Carnegie Mellon University

WHAT IS 'INFORMATION SYSTEMS?' AND IS IT RIGHT FOR ME?

The importance of information systems to all types of companies, as well as the need for well-educated and creative professionals in the field, continues to surge around the world.

A student with glasses smiling during a class

An Information Systems (IS) major is ideal for students with an interest in computer science, business, and information technology—and who want to explore the exciting possibilties that are emerging where these subjects overlap.

The IS major is the perfect place for you if you are passionate about using technology for positive gains across society, both economic and humanistic.

But what can I do with it? Here are some examples of what you could do with an IS degree:

  • Enable platforms like Netflix and Twitch to make better recommendations
  • Work with companies like Uber, Lyft, Waymo, or Argo AI to improve autonomous vehicle performance
  • Help government agencies use technology to be more efficient, transparent, and secure, and make services more accessible
  • Change the way people experience and interact with technology as a UX designer
  • Make financial institutions better at recognizing fraud
  • Give doctors and social workers better technological tools for fighting the opioid epidemic and other public health crises
  • Design the next app that transforms an entire industry
  • Improve the products of social media giants like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok, or analyze social data to help companies and brands track trends and connect with people
  • Pursue advanced research and master's/doctoral study in Information Systems
  • Plan the future of smart cities and smart communities
  • Use data and technology to help a non-profit you care about deliver on its mission in exciting new ways
  • Power new forms of art and entertainment media; help cultural institutions use technology to reach and engage with audiences
  • Lead big companies and major brands through technological shifts that are affecting their business
  • Be a technology entrepreneur

CURRICULUM & COURSES

The field of Information Systems involves the effective design, delivery, and use of information and communications technologies to solve problems for companies, governments, and society. Equally, it is about understanding and measuring the impacts of these technologies on people and communities so they can be deployed ethically.

As an IS student, you will build a solid foundation in computing, communications, and software development. You will also study social sciences and organizational theory to develop "big picture" critical thinking and understand the human impacts of technological change. This blend prepares you to take a leading role in our digital future.

The flexible nature of the program encourages students to explore their own interests through program electives, study in a contemporary content area or through optional second majors and minors, and opportunities to study abroad.

The IS program curriculum includes:

  • A broad grounding in humanities and social sciences to promote self-directed learning, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary problem-solving
  • An Information Systems Core to provide the technology, project management, and business-facing skills needed to design and build effective real-world systems solutions
  • An Information Systems Breadth focused on professional communications, quantitative analysis, and how technology functions in society
  • Concentration that gives you the flexibility and agency to gain expertise in a supporting area and define your own niche in IS

IS students fulfill the curricular requirements of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which provides a broad educational foundation.

Through holistic advising, courses emphasizing disciplinary perspectives and interdisciplinary collaboration, and robust experiential learning, students gain broad knowledge and essential skills to communicate and solve complex problems in a multicultural, global society.

In the Information Systems Core, you will learn the basic skills necessary to analyze, design, implement, and test high-quality, cost effective information systems.

  • The Information Systems Milieux
  • Database Design and Development
  • Application Design and Development
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Foundations of Software Engineering
  • Managing Digital Transformation
  • Information Systems Consulting Project

In the Information Systems Breadth, you will study key areas fundamental to understanding and solving problems in information systems. At least one course is required from each of the following buckets (courses listed are samples only):

PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS
  • Organizational Communication
  • Statistical Graphics and Visualizations
  • Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  • Managing Across Cultures
  • Communication Design
QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS AND RESEARCH METHODS
  • Regression Analysis
  • Practical Data Science
  • Models and Methods for Optimization
  • Sampling, Surveys, and Society
  • Choices, Decisions, and Games
INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND SOCIETY
  • Technology and Society
  • Moneyball Nation: Data in American Life
  • AI, Society, and Humanity
  • Social Media, Technology, and Conflict
  • Technology and Policy of Cyber War
INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
  • Digital Service Innovation
  • Mobile Application Development in iOS
  • Innovation and Information Systems: Health Care
  • Introduction to Entrepreneurship

The Information Systems major is flexible and designed to help you develop your own unique interests. Carnegie Mellon University is distinctively interdisciplinary, encouraging you to draw from many colleges and disciplines beyond your home major.

The study of Information Systems can take many paths; Concentrations allow you to find the path that best suits your plans and aspirations. They also allow you to establish relationships with leading researchers in your area of specialization.

Concentrations typically consist of:

  • 3 advanced courses
  • One project course or equivalent research experience

Alternatively, students may choose from an approved list of minors or second majors.

Learn more about concentrations

SAMPLE SCHEDULE: Information Systems Major

FIRST YEAR - Fall
  • Information Systems Workshop
  • Principles of Computing
  • Reasoning with Data
  • Differential & Integral Calculus
  • Computing @ Carnegie Mellon
  • Interpretation & Argument
  • Elective
FIRST YEAR - Spring
  • The Information Systems Milieux
  • Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science
  • Freshman Seminar
  • Global Histories
  • Elective
SOPHOMORE YEAR - Fall
  • Introduction to Data Structures
  • Database Design and Development
  • Humanities/Social Sciences Core Course
  • IS Breadth Course
  • Elective
SOPHOMORE YEAR - Spring
  • Application Design and Development
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Humanities/Social Sciences Core Course
  • IS Breadth Course
  • Elective
JUNIOR YEAR - Fall
  • Foundations of Software Engineering
  • Concentration Course
  • Humanities/Social Sciences Core Course
  • IS Breadth Course
  • Elective
JUNIOR YEAR - Spring
  • Information Systems Consulting Project
  • Concentration Course
  • Humanities/Social Sciences Core Course
  • IS Breadth Course
  • Elective
SENIOR YEAR - Fall
  • Managing Digital Transformation
  • Concentration Course
  • Humanities/Social Sciences Core Course
  • Elective
  • Elective

SENIOR YEAR - Spring

  • Concentration Research
  • Humanities/Social Sciences Core Course
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Elective

INFORMATION SYSTEMS FACT SHEET AND CLASS PROFILE

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