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Prospective Student FAQs

If you are considering a major in Information Science at Cornell, review these frequently asked questions for further information.

What is the history of the Cornell Information Science undergraduate program?

The Information Science Program began offering undergraduate majors during the 2003-2004 school year. The first graduates were the Class of 2005. Please see our History page for more information. 

How many majors are there in Information Science and Information Science, Systems, and Technology?

In the Fall of 2017, there were more than 250 Info Sci and ISST majors across all three schools. For some context, there were 150 such majors in Fall 2014.

How can I be sure that this major is right for me?

  • Look over the information about our undergraduate majors.
  • Send a message to ISmajor@cornell.edu. Using this address you can schedule an appointment with the Undergraduate Coordinator in 110H Gates Hall to ask questions about our majors. She can also put you in touch with current students.
  • Check out the IS careers page to see what jobs and internships are currently being offered.
  • Review some of the Student Profiles to see what our students' experiences have been during their time as Information Science majors at Cornell.
  • Our Alumni network is growing and we hope to keep our Alumni pages updated with information about where graduates are working and what they are doing. This can give you a great idea of what InfoSci grads are doing in the real world. 

What is the typical course load, and how many of the major courses are electives?

The average undergraduate course load is 15 - 18 credits. IS and ISST majors can mainly expect 5-course semesters, and a few 4-course semesters. For more specific information, please browse the requirements for our majors:

*Students in the B.S. and B.A. Information Science majors have the same major requirements. The degree only differs in the requirements for each college. For more information on college requirements, follow these links: College of Arts & Sciences,College of Agriculture and Life SciencesCollege of Engineering.

To what extent do the IS major courses offer hands on experience vs. traditional classroom curriculum?

There are many opportunities for both traditional classroom and project-based learning, depending on the student's interests. Courses for the major range from hands-on design of user interfaces to studying the effects of technology on society as a whole.

We encourage undergraduate research, which typically involves individual project work with a faculty member or research scientist.

What kind of materials and technologies are utilized in the IS major courses?

Mainly computer-based systems, including human-computer interaction, visual medias, text-based analysis, and all forms of data and knowledge based decision systems.

How many students are in a typical class?

It varies greatly. Large introductory courses (i.e. a programming class) may have several hundred students. Core courses in the major are smaller, ranging from slightly over 40 to under 10 students.

What do IS and ISST majors typically do after graduation?

The premise of the IS program is that many of the interesting problems and questions (and jobs) of the future will be concerned with the interactions between people and information systems. Thus, the undergraduate majors cover both technical issues and social science issues. Many Information Science and Information Science, Systems, and Technology graduates have gone on to careers that involve the design, development, and testing of interactive systems, from Web sites to mobile devices to software, and to leadership roles such as product management. The multi-disciplinary nature of the Information Science program can also prepare students for careers in other fields where expertise in interface design, data managment, and other digital solutions are needed, such as healthcare and law.

Our major is fairly new, so we don't know exactly what percentage of students will go on to graduate study, however we anticipate that approximately 25% of our graduates will go on to do graduate studies.