Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology

Geographic Information Science poster contest winner 2015

Short-term Study with Life-Long Impact

Geographic Information Science (GIS) is an emerging field of study centered on the acquisition, management, analysis, and dissemination of information that is spatially-referenced to locations on, above, and below the surface of the earth.  This field is highly trans-disciplinary with substantial and growing importance in a number of traditional academic disciplines and related professions including city and regional planning, architecture, civil and environmental engineering, earth and atmospheric sciences, environmental science, demography, logistics, management, public policy and sustainability studies.



Students can complete the 34 credit-hour curriculum for the Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology (MS-GIST) in one calendar year including two semesters of full-time coursework and a capstone project course offered during the summer. Part-time students may complete the program in two or three academic years plus one summer session for the capstone project course.

The MS-GIST degree provides students with a common core of required knowledge, a strong foundation of technology skills, and the flexibility to apply those skills to a broad range of professional and academic fields. Many of the GIST graduates will continue to view themselves as members of traditional professions such as engineering, environmental science, or architecture, but many others will place themselves within the newly-emerging professions directly related to geospatial technologies. For more information, please read the MS-GIST student manual. 



The core of the MS-GIST program will be delivered through a body of courses offered by the School of City and Regional Planning. These include courses on quantitative methods, advanced geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, transportation GIS, environmental GIS, and socioeconomic GIS. Additional coursework to supplement the core will be drawn from existing courses in city and regional planning, architecture, public policy, computing, and civil and environmental engineering.

The individual components of the program of study are (with lecture hours, lab hours, and credit hours given in parentheses):

Prerequisite Course

A basic understanding of GIS technology is required as a prerequisite of the degree program. This may be achieved through one of four options:

CP 4510 Geographic Information Systems (3-0-3) or
CP 6514 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (3-0-3) or
Equivalent coursework at another institution (as evaluated by the program director)
One year of equivalent professional experience (as evaluated by the program director)

Core Courses

The required GIS courses (with lecture hours, lab hours, and credit hours) are:

CP 6066 Visualization for Planners (1)
CP 6024 Quantitative and Computer Methods (4)
CP 6521 Advanced GIS (3)
CP 6531 Introduction to Remote Sensing (3)
CP 6581 Programming for GIS (3)
CP 6591 GIS Professionalization (1)
CP 6592 Capstone Project Research (1)
CP 6595 GIS Systems Design and Management (3)
CP 6596 GIS Capstone Project (3)

Specialized GIS Courses

Beyond the basic core of geospatial technology there exists a wide range of specialized GIS data sources and analytical methods.  MS-GIST students are required to take a minimum of two specialized GIS courses that focus on the application of GIS technology to specific areas.  These courses must be approved by the MS-GIST program director.  They may include (but are not limited to):

CP 6570 Socioeconomic GIS (3-0-3)
CP 6541 Environmental GIS (3-0-3)
CP 6542 Transport & GIS (3-0-3)

INFO 530 Geographic Information Systems for Public Health (in the Emory School of Public Health)

Free Electives

Students can select two additional courses as free electives.  These will typically include additional specialized GIS courses or courses in GIS-related substantive areas such as city planning, architecture, public policy, civil engineering, or environmental engineering.