The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will launch the state's only informatics graduate program next year, an emerging field of interdisciplinary study that draws heavily from computer science and data analysis.

The Louisiana Board of Regents on Monday approved UL-Lafayette's new master's degree in informatics.

The program is set to enroll its first students in the Spring 2018 semester.

University officials described the program as applied computer science, a field that focuses on designing and working with data tools to improve the efficiency of business and government.

UL-Lafayette began offering an undergraduate informatics major in 2011.

Since then, the Lafayette area has seen continued growth in its technology sector, much of it linked to local offices established here by three large tech firms: CGI, Enquero and Perficient.

“This program further solidifies Louisiana’s position as a national leader in computing and information technologies,” said Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Dean Azmy Ackleh. “It will also supply the Louisiana workforce with much-needed graduates who are trained in applied computing with an emphasis on solving real-world problems.”

The informatics master's degree program has a 33-hour curriculum with thesis and non-thesis options, and university officials estimated that a full-time student could finish the program in two years.

The curriculum includes courses in business, wed development, systems management and interactive media.

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