Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated September 2010
The graduate field of Computer and Information Sciences is one of the most popular graduate program types available. This is partly because the field typically pays very well and available jobs are constantly being created, and partly because the field is just so broad, the various graduate computer and information sciences concentrations appeal to many different types of people looking for many different types of careers.
If you are trying to figure out what to focus on in the computer and information sciences graduate field, this article will let you review some of the most popular and commonly offered concentrations. Then you can use the GradSchools.com directory to find the ideal computer and information sciences graduate program for your needs.
Computer Graphics: This concentration is a unique chance for students to blend the creativity and aesthetics of the arts with the science of computers and technology. History and theory, as well as integrated studio arts are major areas of focus in computer graphics. Students will study visual culture, new media and multimedia design, and can enroll in graphic design, Web design and computer animation courses. Graduates will find that, with a graduate computer graphics degree, they can explore stimulating work in a number of different work settings, from graphic designers for ad agencies to animators for the computer graphics found in movies like Transformers.
Computer Science: Because of society’s ever-increasing reliance on computers and micro-chips, graduates in this computer and information sciences concentration are in constant high demand. Software engineering, computer languages and Web programming are popular computer science courses. Database and network systems development are also at the crux of computer science graduate study. The focus of the graduate computer science curriculum is on the physical and theoretical design and understanding of computer systems, and the implementation of those developments into the everyday world.
Computer Security: Students who choose this concentration are interested in learning effective ways in which to secure information transfer and storage. This is an extremely important issue in today’s world, particularly due to the fact that e-commerce has people sharing sensitive information online every day. Risk management, computer security law and e-commerce law are all important areas of graduate computer and information sciences study. Students will also learn the issues and requirements that surround computer and information auditing, control and security.
E-Commerce: These days, e-commerce plays a huge role in the global marketplace; making it as easy as a click of a mouse to purchase just about anything under the sun. This computer and information sciences concentration educates students on the technical and marketing aspects, as well as the design and development of, e-commerce websites. Students pursuing a graduate computer and information sciences degree in e-commerce examine the ways in which search engines rank websites in order to effectively market products and services. E-commerce graduate study blends technological know-how with the fundamentals of areas such as business and business marketing, which is why e-commerce can be easily and effectively combined with an MBA program.
Educational Technology: This computer and information sciences concentration familiarizes students with how educators creatively and critically apply technology to the solving of educational problems. The ways in which technological concepts, principles, hardware and software are used to optimize communication and learning in an academic setting are the focus of this concentration. Just as the Internet and other technologies have changed the way businesses run and communication is conducted, education has also been revolutionized by all technology has to offer.
Electrical Engineering: In order to come up with new technological innovations, those who pursue computer and information sciences degrees within this concentration will study the research, design, development and testing of computer systems and software. Computer architecture, computation theory and artificial intelligence are common courses for most students, and database management and digital design are also important. Students in this information sciences concentration learn to design, develop and test the technologies of the future.
Graphic Design: This is one of the most popular and well-known of the computer and information sciences concentrations. The work of graphic designers can be found everywhere—from the coupon books stuffed into your mailbox to the websites you frequent each day. The graphic design graduate concentration requires students to utilize their artistic and computational skills to design graphics for media, whether it is for print, Web or film; as well as graphics of businesses, often as part of the branding process which establishes corporate identity. Computer and information sciences degrees in graphic design apply to numerous industries, and psychology plays an integral role, as students need to learn how colors and images affect the psyche of potential buyers.
Informatics: The computer and information sciences concentration in informatics engages students in the study of how technology has changed society, as well as how informational phenomena lead to future technological advances. Students will understand how information is represented, processed and communicated within a system through the study of such topics as data conversion, virtual realities and human genome exploration, to name a few. In the end, students with a computer and information sciences degree in informatics will be prepared to use technology to solve specific problems in a variety of industries.
Information Systems: Information systems is a computer and information sciences concentration that prepares students to collect, retain and disseminate information for management planning and decision-making. Students will learn how to choose optimal software, networking and security systems that meet the specific needs of companies, as well as the most effective ways in which to supervise computer programmers and systems analysts. This computer and information sciences concentration is designed to prepare students to utilize their management and technological skills in order to support the administration of information technology.
Information Technology: Information technology, or IT, is an extremely broad and popular computer and information sciences concentration that focuses on technical, regulatory and Internet issues, in addition to the processes of data gathering, processing and distribution. Students may further focus their studies in areas such as e-commerce, security and systems administration. Information technology professionals are in demand in nearly every industry of every country. With all of the new technologies emerging so quickly and frequently, the skills gained by studying information technology at the graduate level are some of the most current and in-demand in the global economy.
Library and Information Science: Long-gone are those rows of card catalogs in your local library, thanks to the computer and information sciences concentration in library and information sciences. These days, you can find what you need through a library computer system, which was likely designed by someone with a library and information sciences degree. These degree holders design the ways in which individuals and professional access information, including database search and organizational techniques. Studying in this field requires students to explore the many ways a variety of different types of information can be stored and accessed.
Security Management: This computer and information sciences concentration is one of the most important, as it prepares students to maintain and secure computer information, which is essential in this Internet age. Sensitive and private information is all over the World Wide Web, and the world needs professionals who understand concepts such as data protection, security management and ISO standards. Those with a computer and information sciences degree in security management will master encryption techniques, and computer program security concepts and processes to help keep those pesky hackers and phishers away.
Software Engineering: Those who choose a computer and information sciences concentration in software engineering strive to improve the efficiency, usability and validity of the software people use every day. Courses include coverage of software modeling and architectural design, as well as software requirements and specification. Through the study of software engineering theory and practice, as well as of project management, software design and computer network principles, students will graduate equipped to engineer the cutting-edge software of tomorrow.
Telecommunications and Networking: Telecommunications is a rather new concept that came with the advent of the technology boom. Students studying the computer and information sciences with a focus on a telecommunications and computer networking concentration are engaged in research on wireless communications and multimedia, telecommunications software and digital signal processing. It is those with a computer and information sciences degree in telecommunications and computer networking that make us capable of communicating digitally no matter where we are in the world.
The list of computer and information sciences concentrations above is by no means exhaustive. There are many concentrations from which students pursuing a computer and information sciences can choose, depending upon their interests and backgrounds. For example, students can opt for a computer and information sciences concentration in computational science, which is a rather new area of focus. These students will study the theoretical aspects of the construction of software and engineering principles, as well as the structure, function and application of computers and other technology.
Another computer and information sciences concentration is geographic information systems, which focuses on information systems insofar as their ability to store, edit, integrate, share, analyze and display geographic information. This field can be put to work in scientific investigations, resource management and development planning. Meanwhile, others choose to earn a computer and information sciences degree with a geospatial intelligence concentration. Geospatial intelligence engages students in the study of a blend of geographic information science, computer science, remote sensing and information technology.
A computer and information science degree with an instructional design and performance technology concentration educates students on the planning, development, evaluation and management of the instructional process. Students can engage in the design of technological instructional materials that may be used in or outside of the classroom. Those who choose a national security and defense concentration will learn how technology plays a role in intelligence practices. Students will also study the computer systems and networks that are utilized in the field, as well as how to ensure their security.
Quality management is another area of concentration within the graduate computer and information sciences curriculum. These students will assess computer reports and test results to ensure that technologies are performing at peak. Those who choose a computer and information sciences concentration in telecommunications management will explore how technological advances have affected the way we live life, as well as how to better integrate technology into business.
As you can see, graduate computer and information sciences programs offer students a great deal of choice when it comes to narrowing down their studies in this huge field. Luckily for current and prospective students, the economy projects no slow-down in the demand for professionals with a computer and information sciences degree. This field applies to so many industries that students can really choose to tailor their studies depending upon which industry they’d like to work. And students can also choose to be as creative as they desire, or as technical as they wish—they can even bring their skills into the management arena. The opportunities for students pursuing a graduate computer and information sciences degree are limited only by the individual and their interests. So choose your focus and find the perfect graduate program now.