MS in Information Science

[Click for Forms]

The information and data sciences disciplines are expanding rapidly thanks to the pressing demand for new innovations in information retrieval, storage, processing and analysis tools and techniques. The Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) degree is a 33 credit hour program which is designed to give individuals advanced knowledge and skills in the concepts and technologies for working with large amounts of complex data. This degree can also be a stepping stone towards pursuing the PhD in Computer and Information Science, and the Graduate Certificate in Data Science can be earned as a subset of the MSIS requirements.

Student Learning Outcomes for the Master of Science in Information Science

  1. Graduates will be able to design database schemas, as well as create and maintain databases.
  2. Graduates will be able to process large data sets, including both manipulation and mining operations.
  3. Graduates will be able to explain and implement data manipulation processes that provide appropriate guarantees of privacy of personal data.
  4. Graduates will be able to use tools and techniques for visualization to summarize large data in ways that enhance comprehension and analysis.
  5. Graduates are proficient in written and oral communication.
  6. Graduates are able to maintain their technological currency through life-long learning in the field.

Program Delivery

The MS in Information Science can be completed in a traditional in-class setting on the Little Rock home campus, through the Online Campus, or with a mix of in-class and online course sections. Class lectures are webcast live on the internet as they are taught in class, and also recorded for students to view later. Most courses are scheduled one time per week starting at 6:00 pm Central Time (US) and lasting for 2 hours and 40 minutes, but some classes may be scheduled at other times. The fall semester runs from about August 21 through December 15 and the spring semester from about January 5 to May 15. The exact dates for each semester vary and can be found on the calendar on the UA Little Rock homepage.

To learn more about Distance Learning, please check out the following link: Distance Learning and Proctoring.

Admission to the Program

Anyone with a baccalaureate from an accredited school can apply for admission to the MS in Information Science program. Candidates who have an appropriate background in computing or who have relevant professional experience will be the most prepared to enter and successfully complete the program. Candidates who wish to enter computing as a new field are often interested and will be considered.

Requirements for Regular Admission

Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.
Cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
Students will be best prepared if they have completed (with a grade of B or better in each course) course work or have professional experience equivalent to the following courses:

Computer programming
Databases
Statistics

Students who are admitted but lack background in any of those areas may be admitted with the stipulation that they take appropriate courses to obtain that background.

Graduation Requirements

  • Email the program coordinator (jdberleant@ualr.edu) upon your arrival on campus to ensure you are on the program advising list.
  • Take the four core courses. These also constitute the Graduate Certificate in Data Science curriculum, so you can get that certificate along the way to your master’s degree if you also apply and are accepted to the certificate programTakeT.
    • IFSC 7320 Database Systems or CPSC 7351 Database Design: Database systems and data modeling, including entity-relationship model, relational data model, normalization, structured query language (SQL), transaction management, object-oriented databases, and basics of physical database design and query evaluation. This course is offered each Fall semester.
    • IFSC 7370 Data Science and Technologies: This course provides a survey of the skills and concepts needed for managing, processing, and analyzing massive amounts of data in real time. Topics covered include data sourcing, storing and sharing, integration, and data mining strategies along with hands-on experience working with sample technologies selected from a complex ecosystem of tools and platforms. This course is offered each Spring semester.
    • IFSC 5345 Information Visualization: The design and presentation of digital information. Use of graphics, animation, sound, visualization software, and hypermedia in presenting information to the user. Methods of presenting complex information to enhance comprehension and analysis. Incorporation of visualization techniques into human-computer interfaces. This course is offered each Fall and Spring semester.
    • IFSC 7360 Data Protection and Privacy: Concepts and methods for creating technologies and related policies with provable guarantees of privacy protection while allowing society to collect and share person-specific information for necessary and worthy purposes. Methods include those related to the identifiability of data, record linkage, data profiling, data fusion, data anonymity, de-identification, policy specification and enforcement and privacy-preserving data mining. This course is offered each Fall semester.
  • Take five electives, which are courses relevant to your professional interests. Most of these courses will be found in information science, business information systems, computer science, and statistics.
    • All must be at the graduate level (that is, with course numbers starting with the numeral 5 or higher)
    • Up to two INFQ (Information Quality) lecture based courses may be selected.
    • Some of the courses may be stipulated in your admissions letter to cover certain specific subjects that were insufficiently covered in your previous educational background. If you did not save your admissions letter contact the coordinator to get it.
    • Some possible strategies include, but are not limited to:
      • A focus on data science & analytics
        • BINS 5351 Data Analysis and Reporting
        • BINS 7304 Business Applications for Decision Making
        • BINS 7309 Cloud-Based Business Intelligence
        • IFSC 5325 Data Mining
        • IFSC 5360 Social Computing
        • IFSC 7321 Information Science and Theory
        • STAT 7340 Advanced Statistical Methods I
        • STAT 7341 Advanced Statistical Methods II
      • A focus on database systems design, development, and management
        • CPSC 7352 Advanced Database Issues
        • IFSC 5330 Database Security
        • IFSC 7310 Information Systems Analysis
        • INFQ 7303 Principles of Information Quality
        • INFQ 7342 Information Quality Tools & Industry Landscape
        • INFQ 7367 Information Quality Policy and Strategy
  • Project or thesis. This must total at least 6 credit hours. Students normally divide this across two semesters.
    • IFSC 7386 Graduate Project (taken twice), or
    • IFSC 7398 Graduate Thesis (taken twice), or
    • INFQ 7391 Cooperative Education (taken once) and IFSC 7386 Graduate Project (taken once).
    • Information on the project or thesis: Some additional tips on completing a MS Project/Thesis are available on Blackboard. Go to https://blackboard.ualr.edu/ultra/organization-catalog and search on Information Science to bring up the Information Science Graduate Student Resources course shell.  This course shell has an assortment of information on how to propose, develop, and defend your MS Thesis or Project. Here are some more details on how to choose between a project and a thesis and what procedure to follow to succeed:

Master’s Project or Master’s Thesis?

  • The thesis option is normally a research project under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • The project option allows for different ways of choosing a topic.
    • One option is to find an advisor any faculty member) who can suggest a topic you would like to work on.
    • A second option is to identify a topic you want to work on, then find an advisor willing to supervise it.
      • This can be something you simply want to do, or
      • you can find possible topics by checking sites like kaggle.com, innocentive.com, or other sites that provide data challenges or similar ideas.
    • The third option is to identify a project at your place of work or at some other organization outside the university. Then find a faculty member willing to supervise it.
    • Option four is to work in the IT industry for a semester, registering for the Cooperative Education IFSC course, then for the second semester take Graduate Project. The project will be half sized (since you only register for it one semester) and has multiple options:
      • any of the types mentioned earlier, or
      • an analysis of the work done for the cooperative education period, based on an outline available from the department.

Forming your advisory committee

Although the advisor is your primary intellectual resource, you also need two others to be on your advisory committee. The advisor can help suggest or recruit these others. Sometimes an advisor or committee member from outside the university does not have formal permission from the university to serve, in which case they will need to apply for it. The coordinator can help with this.

Completing the thesis or project

First, a proposal describing what similar work has been done by others and what you plan to do yourself needs to be written. Your committee needs to approve the proposal and you will need to have them sign a form which you submit to  the coordinator along with your proposal document.

Second, you will need to do the work you proposed.

Third, there is the writeup. A thesis will need to conform in format to Graduate School specifications, and submitted to the Graduate School, so it can be made available to others. A project report will need to conform to typical guidelines widely available by, for example, a web search engine query like:

how to write a masters project report

Fourth, there is your defense. This is where you present the results of your work to your committee. Start by sending your thesis or project report to the committee members. At around that time, communicate with them to schedule your defense, which is a meeting in which you present your work to them for their approval.

It is best to work with your advisor to get that person’s suggestions and help as you prepare your presentation for your defense. After the defense, the committee will often request changes to the writeup and/or additional technical advances before they approve it. The program coordinator will need the form indicating their approval of the defense presentation and the written document. For a thesis, the defense deadlines are May 1, Dec. 1,  and Aug. 1. For a report, the deadline is the end of the semester.

Graduating: getting your name on the graduation list

Finally, you must take the bureaucratic step of applying to graduate, so the university registrar will check to make sure you have met all requirements and put you on the graduation list. This is the step that causes you to get your degree!

Helpful references:

  • For the Graduate Catalog, which contains the official program requirements (strictly speaking, the requirements in the one corresponding to the academic year you were admitted or any more recent one may be chosen), please click here.
  • For the Dissertation and Thesis Guidelines Handbook, please click here.
  • For the Graduate Student Handbook, please click here.
  • For the MSIS Program Process Flow, please click here.

For more information, please visit the FAQ page, or contact Dr. Daniel Berleant at jdberleant@ualr.edu.

To apply, please visit the UALR Graduate School portal.