Earning an Information Sciences Online Degree

Enrolling in an Information Sciences Online Degree Program may be a convenient way to balance your interests in computer science, technology, management and information systems. Information Science is vital to pretty much everything these days, from mobile devices to large-scale information systems. People with information science skills are in high demand, and there are a number of potential career opportunities in fields such as business, science, education, health, music and mass media. Choosing an academic path that supports the goal you have set or the specific interests you have, is worth investigating. Studies in information science are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels. If you are seeking the tech-savvy and working knowledge that might prepare you for a job in computer science or information technology, read on!

Information Sciences Online Degrees and Programs ~ Essentials

Depending on the level of your program, you may be expected to study contemporary theories and practices of computer programming, database structure, Web design, online security, and various computer applications. Online learners do coursework, may take part in an internship, and write a thesis or dissertation. In addition to online classroom studies, some hands-on lab exercises and projects may be required of your program.

Most commonly at the bachelor's and master's levels, online learners are able to choose an area of concentration, such as in Web design, network security, or database management. Some pInformation Sciences Online Degree Programs provide internship opportunities.

FUN FACT: Management information systems (MIS) programs usually include business classes as well as computer-related ones.[i]

Look Ahead: Prerequisites For Degrees in Information Sciences

In terms of prerequisites, it is likely they are going to vary between learning institutions, and the level of the Information Sciences Online Degree program you are interested in. Always wise to check with the prospective graduate or undergraduate school and look ahead. As a general rule:

  • Applicants should hold a high school diploma to enter a bachelor's degree program.
  • Students applying to a master's degree program should first have a bachelor's degree in computer information, or a degree in a closely related field. Previous math and computer science coursework is recommended.
  • Doctoral candidates are expected to hold a bachelor's or master's degree in computer information science before enrollment. In some cases, a candidate might be considered if they've earned a bachelor's or master's degree in a closely related field.
  • Some schools require applicants to the doctoral program secure approval from a faculty adviser in advance.

Computer Science Degree vs Information Technology Degree

One of the things to consider before you initiate a search for an online degree in information sciences is that there is a difference between a degree in computer science and a degree in information technology.  In fact, computer science, computer engineering and information technology are different disciplines, even though there may be overlapping. Here’s a very simple breakdown:  

  • Computer engineers design and build computers
  • Computer scientists design and develop computer programs, software and applications.
  • IT professionals then use and troubleshoot those programs, software and applications.

STUDY TIP: To prepare for a major in computer or electrical engineering, students should have a solid background in math and science]

A Bit About Online Degree Programs

Studying about computers and information technology using a web-based program is actually pretty cool. It shows the advances of educational technology, both in establishing a virtual classroom, and a virtual library for research. But not all online programs are created equal. So here are a few things to consider as you check out Information Science Degree Programs online formats.

  • “Partially online” means you may have on-site requirements or lab-work
  • “100% online” should tell you that all your coursework, assignments, and interactions are just that, online
  • “Asynchronous” means that the seminars are pre-recorded or videotaped, which also mean you are able to hit the ‘pause’ button and have 24/7 access
  • “Synchronous” means live streaming webinars that you need to attend (virtually) and likely, participate in.
  • Your computer may need to be compatible with the course management system
  • You need to be just as disciplined with online degree programs as with campus ones, only you could, hypothetically, study in your pjs, and from anywhere you happen to be with an online program.

Choosing an Information Sciences Online Degree: Concentration Area

Information Science is a pretty distinct discipline and has a focus on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) used by people to manage information within organizations. One of the things to make sure of is whether the curriculum is appropriate for you, as there are different concentrations in Information Science to be aware of. Some of these might include:

  • Library Science
  • Computers and networking
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Bioinformatics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Software Engineering
  • Computer graphics
  • Web design
  • Network security
  • Database Management

Some of the computer Information Science Program fields may include:

  • Computer programming
  • Multimedia and web design
  • Computer forensics
  • Business Information Systems

Choose a Degree Level: Information Science Online Degree Programs

Online Information Science Degree Programs are available as Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorates, across a span of different concentrations. Online students of information science learn about computers as well as study people and explore the way people and computers come together.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Information Science

Often a Bachelor’s degree is a 4-year program, and may include introductory courses, whether in computer programming, software development or related mathematics. As an undergraduate, you might consider studying Information Science as part of a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Bachelor of Arts (BA). You may also be able to choose a concentration, whether in Computer Information Science, Telecommunications, Software Engineering or Geographic Information Systems in a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), depending on the learning institution. Take a look inside an Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Information Sciences.

Online Masters in Information Science Degree

Earning a graduate degree in information science may be the right time for you to choose an area of concentration. The main types of online masters degrees include the Master of Science or Master of Science in Engineering in Computer Information Science, however, it is common to find Masters of Business Administration with specific concentration in IT, information systems or other related field. Take a look inside Online Masters in Information Science Programs.

Online Doctorate Degree Programs in Information Science

A Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science program is research-intensive and allows the student to concentrate on an area that is meaningful to them, and that they can then write a dissertation in. Another option might be an Online Doctor of Business Administration, especially for those students seeking high-level roles. Look inside Online Doctorate Programs in Information Science.

Potential Career Paths in Information Science

Many information science, computer and information technology related jobs require candidates to hold a Bachelor’s degree in a field related to the role. That being said, it is becoming more common for employers to prefer graduates holding an MBA with a concentration in information science or related field, so that may be the way to go if you are unsure[iii]. For advanced research, a PhD is usually required.[iv] Here are a few potential jobs that might interest you:

  • Computer and information systems manager
  • Computer and information research scientist
  • Computer hardware engineer
  • Software developer
  • Computer programmer

Take the Next Step

Whether you prefer the design process, business administration or the more technical sides to information science, there are a variety of useful online degrees that might help you learn what you need. Fortunately, your choices are a mouse-click away, so continued success as you take that next step!

[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm | other sources: bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm | bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm | bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm

guide to an information systems degree