Section 13.4. The State of the Field


13.4. The State of the Field

We recently surveyed information architecture educators and practitioners to get a clear snapshot of this fast-changing environment.[*] As Table 13-1 shows, we found that roughly half of practitioners have formal education in a relevant field.

[*] For complete survey results, see http://iainstitute.org/pg/polar_bear_book_third_edition.php.

Table 13-1. Formal education
Do you have any *formal* (e.g., college, university) education in Information Architecture, HumanComputer Interaction, Usability, Library Science or a related field?  
Yes48.6%
No48.6%
Not Sure2.8%


Among those with a formal education, roughly 70 percent hold a Master's degree, and as Table 13-2 shows, library science clearly stands out.

Table 13-2. Major field of study
What was your major field of study? (if you responded "Yes" above) 
Library Science40.3%
HumanComputer Interaction12.3%
Information Management8.4%
Information Architecture4.5%
Human Factors3.9%
Information Science3.9%
Usability3.2%
Interaction Design2.6%
Technical Communication2.6%
Cognitive Psychology1.3%
Computer Engineering1.3%
Design1.3%
Information Systems1.3%
Multimedia Design1.3%
Software Development1.3%
Communications Design0.6%
Computer-Based Instructional Design0.6%
Computer Science0.6%
Ergonomics0.6%
Industrial Design0.6%
Interactive Multimedia0.6%
Learning Design and Technology0.6%
Library Science and Human Factors0.6%
User-Centered Design0.6%
Visual Communication0.6%


And, among those practitioners with hiring responsibilities, roughly 50 percent responded that when making a hiring decision, they consider formal education in a related field to be either valuable or extremely valuable.

Fortunately, the volume and diversity of programs that offer information architecture coursework is increasing to meet demand. Schools that offer information architecture degrees include:

  • University of Baltimore, Master of Science in Interaction Design and Information Architecture

  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Master of Science in Information Architecture

  • Kent State University, Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management

And, schools that offer substantive information architecture coursework include:

  • University of CaliforniaBerkeley, School of Information

  • Carnegie Mellon, School of Design

  • University of Michigan, School of Information

  • University of Texas, School of Information

  • University of Washington, Information School

In summary, the field of information architecture is in transition. After more than a decade, the field is no longer in its infancy, but there's still plenty of room to grow. Whatever your goals and educational credentials, there are two things you can count on as you look ahead. First, change will be rapid and relentless. Second, time and attention will be limited. So you can never learn everything, but your education is an ongoing process. Choose carefully and learn to love learning.




Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
ISBN: 0596527349
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 194

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