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study_data_visualization.jpg This is the first question from a reader for a reader. Which is, well, you.

I regularly do receive questions from various readers about the possibility to study data visualization or infographics, in particular on a Master level. For instance, Ryo recently inquired about where to study information visualization: "While this field is normally treated as a specialized elective in Computer Science, it would be interesting to know what programs try to emphasize this data visualization more extensively, or earlier on in the curriculum. Are there related degrees that emphasize data visualization, for instance in biomedical engineering, DNA research or GIS mapping?"

Marije emailed me last week with a similar request: "I just got my bachelor from Communication & Multimedia Design and I am now looking for a suitable Master. I want to specialize in interactive infographics and I was wondering if you got some recommendations for schools. It doesn't matter in which country it is situated. My question is maybe a little strange, it is just that I haven't found anything yet and I could imagine this blog came across some schools which you like."

Can you help them? Please leave a comment below.

Do you have a relevant question for the information aesthetics audience? Please use the contact page to leave your question and it might be selected.

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Image taken from Ben Fry's presentation at the Visualizar Workshop, documented at Flickr.

47 COMMENTS

You can enroll in a Human Computer Interaction (HCI) program in a computer science department. For instance, Dr. Jeffrey Heer (jheer.org, he did the prefuse and flare toolkits and a lot of other great work) is a new professor at Stanford's CS department. he's teaching a class this quarter on Data Visualization and it's awesome.

Tue 24 Feb 2009 at 8:43 PM

I studied Typography and Graphic communication at the University of Reading in England. It still is a great course, spread over four years and has some terrific teachers. Further degrees are available though I don't know the details of these courses these day.

Tue 24 Feb 2009 at 9:34 PM
Mark Griffin

For example at the University of Konstanz (Germany), you could study "Information Engineering". Prof. Dr. Daniel A. Keim (to just mention one of the profs there) is well-known in the infovis field...

Tue 24 Feb 2009 at 9:42 PM

A shameless plug: I'm developing a new Master of Digital Design program at the University of Canberra - commencing mid 2009. Data vis is one key approach, along with generative techniques and physical computing; it will be project-focused, with scope to specialise; and emphasise free/open source tools. Hoping to have some info online very soon, so stay tuned!

Tue 24 Feb 2009 at 9:58 PM

The Zurich School of the Arts features a MA program for Interaction Design. Information Visualization is also a part of it's curriculum.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 12:28 AM

it seems like there are a couple different ways to look at it:
- from a statistical perspective (about the data itself)
- from a human-computer interaction perspective (how the user interacts with the data)
- from a computer science perspective (how to implement complex interactions and visualizations)
- from a graphic design/art perspective (what does it actually look like)

i would guess it depends a lot on which part you are most interested in. of course, i think a lot of people get interested in visualization BECAUSE it spans all these viewpoints.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 12:50 AM
d^2

You can study interface design in Potsdam.
http://design.fh-potsdam.de/studiengaenge/interfacedesign/projekte.html
(unfortunately the website is only in german)

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 1:20 AM

I've heard/seen some really interesting things coming out of Berkeley's School of Information.

If you're looking for a professional track program that'll put you about $80k in debt after graduating, CMU offers several awesome graduate design courses.

And finally, if you want an open environment within which to study infovis, make stuff, and get some theoretical insight, the MS in Digital Media at Georgia Tech is a great option. I'm finishing up there this semester and highly recommend it.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 1:53 AM

The MA in Graphic Design in LCC, (University of the Arts, London) has a strong information design expertise, and is geared toward visual research methodologies as well as the visualisation of data. http://www.lcc.arts.ac.uk/ma_graphic_design.htm#

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 2:06 AM

Hi infosthetics,
thanks for posting my question, this is really helpful. I will check the comments and hopefully find some interesting schools.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 3:12 AM

I got a degree in Scientific Visualization from Mississippi State University. They offer it as a Master's Program in either Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, or Computer Science. The professors are really good, and it's a good mix of Visualization Theory (Colors, etc), Scientific Visualization (algorithms), & Visualization Technology (OpenGL, Augmented reality, etc)..

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 3:16 AM

I would also recommend the IAD program at the Zurich School of the Arts. Professor Jurgen Spaeth (Project Trangle) was my mentor for my Bachelor's thesis and he has some great expertise in the field of data / information visualization.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 3:45 AM

At Stamen we like to joke that the best prep is to start a rigorous course of study and later abandon it. =)

One of our clients used to frequently reference the idea of the "T-Shaped Individual", the person whose education gave them deep grounding in a particular area of expertise, and broad interests in a variety of others. Neither spread-too-thin, nor obsessively limited. When we hire, we look for two things: people need to know how computers do what they do, and they need to have taste. So I'd say any education that gives you light dusting of software development and a background that helps you know what looks good is a winner.

People in architecture programs seem to be quite good at these things.


Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 3:56 AM

The University of Michigan School of Information (http://www.si.umich.edu/) offers Master's and PhD curricula with a number of classes that are relevant including information visualization, data manipulation, exploratory data analysis, and interaction design. The School offers Master's concentrations in human-computer interaction and information analysis and retrieval that might be of interest. Michigan is a great place to go to grad school; I'm finishing my PhD there this year and have an MSI from the School of Information. Questions welcome.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 4:22 AM

In Holland there has recently been started a new study called 'Media, Information and Communication', previously called 'Crossmedia Concepting', at the Saxion University (HBO, four years) in Enschede. I enrolled in it and I'm currently working on my graduation on Infographics. International students are welcome, but for now they're required to learn Dutch.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 4:24 AM

At lot of visualization research has been done at the School of Computing Science at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC, Canada). Some of the PhD candidates have since become professors at other (mostly Canadian) universities where they keep doing research in this field. Check SFU's publications and follow up on the authors.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 4:33 AM
Oliver

The InnoVis Lab at the University of Calgary, under Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale, would be an excellent choice.

As Oliver pointed out, Canada has a well-connected and fairly deep talent pool in infoviz and user experience, scattered among various universities (Simon Fraser, UofC under Sheelagh Carpendale and Saul Greenberg, USask under Carl Gutwin, Dalhousie under Kori Inkpen, etc.).

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 4:45 AM

The Graphics, Visualization, and Usability Center at Georgia Tech. has programs on these. For example: http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/ii/.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 4:46 AM

I'd second Libby's recommendation for the School of Information at the University of Michigan (as a current Masters student in HCI). Classes in stats, networks, info viz, and interaction design provide a really solid base for exploring the field. A few digital artifacts from this semester's Info Viz class are at http://mickmcquaid.com/blog/ and http://delicious.com/tag/si649

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 5:21 AM
Jim

Mark Griffin is right about Reading. It runs a one year masters in information design which draws in students from around the world. It's based in the department of Typography and Graphic Communication - the UK's highest rated department in its field for research. www.reading.ac.uk/typography

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 6:11 AM

These seem like all good suggestions. Information visualization is such a dispersed grouping of disciplines, which is fantastic, but it can be a little daunting when you're interested in Master's study. Since nobody else has, allow me to mention Cartography and Geovisualization.

I received a MS in Cartography and GIS from the University of Wisconsin. Their Geography department is one of the strongest around, and the Cartography specialization goes back to the days of Arthur Robinson and the beginnings of academic cartography. Penn State also has a fantastic program focusing on geovisualization.

If you can, attend a school with strong Geography, Computer Science, and Art/Design programs. Even if a specific information design or visualization course of study is not offered, the combination of these departments will let you gain the skills you want if you are so motivated. Also, make sure there's an active lab in place (whether cartography or visualization) in which you can work. The chance to work on what you've learned in labs and seminars with real clients while still in school should not be passed up.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 7:40 AM

Colin Ware heads the Data Visualization Research Lab at University of New Hampshire.

http://ccom.unh.edu/vislab/CWBio.html

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 7:55 AM

I too am interested in where to study infographics at the Master Level. I bet Shneiderman's group at Maryland or the MIT Media Labs would have programs or suggestions. Perhaps Winograds HCI group at Stanford. If anyone
comes across a distance learning program, I would be interested.

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 3:29 PM
bill

Thank you so much for posting my question!
And, I also would like to thank those who commented for all the great suggestions!

Wed 25 Feb 2009 at 11:48 PM

this makes a great list of interdisciplinary resources, thanks andrew! but i'm surprised how heavily these replies seem to lean toward the computer science side of things. if you are interested in data modeling, etc, then those are great suggestions.

but if you are interested in visualization, i'd suggest a top visual design graduate program. i went to nc state, which has a wonderfully rounded program in design thinking. you might also check out carnegie mellon, and some of the newer programs popping up outside of the u.s.

if i recall correctly, ben fry didn't start as a programmer, he started as a print designer. learn to think visually and you learn how to interpret data in more revealing ways. and that's a very, very valuable skill.

Thu 26 Feb 2009 at 2:22 AM
jay harlow

Hi,

(disclaimer: I'm working there)

the School of Communication Sciences of the University of Lugano (Switzerland) has a master program in Technologies for Human Communication. One course is devoted to Information Visualization.

Website of the Master program: http://www.mtec.unisi.ch/

Website of the School: http://www.com.unisi.ch/en/index.htm

Feel free to contact me for further information.
Marco.

Thu 26 Feb 2009 at 3:53 AM

Check out the Design|Media Arts program at UCLA http://dma.ucla.edu/

Thu 26 Feb 2009 at 6:42 AM
Esther

Thanks to Andrew for such a great question.

Maybe you could be interested to have a look to some experiences we collected from Infovis researchers and professionals worldwide:
http://www.mentegrafica.it/blog/category/interviews/.

Thanks,

d.

Thu 26 Feb 2009 at 8:05 AM


Does anyone know any great courses or programs in Australia?

Thu 26 Feb 2009 at 11:21 AM
Blake

Hey, thanks for fielding this question. I think from the replies already, its worth providing a section or such that makes the information supplied available in a [more] organised manner. Thanks.

Fri 27 Feb 2009 at 4:36 AM
Irwin

Oh, I'm really interested in distance learning programmes if any exist as well.

Fri 27 Feb 2009 at 4:57 AM
Irwin

I have been thinking a lot about what programs will be well-suited for a graduate education in Information Visualization. I think such a school need to be open about being multidisciplinary. Usually, Computer Science and Statistics graduate programs are very rigid, which leaves us to university programs that confess that they do a bit of everything.

Programs like these might be a good fit:
Masters at MIT Media Lab,
Interactive Telecommunication Program at NYU,
Design Technology program at Parsons,
RISD's Digital Media program,
Design Interactions program at Royal College of Arts,
Design | Media Arts at UCLA,
Media Arts and Technology at UCSB

Go to a program where there is a professor who is even more passionate about information visualization than you are and try to work with that professor.


Fri 27 Feb 2009 at 3:21 PM

You can find some places were InfoVis is a part of the studies. I collected some Universities of Applied Science here...

• Interaktion Design (BA) / HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd (Germany)
• Interface Design (MA) / FH Potsdam (Germany)
• Interactive Systems / UDK Berlin (Germany)
• Interactive Media / FH Würzburg-Schweinfurt (Germany)
• Media Design (BA) / Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (Germany)
• Media and Interaction Design (MA ) / FH Joanneum Graz (Austria)
• Multimediatechnology (BA) / FH Salzburg (Österreich)
• Interface Cultures (BA) / Kunstuniversität Linz (Austria)
• Interaction Design (BA) / Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (Switzerland)
• Design Interactions (MA) / Royal College of Art London (GB)
• Interaction Design (MA) / Umea Institute of Design (Sweden)
• Interaction Design (MA) / Designskole Kopenhagen (Denmark)

Fri 27 Feb 2009 at 9:05 PM

There are two institutes at the University of Stuttgart related to information visualization: the VIS and VISUS (http://www.vis.uni-stuttgart.de/). They offer several lectures on the topic (mostly 3D-Visualization, but not only).

Fri 27 Feb 2009 at 10:23 PM
Maximilien Kintz

You can study information graphics for the media at the University of Navarra in Spain, where they are arguably one of the main reasons behind Spanish excellence in this field.

They also run an excellent conference that I have attended a few times.

http://www.snd-e.org/

It's quite soon - so get a ticket quick. (i have nothing to do with their organisation - this is an impartial comment)


Sun 01 Mar 2009 at 10:27 PM

Katy Borner at Indiana University teaches an InfoVis class: http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~katy/S637-S09/

Tue 03 Mar 2009 at 3:53 AM
Josh

I lecture in Business Information Systems at University College Cork, Ireland. We constantly try to update our course content, and I have been introducting topics such as Information Visualization, Information Design and Design Thinking over the last couple of years.

There is still an awful lot of work to do, but I think we are gradually succeeding in introducting critical information design topics into the information systems curriculum. I think it is no longer reasonable to teach information systems without addressing information design. Expect to see a lot more of it in the IS literature over the next few years.

Wed 04 Mar 2009 at 3:13 AM

@ Thomas Gläser:

Quote: • Interactive Media / FH Würzburg-Schweinfurt (Germany)

Update: They now have a Master there in Information Design.

Wed 04 Mar 2009 at 8:50 PM
Jens Erfurth

there is a visualization course at harvard, currently in it's second year, that is also offered through the university's extension school. the course is all about how to design effective data graphics, using off the shelf software as well as the processing language. the harvard extension school also offers masters degree programs in computing areas. you can find the course website here: cs171.net

Tue 10 Mar 2009 at 4:01 PM
miriah

Thank you for the update. Didn´t you think that i forgot some important European Universities?

Thu 12 Mar 2009 at 6:20 AM

I also suggest MassArt's Dynamic Media Institute.

Fri 13 Mar 2009 at 9:45 AM

I studied at Linköping University in Sweden at Media Technology and Engineering program, and I can recommend it to anyone interested in a more scientific approach to visualization. As visualization is one of the topics to specialize in, there is also a strong connection to adjacent sciences such as computer graphics, statistics, physics and artificial intelligence. So, it's a great program in my opinion for anyone interested in infovis but also other visualization domains such as medical infovis, GIS, augmented reality. At the same time, there are also entries if you are interested in the subjects connection to art and design.

Check it out:
http://www.liu.se/en/education/master/programmes/6MACG

Oh, did I mention that it is free to study in Sweden? It is!

Tue 24 Mar 2009 at 1:53 AM
Eric G.

The University Of Amsterdam's New Media department has a class on information visualization, and it is something you could research here as part of the masters program

http://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/

Wed 08 Apr 2009 at 12:12 AM

You can Check
Linoping University, Advanced Computer Graphics Program
www.itn.liu.se
it offers a master in Computer Graphics, (Information and GeoVisualization)

Tue 08 Sep 2009 at 11:48 PM
Mohammed Belo

I stumbled upon this thread searching for graduate schools in this field that are in the US. Is there any updated info, such as a list of schools that have programs in this field? I went through all the posts and checked out the programs yo all mentioned!Thank you!!!

Mon 23 Aug 2010 at 7:58 AM
Sarah

I also stumbled upon this post looking for graduate schools in this area. Thanks to everyone who posted, this is quite helpful!

Although I am currently an undergrad in EE at UCSB I have had some interaction with the Media Art and Technology (MAT) program here (it was their InfoVis course that really ignited my interest ). I'm kinda itching to move to a bigger city, but there are some very cool projects going on. Looks like infosthetics even put up an article on the AlloSphere a while back:

Fri 22 Oct 2010 at 7:24 AM

I'm personally looking for a post-graduate study in information visualization in UK, is there any good place to look into?

Fri 14 Jan 2011 at 6:34 PM
T-Ray
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