Geographic Information Science (GIScience) is the integration of the theoretical representation of geographic space, absolute and relative positions and their relationships with physical and human attributes on the earth’s surface. Geographic information science is composed of various geographical scientific and technological areas of study, including geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, global positioning systems (GPS), cartography and visualization, and geospatial analysis and statistics. The Master of Science in Geographic Information Science (MSGIS) is designed for both employed professionals and full-time students who want to deepen their understanding and expertise in the application of geographic information to social and environmental problems. The MSGIS is a two-year, full-time post-baccalaureate degree that is comprised of 7 core courses (24 credit hours), 2 technical courses (6-7 credit hours), and 2 application-oriented courses (6-7 credit hours) for a total of 36 semester hours (minimum). This program requires students to submit a portfolio of projects completed during coursework which demonstrates mastery of identified skills for success in a GIS career. Students will defend the portfolio in an oral presentation conducted by the supervisory committee at the conclusion of the program.
WRGP enrollment approved for MSGIS Program
The MSGIS Program participates in the WRGP in-state tuition program. Students who are residents in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai'i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are eligible for in-state tuition when enrolling in the MSGIS program. Applicants must meet all admissions requirements and apply within deadlines. Identify yourserlf as a "WICHE WRGP" applicant to be considered for the discounted tuition rate. There are a limited number of WRGP reduced tuition seats each year, so apply early.
The minimum admission requirements used by the University of Utah Graduate School include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university and at least a 3.00 undergraduate weighted mean GPA. Admission to the MSGIS program is competitive and meeting these requirements does not guarantee admission. Undergraduate transcripts, three letters of recommendation, CV, and a statement of purpose will be reviewed when assessing each applicant’s qualifications for the program. The TOEFL or IELTS is required of students for whom English is a second language. Due to the rigorous analytic component of the MSGIS, applicants should have a strong quantitative background. Acceptable applicants will be required to have proficiency in undergraduate mathematics, statistics, computing, programming, mapping, introductory GIS, and GIS methods as prerequisites to the program. See the MSGIS FAQs for specific expectations for prior coursework. An additional fee of $100 is required each fall or spring semester in which any courses are taken. For detailed application information, click here.
A total of 36 credit hours are required to graduate. Required and elective courses are listed below. Program requirements may change depending on available course offerings.
Required Core Courses
- GEOG 6000: Adv Geographical Data Analysis (4 Hours)
- GEOG 6150: Spatial Database Design for GIS(4 Hours)
- GEOG 6160: Spatial Modeling with GIS(4 Hours)
- GEOG 6161: Capstone in GIS (3 Hours)
- GEOG 6162: Project Management (3 Hours)
- GEOG 6165: Web GIS (3 Hours)
- GEOG 6180: Geoprocessing with Python (3 Hours)
Sub-Total 24 Hours
(Choose two from list below)
- GEOG 5170: GeoData Field Methods (3 Hours)
- GEOG 6010: Geocomputation (4 Hours)
- GEOG 6020: Advanced Spatial Analysis (3 Hours)
- GEOG 6110: Remote Sensing Analysis (3 Hours)
- GEOG 6120: Environmental Optics (3 Hours)
- GEOG 6130: Advanced Remote Sensing (3 Hours)
- GEOG 6190 GIS: Environmental & Public Health (3 Hours)
Sub-Total 6-7 Hours
(Choose two from list below)
- GEOG 5210: Global Climate Change (3 Hours)
- GEOG 5270: Global Patterns of Life (4 Hours)
- GEOG 5320: Geography of Terrorism (3 Hours)
- GEOG 5340: Disasters & Emergency Management (3 Hours)
- GEOG 5440: Global Economic Geography 3
- GEOG 6530: Time Geography (3 Hours)
Sub-Total 6-7 Hours
Total Number of Credits 36-38
- The student demonstrates geographic information science knowledge and technical skills in the appropriate classes with 2.75 or higher GPA.
- The student demonstrates geographic information science specific computer programming skills as measured using course and project work.
- The student is effective with analytical and critical thinking as measured using assignments and projects in program course work.
- The student is effective with management and team work as measured using group projects in program course work.
- The student is effective with written and oral communication measured using assignments, written reports, and project presentations.
All MSGIS students are required to assemble a portfolio as courses are completed which includes examples of work demonstrating mastery of the selected skills. Students will present this portfolio project and answer questions from the Supervisory Committee during the final oral exam at the end of the program.
MSGIS Skills List
Perform core vector and raster GIS analyses including overlay, interpolation, map algebra, terrain modeling, network analysis, and multi-criteria analysis.
Spatial Data and Algorithms
Understand methods for acquiring, evaluating, creating, manipulating, editing, and converting data and metadata in preparation for spatial analysis. Be familiar with how operations are carried out and when they are applicable.
Understand the importance of workflow in GIS and how to develop a workflow to perform GIS operations and spatial analysis.
Be able to interpret existing geoprocessing models, create new models, add tools and data to a model, and string tools together to form an analysis workflow. Be able to choose appropriate models for modeling static and dynamic geographic processes. Be able to document a model so that others can understand its purpose and how it works.
Cartography and Graphic Design
Be able to design maps for different purposes, mediums, and audiences, and demonstrate cartographic design principles including color and symbology theory.
Design, implement, and report on the analysis of spatial data. Describe and test hypotheses regarding distributions of spatial datasets.
Data Models and Structures
Be able to explore the data models within a database, and understand its structure.
Given specific requirements for data, be able to design appropriate data models. Be familiar with database design tools.
Structured Query Language (SQL)
Be familiar with SQL and be able to write queries involving spatial objects and relationships.
Be familiar with how to develop a project plan, which includes defining and confirming the project goals and objectives, identifying tasks and how goals will be achieved, quantifying the necessary resources (e.g. staff, software, hardware), preparing reports, and determining budgets and timelines for completion.
Demonstrate your ability to work individually and collaboratively. Successfully deliver a solution within the required time frame.
Be able to effectively communicate technical aspects of your work to both technical and layperson audiences.
Basic Programming or Scripting
Be familiar with a programming or scripting language, and be able to build workflows or custom solutions for solving spatial analysis problems.
Portions of this skills list were adapted from “The essential skills to succeed in a GIS career” by Michalis Avraam,