University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences

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Coordinates: 40°26′50″N 79°57′10″W / 40.447332°N 79.952712°W / 40.447332; -79.952712

University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences
Established 1901
Dean Ron Larsen (2004)
Academic staff
Students 687
Location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
Campus Urban
SIS Logo

The University of Pittsburgh - School of Information Sciences (or SIS) 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 School offers an undergraduate program in Information Science, as well as graduate programs leading to a Masters degree, PhD degree, and Certificates of Advanced Study in Information Science, Telecommunications, and Library and Information Science. The School also offers a distance education program for earning a Masters degree in Library and Information Science.

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] Specialized tracks of study currently range from areas such as School Librarianship Certification and Archival Studies to Digital Libraries to Geoinformatics and Information Security.

Undergraduate Program[edit]

The Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS) program 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[edit]

The Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) program is a 36-credit program that offers the following specializations and areas of focus:

The School of Information Sciences also offers a joint-degree program with the University of Pittsburgh 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.[4] 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 SIS and between 30-39 credits at GSPIA, depending on the chosen program of study. Students must be accepted by both SIS 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 specialities were ranked among the best in the nation according to the 2009 edition of US News' America's Best Graduate Schools:[5]

  • 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 was ranked #12

PhD Program[edit]

The Doctor of Philosophy program prepares students for advanced work in research and teaching. It 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 the topics being explored by the 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..."[6]
  • 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, and comprehensize examinations must be completed successfully before being promoted to candidacy.

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
  • Cyberinfrastructure
  • 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, University of New Mexico

In addition, the program requires a minimum of 60 credits of course work. Most students are expected to complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree within 6 years of full-time study.[7]


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.[8] As of the fall 2011 semester, the School also had 27 adjunct faculty and eight teachers with joint appointments from fields as diverse as pathology, medicine and business.[9][10]

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.[11]

Some of the School’s more veteran academics – professors such as Roger Flynn, Michael Spring, Michael Lewis, Richard Cox and Stephen Hirtle – have been with the department for two decades or more.

Dean Ronald L. Larsen joined the School 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.[12]


The School is also recognized for its research. Located in its building are labs for Geoinformatics, Telecommunications, ULab and Personalized Adaptive Web Systems, along with LERSAIS, an acronym for the Laboratory of Education and Research on Security Assured Information Systems.[13] There are also several active research groups working on various fileds like IR@Pitt, Spatial Information Research Group, Group for Research on Idealized Neural Systems

In 2010 alone, the School’s faculty had its work featured in nearly 120 publications.[14]

As of 2012, ongoing research projects included:[15]

  • a study by Daqing He entitled "Tapping into Public Academic Information on the Social Web: Towards a Novel Academic Recommendation Framework," which 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 to use 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[edit]

The School of Information Sciences is also a member of the iSchool Organization. This organization was founded in 2005 by a collective of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field in the 21st Century.[16] The iSchool consortium is closely governed by iCaucus. SIS has not yet hosted an iConference.


Information Sciences Building

Originally the American Institutes for Research Building, the University purchased the 1965[17] Tasso Katselas designed Brutalist style structure [1] in 1968[18] 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.[19] A renovation to the building completed in 2013 added various upgrades including a computer lab, teleconference room, and a third floor Student Collaboration Center for study and work space.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "America's Best Graduate Schools 2009". U.S. News & World Report. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  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. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Joint Degree Programs at the School of Information Sciences". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  5. ^ Hart, Peter (2009-04-30). "U.S. News ranks graduate programs". University Times. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  6. ^ "Regulations Pertaining to the Doctor of Philosophy". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  7. ^ "PhD Program Details". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  8. ^ "Faculty By Name". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  9. ^ "Faculty Adjuncts". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  10. ^ "Faculty Appointments". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  11. ^ "Faculty By Program". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  12. ^ "Larsen Resume". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  13. ^ "Research". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  14. ^ "Publications". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  15. ^ "Active Grants". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  16. ^ "About the iSchools". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  17. ^ Toker, Franklin (1986). Pittsburgh: an urban portrait. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-271-00415-0. 
  18. ^ "Pitt Purchases AIR's Building". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1968-09-02. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ 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. 

Further reading[edit]

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. 

External links[edit]

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

Constructed: 1965
Succeeded by
Hillman Library