implementation, deployment, use and revision. Finally, students acquire skills in data curation, archiving and management, since working with information artifacts, industries and populations requires technical and conceptual capacities to navigate and manipulate heterogeneous information corpora. 

This curriculum culminates in projects that put learned skills into place, often in partnership with the Boulder/Denver tech community and/or in relation to disciplines across the entire campus that are expanding their purview as they address new computational opportunities.

Graduate Studies

MS and PhD in Information Science

The Department of Information Science is home to a new discipline that unites a number of interdisciplinary approaches for understanding and shaping a future characterized by pervasively available digital information and communication technology. Information science considers the relationships between people, places and technology and the information those interactions yield. The internet is a broad example of a socio­technical system that is comprised of hardware and software, but in daily life it is better understood as a constantly changing social infrastructure upon which complex forms of human­human and human­information interaction rest. Scholars and students of information science develop new methods to study these socio­technical phenomena, and translate those findings to the design and development of useful and meaningful technology.

The department equips students with the conceptual machinery to succeed in a future characterized by new ways of working with information and communication technology (ICT). Upon graduating, students will: acquire skills in multiple forms of analysis of information, from small data to big data, from quantitative to qualitative, and including information integration, ontology creation and data visualization; be trained in computing, including building prototypes and writing scripts; be able to model and instrument information artifacts and solutions; master skills in human­centered design, participatory design and research design, to be able to craft solutions and evaluate trajectories for those solutions in a real­time relationship with implementation, deployment, use and revision; understand information security and privacy, because working with information artifacts, industries and populations means operating within ethical limits and ensuring data security; be trained in socio­behavioral theory, including but not limited to theories of organizing, mobilization, motivation and participation and collective action; and have skills in data curation, archiving and management.

The MS and PhD degrees align with standards set by other universities. Both include a liberal arts education combined with empirical work and computing knowledge, and both incorporate the grant­driven, collaborative “lab model” research that characterizes the natural and engineering sciences.