Bachelor Of Science

Interactive and Social Media



The BS in Interactive and Social Media degree is an interdisciplinary, hands-on program that integrates creative and technical disciplines such as graphic design, human-computer interaction, and information technology. Students in the ISM program to prepare to work in the expanding fields of user-experience design, interaction design and social computing by developing their skills as designers, coders, and user researchers. In project-based, collaborative courses, students learn a user-centered software development process to conceptualize, design, build, and conduct research on interactive systems such as web and mobile applications. Students also learn to incorporate social media and social computing into interactive applications. The ISM program provides a design concentration and a development concentration. Both concentrations build upon foundational coursework in interaction design and social computing.

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2 Concentrations

Design Concentration

Students in the design concentration focus on building the skills and methods needed to conceptualize design, and research user experiences and user interfaces for technology-based interactive systems such as web and mobile applications. Students learn to conduct user research (for example, user interviews and usability studies) and create wireframes and interactive prototypes that reflect design principles of interactivity, usability, visual design, and social interaction.

Development Concentration

Students in the development concentration focus on building skills as coders who are able to implement the mobile apps and interactive displays that they have designed. Course work emphasizes information technology and interactive scripting. At the advanced level, the development concentration includes advanced programming courses for implementing working solutions.

Choosing a Concentration

All ISM students build a foundation in designing and developing interactive web and mobile applications. The first two years of study include courses that have both design and development elements, which are taken by students in both concentrations. The difference between the concentrations is in the advanced coursework. A student may choose either concentration knowing that it is easy to switch to the other concentration within the first couple years of study.

Careers and Next Steps

Depending on their chosen ISM concentration, students will be able to begin career paths in roles such as User Interface (UI) Designer, User Experience (UX) Designer, User Researcher, Social Media Strategist, Software Engineer, Web Developer, and Mobile Application Developer. Graduates of the ISM program have started careers in a variety of industries such as software development, marketing, publishing, healthcare, and education. In their junior year, some students choose to apply to the Combined Degree program to earn a Master's in Human-Computer Interaction in addition to the ISM Bachelor's degree.

The ISM Minor

Increasingly, design and computation are fueling innovation and nearly every field. The ability to design and develop interactive systems can be especially valuable when combined with focused study in other areas. Students in other majors from across the university are encouraged to consider an ISM minor to acquire skills that can be applied in a variety of fields in which technology is used to innovate.

Research and Development

Faculty in the Interactive and Social Media program are active in designing, developing, and researching interactive systems in a variety of domains. Undergraduate ISM students have opportunities to work with faculty to gain experiences as designers, researchers, and developers. This work can be conducted through independent studies, the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP), or paid positions. Students should contact faculty to learn more about research projects and opportunities.

labs, Presentation Spaces, and Resources

Labs dedicated to software evaluation and user research in the downtown loop campus can be used by students in the ISM program. For example, the Software Observation and Usability Laboratory (SOUL) and the Playtest Laboratory and User Groups Space (PLUGS) are available to conduct usability studies and playtests. CDM labs provide students with access to professional software tools used for user research, creating visual designs and prototypes, and developing web and mobile applications. State of the art spaces for presentations, showcases, special events, and collaborative work are also available for students to build skills, share projects, and connect with others.

ISM Community and Professional Connections

A great resource to ISM students is the network of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, alumni, and professionals in the Chicago area and beyond. Activities and events related to ISM are organized by CDM student organizations, the Career Center, and local professional organizations.

Current students and CDM alumni are invited to connect around ideas, classes, jobs, articles, events, and resources through the ISM Facebook Group. The HCI-info listserv is another great resource to receive emails about relevant job postings and other HCI related info.