PROGRAMS

The Informatics Minor

Informatics studies the design, application, use and impact of information technology. A Minor in Informatics can diversify your educational portfolio and complement your major. The informatics minor signals that you have concrete expertise in computing and information technology and that you understand their human implications.

Why study Informatics?

The study of informatics will teach you to become a better creator and user of computing technology and to think critically about technology’s role in society. Perhaps no other field will have a greater influence on humanity in this century.
The Informatics advantage

The ability to handle vast amounts of information cheaply has changed the way we live. Advances in computer power, the World Wide Web, search engines, social networking, mobile technology, geographic information systems, and large-scale collaborative initiatives, to name a few, have revolutionized the way knowledge is created and shared.

Information has become a ubiquitous, indispensable component of our everyday lives, as we strive to manage information, create knowledge, and make decisions. Technology 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.

Informatics addresses all of these issues and provides tools for handling them. Computer-savvy grads in all areas of Informatics have an advantage, as most companies and research institutions depend on computing to advance their fields.

Some of the subject-areas of Informatics
  • 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

The Minor in Informatics

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.

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.

Advising tracks

Special advising tracks have been designed to help students who are minoring in informatics choose courses that will best meet their interests and career goals.

learn more

Requirements for the Minor

Students are required to take three core courses: INFO 102, CS 105 and INFO 202, all of which count as General Education (GenEd) courses. In addition, students must complete 9 hours of upper-level informatics-related coursework (300-level or above), most of which emphasize either Data, Society, or Expression. Each course must be approved for the Minor.

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.
Upper-level informatics-related courses

To qualify as one of the three upper-level courses satisfying the informatics minor, a course must be at the 300-level or above, and satisfy one of the following three descriptions. (Courses that satisfy some aspects may be approved on an ad hoc basis.)

  • Society. The course focuses on the history and/or use and/or impact of computers, computation, communication, or information technology. That is, the focus is on how the adaptation or availability of computer and communication technologies have and are changing the human condition. The focus is on information and communication technologies, not just any technology (E.g., a course about gender differences in use of garage-door-openers would not qualify, but a course in gender differences in use of iPods might.).
  • Data. A significant part of the course involves using computer modeling tools, building models, using visualization software, or otherwise using computers to help collect and/or analyze data in some way that goes beyond simple statistical computations and graphing/charting. A significant part of the course must involve learning to use a software package, or generating software, that does not fall under basic computer literacy. Whether the software is highly specialized to the field or fairly generic (e.g., database software) is irrelevant; the key criterion is the extent of use of the tool or the extent of the engagement in creating computational models or learning to use the technology in the context of data collection and analysis.
  • Expression. The course uses information and computer technologies to collect and/or modify and/or create media artifacts as part of an artistic, creative, and/or communicative process. This must go beyond straightforward data rendering (although such a course might satisfy the “Data” category).
ECE, CS, IS/IT majors and CS minors have slightly different requirements
  • CS and ECE majors (including CS + majors), and CS minors need to take INFO 202 and then four additional upper-level courses instead of the usual three. These upper-level courses cannot be CS courses, and they typically have a non-technical focus. Upper-level courses must be approved by the Informatics Advisor before counting toward the Minor.
  • IS/IT (Information Systems and Information Technology) majors need to take INFO 102, INFO 202, CS 105 and five additional upper-level courses instead of the usual three. Three of the five must not be in the College of Business. Upper-level courses must be approved by the Informatics Advisor before counting toward the Minor. These restrictions also apply to MIS majors.
Important notes
  • Courses may be taken in any order.
  • Students are encouraged to take INFO 102 and 202 as soon as possible because there are no substitutions for these courses. Some substitutions are allowed for CS 105 (substitutions include CS 101 and CS 125).
  • The list of upper-level courses is not exhaustive, and it changes as new courses become available. If you see a course that you think should be on the list, please contact the Informatics Advisor. Candidate courses for inclusion will be considered on an individual basis according to the Upper-level course criteria.
  • To help you plan your schedule, check out this scheduling tool: Scheedule
  • You may wish to take the equivalent of CS 105 at another institution. Use Transferology.com to find courses that transfer to UIUC as CS 105, CS 101 or CS 125

How to declare the 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:
Important notes

Meet with an advisor

If you already are an INFO minor and have some questions or are interested in declaring an INFO minor, please sign up for an advising appointment.

Make an appointment