From SI410
Jump to: navigation, search
Back • ↑Topics • ↑Categories

Informatics, an undergraduate interdisciplinary concentration at the University of Michigan, is the combined study of computer science, data analysis, human-computer interaction, and the organization and structure of information sciences. The undergraduate program was launched in 2008 in the school of Literature, Science, and Arts (LSA) and is a combined degree with the College or Engineering and the School of Information[1]. However, the graduate program for informatics was founded in 1969. Informatics looks at the design of technology beyond the technical structure. This major is more commonly recognized in Europe and gradually growing in North America, where it has previously been strictly divided into computer science, psychology, or information systems studies.
Logo for Informatics program at the University of Michigan
Students studying informatics learn the representation, processing and communication in natural and artificial systems, including Emerging Media, Avatars, and Cloud Computing. Many Informatics majors have the opportunity to work in careers such as Engineering, Analytics, Consulting, Management, Statistics, and many more. Those Informatics graduates who choose to continue their education upon graduation tend to go to Law School, Business School, Medicine, Statistics, Information Sciences, and others.
An infographic showing the areas of study and focus for informatics concentrators



Using artificial information systems, scientists have made great progress in identifying core components of organisms and ecosystems and are beginning to better understand how these components behave and interact with each other. In fact, biology has become an information science, as computational techniques have become an important means to develop and evaluate biological hypotheses. Informatics is used from basic biological research-studying how patterns of gene expression differ across various cell types-to the practice of medicine, where informatics is used to compare treatments, to identify social correlates of health, and to evaluate possible changes in health policy. The Life Science Informatics track prepares students for careers and advanced study in a number of information-related fields in the life sciences, as well as medical school and other areas of graduate study.[2] BioInformatics is expected to have a market size of USD 9.1 billion by 2018 due to demand from the agricultural industry, pharmaceutical industry, medical industry and other life science industries.[3]

Chemoinformatics is also like Bioinformatics and offered at Indiana University.


Geoinformatics is a multidisciplinary study further bridging the gap between physical science and computational science. Geoinformatics is the science and technologies which develops and uses information science infrastructure to address the problem of geography, geosciences and related branches of engineering. Some example projects can include the incorporation of global positioning systems into more devices for better end-user usability. Also, studying the coastlines of countries to try and better prepare residents for hurricanes or other weather phenomena. One major company that specializes in the field of geoinformatics is ESRI. The approach is that geographic information systems (GIS) can help to address social, economic, business, and environmental concerns at all levels.[4]

Business Informatics

Business informatics is an emerging field that merges different aspects of business management, informatics, and information technology. The main goal of business informatics is to fully unite computer science and business administration in one field. Thus, the dream of business informatics is to combine the use of information technology and the older techniques of business in order to create an information system capable of tackling major problems. The hope is to destroy the bridge between the users and creators of technology, thus that all users will have an understanding of the underlying workings of technology.[5]

Social Computing

Social computing -- including online communities, user experience design, social networking, and user contributed content -- is the force behind Web 2.0 applications. SI faculty have invented and analyzed many of the underlying techniques that have powered the rise of social computing, including recommender systems, reputation systems, prediction markets, social network analysis, online communities, and computer-supported cooperative work. The current course load specific to Social Computing majors includes: PSYCH 280, Social Psychology, SI 301, Models of social information processing, SI 429, E-Communities, and SI 422, Systems and Services.

Students specializing in social computing learn to analyze online social interactions, both in online communities and in more diffuse social networks. They learn about features of social computing technologies and gain skills in developing social computing applications.[6] In addition, they can study user experience design, gaining a glimpse in human-computer interaction.

This path is typically the most popular, with over 50% of the undergraduate informatics students in the track. [7] There has been a recent change in the core course load that is phasing out the course EECS 282 a JAVA programming class and instead requiring EECS 280, Programming and Introductory Data Structures. This would require Social Computing students to take an intro to programming class that teaches the language C++ to seed into EECS 280 so that students are prepared. Aligning with this revamping of courses and the fact that this major has been dissolved, the School of Information has recently created a new Bachelor of Science in Information undergraduate degree which began accepting applicants in 2013.[8] The new degree is solely under the School of Information instead of being a joint degree between the School of Literature, Science, and the Arts, The College of Engineering, and the School of Information. The degree is open to rising juniors and seniors at the University of Michigan.

Music Informatics

Music informatics has many subcategories. Music information retrieval involving developing ways to use audio (think Shazam or Midomi), text, MIDI and other means to query databases. Goals also include being able to locate identical or similar music, identify similar genres or other songs by the same artist. Like this area, there is music recommendations (think iTunes recommendations). This involves taking a user's preferences and giving relevant suggestions. Although this already exists, there is research going on to make these recommender systems better and fit user's with eclectic tastes.

Remaining subcategories include Studying and Synthesizing Music Expression, Audio Signal-to-Score (singing, polyphonic, piano, etc.), Music Analysis, Musical Accompaniment Systems, Score Following, Optical Music Recognition (OMR), Music Source Separation, Music for Computer Games, MIDI to Symbolic Score. [9]

Data Mining

The collection, analysis, and visualization of data play crucial roles in research, business, and government.[10] Using statistical analysis, mathematics, and computational sciences people can uncover powerful meaning behind complex data sets. Data mining has applications in various fields, ranging from artificial intelligence to machine learning to database systems.[11] Data mining allows people to extract meaning from complex sets of data in order for people to understand it better.

Students studying data mining will be equipped with "practical skills and a theoretical basis for approaching challenging data analysis problems."[12] Students will learn how to parse through data efficiently while being able to extract patterns and identify rare or unusual data.

Computational Informatics

Computational Informatics is most closely associated with computer science, yet is based more on the computational aspect of it rather than the underlying infrastructure.[13] Students learn to assess and build usable software applications for web servers, browsers, smartphones, and information analysis tools. They also develop analytical skills and gain an understanding of how people and organizations utilize technology to manage data. Students put their skills to use in business and in the financial, software development, and information technology industries. They are also well prepared for graduate programs in computing and information sciences. [13].

Health Informatics

This is a new field that integrates computer technology and healthcare together. It primarily uses technology to analyze, store and transfer health-clinical data. It can also involve the information and privacy necessary when combining health information and technology.[14]. As defined by the University of Illinois at Chicago:

"Health informatics or medical informatics is the application of information technology to the healthcare profession with the aim of creating tools and procedures that can help doctors, nurses, and other healthcare personnel diagnose and treat patients more accurately and efficiently." [15]

Under this new field, individuals will be able to become "innovators and leaders who revolutionize the ways information is used to enable better health" [16].

Pharmaceutical Informatics

Pharmaceutical Informatics is an area of discipline that applies the principles of informatics into the arena of pharmaceutical care. [17] Inidivudals in this field or practice can develop systems and databases that can streamline processes that normally takes time without the use of technically. This can involved the application of technology in such areas as patient's medical records and drug prescriptions; achieving more efficiency in the field and improving patient safety. On the consumer side, order processes, inventory checks and drug evaluation reports are other processes that can benefit from good system design and database management. Essentially, pharmaceutical informatics can benefit practioners through organization of information that is often difficult to remember- such as side effects and multiple drug interactions.

Undergraduate Programs

Related Courses

  • Business
  • Communications
  • Computer Science
  • Ethics
  • Mathematics
  • Science Information
  • Social Psychology
  • Statistics

Careers in Informatics

A degree in Informatics provides excellent preparation for work at the forefront of the computing industry. Informatics graduates work in many industrial settings, such as start-up companies, small software companies, consulting firms and corporations. Graduates will be prepared to design and develop online communities, new software tools, health care systems, and systems that require a significant software and information component.

Informatics careers include:

  • Biology/Chemistry Informaticist
  • Database Developer/Manager
  • Digital Artist
  • Digital Library Specialist
  • eCommerce Specialist
  • Human-Computer Interface Designer
  • Information Architect
  • Interaction Designer
  • IT consultant
  • Multimedia Specialist
  • Network Manager
  • Online Community Manager
  • Project Managers
  • Social Media Analyst
  • Software Developer
  • Software Engineers
  • Stage and Lighting Designer
  • System Administrator
  • System Analysts
  • Technical Writer
  • User Experience Designer
  • User Experience Researcher
  • Webmaster

The table below indicates a significant growth in the kinds of careers for which the Informatics degree prepares its students.

Ugrad career jobs 2k8.gif

Some Informatics students go on to graduate school, conducting research and earning graduate degrees in software engineering, computer science, information science and similar disciplines.

Starting Salary

Starting salaries for informatics graduates range from $30,000 to $50,000.

See Also

External Links


  1. Informatics Main Page
  2. School of Information Main Page
  3. Sacramento - Global BioInformatics Market
  4. ESRI company site
  5. Virtual Informatics Business site
  6. School of Information - Social Computing site
  11. data mining on Wikipedia
  13. 13.0 13.1
  17. Definition of Pharmaceutical Informatics.

(back to index)