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Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS)

Become an expert in the technology needs of the future

What’s the driving force behind the growth and evolution of virtually every industry? The answer is information. Information permeates every facet of our society, and information professionals are constantly needed to help businesses maintain and utilize that information in the best ways possible. That’s why this is such an exciting time to pursue a graduate degree in Information Science. Whether you are interested in developing the next generation of information technologies, helping to create ways to keep data safe, using machines to make decisions, applying data mining to solve real-world problems or something else that’s just as impactful, this degree can help you advance those goals.

By enrolling in our Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) degree program, you’ll gain more than just technical expertise; you’ll learn how to connect people with technologies that can enhance lives, businesses, and society. This program provides a strong foundation in information access and retrieval, systems design and management, and human-computer interaction. You’ll work closely with professors who are renowned for their research and learn the groundbreaking advances that are currently in development.

We also offer a joint MSIS degree with Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. This degree program allows students to study both public management and information technology management. For more information about this joint program, click here.


Prerequisites

The MSIS program is a 37-credit program that can be completed in one year of full-time study or as many as four years of part-time study. Prerequisites for admission to the MSIS degree program include one three-credit college course in each of the following:

  • A structured programming language

    A course on structured programming using Java, C# or C++ is required.  Either INFSCI 0017: Object-Oriented Programming 1 for Information Science or CS 0401: Intermediate Programming Using Java is recommended to meet this requirement.

  • Statistics

    A course covering data collection, descriptive, and inferential statistics is optimal. It should cover measures of central tendency and variability, regression, correlation, non-parametric analysis, probability and sampling, Bayesian analysis, significance tests, and hypothesis testing. Either STATS 0200: Basic Applied Statistics, or STATS 1000: Applied Statistical Methods is recommended to meet this requirement.

  • Mathematics

    A college-level mathematics course, in discrete mathematics or calculus, is required. Any of the following Pitt courses will meet the requirement: MATH 0120: Business Calculus, MATH 0220: Analytic Geometry and Calculus 1, or MATH 0400: Discrete Mathematical Structures.

Students who lack some of the prerequisite courses may be admitted provisionally pending completion of the prerequisites during the first 12 credits of study. Any coursework that the student is asked to meet as a condition of their admission must be completed with a grade of B or better.

Credits for prerequisite courses are not counted toward completion of requirements for the master’s or PhD degree.


Specializations

Our Master of Science in Information Science degree program offers six specializations—as well as a general one—to allow you to customize your education to your specific interests and career goals.

General

In the MSIS program, you have the option to follow a general course of study. Many students like the flexibility encouraged by this general program of study – often, employers are looking for those with the broadest range of knowledge and experience. You can take a sampling of courses from each of the curricular areas: cognitive, foundations, and systems and technology. In consultation with your academic advisor you will choose courses that meet the following minimum 36 credit requirement.

  • Six credits of course work in the Formal or Applied Foundations area
  • Eighteen credits of course work in the Systems and Technology areas (INFSCI 2500 required, unless equivalent has already been taken)
  • Six credits in the Cognitive Science or Cognitive Systems areas. INFSCI 2300 is recommended as the first course in this area. INFSCI 2130 may be used to meet this requirement with permission of the advisor.
  • Six credits of electives. Students may pursue a thesis or a practicum as one of the elective options. Students should know that a thesis is not a requirement of the MSIS degree program.

Click here for the current plan of study.

To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the “Year at a Glance” page.

Big Data Analytics

BIG DATA: SETS OF DATA THAT ARE SO LARGE AND COMPLEX, THAT IT IS DIFFICULT TO USE THEM EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY.

Our specialization emphasizes big data analytics and provides students with the essential in-depth knowledge of techniques and technologies relevant for big data management. Coursework will cover the design and maintenance of infrastructure to efficiently store, easily access, and transfer over wide area networks, extremely large amounts of data.

The Big Data challenge involves three major dimensions: data size, data rate and data diversity. This specialization will prepare students to address real-life problems along each dimension. Digital data is everywhere and employers from a wide range of sectors—healthcare, finance, place-based retail, manufacturing, and transportation, to name just a few—will be looking to build workforce capacity to enhance their productivity and competitive position in global markets.

LEAD FACULTY

Marek Druzdzel
Hassan Karimi
Prashant Krishnamurthy
Vladimir Zadorozhny

PRE-REQUISITES FOR THIS SPECIALIZATION

Students must have taken IS 2500 Data Structures or an equivalent as well as a course in the JAVA programming language prior to entering the this specialization.

PLAN OF STUDY

Any changes to the distribution of credits below must be requested, in advance, through petition to the faculty.

Note: Recommended courses have been pre-approved to fulfill the following academic areas. You may choose classes from outside of the list of recommended courses and are encouraged to discuss your options with your academic advisor.

Click here to view to the current plan of study.

To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the “Year at a Glance” page.

Database and Web Systems

Storage and distribution subsystems are fundamental components of any information system. As information moved to digital form, storage systems evolved into various forms of database systems. In the environment we call the World Wide Web, people interact with databases and information storage systems through web protocols using web-based interfaces to facilitate distribution.

We have a strong specialization in database and web systems and technologies. The database coursework consists of classes covering both fundamental concepts of modern database management systems (DBMSs) and advanced issues that typically arise in the context of large-scale-enterprise data management. Coursework is focused on developing practical skills in building and administering realistic database systems, data integration, data warehousing, and Web-based data management. Database research projects offer tremendous opportunities for students in specialties including scalable architectures for wide-area environments with heterogeneous information servers, query optimization in highly distributed databases, and wireless and mobile databases.

The web systems coursework introduces current Web technologies including XML, and new distributed architectures for service provision. Hands-on projects will teach you technologies that can be applied to solve an organization’s information processing needs.

If you specialize in database and web systems, career options include positions such as a systems analyst, systems architect, database administrator, data steward, senior programmer/analyst, design analyst, and Web services manager.

LEAD FACULTY

Michael Spring
Vladimir Zadorozhny

PREREQUISITES

Students should have an undergraduate data-structures course in addition to the standard MSIS admissions prerequisites. While this course can be taken after admission, it would require that 13 courses rather than 12 be taken to complete the degree. Students are also encouraged to have programming experience in more than one language (C or C++ and Java are the ideal combination).

PLAN OF STUDY

Any changes to the distribution of credits must be requested, in advance, through petition to the faculty.

Click here to view the current plan of study.

To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the “Year at a Glance” page.

Geoinformatics

The goal of the Geoinformatics specialization is to provide students with both the breadth and depth of knowledge in geoinformatics required for solving real-world problems. With an emphasis in geoinformatics, the graduates of this specialization in the MSIS degree program will gain the unique knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate the design, development, and deployment of complex systems and applications in a rapidly emerging geoinformatics profession. Graduates will be able to deploy and manage geoinformation systems in industry, conduct research in geotechnologies, and pursue PhD research in geoinformatics.

Of the 36 credits required to obtain the MSIS degree, students must take 12 credits in geoinformatics or geoinformatics-related courses.

LEAD FACULTY

Stephen Hirtle
Hassan Karimi

PLAN OF STUDY

Any changes to the distribution of credits below must be requested, in advance, through petition to the faculty.

Note: Recommended courses have been pre-approved to fulfill the following academic areas. You may choose classes from outside of the list of recommended courses and are encouraged to discuss your options with your academic advisor.

Click here to view the current plan of study.

To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the “Year at a Glance” page.

Human-Centered Computing

Human centered computing (HCC) is concerned with the development and management of systems in which the central focus is the user. The systems should be: aware of the user, easy to use, ubiquitous, and intelligent. In the final analysis, human centered systems improve workplace satisfaction, capitalize on information in the environment, and act on behalf of the user.

This specialization will provide you with foundational knowledge in three important aspects of human-centered systems—understanding humans and their information needs (covered by a set of cognitive courses), modeling humans and their needs (covered by a set of selected foundation courses) and system-building (covered by systems courses). You will have the opportunity to pursue specialized coursework in specific content areas, such as Web interfaces, information visualization, information storage and retrieval, intelligent systems, and Web 2.0 systems, where issues of usability engineering are critical to the success of a project.

The career opportunities for HCC experts include usability specialists, web site designers, information architects, ergonomic specialists, as well as the developers of other kinds of user-centered systems.

LEAD FACULTY

Peter Brusilovsky
Michael Lewis

PLAN OF STUDY

Any changes to the distribution of credits below must be requested, in advance, through petition to the faculty.

Note: Recommended courses have been pre-approved to fulfill the following academic areas. You may choose classes from outside of the list of recommended courses and are encouraged to discuss your options with your academic advisor.

Click here to view the current plan of study.

To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the “Year at a Glance” page.

Information Security

Providing security and assurance to information systems has emerged as one of the most daunting technological and social challenges of recent times. The rapid development of Internet-based technologies and society’s increasing reliance on these systems, coupled with the threat of malicious attacks, have raised the importance of new knowledge, professional skills, and human resources in the area of information assurance.

A series of courses in information security and assurance provides you with the opportunity to focus your studies in the theory and practice of developing secure and highly assured information systems and networks. The curriculum of this specialization has been certified by the Committee on National System Security (CNSS) as meeting the national standards for INFOSEC education. By joining this elite group of students enrolled in an NSA-certified National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (NCAE/IAE), you will gain a thorough understanding of the principles of secure systems and networks and learn how to build highly assured information systems.

LEAD FACULTY

James Joshi

PREREQUISITES

Students must have taken INFSCI 2500 Data Structures or the equivalent prior to entering the Security Specialization.

PLAN OF STUDY

Any changes to the distribution of credits below must be requested, in advance, through petition to the faculty.

Note: Recommended courses have been pre-approved to fulfill the following academic areas. You may choose classes from outside of the list of recommended courses and are encouraged to discuss your options with your academic advisor.

Click here to view the current plan of study.

To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the “Year at a Glance” page.

Telecommunications and Distributed Systems

In the Telecommunications and Distributed Systems (TDS) specialization, you will focus on one of the fastest growing Information Technology fields. Distributed computing involves the study of information systems in which the data and computational processing is spread over more than one computer—usually in a network. Networking is critical to efficient communication among widely distributed participants and has become the backbone of industries ranging from Telecommunications firms to healthcare systems. Thanks to the Internet and more powerful computation/communication devices, industry and society are demanding more pervasive networks, more efficient and effective information systems, and more professionals trained to design and manage these complex and vital systems.

With this specialization, students will gain the knowledge and skills to face the challenges of deploying, designing, and managing distributed applications across networked systems. Graduates will be able to design and manage client-server and peer-to-peer systems, manage network-based information systems, and design networks and systems that are secure.

LEAD FACULTY

Prashant Krishnamurthy

PREREQUISITES

Students interested in this specialization are expected to have successfully completed significant coursework in programming (at least equivalent to INFSCI 2500) in order to meet the prerequisites for several courses in the specialization. TELCOM 2000 is also a prerequisite for this specialization.

PLAN OF STUDY

Any changes to the distribution of credits below must be requested, in advance, through petition to the faculty.

Note: Recommended courses have been pre-approved to fulfill the following academic areas. You may choose classes from outside of the list of recommended courses and are encouraged to discuss your options with your academic advisor.

Click here to view the current plan of study.

To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the “Year at a Glance” page.


Areas of research

The Information Science and Technology Program supports a number of challenging research programs in:

  • Information assurance
  • Geoinformatics
  • Visual information systems
  • E-teaching and learning
  • Usability engineering
  • Decisions systems
  • Information retrieval
  • Personalized access
  • Spatial information

Statute of Limitations

The MSIS program must be completed within four years of the first term in which courses were taken after admission. The normal full-time course load is 9 to 12 credits per term; thus, a full-time student will complete the program in three or four terms.  Those wishing to complete the program in one academic year (three consecutive terms) must be available for both day and evening courses. The normal part-time course load is 6 credits per term, which permits part-time students to complete the program in six terms. The faculty, in response to a student petition, must approve exceptions to the four-year limit if extenuating circumstances exist.


Residence Requirements

To maintain active student status, students must register for at least 3 credits during one of the three terms of the calendar year. It is recommended, however, that part-time students register for at least 6 credits during two of the three terms of the academic year to maintain reasonable progress through the program.


Questions?

Contact:  Shabana Reza, Recruitment and Admissions

Phone: 1-800-672-9435 or 412-624-3988

Email: shabana.reza@pitt.edu

Joint Degree Program

Joint Master's Degree Program with GSPIA

The School of Computing and Information has entered into a joint agreement with Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). The program allow... Learn More