University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
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Informatics Minor

The INFORMATICS MINOR is a set of courses that prepares students to study and develop new uses for computer systems in their future endeavors. The aim is that they will become better creators and users of computing technology and will think critically about technology’s role in society. The undergraduate Minor in Informatics was launched in Spring 2008. It now has over 300 students from 59 different majors and is one of the most popular minors on campus. About half come from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with substantial numbers coming from the Colleges of Media, Fine and Applied Arts, Grainger College of Engineering and Gies College of Business.

Why study Informatics?

INFORMATICS studies the design, application, use and impact of information technology. A Minor in Informatics can diversify your educational portfolio and complement your major. The informatics minor signals that you have concrete expertise in computing and information technology and that you understand their human implications.
The study of INFORMATICS will teach you to become a better creator and user of computing technology and to think critically about technology’s role in society. Perhaps no other field will have a greater influence on humanity in this century

Who should Minor in Informatics?

ANY STUDENT  who is interested in improving their IT skills, wants to learn more about how IT is used in disciplinary areas outside of computer science, or simply enjoys technology. Informatics requires an understanding of the same areas studied by computer scientists, but it is more focused on applications of technology. It is less technical and theoretical than computer science, and it also considers social and psychological aspects of IT.

What can a student
do with a
minor in Informatics?

IT jobs will grow 13% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Strong IT skills give students in any major an edge in the job market. Specifically, the minor will prepare them to study and develop new uses for computer systems in their future endeavors. Possible career fields include:
  • Bioinformatics
  • Medical/Health Informatics
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Business analysis
  • Game Design
  • IT/Management Consulting
  • Web Design/Development
  • Network administration
  • Digital Art
  • Software development
  • requirements for the Minor

    Students are required to take three core courses: INFO 102, CS 105 and INFO 202.

    In addition, students must complete 3 approved upper-level informatics electives (totaling at least 9 credit hours), most of which emphasize either DataSociety, or Expression.

    The three required core courses provide a general and solid foundation in CS and IT. All three are introductory in nature and meet the university’s General Education requirements. These courses may be taken in any order or simultaneously.

    • INFO 102 – Little Bits to Big Ideas – SPRING ONLY – Broad introduction to the nature, capabilities, and limitations of computing. Topics range from the way data is represented and stored, to the way today’s computers work, to the general ideas of algorithms and computational efficiency, to the future of computing.

    • CS 105 – Introduction to Computing- Non-Tech – Computing as an essential tool of academic and professional activities. Functions and interrelationships of computer system components: hardware, systems and applications software, and networks. Widely used application packages such as spreadsheets and databases. Concepts and practice of programming for the solution of simple problems in different application areas. Intended for non-science and non-engineering majors. (Can substitute STAT 107 or CS 101, CS 124, CS 125, or the ECE 120 & 220 sequence)

    • INFO 202 – Social Aspects of Information Technologies – Explores how information technologies transform society and affect a range of social, political and economic issues from the individual to societal levels.

    • CS and ECE majors (including CS + majors), and CS minors need to take INFO 202 and then four additional upper-level courses instead of the usual three. These upper-level courses cannot be CS courses, and they typically have a non-technical focus. Upper-level courses must be approved by the Informatics Advisor before counting toward the Minor.

    • Information System majors (in Gies College of Business) may not use BADM courses as their three upper-level electives. This only applies to Information System majors, and not the other majors in Gies.

    • Students in one of the majors in the School of Art & Design in FAA may not use ARTD or ARTS courses as their three upper-level electives.

    • The School of Information Sciences BSIS majors can NOT declare the Informatics minor due to the extent of overlap.

    To qualify as one of the three upper-level courses satisfying the informatics minor, a course must be at the 300-level or above, and satisfy one of the following three descriptions. (Courses that satisfy some aspects may be approved on an ad hoc basis.)

    • Society. The course focuses on the history and/or use and/or impact of computers, computation, communication, or information technology. That is, the focus is on how the adaptation or availability of computer and communication technologies have and are changing the human condition. The focus is on information and communication technologies, not just any technology (E.g., a course about gender differences in use of garage-door-openers would not qualify, but a course in gender differences in use of iPods might.).

    • Data. A significant part of the course involves using computer modeling tools, building models, using visualization software, or otherwise using computers to help collect and/or analyze data in some way that goes beyond simple statistical computations and graphing/charting. A significant part of the course must involve learning to use a software package, or generating software, that does not fall under basic computer literacy. Whether the software is highly specialized to the field or fairly generic (e.g., database software) is irrelevant; the key criterion is the extent of use of the tool or the extent of the engagement in creating computational models or learning to use the technology in the context of data collection and analysis.

    • Expression. The course uses information and computer technologies to collect and/or modify and/or create media artifacts as part of an artistic, creative, and/or communicative process. This must go beyond straightforward data rendering (although such a course might satisfy the “Data” category).

    How To Declare the minor

    The Informatics minor program is open to undergraduates from all colleges and majors. It complements the backgrounds of those majoring in any field, whether liberal arts and sciences, engineering, applied life sciences, or commerce. It is recommended, but not required, that you apply before the end of their sophomore year so that you will receive proper advice, and notifications about new courses. To be officially enrolled, you must:

    • Complete the Minor Declaration form online. Once informatics approves, it will be routed to your college for approval and they will add it to your degree audit.
    • Please email if you have any questions.