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 program of study for the MS-GIST includes one prerequisite (or one year of equivalent professional experience), six required core courses, a two substantive-area courses from a discipline associated with GIS, one free elective course, and the Capstone Project course. All core courses are three-hour courses (except for CP 6024 which is four hours); substantive-area courses and the elective may be three- or four-hour courses, and the Capstone Project course is a six-hour course.

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 coordinator)
One year of equivalent professional experience (as evaluated by the program coordinator)

Core Courses

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

CP 6024 Quantitative and Computer Methods (3-3-4)
CP 6521 Advanced GIS (3-0-3)
CP 6531 Introduction to Remote Sensing (3-0-3)
CP 6551 Spatial Analysis of Socioeconomic Data (3-0-3)
CP 6541 Environmental GIS (3-0-3)
CP 6542 Transport & GIS (3-0-3)
CP 6950 Capstone Project (6-0-6)

Substantive Area Courses

Because GIS is a trans disciplinary technology, GIST students will be required to take two courses from one of the many GIS-related disciplines. These could include, but are not limited to, courses drawn from civil and environmental engineering, industrial and systems engineering, computer science, earth and atmospheric sciences, public policy, management, city planning, and architecture. The substantive area courses must be approved by the program coordinator. Four substantive area examples are given below.


CP 6214 Environmental Planning (3-0-3)
CP 6223 Policy Tools for Environmental Management (3-0-3)

Land use

CP 6112 Introduction to Land Use (3-0-3)
CP 6105 Land Conservation (3-0-3)


CP 6311 Introduction to Transportation Planning (3-3-4)
CP 6321 Transportation Planning and Investment (3-3-4)

GIS Application Development

CS 6675 Advanced Internet Computing and Application Development (3-0-3)
COA 8676 Design and Engineering Databases (3-0-3)

Free Elective

This course can be selected by the student and will ordinarily either (1) give extra depth in the student’s selected substantive area or (2) provide the student with a foundational understanding of a second substantive area.