Informatics, Bachelor of Science

School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems

College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences

The Bachelor of Science degree in Informatics aims to prepare students to apply their informatics expertise to an emphasis area of interest. By providing a broad foundation in computing and data analysis, consisting of computer science, programming, software engineering, statistics, and mathematics expertise, with in-depth study in an emphasis area, this program prepares graduates for a broad range of interdisciplinary careers in industry, government, and academic organizations or further postgraduate study. This program focuses on the practical application of computing and data analysis expertise to a broad range of domains. Study in this program is initially grounded in rigorous coursework that gives students the opportunity to master foundational computing and data analysis skills as well as gain in-depth knowledge in a scientific area closely associated with their emphasis, i.e. biology for the bioinformatics emphasis, ecology for the ecoinformatics emphasis, and astronomy for the astroinformatics emphasis.

Continued study in the Informatics program is focused on undergraduate research and problem-based learning closely supervised by a faculty mentor with specialized expertise. Students in the bioinformatics emphasis will focus on applications and building expertise in cellular and molecular biology, including genetic and genomic analyses and the study of microbiology and disease mechanisms. Students in the ecoinformatics emphasis will have opportunities to study remote sensing, ecological and environmental modelling, large biological diversity and conservation datasets, and global environmental change. Students electing the astroinformatics emphasis will focus on applications in solar system mechanics, object motion, and observation and imaging analyses. During their junior and senior years in the program, students will embed in the research lab of a faculty mentor working in problems appropriate to each student’s emphasis and research interests. As a member of a collaborative research group, students will have the opportunity to strengthen their computing and data analysis skills, gain extensive hands-on experience in informatics applications and emphasis-appropriate tools and methods, and develop innovative methods to help answer critically-important scientific questions. Furthermore, this experience will result in tangible outcomes, such as software packages and tools, scientific papers, and conference presentations, all of which support students’ future careers goals in either industry, government, or academia and postgraduate study.

Our program is strengthened by our broad range of collaborations and partnerships with many other academic units and research centers, including: Center for Bioengineering Innovation, Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, ECOSS, Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, and School of Forestry. Our faculty also work with regional research collaborators such as Translational Genomics Research Institute, Northern Arizona Healthcare and Flagstaff Medical Center, North Country HealthCare, U.S. Geological Survey, and Northern Arizona Planetary Science Alliance.

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Astroinformatics - Emphasis
  • Bioinformatics - Emphasis
  • Ecoinformatics - Emphasis

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

  • At least 27 units of preprofessional requirements
  • At least 60 units of major courses

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 137
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Research Required
University Honors Program Optional
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan
Emphasis Required

An emphasis is required for this major.

Purpose Statement

The interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Informatics integrates cutting-edge tools and skills from data analytics, data science, computing, statistical analysis, and modeling with fundamental knowledge from emphasis areas in biology, health, ecology, environmental science, and/ or astronomy. Gain the skills you need to thrive in today’s information-centric professional workplace and follow your passion for the environment, biology, or astronomy (and related fields).

Informatics is data science (a combination of programming with statistics) plus a scientific discipline (environmental science, biology, or astronomy).

 A student graduating with a degree in informatics will be prepared for a range of data science jobs or scientific jobs that require great numeracy.  

All students will take classes in informatics, computer science and statistics.  All students will also participate in the four-class research intensive series teaching research methods.  Ecoinformatics students will also take core classes in environmental science.  Bioinformatics students will also take core classes in biology.  Astroinformatics students will also take core classes in astronomy.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Informatics program will be able to demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Identify, explain, and apply the fundamental methods of informatics, including programming, data structures, computer science, software design and development techniques and tools, mathematics, and statistical analysis.
  • Identify, explain, and apply the interdisciplinary combination of core informatics and specialized expertise defining one of the following emphasis areas:
    • Bioinformatics, emphasizing applications in cellular and molecular biology, microbiology and disease mechanisms, genetics and evolution, and genomic analyses.
    • Ecoinformatics, emphasizing applications in remote sensing, ecological and environmental modelling, use of large biological diversity and conservation datasets, and global environmental change. 
    • Astroinformatics, emphasizing applications in solar system science, stellar evolution, astrometry, observational astronomy, and imaging.
  • Identify, organize, and distill scientific literature within an informatics emphasis area to effectively contextualize research questions.
  • Apply appropriate methods and tools to the creative execution of an investigation that addresses informatics research questions.
  • Engage in effective teamwork as a member of co-located and distributed interdisciplinary research teams.
  • Compose and engage in effective written and oral communication in informatics, including scholarly dissemination and lay-communication.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • Admission is competitive and based on the following criteria:

    • Successful completion of all pre-major course requirements with a “C” or better, or current enrollment in any remaining course requirements during the semester of application.
    • A minimum GPA of 3.0 in all pre-major course requirements, although this minimum does not guarantee admission and higher GPA is expected.
    Admission decisions that consider in-progress coursework are contingent on successful completion of this coursework as well as continued satisfaction of all other requirements

Major Requirements
  • This major requires 87-98 units distributed as follows:

    • Preprofessional requirements: 27-31 units
    • Core Requirements: 30 units
    • Select one Emphasis: 
      • Astroinformatics Emphasis: 30 units
      • Bioinformatics Emphasis: 34 units
      • Ecoinformatics Emphasis: 37 units

    Preprofessional Requirements 27 - 31 units:

  • Emphasis Requirements (Select Only One)
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.