Information Analysis and Retrieval (IAR) specialization

Students with a background in computer science, mathematics, linguistics, and business technology--among others--will find their intellectual home in IAR, as they learn the skills and concepts needed to understand how information is stored in computer systems, how it is searched and analyzed, and how humans access it.

The IAR specialization develops skills in natural language processing, database design, information retrieval, network analysis, and more. Faculty expertise extends to text, Web, and network analytics to provide students with unique perspectives for solving some of the most pressing problems organizations face.

What can I do with a career interest in information analysis and retrieval?

Learn more about Sylvie Zhang (MSI '15, IAR specialization)

MSI graduates with an IAR specialization will have the knowledge and skills to assume substantial positions in such areas as business and market intelligence, search engineering and search engine optimization, web analytics, data mining of structured records, and information retrieval.

Career Industry Areas: Consulting, nonprofit, government agency, healthcare, computer hardware/software, social networking, gaming, e-commerce, Internet search and navigation services, research and development, consumer goods

Career Titles: Web analyst, search engineer, competitive intelligence analyst, market research analyst, SEM specialist, SEO analyst, natural language engineer, information analyst, database developer

Employment Outlook: Employment growth in IAR-related occupations is projected to be faster than average. As companies continue to expand their online marketing and business goals, the need for IAR professionals will continue to increase. Advances in technology are making massive data sets common in many organizations and industries such as healthcare, government and internet search which means more jobs for IAR graduates.   Currently, there are many more jobs than there are skilled IAR professionals to fill them, providing excellent career opportunities and growth potential.

IAR internships

Students gain valuable experience in southeast Michigan and around the globe. Recent internship sites include:

  • Regulatory Affairs Associates
  • UM Computational Linguistics & Information Retrieval
  • Sandia National Labs
  • Ford Motor Company
  • The LINGUIST List
  • UM English Language Institute
  • Quantifind
  • UM Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research
  • Tencent Department of Search Platform 

MSI-IAR employment outcomes

Organizations that have hired MSI-IAR graduates include:

  • Alexandria Investment Research & Technology
  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Japan External Trade Organization
  • Mobiata
  • Microsoft Research
  • Cengage Learning
  • Pure Visibility
  • Cataphora

IAR specialization requirements (current for 2016-2017)

In addition to the specialization requirements below, IAR students must meet all of the degree requirements of the 48-credit MSI program, including foundations, distributions, practical engagement, cognate, and electives.

IAR students must complete 12 credits from the following list, plus meet the programming and statistics requirement:

  • SI 531: Human Interaction in Information Retrieval (3)
  • SI 561: Natural Language Processing (3)
  • SI 608: Networks (3)
  • SI 614: Climate Change Informatics (3)
  • SI 618: Exploratory Data Analysis (3)
  • SI 649: Information Visualization (3)
  • SI 650: Information Retrieval (3)
  • SI 664: Database Application Design (3)
  • SI 665: Online Searching and Databases (3)
  • SI 671: Data Mining: Methods and Applications (3)

IAR students must also fulfill programming and statistics requirements:

3 credits of programming. Complete 3 credits from the list below or request a waiver. SI offers:

  • SI 506: Programming I (3)

Learn more about the programming requirement.

3 credits of statistics. Complete the course below or 3 credits from an approved list, or request a waiver. SI offers:

  • SI 544: Introduction to Statistics and Data Analysis (3)

Learn more about the statistics requirement.

Related courses

These courses may be of interest to IAR students, but do not fulfill the 12-credit requirement: SI 581 Preservation Administration, SI 622 Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation, and SI 582 Introduction to Interaction Design.

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For questions or more information about the IAR specialization, current students should contact Academic Advisor Sarah Argiero.  Prospective students should contact our admissions office at