13.3. But Do I Need a Degree?
You don't need a specialized degree to become an information architect, but it helps. As our field matures and becomes more competitive, the emphasis on formal educational credentials grows more pronounced.
At present, only a few schools offer a degree in information architecture, but a much wider collection of universities offers relevant degrees that include coursework in information architecture.
For instance, many information architects have chosen graduate programs in Library and Information Science (LIS) or HumanComputer Interaction (HCI), in which they can knit together a custom curriculum relevant to their future. Some LIS programs have stretched beyond the traditional library, exploring information organization in the online environment, and some HCI programs have escaped the boundaries of the software interface to explore rich content environments and information-seeking behavior.
In fact, you can build a solid foundation for an information architecture career in a variety of programs. It's important to consider the mix of core courses, the interests of faculty, and the availability of cognate classes. For example, as a student in an LIS program, can you take classes in the university's business and engineering programs?
As you wind your way through a program, you might consider using our three circles (users, content, and context) to help shape a major and a minor. For example, in an HCI program, you could major in users (understanding how users interact with interfaces) but minor in content (taking some LIS courses in information organization and retrieval). It's important to have a core area of expertise but also to be well rounded.