While there are no degree programs that specifically focus on information retrieval, students who are interested in gaining training in the subject should consider enrolling in a degree program in library and information science. These programs often contain courses that teach students how to track down and retrieve various types of information while also teaching them the basics of digital libraries, cataloging, archiving and more. Librarians are typically required to earn a master's degree in library science, though a bachelor's degree in the field or a graduate degree in a field such as information science can prepare graduates to become research assistants or information architects.
Bachelor of Arts in Library and Information Science
Students in these 4-year programs can learn to use databases, catalogs and modern technology to organize resources so that the communities they serve can best access relevant information. Students are typically trained to retrieve specific information from large amounts of data. Applicants need only be high school graduates.
Information scientists use technology in new ways to connect information seekers with primary sources. Training for professionals in this field could include subjects like:
- Digital libraries
- Information ethics
- Information preservation
- Internet resources
Master's Degrees Covering Information Science
These 18- to 24-month master's degree programs in library and information science or information retrieval can prepare graduates to work as librarians or in the field of computer science. Concentrations could be available in topics like archiving, public library leadership or information organization; online degree options are available. Programs at this level typically include specific coursework on information retrieval and improving retrieval rates through relevance feedback.
Given the cross-disciplinary nature of information science, applicants are commonly required to have completed a bachelor's degree program, but many programs may not require a major in a specific field. Applicants may be required to meet a minimum grade point average requirement for admission.
Information retrieval training includes creating interactivity applications for information visualization to help the public access information and see trends over time. In order to create systems that efficiently access information, students learn about:
- Information architecture
- Information management
- Visual communication
- Web development
- Database mining
- Web searching
Doctor of Philosophy in Library and Information Science
For individuals who have already earned a master's degree, these highly customizable programs take 2-3 years to complete, including the research and writing of a dissertation. Students learn to represent, store, retrieve and analyze different types of quantitative and qualitative information. Doctoral training can prepare graduates for careers as teachers, administrators and scholars working in research and academia.
Some schools require applicants to have completed a master's degree, though not necessarily in library and information science. Admitted students whose master's degree is in something other than library and information science may be required to complete additional coursework.
In addition to studying statistics, different types of archives and the history of the printed word, students can learn to gather resources for specific patron groups. Students also have the opportunity to learn about:
- Fair use issues
- Information ethics
- Information policy
- Preservation management
- Research methods
Popular Career Options
Information scientists can work for large companies, museums, schools, the government and any group that needs to keep track of different iterations of paperwork, like historic preservation organizations. Master's program graduates have been qualified to find employment as:
- Information retrieval specialists
- Medical informatics specialists
- Reference librarians
- Technical services librarians
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Certification may be required for librarians in libraries and public schools, though requirements vary widely between states; in some cases the completion of a master's degree or obtainment of teaching licensure is required. Certified school library media specialists help select and prepare instructional materials, manage budgets and design lessons for children regarding new education technologies. In order to obtain certification as a school library media specialist, individuals may be required to hold a valid teaching license in their state. Certification periods and requirements for school library media specialists vary by state.
Information retrieval jobs are best prepared for by completing a library and information science degree program. These programs may lead to a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in library and information science.