The Bachelor of Science degree in Information Sciences and Technology (IST) provides students with the theoretical framework and skills necessary to compete and be a leader in the emerging digital global economy. Information Sciences and Technology is a discipline that explores how we can strengthen the power of information and technology, and use it to increase human potential. This includes focusing on creating innovative systems and technological solutions that benefit businesses, organizations, and individuals, and understanding the role of technology in how we live our lives.
The IST program focuses on building an understanding of core information technologies and related areas of study; preparing students for the practical application of various information sciences and related technologies; and engaging students in sharpening their abilities to think critically and to work in teams. Team projects, a required internship, and a capstone senior project provide additional, focused venues to involve students in the cutting-edge issues and technologies of the field.
Students can choose from three different options within the major:
Information Context: People, Organizations, and Society Option
This option focuses on how information technology affects social change and the delivery of information to the consumer. This includes the human-machine interface; organization and retrieval of information; digital libraries; information and telecommunications services; information and media industry structures; software services and intermediaries; telecommunications and information law and policy; sociological aspects of technology change; multimedia; and art, design, and aesthetics.
Information Systems: Design & Development Option
This option is focused on expanding the skills needed to develop advanced information technology systems using state-of-the-art tools and techniques. The emphasis is on providing the student with both knowledge in the design, implementation, testing and evolution of complex software systems as well as a set of project-oriented, team-programming experiences.
Information Technology: Integration & Application Option
This option is designed to prepare students to use information technology to realize a variety of system-based goals (e.g., reliability, accessibility, efficiency, etc.). It is focused on developing a theoretical foundation and the skill set needed for integrating information technology into different systems in order to enhance system performance. The emphasis is on providing the student with both the theoretical frameworks needed to use information technology as a system attribute as well as a set of application-oriented experiences and skills.
Complementary Minors and Certificates
The following academic minors are suggested for IST majors to complement their degree:
- Entrepreneurship & Innovation
- Security & Risk Analysis
Penn State and the College of IST are designated as a national Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Information Assurance and Cyber-Defense Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Students who minor in Security and Risk Analysis receive a Certificate of Recognition stating that they earned their degree from an institution and program recognized as a CAE by the NSA and DHS.
Internships, Research, and Application
All Information Sciences and Technology students are required to complete an internship in an IST-related field. Internships can be part-time or full-time and paid or unpaid. Internships enable students to apply what was learned in the classroom to a dynamic, real-world technical situation. To receive credit for the internship, students complete the 1-credit IST 495 course and must complete at least 300 hours of supervised employment.
In the senior capstone course students work collaboratively in teams. Each team is given a significant real-world problem or issue in which information technology is part of the solution. Teams will be expected to manage the project effectively and to communicate its results clearly to a variety of audiences within an organization.
IST students have the opportunity to conduct research with faculty members. Working one-on-one with a faculty member or as part of a supervised research team, students investigate important issues related to their academic interests. Students gain valuable experience to include on their resumes or graduate school applications, make professional contacts, and have even earned co-authorship on scholarly publications and conference presentations.
IST graduates are in high demand by top companies and government agencies. Their technical expertise combined with interpersonal skills and business savvy means they have the versatility employers want. Many jobs in the technology sector have higher than average growth and salary rates, with flexibility and high levels of job satisfaction.
IST graduates may also continue their education in graduate programs that further enhance their knowledge and skills. Some programs that students have continued their study in include Information Systems, Cybersecurity, Business, and Management.