Beginning this fall, UT will become the first school in Tennessee and just the third in the SEC to offer an undergraduate degree in information sciences. This is an exciting opportunity to build on our highly regarded graduate program in the School of Information Sciences, while positioning UT to recruit top students and preparing our graduates to compete in a growing job sector.
Like most other universities, UT has historically only offered a master’s program, which we have built into a nationally recognized program ranked 17th by U.S. News and World Report. Ours is the top-ranked program in the SEC.
As the volume of information in our society expands, the demand for skilled employees who can organize, analyze, and present that data has increased. The skills learned in information sciences can be applied in a variety of fields, including media, education, and technology.
This new program has been four years in the making, and it’s the result of a lot of hard work and research by the faculty of the School of Information Sciences. The major will have two areas of concentration: user-experience design and data, information management, and analytics. It will also include a number of online classes, which have been shown to improve graduation and retention rates, especially for nontraditional and part-time students.
We’ve paid close attention to other schools with top-10 information sciences programs that have successfully launched and grown their bachelor’s degree programs in recent years, including the universities of Michigan and Maryland. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the top-ranked master’s program by U.S. News and World Report, announced that it would also begin an undergraduate program this fall.
Some of these programs have even become top majors at their institutions, producing students who go on to become user-experience designers and data analysts. Nationally, jobs in these concentrations are expected to grow at 15 percent and 27 percent, respectively, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Tennessee, we expect the rate for jobs requiring these skills to grow by more than 36 percent in the next five years.
By launching this program, UT is not only keeping pace with other top universities, we are filling a vital need in the state’s workforce and launching students into promising careers in expanding fields.