What is Information Sciences & Technology?

by Tanner M. on


Since you are a reader of my blog, I figure you could benefit by understanding a little bit more about my background.

Although I like to bash formal “higher education” quite a good bit, it has played an integral role in shaping the person I have become.

Since I am currently a senior student, people always ask me what it will say on my $100,000+ piece of paper.

When I tell them my major is Information Science & Technology, they usually give me a blank stare and ask “what’s that?” This is understandable since MOST people are not tech savvy.

This post is meant to help my wonderful readers to understand a little bit more about my background and also as a reference for people that ask this question.

What is IST?

Here is the Wikipedia long-form definition of Information Sciences:

Information science is an interdisciplinary science primarily concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information.[1] Practitioners within the field study the application and usage of knowledge in organizations, along with the interaction between people, organizations and any existing information systems, with the aim of creating, replacing, improving or understanding information systems. Information science is often (mistakenly) considered a branch of computer science. However, it is actually a broad, interdisciplinary field, incorporating not only aspects of computer science, but often diverse fields such as archival science, cognitive science, commerce, communications, law,library science, museology, management, mathematics, philosophy, public policy, and the social sciences.”

In my own words, I study how things such as social media technology, cell phones, software, hardware, computers, Bluetooth headsets, video conferencing hardware, emerging media technology, and other technology devices in order to understand how they are being used (or could be used) within society, people, and organizations.

My Concentration: People, Society, and Organizations

My concentration within IST is People, Society, and Organizations.

To dumb it further down, I study the way technology shapes our lives, society, and organizations, and also how society, people, and organizations shape technology. Within these studies, we attempt to find solutions to better improve information systems for people, society, and organizations.

Information science focuses on understanding problems from the perspective of the stakeholders involved and then applying information and other technologies as needed. In other words, it tackles systemic problems first rather than individual pieces of technology within that system. In this respect”

Some people may ask “How is IST different from Computer Science and Computer Engineering?”

Though many people in IST are developers, both hardware and software creators, some of us are business minded technology geeks.

A computer science or engineering geek is usually more introverted and focuses on programming and developing hardware or software.

IST majors then bridge the gap between the developers and the consumer (or programmers and users).

Computer science majors or engineers usually do the “hard work” of developing software and hardware, whereas IST majors figure out how this hardware or software could be a used to positively impact society, people, or organizations.


IST @ Penn State


The College of IST at Penn State was formed in 1999 in response to the ever growing need for business leaders in the field of technology.

In 2007, the College ranked in the top 10 for Information Sciences, sitting along with Penn, Cornell, and Carnegie Mellon.

Final Thoughts

I have studied quite a few different areas throughout my college career, beginning with Marketing to Psychology to Business Education to Business Management to Information Sciences & Technology, which you can learn more about at my ePortfolio.

Like I said, I tend to bash formal “higher education” because of the corruptness and outrageous price; I have met a ton of wonderful people, including some of the biggest thought leaders in technology, marketing, business, and psychology.

When it is all said and done here in a few months, I will be thankful and proud for the business-technical degree I will receive from the largest alumni association in the world and the College of Information Sciences & Technology.

For those of you looking to expand your skillset and receive a valuable education that will take you to new heights in life, consider south university michigan.

If you would like to learn about some of the projects I have worked on through my college career, head over to the education section of my ePortfolio.

Think Big,

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