Education informatics is an interdisciplinary field that includes information technology, education, psychology and mathematics. Students interested in this field usually need to enroll in general informatics programs - very few programs focus specifically on education informatics. Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees are all available in informatics. In some cases, undergraduate students may choose a relevant concentration or select certain electives that focus on education informatics. Graduate informatics students may be able to tailor their research projects to their own education-related interests.
Bachelor's Degree in Informatics
Informatics studies how computers have changed how humans interact with and store information. Students on bachelor's degree tracks learn to use computer technology to analyze and address real-world problems. Some schools offer specialization tracks, where students may tailor undergraduate informatics education programs to a specific field of interest.
Admission to informatics programs may be competitive, due to the limited number of programs and the high interest among students for computer and information-related careers. Most undergraduate informatics programs are 4-year programs. Applicants must have a high school diploma with an acceptable grade point average and submit standardized test scores. They must also have taken college-preparatory classes.
Undergraduate informatics students look at how computers turn raw data into useable information, in order to streamline processes and improve end user experience. Core coursework includes:
- Human-computer interaction
- Information ethics
- Information systems
Master's Degree in Informatics
Students in graduate-level informatics programs learn an interdisciplinary approach to the collection and analysis of information. They are trained to implement systems in place to ease communication, allow for a faster flow of information among coworkers and analyze data. The master's degree program at some schools is structured for the information technology generalist, who uses various aspects of information theory in system development and administration.
Applicants to two-year master's degree programs in informatics need to have earned a bachelor's degree. While not required, it is preferred that this degree be in communication, computer science, information management or business. Most graduate schools require applicants to submit a statement of purpose, graduate record examination (GRE) scores from the general test, letters of recommendation and official undergraduate transcripts. Most informatics programs do not have any special application requirements other than the standard graduate school application requirements.
Graduate students learn the entire process of information design and management, from problem analysis to data collection to solution design and implementation. Coursework includes:
- Database management
- Digital media design
- Informatics theory
- Information security
- Systems design
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Doctoral Degree in Informatics
Doctoral programs in informatics train students in subject matter applicable to research and development jobs. Information research scholars learn the effects of information collection, use, distribution and storage on technology and society.
Given the interdisciplinary nature of informatics, programs offer preparatory coursework as an acceptable means of learning the prerequisite skills. For students entering with a relevant master's degree, doctoral programs take 2-3 years to complete, including one year of dissertation work. For those students entering after finishing undergraduate level studies, programs typically take 4-5 years to complete, including a year for the dissertation.
Applicants must have earned at least an undergraduate degree and have a competency of databases, networking, programming languages and web applications. The application requirements for doctoral programs are similar to those for master's programs, including GRE scores, official transcripts, letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose, and informatics doctoral programs typically have no additional application requirements.
From electronic evidence discovery to information visualization to new media, informatics scholars learn how to obtain and protect data while improving end user experience by making interactions more fluid. Doctorate level informatics programs teach:
- Data mining
- Information system development
- Machine learning
- Psychology of human computer interaction
- Research design
Many students continue studies at the graduate level, though it is not required to find work. Graduates from bachelor's degree programs work for large corporations, the government and banks. Jobs can be found as:
- Information architect
- Program manager
- Product planner
- Systems analyst
- Usability engineer
With a master's degree in informatics, employment options are found in a host of disciplines, such as education, business, health care, law and the sciences. Students trained in informatics find work as:
- Informatics specialist
- Research project manager
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of postsecondary education administrators was expected to increase 9% over the 2014-2024 decade, while those at the elementary and secondary school levels should see 6% growth (www.bls.gov). The BLS reports that, as student enrollment continues to grow, the demand for administrators will rise as well. For elementary, middle and high schools, enrollment will vary somewhat based upon region, with the South and West expected to see the most significant growth. As of May 2015, BLS data shows that the median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators is $88,580 while those at the elementary or secondary level bring in $90,410 per year.
While there are no undergraduate or graduate programs that focus solely on educational informatics, students who are particularly interested in educational data analysis may have the opportunity to focus their studies in this area during a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree program.