University of Michigan School of Information

University of Michigan School of Information
Type Public
Established 1969
Dean Thomas Finholt
Academic staff
Students 475
Location Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Campus Urban

The University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) or iSchool in Ann Arbor is a graduate school offering a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Informatics (administered by the College of Literature, Science and the Arts), a Bachelor of Science in Information, a Master of Science in Information, a Master of Health Informatics (offered jointly with the School of Public Health), and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Information.

Its field of study is information: how it is created, identified, collected, structured, managed, preserved, accessed, processed, and presented; how it is used in different environments, with different technologies, and over time. The school's stated mission is: "We create and share knowledge so that people can use information -- with technology -- to build a better world.[1] " Its slogan is "connecting people, information, and technology in more valuable ways."

The School of Information is part of a growing list of i-schools devoted to the study of information as a discipline. These institutions have varied histories, some being newly created, others developing from earlier schools or departments focused on library and information science (as with SI), computer science, communications, or information technology. SI was the first of these institutions to relabel itself as a "school of information." It is currently housed in the North Quadrangle on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.

In 2008, the School of Information, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the College of Engineering unveiled a new undergraduate major called Informatics. In 2011, the School of Information and the School of Public Health announced the creation of a master's degree in health informatics. In 2014, the School of Information enrolled its first students for a bachelor's degree in Information.[2]

Undergraduate degree

Red brick facade with white stone fronts and angled roof
North Quad

Since 2008, the University of Michigan has offered a bachelor's degree in Informatics. Informatics is housed in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts in cooperation with the College of Engineering and the School of Information and gives students a solid grounding in information systems, statistics, mathematics and computer programming.[3] Students are able to specialize in one of five tracks: Social Computing, Data Mining & Information Analysis, Computational, Internet, and Life Sciences. Depending on the track chosen, students are prepared for many career paths, including business, research, government, computer programming, education and non-profit organizations.[4]

In 2014, the School of Information announced that it would begin to offer an undergraduate degree, with students pursuing this degree graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Information (BSI).[5] Due to this change, it was decided that the Social Computing and Computational tracks of the Informatics program would be phased out, with the final class of the degree graduating in May 2015, as the BSI program would be teaching similar concepts. In August 2014, the "First Class" of BSI students began their learning in this new program, under the direction of director John L. King. Students in this program complete a series of core courses and electives, as well as courses that allow them to graduate specializing in either Designing for the User Experience or Information Analytics.[6] This interdisciplinary degree focuses on the social/behavioral and technological sciences. Students will takes classes in mathematics, communications, statistics and history,[7] and upon graduation will successfully compete for jobs in science, business, government, education, technology, and entertainment. Graduates looking to continue their education are encouraged to continue their studies in graduate programs. Students graduating with a BSI have the tools and know-how for a successful future in companies and nonprofit organizations such as Facebook, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deloitte, Bank of America, Google, National Public Radio, and the Smithsonian Institution.[8]

High school students may apply to this program "preferred admission" when applying to The University of Michigan, or students already enrolled at The University of Michigan may apply to transfer into the program beginning in their Junior year. The goal of the BSI program is "To build a community of students who are diverse and multi-dimensional, self-starters who will contribute both in the classroom and in the field" and look for students with strong transcripts that reflect good grades and appropriate course selections, engagement with community and/or campus organizations, and demonstrated leadership capacity.[9] Graduates of this program will come out with at least 120 University of Michigan credits, at least 60 of which are upper level and of which 45 are offered by the School of Information. Three core courses are required for the program: Agile Web Development, Models of Social Information Processing, and Information Environments and Work, and are supplemented with elective courses in topics such as graphic design, eCommunities, persuasion and social influence, cyberscience, and the history of the Internet.[10]

Master's degree

The Master of Science in Information (MSI) degree is a 48-credit hour professional degree built on a core curriculum of "foundations" courses that synthesize content and methodology from library and information science, computer science, the humanities, and the social sciences. Real-world engagement is a hallmark of the master's program: all students are required to complete internships or mentorships in the field.

The MSI program is highly interdisciplinary, featuring faculty from a wide range of academic fields. It draws students from diverse undergraduate majors, ranging from the arts and humanities to science and engineering.[11]

Master's students may specialize[12] in the following areas:

Students may also opt for a self-designed curriculum under the guidance of a faculty member.

In 2011, the School of Information and the School of Public Health offered a new join graduate program in Health Informatics. The first class graduated in the Fall of 2012. Students in the Health Informatics program take 52 credits specializing in epidemiology, health management and policy, and health behavior and education from the School of Public Health, combined with the design and evaluation of effective information systems learned in the School of Information.[13]

Doctoral degree

The school's doctoral program is a full-time course of study, typically four years post-baccalaureate, leading to the Doctor of Information (Ph.D.). The program is designed to enable students to engage in advanced study and research in a various information fields such as the economics of information, human-computer interaction, library and information services, organizational issues, archives and records management, new systems architecture, digital libraries, information systems management, and digital documents/digital publishing.

Faculty and research

Faculty at the school are drawn from an unusually wide range of academic backgrounds including linguistics, public policy, computer science, library and information science, management, law, business, economics, psychology, history, and communications.

The school's faculty and students are active in research, pursuing projects in various areas and methods. Their stated goal is to develop an integrated understanding of human needs in relation to information systems and social structures, searching for unifying principles that illuminate the role of information in computation, cognition, communication, and community.

The school's infrastructure includes a range of research facilities and equipment. Researchers also have access to a number of off-campus research sites. Projects are often collaborations with researchers from other units at the university.

Established and emerging areas of research at the school include:


Before 1992, the School of Information was the School of Information and Library Studies. In 1992, the president of the University of Michigan, James Duderstadt appointed Daniel E. Atkins III as the dean of the school. Under the direction of Dr. Atkins and with support from Duderstadt and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the school became the School of Information with the intent to reach beyond traditional library science arena. The School of Information was officially established in 1996 offering a master's of science in information with some specializations (library and information science, archives and record management, human computer interaction, information economics management and policy, and a tailored program).[14]


  1. "UMSI Mission and History". University of Michigan School of Information. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  2. "UMSI plans new undergraduate degree". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  3. "Informatics An interdisciplinary major at the University of Michigan - About". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  4. "Informatics An interdisciplinary major at the University of Michigan - Curriculum". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  5. "University of Michigan School of Information - Undergraduate degree". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  6. "Degree Requirements". Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  7. "University of Michigan School of Information - UMSI plans new undergraduate degree". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  8. "Career Outcomes". Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  9. "BSI Admissions". Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  10. "Degree Requirements". Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  11. "University of Michigan School of Information - Master of Science in Information". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  12. "MSI specializations | University of Michigan School of Information". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  13. "University of Michigan School of Information - Opportunities in Health Informatics". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  14. Olson, Gary M. and Jonathan Grudin. "The Information School Phenomenon." Interaction March/April 2009, p. 15-9.
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