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Master of Science in Information Science

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.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 36 credits is required to complete the MSIS degree. Basic course requirements are as follows:

  • 6 credits of course work in the Foundations area
  • 18 credits of course work in the Systems and Technology areas (INFSCI 2500 required)
  • 6 credits of course work in the Cognitive Science or Cognitive Systems areas
  • 6 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.


You may elect a specialization on your application for admission. You will then follow a more stringent distribution of credits depending on your specialization.  As well, some specializations have additional pre-requisites for admission and therefore you may need to complete courses above and beyond the standard 36 credit requirement.

You may select your specialization on the application for admission and may change it until the end of the term in which you are to complete 18 credits.

Big Data Analytics

The Big Data Analytics specialization will provide the graduates of the MSIS degree program with the essential in-depth knowledge of technologies relevant to 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. However, the volume and diversity of data make it extremely challenging to store, retrieve, analyze and utilize this information. As society will soon be routinely trying to use petabytes of data stored in multiple formats across different platforms, experts are needed who have the skills and knowledge to design, develop and deploy complex information systems and applications that deal with multi-terabyte data sets.


You should have an undergraduate data-structures course in addition to the standard MSIS admissions pre-requisites. While this course can be taken after admission, it would require that 13 courses rather than 12 be taken to complete the degree. In addition, you must pass a data analytics examination in order to enroll in this specialization.

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.

The database and web systems specialization covers 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. Web systems coursework introduces current Web technologies including XML, and new distributed architectures for service provision.


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


The goal of the Geoinformatics specialization is to provide students in the MSIS degree program with both the breadth and depth of knowledge in geoinformatics required for solving real-world problems. You 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 of the Geoinformatics specialization will be able to deploy and manage geoinformation systems in industry, conduct research in geotechnologies, and pursue PhD research in geoinformatics.

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. Current research in HCC focuses on the building of adaptive interfaces, navigation through information spaces, social computing, and the use of virtual environments in information science. Within this specialization, you will take courses to help you to understand humans and model their preferences, interests, and knowledge; analyze explicitly and implicitly generated data; and design systems with natural and intuitive interfaces.

Information Security

Providing security and assurance to information systems has emerged as one of the most daunting technological and social challenges of recent times. Major corporations and private industry are expending a great deal of resources to develop cybersecurity technology to secure their information systems. The School is pleased to meet the expected demand for professionals trained to protect information systems by offering the security specialization. This track will provide a unique education in the development, design, and deployment of secure information systems with an emphasis on networked information systems. It will produce information technology professionals with the ability to meet special security challenges (e.g., intrusion detection) posed by conventional and emerging network information systems.


You should have an undergraduate data-structures course in addition to the standard MSIS admissions pre-requisites. While this course can be taken after admission, it would require that 13 courses rather than 12 be taken to complete the degree.

Telecommunications and Distributed Systems

The Telecommunications and Distributed Systems (TDS) specialization focuses 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, you 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.


You should have an undergraduate intro to Telecommunications and Networking (TELCOM 2000) course in addition to the standard MSIS admissions pre-requisites. While this course can be taken after admission, it would require that 13 courses rather than 12 be taken to complete the degree.

Master Degree Program with GSPIA

The School of Computing and Information has a joint agreement with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). The program allows you to complete the Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) degree and one of three degrees in GSPIA simultaneously. To be admitted fully into the joint program, you must be accepted by both GSPIA and SCI.

*Please be aware that there is a small tuition differential between the two schools.

Admissions Information


Applicants for graduate study must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with a scholastic average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better.

The scholastic average of the final 50 percent of a student’s undergraduate course work, as well as of graduate courses that may have been taken, shall be examined in determining achievement of this requirement. Students unable to meet the QPA requirement may use Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as evidence of ability to do graduate-level work in seeking a waiver of the requirement.

Prerequisites for admission to the Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) degree program include one three-credit college course in each of the following (the corresponding Pitt course numbers are indicated):

  • Programming: A course on structured programming using Java, C# or C++. (INFSCI 0017 or CS 0401)
  • 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. (STAT 0200 or STAT 1000)
  • Mathematics: A college-level mathematics course, in discrete mathematics or calculus. (MATH 0120, MATH 0220, or MATH 0400). If you have not taken this prior to enrolling, you may take INFSCI 2020 to meet this requirement.

Note: Some specializations within the MSIS program of study require additional pre-requisite courses are not calculated in the total credits required to earn the degree. Please see specialization details.

Letters of Recommendation

Identify and seek the recommendations of two individuals (e.g., professors, employers, information professionals) who are in a position to evaluate your academic performance or your potential as an information professional.


Only scanned copies of official transcripts will be accepted and processed at the application stage.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

You are required to submit a recent score (within five years of the date of application) on the Graduate Record Examination as part of your admission credentials. Scores on all three sections (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) of the General Section should be submitted. While submission of the GRE scores are preferred, a recent and strong performance on the GMAT will be accepted in lieu of taking the GRE exam.

Other Required Documentation

Please include the following with your online application:

  • Resume; and
  • Statement of Intent of no more than 500 words outlining your career goals

Your resume and Statement of Intent should reflect and highlight relevant work experience.

For International Applicants

Graduate students must possess sufficient knowledge of English to participate successfully in graduate study. International applicants must submit either the TOEFL or the IELTS (taken within two years of the date of application). A minimum score of 80 (Internet-based)/550 (paper-based) on the TOEFL or a minimum result of Band 6.5 on the IELTS is required.

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