Undergraduate degree in Informatics

photo:: computer science student

What is Informatics?

    • Informatics brings together software engineering, human-computer interaction, and the study of information technology in organizations into a single, focused degree program.

    • Informatics addresses the design and construction of information technology systems that will be effective in real-world situations. It includes not only building software but also examining the human, organizational, and social context where the system will be used.

    • Informatics is the interdisciplinary study of the design, implementation, use, and impact of information technology.

  • Informatics is a common term for computer science in European universities; the number of Informatics programs in American universities is growing.

Traditional computer science programs focus on analyzing and designing computers and computer systems, but the success of those systems depends not only on their intrinsic characteristics but also on the real-world situations where they will be used—the human users and their requirements, characteristics, and organizations. Informatics studies computer systems in their real-world context and how to design and build those systems so they work effectively in that context.

In Informatics we aim to:

  • Design and develop new uses for information technology.
  • Understand the effect information technology has on people.
  • Apply information technology in fields ranging from medicine to music, from ecology to aerospace, from finance to entertainment.

Is Informatics for me?
What do I take?
What can I do with this degree?
What can I do with the Informatics minor?
Still not sure?

Is Informatics for me?

Informatics is for you if you:

    • Enjoy solving problems using all the tools you have available.

    • Can work not only with technical details but also with “big-picture” issues

  • Have strong reading and writing skills and can think freely, creatively, and systematically.

Previous experience in computer programming is not required to start the Informatics major. Programming is just one aspect of Informatics and the major introduces all the necessary skills at a manageable pace. Students who do already have some programming experience will also find new concepts, even in the very first course.

The Informatics major offers a contemporary curriculum with an emphasis on group work (starting in the first course), studio-oriented design courses, and a year-long senior project.

The first year of the program provides students with a hands-on introduction to the broad field of Informatics, centering on the Informatics Core Course. This year-long course develops students’ basic understanding of software: how to design and construct programs and how the programs operate as part of information technology systems.

The second year builds up a portfolio of foundational concepts and techniques that establish the discipline of Informatics; these contribute to the “toolbox” students will use in subsequent years to solve large-scale information and software design problems. As sophomores, students begin to take more advanced courses that support their specialization in either software engineering, human-computer interaction, or the study of organizations and information technology. These may involve courses in Management, Psychology, Computer Science, or Engineering.

In the third year, all students study the design process, project management, and the impacts of technology on the real world. Students continue to take electives in their specialized area of study.

The fourth year is built around a year-long capstone project in which groups of students address a significant project, typically from an outside client.

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What do I take?

All Informatics majors take a common core of 16 courses. After their first year, Informatics majors choose an additional 10 courses in one of three specializations:

  • Software Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Organizations and Information Technology
For a full listing of courses required for the major, see the General Catalogue.

Students are encouraged to consult an academic advisor in the Bren School of ICS to determine the coursework designed to meet their educational goals.

Additional information about this degree can be found on the Department of Informatics web site.

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What can I do with this degree?

A degree in Informatics provides excellent preparation for work at the forefront of the computing industry.

Our students work in many industrial settings, such as start-up companies, small software houses, consulting firms and multi-national corporations.

They are prepared for careers including these:

  • Software Engineer
  • Human-Computer Interface Designer
  • Information Architect
  • Game Designer
  • Usability Engineer
  • Mobile Computing Systems Designer
Many students will go on to graduate school in computer engineering, computer science, information science, management or law.

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What can I do with the Informatics Minor?

The minor provides a focused study of Informatics to supplement a student’s major program of study and prepares students for a profession, career, or academic pursuit in which information and software design is an integral part but is not the primary focus.

The minor allows students sufficient flexibility to pursue courses that complement their major field or address specific interests. The minor particularly centers on understanding the relationships among computers and people, and how these relationships must be addressed in information and software design.

Requirements for the Informatics minor can be found in the General Catalogue.

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Still not sure?

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