University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences

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University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences
Established 1901
Dean Ron Larsen (2004)
Academic staff
Students 687
Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
Campus Urban
File:Pitt SIS 2Line Blue.jpg

The University of Pittsburgh's School of Information Sciences (or the iSchool) is one of the nation’s pioneering schools in the education of information professionals, with a history that reaches back more than a hundred years to the days of Andrew Carnegie. As of 2009, it is ranked 10th in the list of Top Schools of Library and Information Studies by US News & World Report[1] and is one of the original members in the list of I-Schools. Located on the University of Pittsburgh's main campus in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, the school is led by its current Dean Ronald L. Larsen.

The iSchool at Pitt offers an undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Information Science, as well a graduate program that consists of master's degrees, Ph.D degrees, and certificates of advanced study in the areas of Information Science, Telecommunications, and Library and Information Science. The School also offers a fully online and highly ranked Master of Library and Information Science degree that is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).

The school was originally founded on October 1, 1901 as the Training School for Children's Librarians at the Carnegie Library. The School moved to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1930, and eventually to the University of Pittsburgh in 1961.[2][3][4] Specialized tracks of study at today's multi-disciplinary iSchool at Pitt range from Archival Studies and Digital Libraries, to Big Data Analytics, Cyber Security, and Human-Centered Computing, to Networks and Wireless Systems.

Undergraduate Program

The Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS) is a 120-credit undergraduate program that offers concentrations in:

  • Information Systems Concentration enables students to use object-oriented design tools to design, build, implement, and test web-based information systems.
  • User Centered Design Concentration provides the visual and human-computer interaction skills needed to design and build prototypes of information systems interfaces, as well as to perform usability testing of these systems.
  • Networks and Security Concentration offers skills needed to design, build and test LANS, WANS, Wireless, Internet, and Web-based networks.

Master's Degree Programs

The Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) program is a 36-credit program that offers the following specializations:[5]

The School of Information Sciences also offers a joint-degree program with the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). The joint-degree program allows students to complete both the MSIS and either a Master of Public Administration, Master of International Development, or Master of Public and International Affairs degree simultaneously.[6] This allows students to complete two graduate degrees in a shorter period of time than if the degrees were pursued independently. Under the joint degree agreement, the credit requirement for the MSIS is 30 credits at the iSchool, and between 30-39 credits at GSPIA, depending on the chosen program of study. Students must be accepted by both the iSchool and GSPIA to be admitted into the joint-degree program.

The Master of Science in Telecommunications (MST) program is a 36-credit program that offers the following specializations:

  • Telecommunications Systems
  • Computer Networks
  • Policy and Management
  • Wireless
  • Security

The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program is an ALA-accredited, 36-credit program that currently offers the following specializations:

  • Archives and Information Science
  • Digital Libraries
  • Information Technology
  • Resources & Services: Children and Youth
  • Resources & Services: Health
  • Resources & Services: Reference
  • School Library Certification Program
  • Individualized study option

The MLIS program is ranked 10th overall by U.S. News & World Report in the magazine’s 2009 edition of "America’s Best Graduate Schools."

In addition, the following specialties were ranked among the best in the nation according to the 2009 edition of US News' America's Best Graduate Schools:[7]

  • Medical Librarianship/Informatics Specialization #1
  • Archives and Preservation Management Specialization #2
  • Information Systems #6
  • School Library Certification Program #8
  • Services to Children and Young Adult Specialization #10
  • Digital Libraries Specialization #12

PhD Program

The Doctor of Philosophy degree provides research-oriented graduate study and professional specialization in the science of information. The program prepares students for advanced work in teaching and in conducting significant research with world-class resources befitting a top-tier research university. Some of topics being explored by the iSchool's research groups include geoinformatics, decision systems, spatial information, information security, usability engineering, and personalized adaptive systems. Completion of the program requires students to progress through three phases:

  • Preliminary Examination: The purpose of this exam is to "assess the breadth of the student's knowledge of the discipline, the student's achievement during the first year of graduate study, and the potential to apply research methods independently..."[8]
  • Comprehensive Examination: The comprehensive exam is designed to evaluate the student's mastery of the field, with an emphasis on both depth and breadth in the area of specialization chosen by the student.
  • Candidacy: Once promoted to candidacy, the dissertation becomes the primary focus of the doctoral student. All coursework, the preliminary exam, and the comprehensive exam must be completed successfully before being promoted to candidacy.

In addition, the PhD degree requires a minimum of 60 credits of course work. Most students are expected to complete the requirements for the this degree within 6 years of full-time study.[9]

The research and educational offerings at the PhD level in the IS program cover a wide range of areas including (but, not limited to):

  • Computer and network security
  • Advanced Database management
  • Geoinformatics
  • Human-Centered Computing
  • Adaptive Web systems
  • Decision support systems
  • Cognitive systems
  • Large-scale and distributed systems
  • Cyber infrastructure
  • Foundations of computer and information systems

In the LIS program, key areas of study include:

  • Archives and Information Science
  • Information Behavior
  • Health Information Behavior and Health Education Interventions
  • Social information systems
  • Web-based Information Systems
  • School Librarianship

A large number of PhD graduates in LIS go on to academic careers. Some of the institutions where alumni can be found are The University of Michigan, University of Toronto, Texas Woman’s University, Simmons College, University of Alabama, Kuwait University, Jordan University, University of Texas at Austin, Dominican University, International Islamic University Malaysia, Rollins College, and the University of New Mexico


The School of Information Sciences is home to 36 faculty members whose expertise ranges from wireless security and Web semantics to cyber-scholarship and record-keeping systems.[10] As of the fall 2011 semester, the iSchool also had 27 adjunct faculty and eight teachers with joint appointments from fields as diverse as pathology, medicine and business.[11][12]

The chair of the Undergraduate program is Robert Perkoski.

The chair of the Graduate Information Science program is Peter Brusilovsky.

The chair of the Library and Information Science program is Sheila Corrall.

The chair of the Telecommunications program is David Tipper.[13]

Some of the iSchool’s professors such as Roger Flynn, Michael Spring, Michael Lewis, Richard Cox, and Stephen Hirtle are seasoned veterans who have been teaching and researching at the iSchool for two decades or more.

Dean Ronald L. Larsen joined the iSchool after having previously served as executive director of the Maryland Applied Information Technology Initiative and deputy director of the Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Lab. Before entering academia, Larsen had a nearly 20-year career as a mathematician, technologist, and researcher for NASA.[14]


The iSchool at Pitt is also recognized for its research. Located in its building are labs for Geoinformatics, Telecommunications, ULab and Personalized Adaptive Web Systems, along with LERSAIS—the Laboratory of Education and Research on Security Assured Information Systems.[15] There are also several active research groups working on various projects such as IR@Pitt, Spatial Information Research Group, and Group for Research on Idealized Neural Systems.

In 2010 alone, the iSchool’s faculty had its work featured in nearly 120 publications.[16]

As of 2012, ongoing research projects included:[17]

  • a study by Daqing entitled "Tapping into Public Academic Information on the Social Web: Towards a Novel Academic Recommendation Framework," seeks to develop a quality assessment and an association discovery framework for online academic information—ultimately to establish a novel framework for supporting researchers in accessing, organizing, utilizing, and exchanging all types of academic information.
  • a study by Mary K. Biagini to assess public school library resources and services available to Pennsylvania students in kindergarten through grade 12
  • a study of Modeling Synergies in Large Human-Machine Networked Systems by C. Michael Lewis
  • an exploration by Peter Brusilovsky into using social data to model and visualize latent coherent communities that exist within social systems
  • a study entitled "War, Memory, and the Archival Impulse," by Richard Cox

iSchool Caucus

The School of Information Sciences is also a member of the iSchools organization. This organization was founded in 2005 by a collective of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field in the 21st Century.[18] The iSchool consortium is closely governed by iCaucus. The iSchool at Pitt has not yet hosted an iConference.


Information Sciences Building

Originally the American Institutes for Research Building, the University purchased the 1965[19] Tasso Katselas designed Brutalist style structure [1] in 1968[20] and it has since then served as the primary facility housing the School of Information Sciences.[2] In 1975, a renovation was completed that enclosed the building's lower levels to create additional classrooms and offices.[21] An additional renovation to the building was completed in 2013, adding various upgrades including a computer lab, teleconference room, and a third floor Student Collaboration Center for study and work space.[22]

See also


  1. "America's Best Graduate Schools 2009". U.S. News & World Report. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Bleier, Carol (2001). Tradition in transition : a history of the School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4088-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Aspray, William (1999). "Command and Control, Documentation, and Library Science: The Origins of Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 21 (4): 4–20. doi:10.1109/85.801528.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Alberts, Robert C. (1986). Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh 1787–1987. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 287. ISBN 0-8229-1150-7. Retrieved 2010-05-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "School of Information Sciences MSIS Courses of Study, University of Pittsburgh". Retrieved 2015-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Joint Degree Programs at the School of Information Sciences". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Hart, Peter (2009-04-30). "U.S. News ranks graduate programs". University Times. Retrieved 2009-05-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Regulations Pertaining to the Doctor of Philosophy". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "PhD Program Details". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Faculty By Name". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Faculty Adjuncts". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Faculty Appointments". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Faculty By Program". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Larsen Resume". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Research". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Publications". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Active Grants". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "About the iSchools". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Toker, Franklin (1986). Pittsburgh: an urban portrait. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-271-00415-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Pitt Purchases AIR's Building". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1968-09-02. Retrieved 2010-02-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Rieker, Richard, ed. (January 1975). "Part Two: An Index To University Programs". Pitt. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. 29 (4): 18. Retrieved 2011-04-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Barlow, Kimberly K.; Levine, Marty (August 29, 2013). "What's New at Pitt: Places". University Times. 46 (1). Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved September 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

Bleier, Carol (2001). Tradition in Transition: A History of the School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4088-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
Frick Fine Arts Building
University of Pittsburgh Buildings
School of Information Sciences Building

Constructed: 1965
Succeeded by
Hillman Library