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Informatics FAQs

How does the Informatics program compare to the existing BS and BA degree programs in Computer Science?

The BA and BS programs in Computer Science involve considerably more ambitious technical content (and in the case of the BS, considerably more mathematics content). While the BA, the BS, and the Informatics program all begin with the 121/187 programming sequence, the Informatics program requires only modest technical coursework after these first two classes. While the BA and the BS programs train students to be software developers (though many become involved in other computational activities); the Informatics program, in contrast, trains students to be effective at learning and applying computational principles (and tools) to other disciplines.

What is BDIC? Why is the Informatics program being offered through BDIC?

BDIC stands for Bachelors Degree with Individual Concentration.  BDIC is a UMass program that offers undergraduate students the opportunity to design and customize their degree programs. However, BDIC has in the past incorporated predefined Tracks that have served as "incubators" for new degree programs. Indeed, the BS in Computer Science originally began as a BDIC Track in the 1980s.  We envisage Informatics following a similar trajectory, beginning as a BDIC Track, and then eventually becoming a separate degree, administered by the faculty of the School of Computer Science. Since any new degree needs to go through many levels of university and state-level approvals, the authority for the School of Computer Science to administer an Informatics program is not likely to be granted for at least a few more years. In the meantime, a limited number of students will be able to pursue studies in Informatics through BDIC. More information about BDIC is available at http://bdic.umass.edu

How does the Informatics program compare to the campus's IT-minor program?

The UMass IT-minor is just that: a minor; it consists of just 5 or 6 classes. By contrast, the Informatics program, whether in Big Data or Multimedia, is (or will be) a major program, involving 12-14 required classes.

What other classes besides those listed are required of Informatics students?

As with all students at the University, BDIC Informatics Track students will be required to take the full suite of general education classes. BDIC Informatics Track student will also be required to meet all other requirements for a BDIC degree . However, Informatics Track students will have no foreign language requirement.

What kinds of jobs are appropriate for students who graduate with an Informatics degree?

There are several kinds of jobs that Informatics graduates should be qualified to fill. For example, graduates could work for a firm that specializes in styling and reworking photographic images for artists, advertisers, non-profits, and the general public. Graduates would have the skills to become experts with the latest software printing technology needed for manipulating and producing high quality images. Graduates would have the expertise to manage multimedia databases consisting of quantities of text, datasets, and still images such as those comprising modern healthcare records, personnel files, or product design histories. Graduates would have the skills to prepare reports based of the integration of diverse datasets, charts, and maps that could then be used in studies such as those that link housing patterns to employment and educational opportunities, or those that link outbreaks of disease to underlying causes and transmission modes. Or graduates would be well-prepared to work for a game design company, working on both art/graphics and software aspects of game design.

If I major in Informatics, will I be eligible for co-ops through the University co-op office?

A co-op -- generally, a paid position at a company for 3 - 9 months -- is a great way to become acquainted with the job market in a particular field. Many of the co-ops currently offered to computer science students are also completely appropriate for Informatics students.