Information Science Major

Spark insights and innovation in emerging fields

The digital world is rapidly transforming the way we understand, dissect and apply information. The BS in Information Science challenges students to study the design and use of information systems in this constantly evolving social context. Through an interdisciplinary approach with a variety of methodologies, Information Science majors combine technical expertise in computer science with the social sciences to study how people and societies interact with information. 

Put your knowledge and research to work in fields that include: Web environments, cyber finance, human-computer interaction, social networks, digital libraries, artificial intelligence, computer-enhanced habitats, social and environmental data gathering and analysis, and the evolution of new communication systems.

Major in Information Science

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Information Science offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). The field studies the creation, representation, organization, application and analysis of information in digital form. Students are encouraged to follow their unique passions and curiosities. Start by choosing the concentration that matches your particular area of interest. Then complete three elective classes that bring different perspectives to their studies.

Information Science students will specialize in a particular area of interest by choosing classes from one concentration that will provide in-depth study in that area. Suggested courses under each concentration come from within and outside the department. In addition to the courses in their chosen concentration, students are required to complete three elective classes that will contribute to their studies in either breadth or depth.

CALS seeks students who maintain a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate an outstanding record of academic achievement. Admissions requirements include:

  • 4 Units of English

  • 4 Units of Mathematics (including calculus)

  • 3 Units of Science (biology, chemistry and physics recommended)

  • Also recommended: computer programming or information technology

  • Students are required to complete five core courses.
  • Students are required to take CS 1110, Calculus and a Statistics course. Advanced Placement credit may not be used to fulfill the statistics requirement for students matriculating as of or after Fall 2015.
  • Students are required to complete AT LEAST one concentration from the seven concentrations available. 
  • Students are required to complete three electives from the options outlined in the Elective section. 

INFO 2040 – Networks

Examines network structures and how they matter in everyday life. The course examines how each of the computing, economic, sociological and natural worlds are connected and how the structure of the connections affects each of these worlds. Important tools like graph theory and game theory are taught and then used to analyze networks.

INFO 2450 – Communication and Technology

Introduces students to the Communication and Information Technologies focus area of the Communication Department and the Human Systems track for information science. It examines several approaches to understanding technology and its role in human behavior and society.

INFO 4300 – Language and Information

Studies the methods used to search for and discover information in large-scale systems. The emphasis is on information retrieval applied to textual materials, but there is some discussion of other formats. The techniques are illustrated with examples from web searching and digital libraries.

Each of the introductory Information Science courses is the beginning of a path of in-depth study. We call these paths Concentrations. Each one is described in further detail below.

  • Behavioral Science
    This concentration provides students with an in-depth understanding of the behavioral and social aspects of interacting with and through information technology.
  • Data Science
    This concentration will equip students to learn about the world through data analytics.
  • Digital Culture and Production
    This concentration explores computing as a cultural phenomenon. It equips students to analyze technology's role in society and culture, to understand it historically and to produce media artifacts.
  • Information Ethics, Law, and Policy
    This concentration provides training and insight into the ethical, legal and policy dimensions of contemporary information technology.
  • Interactive Technologies
    This concentration provides students with the analytical and technical skills they need to design and build functional technical systems.
  • Networks, Crowds, and Markets
    This concentration helps students to understand formal models, data and policy issues surrounding networked systems.
  • UX (User Experience)
    This concentration is designed to help students gain a better understanding of user experience design through studies in design and user perception

The minor in Information Science is offered in every undergraduate college at Cornell. Because of small differences in regulations between the colleges, there are sometimes slight variations in the requirements depending on your college and, in a few cases, your major.

Note that a letter grade of C or better is required for all classes counting toward the minor; S/U courses are not allowed.

To start the minor, send an email with your name, college, year of study (e.g. 2nd semester sophomore), expected graduation date and major to the IS Minor Coordinator pjs357 [at] cornell.edu (Penny Stewart). The minor is self-guided. 

Learn more about requirements for the Information Science minor

Examine the cultural, economic, historical, legal and political contexts in which information systems are employed and understand their impact on individuals and institutions. Areas of study include: human-centered systems; social systems; information systems.

Academic Record Required:

  • Strong academic record at the college level. Competitive applicants have at least a 3.0 (B) average.
  • CALS Required Coursework should be completed or in-progress with a “B” or better before applying.
  • The most competitive applicants are full-time students who have met the GPA and course requirements.

(Or transfers with two full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application):

Required:

Strongly encouraged (but not required):

  • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I or Physics I

(Or transfers with four full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application).

Required:

  • One full academic year of Introductory Biology (labs recommended)
  • Calculus I
  • Statistics
  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses or one writing/composition and Public Speaking
  • Computer Programming Python (see CS 1110)
  • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I or Physics I (lab recommended)

 

Strongly Encouraged (Not Required):

Careers in Information Science

A woman points to text on a post-it note

Business

  • Investment banking analyst
  • Consultant
  • Application developer
  • Financial product analyst
  • Product management and analytics associate
  • Technology business analyst
  • Digital technology leadership program

Engineering

  • Technology analyst
  • Software engineer
  • Systems analyst
  • Data engineer
  • UX designer
  • Digital technology leadership program
  • Front-end developer

More

  • Digital technology producer
  • Customer solutions analyst
  • Product designer
  • Program manager