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Geographic concepts and geospatial technologies: GIS, Remote Sensing, and Cartography

This program uses technological tools to solve a variety of geographic problems in fields as varied as city government, business, scientific research, and public land management. The U.S. Department of Labor recently identified GIS as one of the top three careers poised for explosive growth in the future.  In the GIS program, students learn a variety of technical skills currently in demand in the job market, but it also focuses on the fundamental principles of geography and geographic information that will make students more able to solve difficult problems, and adapt to a constantly changing industry.

Geospatial careers are very diverse, so this emphasis provides a basic education (and options for advanced specialization) in five areas:

  • geographic information science, the study of the nature of geographic information
  • geographic information systems, the management and analysis of digital geographic information
  • remote sensing, the observation and analysis of geography from the air or space
  • cartography, the visual communication of geographic information via maps
  • application development, writing programs to automate geospatial tasks

This emphasis is ideal for students who enjoy: maps, computers, working in both the field and the office, solving difficult problems, and mixing their creative and technical talents.

Career Opportunities

  • Typical employers include: municipal government, state government, federal government, consultants, map publishers, non-profit organizations, large retail businesses, utilities, GIS/RS software vendors, GIS/RS data vendors
  • Job titles include: GIS Technician, GIS/Image Analyst, Cartographer, Application Developer, GIS Coordinator/Manager


Expected Learning Outcomes

Each outcome is aligned with units in the national-standard Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (BoK) produced by the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science.

Successful graduates of this program will be able to

  • understand the fundamental principles and theories of human and physical geography, and recognize their connections to geospatial data models and analytical procedures
    • BoK Units: CF2 Cognitive and social foundations, CF5 Relationships
  • explain the fundamental theories of geographic information science and correlate them to the data models and procedures underlying geospatial technologies
    • BoK Units: CF2 Cognitive and social foundations, CF3 Domains of geographic information, CF4 Elements of geographic information, CF5 Relationships, CF6 Imperfections in geographic information, GD1 Earth geometry, GD3 Georeferencing systems, GD4 Datums, GD5 Map projections
  • Acquire and process application-appropriate geospatial data from primary and secondary sources
    • BoK Units: GD7 Land surveying and GPS, GD8 Digitizing, GD10 Aerial imaging and photogrammetry, GD11 Satellite and shipboard remote sensing, GD12 Metadata, standards, & infrastructures, GS5 Dissemination of geospatial information, OI6 Coordinating organizations
  • select the appropriate data format (e.g., raster, vector, coordinate system) for a given application, design application-specific data models, and transform existing data into appropriate forms
    • BoK Units: DM3 Tessellation data models, DM4 Vector and object data models, DN1 Representation transformation
  • analyze geospatial data for tasks in scientific research and/or decision support, using common and custom analysis procedures (GIS, RS, statistical)
    • BoK Units: AM2 Query operations and languages, AM3 Geometric measures, AM4 Basic analytical operations, AM5 Basic analytical methods, AM6 Analysis of surfaces, GD11 Satellite and shipboard remote sensing
  • design quality thematic maps for visualization and communicate GIS application results
    • BoK Units: CV2 Data considerations, CV3 Principles of map design, CV4 Graphic representation techniques, CV5 Map production, CV6 Map use and evaluation, DN2 Generalization and aggregation
  • create programs and scripts to automate geospatial tasks, implementing geographic algorithms, using visual development tools
    • BoK Units: DM1 Basic storage and retrieval structures, DA6 Application design
  • work with interdisciplinary teams to develop solutions to complex tasks that integrate relevant geospatial concepts and technologies
    • BoK Units: DA1 The scope of GIS&T system design, DA4 Database design, DA5 Analysis design
  • continue to learn and be involved in the industry and profession, including learning new and additional software, using new government initatives, and participating in professional networking opportunities
    • BoK Units: GS4 Geospatial information as property, OI3 Organizational structures & procedures, OI4 GIS&T workforce themes, OI5 Institutional & inter-institutional aspects, OI6 Coordinating organizations
    • BoK Units: GS4 Geospatial information as property, OI3 Organizational structures & procedures, OI4 GIS&T workforce themes, OI5 Institutional & inter-institutional aspects, OI6 Coordinating organizations
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