What is Informatics?

Informatics is a relatively new term, and here it refers to the design, application, use, and impact of information technology. It’s now practically a given that all students — not just those in computer science — should learn to better use computation as a universal problem-solving tool, to express ideas, and to connect people with one another. At the same time, students must also understand the social impact these tools can have and the ethical and policy issues they raise. Computer science studies computers. Informatics studies computers and people. Click here for a  more detailed description

What are some examples of Informatics topics?

  • Collaboration – wikis, Wikipedia, genome projects
  • Social – email, IM, blogs, Facebook, Twitter
  • Art – animation, virtual reality, electronic music
  • Entertainment – podcasts, games, YouTube, iTunes
  • Ethics – Privacy, downloading of digital content
  • Communication – Web, user interfaces, wireless
  • Data – Pattern analysis, data mining, visualization, simulation, search
  • GIS – Google Earth, mapping, location-aware applications
  • Business – eCommerce, eBay, PayPal, targeted advertising

What is the Informatics Minor?

The Informatics Minor is a set of courses that prepares students to study and develop new uses for computer systems in their future endeavors. The aim is that they will become better creators and users of computing technology and will think critically about technology’s role in society.(Expertise in x) + (IT & computing)
= a UIUC graduate with an Informatics Minor where x = a major in social science or natural science or humanities or fine arts or engineering or business or media or communications or agriculture or health sciences or ….The undergraduate Minor in Informatics was launched in Spring 2008. It now has about 175 students from 41 different majors and is one of the most popular minors on campus. About half come from the College of LAS, with substantial numbers coming from the Colleges of Media, Fine and Applied Arts, Engineering and Business.


Who should Minor in Informatics?

Any student who is interested in improving their IT skills, wants to learn more about how IT is used in disciplinary areas outside of computer science, or simply enjoys technology. Informatics requires an understanding of the same areas studied by computer scientists, but it is more focused on applications of technology. It is less technical and theoretical than computer science, and it also considers social and psychological aspects of IT.

What can a student do with a Minor in Informatics?

IT jobs will grow 22% between 2012 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Strong IT skills give students in any major an edge in the job market. Specifically, the minor will prepare them to study and develop new uses for computer systems in their future endeavors. Possible career fields include: bioinformatics, medical/health informatics, human-computer interaction, business analysis, database design and development, digital art, software engineering and development, information architecture, game design, systems analysis and administration, IT/management consulting, Web design/development, multimedia, network management/administration, tech support, scientific research, interface design, usability engineering, and many others. Even tech companies realize that computer scientists cannot answer all their questions. These companies must also understand how humans engage with technology and interact with computers to be successful.

Core informatics courses

The three required core courses provide a general and solid foundation in CS and IT. All three are introductory in nature and meet the university’s General Education requirements. These courses may be taken in any order or simultaneously.

  • INFO 102 Little Bits to Big Ideas – Broad introduction to the nature, capabilities, and limitations of computing. Topics range from the way data is represented and stored, to the way today’s computers work, to the general ideas of algorithms and computational efficiency, to the future of computing.
  • CS 105 Introduction to Computing- Non-Tech – Computing as an essential tool of academic and professional activities. Functions and interrelationships of computer system components: hardware, systems and applications software, and networks. Widely used application packages such as spreadsheets and databases. Concepts and practice of programming for the solution of simple problems in different application areas. Intended for non-science and non-engineering majors. (Can substitute CS 101 or CS 125 or the ECE 120 & 220 sequence)
  • INFO 202 Social Aspects of Information Technologies – Explores how information technologies transform society and affect a range of social, political and economic issues from the individual to societal levels.

Where to find more information

Illinois Informatics Institute
3013 NCSA Bldg, MC-257
1205 West Clark
Informatics Advisor
(217) 244-1220

How To Declare the INFO Minor

The Informatics minor program is open to undergraduates from all colleges and majors. It complements the backgrounds of those majoring in any field, whether liberal arts and sciences, engineering, applied life sciences, or commerce.  It is recommended, but not required, that you apply before the end of their sophomore year so that you will receive proper advice, and notification about new courses. To be officially enrolled, you must:

  1. Complete the Statement of Intent to Pursue a Campus-Approved Minor form.   (You can either print this form out, or just get one when you meet with the INFO advisor)
  2. Have the form signed by signing up to meet with the Informatics Advisor.
  3. Have the form signed by a representative of your college of enrollment. Your college will enter it into the DARS system.

If you change colleges, you will have to repeat this procedure.

If you decide later not to finish the minor, you must fill out a Minor Modification form and obtain the same signatures.

For more information on the minor process, see