Geospatial science is a field of possibilities – but it helps to know the territory! Our Geospatial Science guide has a summary of industry applications, tools & technologies, and degree programs. It also includes a big long list of geospatial information resources (job sites, organizations, conferences, etc.).
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What is Geospatial Science?
Definition of Geospatial Science
Geospatial science is a field that uses spatial data (i.e. data with a geographic or locational component) and advanced computational techniques to study human activity, natural environments, ecosystems, space, and the Earth’s climate.
It’s an interdisciplinary subject that incorporates aspects of geography, surveying, geodesy, hydrography, cartography, statistics, engineering, and computer science.
Geospatial experts have a number of cool tools & technologies at their disposal – including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – but their goals are similar to any data scientist:
- Harvest relevant data sets.
- Analyze data for insights.
- Display insights effectively (e.g. maps, graphs, statistics, and cartograms).
- Answer questions and resolve problems.
Geospatial Industries & Applications
- Federal & Local Government: Policy makers often use geospatial research to decide where to funnel money and assets. This includes decisions on transportation routes, zoning & urban development, homeland security, sanitation, water supply, flood protection, and much more.
- Surveying & Planning: Geospatial scientists are involved in measuring and studying changes in land over time. Their findings on population patterns, past land usage, weather, climate, and resource allocation have a significant impact on zoning laws and permits.
- Defense & Intelligence: Surveillance footage from drones, vehicle positioning, radar intelligence – these are just a few of the geospatial sources that can be drawn upon to monitor nuclear facilities, predict strikes by insurgents, and conduct military missions. Need a 3D rendering of a terrorist compound? Talk to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).
Industry & Business
- Business: Wondering where to build your next store or restaurant? Trying to advertise your holiday sale to local customers? Looking for relevant products that would appeal to loyalty card owners in different ZIP codes? Geospatial analysis can help with all these decisions.
- Utilities & Communications: Geospatial strategies may help these industries respond more quickly to power outages, decide where to build a cellphone tower, predict equipment failures, and improve maintenance.
- Transportation & Logistics: Time is money in the transportation business, and GPS tracking can play an enormous role in maximizing efficiencies. For example, to determine the optimal delivery route, analysts might create models based on traffic delays, weather, driver behavior, and more.
- Finance & Insurance: Geospatial science is particularly relevant to risk analysis and claims management. If a house is located in a disaster-prone area where the probability of a large disaster claim is high, insurance companies may decide to adjust the premium. Location-based information is also a key tool in detecting fraud.
- Precision Agriculture: Arable land can have enormous variations in soil types, moisture, and nutrients, and it’s important to know where these variations occur to get the most bang for your buck. Accurate geographical data helps farmers determine where to plant crops, apply fertilizers and herbicides, and direct water resources.
- Mining: Any industry that deals with digging in the ground – oil, gas, coal, precious metals – has an intimate relationship with geospatial science and GIS technology. We’re talking about everything from exploration and geological analyses to long-term sustainability reports and compliance with environmental regulations.
Humans & Environment
- Crisis & Disaster Management: Geospatial tools and technologies have a critical role before, during, and after a disaster. With them, governments can track weather events, issue warnings, create evacuation routes, direct the efforts of inspectors and rescuers, locate refugee populations, and prevent major loss of life.
- Public Health: Physical environment factors – pollution, access to care and healthy food, tainted water supplies, neighborhood violence, housing quality – play a role in a person’s life.
- Ecology & Environmental Protection: Environmental groups also rely on geospatial experts to help them make important decisions. How can we preserve our water resources? Are the wetlands healthy? Should we use this site for waste disposal? These are kinds of questions geospatial experts answer.
- Human Rights: Human rights violations may occur in remote or dangerous locations. But geospatial tools allow human rights groups to report on conflicts and natural disasters, gather proof of crimes & massacres, track movements, and more.
- Climate Change: Climate scientists rely upon geospatial data sources to understand the effects of humans upon the Earth. This includes areas like temperature changes, loss of biodiversity, population growth and density, and landscape use. Many are involved in creating long-term predictive models for weather, natural disasters, and human movements.
Geospatial Tools & Technologies
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a suite of specialized software & hardware tools used to store, manage, manipulate, analyze, and visualize geospatial data. One well-known example is ArcGIS® by Esri.
GIS has the ability to gather a large range of geospatial data from various sources into multilayered maps, with each layer featuring different types of information. This dynamic, user-friendly display gives geospatial scientists the ability to analyze complex problems and themes.
Related Geospatial Tools & Technologies
- Remote Sensing: Remote sensing data can be captured from satellites, scanners, radar systems, sonar systems – pretty much any sophisticated sensor technology that doesn’t make contact with the object. These data can be converted into a digital form, processed, and analyzed using remote sensing applications and then integrated within a GIS.
- Photogrammetry: Photogrammetry is the science of recording, measuring, and analyzing photographic images to obtain reliable information about physical objects and the environment. It has multiple applications in areas like engineering, architecture, archeology, accident investigations, and manufacturing.
- Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS): GNSS is the standard term for global satellite navigation systems that supply humans with geospatial positioning. Examples include GPS, Global Navigation Satellite System, Galileo, and Beidou.
- Light Detection and Reading (LIDAR)/LiDAR: LIDAR is a popular remote sensing method that uses pulsed laser light to measure the distance to a target. LIDAR can establish the characteristics of objects on the ground or the concentration of chemicals in the atmosphere (e.g. pollution), and is often employed to make high-resolution maps. It’s extensively used in autonomous vehicles, and has plenty of relevance to fields such as astronomy, archeology, agriculture, smart cities, etc.
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): Once confined to the military, UAVs are now being used for aerial imagery, surveying, agriculture, industrial applications – the list goes on.
- Internet/Web Mapping Technologies: The creation of the Internet has led to an explosion in open source cartography and free mapping software that allows users to design their own projects.
- Internet of Things (IoT) & Mobile Sensors: Many objects – including vehicles, buildings, consumer goods, factory machinery, and especially mobile phones – now generate huge quantities of location-based data. Geospatial scientists are finding all kinds of ways to combine this data with non-geographic information to make money, predict changes, and avoid disasters.
- Location-Based Social Media (LBSM) Monitoring Tools: LBSM tools take advantage of user-submitted location data and geolocation techniques to analyze social communities, connect with local audiences, and engage with influencers.
And we haven’t even touched on the possibilities of the Cloud, crowd-sourced data collection, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D models, high-performance computing, and the like! Thanks to advances in technology, geospatial scientists are now required to incorporate a huge range of big data sources (both geo-focused and non-geospatial) into their approach.
Studying Geospatial Science
Online Geospatial Science Programs
Only you can decide whether you’re willing to tackle a specialist technology degree at a distance, but here are a few ways to assess quality:
- Strong University Reputation: Some schools have a particularly strong brand reputation that will give you brand recognition on graduation. You can also check U.S. News & World Report to see whether the on-campus graduate programs in Earth Sciences, Computer Science, and Statistics have solid rankings.
- Great Research & Teaching Faculty: Try looking for online programs that are taught by on-campus professors, especially instructors who are doing cool geospatial research or working part-time for high-profile companies.
- Rigorous Curriculum: Consider a curriculum that is on the cutting-edge of CyberGIS and technology. You likely want electives that will help you land your dream job.
- Access to Tools & Technologies: Will you be able to work with the most common software programs (e.g. ArcGIS®)? Can you go beyond that to create your own applications?
- Career Help: Speaking of jobs, some online programs may set you up with internships or job placement services. If you’re enrolled in a school in a high-tech area (e.g. California, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., etc.), your professors may also be able to provide you with local career contacts
Geospatial Science Resources
- American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS): The Imaging and Geospatial Information Society: ASPRS is a well-known organization devoted to advancing the knowledge of mapping sciences, including applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and supporting technologies. It runs the ASPRS Certification Program, which includes various Geospatial Certifications.
- The Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) Technical Certification Program: Designed to test a GISP’s expertise in Esri’s desktop (beginner ArcGIS® skills), developer (ArcGIS® application development), or enterprise software (enterprise geodatabase management, enterprise system design, and enterprise administration), this certification qualifies individuals for best practices while using Esri software.
- GIS Certification Institute (GISCI): GISCI is a non-profit organization that offers a complete certification program leading to a GISP® (Certified GIS Professional) recognition. GISP is based on work and volunteering experience, and is one of the most recognized certifications in the business.
- U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF): USGIF was designed to promote advances & tradecraft in geospatial intelligence and it’s responsible for the Universal GEOINT Certification Program.
Geospatial Organizations & Associations
- American Association of Geographers (AAG) Geographic Information Science and Systems (GISS): AAG’s specialty group promotes the exchange of ideas and information relating to GIS.
- Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS): An organization devoted to new developments and theories in cartography and GIS. See also: International Cartographic Association (ICA).
- Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO): COGO is a coalition of 13 national professional societies, trade associations, and membership organizations in the geospatial field.
- Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA): GITA is a nonprofit professional association composed of geospatial technology experts. It’s especially interested in issues surrounding worldwide infrastructure, which includes organizations such as utilities, telecommunication companies, and the public sector.
- Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI): GSDI is composed of government agencies, commercial geomatics firms, national and regional GI associations, and individuals. It advocates for local, national, and international spatial data infrastructure (SDI) research and 21st century issues (e.g. sustainable development).
- IEEE Geoscience Remote Sensing Society (GRSS): GRSS deals with remote sensing in all its forms (theories, concepts, and techniques) and spheres of influence (Earth, oceans, atmosphere, and space).
- International Society for Digital Earth (ISDE): ISDE is a collaborative effort to monitor and forecast natural & human phenomena. Its global initiative, Digital Earth, is an attempt to construct a comprehensive virtual representation of the planet.
- International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS): ISPRS is a non-governmental, international organization committed to the advancement of photogrammetry and remote sensing and their applications.
- MAPPS: MAPPS an association of U.S. private sector firms involved in the fields of GIS, remote sensing, and surveying spatial data.
- North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS): NACIS is composed of specialists from private, academic, and government organizations who wish to advance the field of cartography.
- Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC): OGC is an international non-profit involved in creating quality open standards for the global geospatial community.
- Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo): OSGeo supports and promotes the collaborative development of open source geospatial software.
- Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc): RSPSoc is probably the most well-known society in the U.K. for remote sensing and photogrammetry and their various applications.
- Urban Regional Information Systems Association (URISA): URISA is a non-profit that’s specifically interested in using IT & geospatial science to solve problems in planning, public works, the environment, emergency services, utilities, and government.
Geospatial Government Agencies & Programs
- National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) GIS Program: NCAR’s GIS program is designed to support the use of GIS in atmospheric research, and address broader issues of spatial data management, interoperability, and geoinformatics within geosciences. Many of its projects deal with climate change & weather.
- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA): NGA is a large agency that supplies geospatial intelligence to the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. Headquartered at Ft. Belvoir in Virginia, it has two additional facilities in St. Louis, Missouri.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA): NOAA was created to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coast. It has a strong emphasis on conservation and management of coastal and marine ecosystems.
- U.S. Census Bureau: Geography: The U.S. Census is known as a leading provider of statistical and geospatial data, including information on population, economic activities, and geographic areas. The Geography section provides various maps & data.
- U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): USGS is devoted to the science of natural hazards, natural resources, the health of ecosystems and environment, and the impacts of climate and land-use change.
Helpful Geospatial Groups
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Stack Exchange: Hosted by Stack Exchange, GIS is a question and answer website for cartographers, geographers, and GIS professionals.
- GeoNet: GeoNET is the web’s Esri Community, and it includes contributions from Esri customers, partners, staff, and others in the GIS and geospatial professions. It has a number of active communities & message boards.
- GIS Lounge: Run by Caitlin Dempsey Morais, an editor at Geo Lounge, GIS Lounge is an information portal & help site about the field of geographic information systems. It has a useful list of GIS User Groups and GIS Conferences.
- GIS Meetups: Meetup.com has an aggregated list of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) meetups worldwide.
Geospatial Job Sites
Geospatial Conferences & Events
Popular Geospatial Conferences
- Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT): COSIT is an international conference series concerned with theoretical aspects of space and spatial information.
- Esri User Conference: Esri builds ArcGIS®, the popular mapping and spatial analytics software, and Esri UC may be the world’s largest event dedicated to geographic information system (GIS) technology.
- Geospatial World Forum: Organized by Geospatial Media and Communications, this international conference deals with geospatial technologies across multiple sectors and industries.
- International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience): Billed as the flagship conference in the field of GIScience, this biennial event attracts attendees from around the world.
- International Conference on GeoComputation: This research-based conference aims to bring together leading academic scientists and scholars in the field of Geocomputation.
- International Symposium on Spatial Data Handling (SDH): Organized by the International Geographical Union, SDH is a long-running forum in geographical information science. It’s full of geographers, cartographers, computer scientists, and other experts in the field.
- URISA GIS-Pro 2017: Organized by URISA, GIS-Pro offers education, networking, and professional development for anyone in the GIS field. Speakers include experts from NASA, ESRI, and others.
- American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting: AAG is one of the largest geographic conferences in the world, and its sessions are stuffed with geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other leaders in the field GIScience.
- American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting: The largest Earth and space science meeting in the world often has talks devoted to spatial analysis, statistics, remote sensing, cartographic methods, etc.
- International Cartographic Conference (ICC): Sponsored by the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS).
- International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Working Week: Aimed at the international community of surveying and spatial professionals, this week-long conference is a mix of talks, technical sessions and workshops, a trade exhibition, side events, and social functions.
International Geospatial Conferences
- Applied Geoinformatics (AGIT) Conference: AGIT is a German language conference devoted to Applied Geoinformatics, and includes info on the latest academic or commercial research programs, innovations in operating practices, and new applications & markets. It runs concurrently with GI_Forum in Austria.
- Association of Geographic Information Laboratories in Europe (AGILE) Annual Conference: This meeting is used to initiate and stimulate AGILE Initiatives on subjects of special interest within the GI community.
- GeoSmart Asia: This event is aimed at GIS, surveying, remote sensing, and UAV professionals in Asia Pacific. It often showcases the capabilities of geospatial technologies for national development and industries.
- GI_Forum: Organized by the University of Salzburg, GI_Forum highlights the latest trends and developments in geospatial concepts and methods. It runs concurrently with AGIT.
- International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Conference: ISPRS’s flagship conference is held every 4 years and welcomes participants from all over the world.
Specialized Geospatial Conferences
- Defense & Geospatial Intelligence Conference (DGI): DGI is the only large-scale meeting in Europe for military, civilian, and industry geospatial intelligence leaders.
- EnerGIS: Organized by the GITA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, EnerGIS brings together energy GIS professionals and spatial data managers to discuss the latest innovations and technological advancements.
- FOSS4G: Run by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo), FOSS4G claims to be the largest global gathering focused on open source geospatial software. It attracts developers, users, decision-makers, and observers from a broad swath of industries.
- GEOINT Symposium: Hosted by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), GEOINT is a national gathering of industry, academic, and government experts in the field of defense, intelligence, and homeland security.
- GIS for Transportation Symposium: Sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), this symposium unites government and industry professionals who are interested in the use of GIS for transportation purposes.
- GIS in Transit Conference: This event is organized by URISA, the National Center for Transit Research, and the Transportation Research Board. All GIS professionals interested in the use of geographic and spatial analysis in transit planning are welcome to attend.
- American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Conferences: FThe ASPRS annual conferences provide access and insights about newer technologies and the future of geospatial studies..
- INTERGEO: INTERGEO is a global trade fair on geodesy, geoinformation and land management that appeals to experts in multiple industries.
- MAPPS Federal Program Conference: MAPPS is a place to network with U.S. geospatial firms engaged in surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LiDAR, hydrography, satellite and airborne remote sensing, bathymetry, charting, mobile mapping, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services.
- Pecora: Run by ASPRS, Pecora was established by the USGS and NASA in the 1970s as a forum to foster the exchange of geospatial scientific information and results and discuss ideas, policies, and strategies concerning land remote sensing.
Geospatial Magazines & Blogs
- GIS Geography: A team of GIS evangelists who are passionate about all aspects of GIS. The website includes geo-infographics, comprehensive guides, and exhaustive lists of data and all things GIS.
- Directions Magazine: Directions Magazine is one of the oldest geospatial publications out there. It has news articles, interviews, reviews, advice, webinars, and more.
- Geo Awesomeness: Geoawesomeness is a blog about geospatial technologies – from GIS and maps, to location-based apps, geomarketing, drones, and remote sensing.
- Geospatial Solutions: This magazine covers all kinds of GIS and geospatial news, including topics like Big Data, desktop and mobile GIS, Earth imaging, use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), policy news, and the state of the geospatial industry..
- Geospatial World: Geospatial World is a popular publication that provides insight into – and analysis of – technology trends, applications and business dynamics of GIS, remote sensing, GNSS, Surveying & Mapping, BIM, LIDAR and other upcoming technologies.
- GPS World: Despite the name, GPS World covers all kinds of GNSS services (e.g. Galileo), as well as related technologies (e.g. inertial sensors, LORAN-C, lasers, LIDAR, electronic compasses, cellular signal positioning, video signal positioning, odometers, wheel speed sensors, ultra wideband, RFID, Bluetooth, DSRC, etc.).
- Trajectory Magazine: Trajectory is the official publication of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) and covers current issues & technology developments in defense, intelligence, and homeland security communities.
Geographic Information Science Journals
- Annals of GIS: This is an international peer-reviewed journal with an interest in theory, methods, development, and applications in the field of Geographical Information Science.
- Computers & Geosciences: Computers & Geosciences aims to publish original research papers that use modern computer science paradigms, (computational or informatics-based) to address problems in the geosciences.
- Geocarto International: Geocarto is a professional academic journal serving the world-wide scientific and user community in the fields of remote sensing, GIS, geoscience, and environmental sciences.
- GeoJournal: GeoJournal is an international journal devoted to all branches of social sciences and humanities that have an explicit geographical/spatial component. Submissions on emerging new fields such as GeoEthics, Neogeography, Digital Humanities, and other emerging topics are also welcome.
- GeoInformatica: GeoInformatica publishes research on the application of computer science to geographic information systems. Topics cover spatial modeling and databases, human-computer interfaces for GIS, digital cartography, space imagery, spatio-temporal reasoning, and more.
- Geo-spatial Information Science: This journal is focused on the research, application, and development of surveying and mapping technology, including photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographical information systems, cartography, engineering surveying, GPS, geodesy, geomatics, geophysics, and other related fields.
- International Journal of Digital Earth (IJDE): IJDE focuses on the theories, technologies, applications, and societal implications of Digital Earth, and the concepts that will enable a modeled virtual world.
- International Journal of Geographical Information Science (GIS): GIS publishes research into fundamental and computational issues of geographic information, as well as issues related to the design, implementation, and use of geographical inform target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”ation for monitoring, prediction, and decision-making.
- ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information (IJGI): IJGI is an international, open-access journal devoted to the science and technology of geographic information.
- Journal of Geographical Sciences: Co-sponsored by the Geographical Society of China and the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, this natural science journal aims to strengthen academic exchange on advanced geography research between China and other countries.
- Journal of Geographical Systems: JGS aims to provide an outlet for innovative research in regional science, urban and regional economics, spatial economics, geography, GIScience, and environmental sciences.
- Journal of Spatial Science (JSS): JSS publishes peer-reviewed Research and Review Papers on the theory and practice of the spatial sciences and Professional Papers on areas related to cartography, geodesy, geographic information science, hydrography, photogrammetry, remote sensing, and surveying.
- Transactions in GIS: This is a popular and international, peer-reviewed journal that publishes original research on the latest advances and best practices in the spatial sciences. You’ll often see it mentioned in message boards.
Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Journals
- GIScience & Remote Sensing: This journal publishes peer-reviewed articles on GIS, remote sensing of the environment (including digital image processing), geocomputation, spatial data mining, and geographic environmental modelling. Papers reflecting both basic and applied research are accepted.
- IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing (J-STARS): J-STARS is intended to address current issues and techniques in applied remote and in situ sensing, integration, and applied modeling and information creation for understanding the Earth.
- IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing (TGRS): TRGS is a monthly publication that focuses on remote sensing theory, concepts, and techniques as applied to the land, oceans, atmosphere, and space. It also has a monthly publication called Letters for short papers that address new ideas and formative concepts in remote sensing.
- International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation: This journal publishes original papers that apply earth observation data to “inventarisation and management of natural resources and the environment”.
- International Journal of Remote Sensing (IJRS): As the official journal of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society, IJRS is concerned with the theory, science, and technology of remote sensing and novel applications. This includes remote sensing of the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, and the terrestrial earth, as well as human modifications to the earth system.
- ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing: ISPRS’s journal publishes the work of many professionals & academics in disciplines that employ photogrammetry, remote sensing, spatial information systems, computer vision, and related fields.
- Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing (PE&RS): PE&RS is a journal for imaging and geospatial information science and technology. It’s very well respected in the industry.
- Remote Sensing: Published monthly by MDPI, this is an online, open access journal about the science and application of remote sensing technology .
- Remote Sensing of Environment: This journal features results on the theory, science, applications, and technology of remote sensing as related to the Earth’s resources and environment.
- The Photogrammetric Record (TPR): TPR is an international journal containing original, refereed articles that reflect modern advancements in photogrammetry, 3D imaging, computer vision, and other related non-contact fields. It’s published on behalf of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society.
- Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization: Cartographica is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal that publishes work on the social, political, technological, and historical aspects of cartography, geovisualization, and GIScience
- The Cartographic Journal: This journal covers all aspects of cartography, including advances in GIScience.
- Computers, Environment and Urban Systems: This interdisciplinary journal publishes computer-based research on urban systems, systems of cities, and built and natural environments. Research should privilege the geospatial perspective.
- International Journal of Health Geographics (IJHG): IJHG articles tackle all aspects of GIS and science applications in health and healthcare, including diverse areas like real-time GIS-enabled surveillance services, remote sensing applications, spatial epidemiology, spatio-temporal statistics, and cyberspace mapping.
- Journal of Land Use Science (JLUS): JLUS features research on theoretical and empirical aspects of land-use science at the interface of social and environmental systems.
- Landscape and Urban Planning (LUP): LUP is an international journal devoted to advancing conceptual, scientific, and applied understandings of landscape in order to create sustainable solutions for landscape change.
- Marine Geodesy: With its focus on research in the marine and coastal environment, this journal aims to stimulate progress in ocean surveys, mapping, and remote sensing.
- Spatial Cognition & Computation (SSC): SSI is a multidisciplinary journal that brings together research in fields like cognitive psychology, cognitive science, mathematics and computer science, geography and cartography, animal behavior, neuropsychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, and planning and architecture.
- Survey Review (SR): SR deals with the theory and practice of positioning and measurement, engineering surveying, cadastre and land management, and spatial information management.
We found 38 universities in our directory offering Geospatial Science programs.
If you represent a university and would like to contact us about editing any of our listings, or adding new programs, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: May 2020
University of North Alabama
The University of North Alabama offers a Master of Science in Geospatial Science through its Department of Geography. This is a 33-credit program that includes six credits in core courses, 21 credits in electives, and six credits in a thesis or research paper. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a related field of study with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants are required to submit GRE scores, transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Applicants with a lower GPA may be provisionally admitted. Students can enter the program in the spring or fall semester. The program may accept up to six transfer credits. Research and teaching assistantships are available.
Northern Arizona University
The Master of Science in Applied Geospatial Sciences program at Northern Arizona University offers four emphasis areas: custom geography, planning, and recreation; geospatial technologies; planning and recreation; and geospatial technology professional science master's. This is a 36-credit program that requires seven credits in core classes, 29 credits in the area of emphasis, and a thesis or professional practicum that includes a project-based internship. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, but it does not have to be in geography. Applicants must submit a statement of intent, transcripts, three recommendation, and GRE scores. Applicants are required to contact faculty members and find one who will agree to serve as their adviser before they can be accepted.
California State University-Long Beach
The College of Continuing and Professional Education at California State University Long Beach has a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science that combines advanced technical training with courses in business and management skills. This is a one-year program with courses offered in the evenings along with some Saturday sessions; the business skills courses are delivered online. Students advance through the program with a cohort of peers. Applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and a bachelor's degree in geography or a related field with at least one upper division course in geospatial technologies or at least a year of work in a job using geospatial technologies. GRE scores are not required.
Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University offers an online Geospatial Certificate Program that students can complete 100 percent online. The certificate is designed for students who want to enter the field of GIS or who are already working in the field but need coursework to advance their career or earn a license. Applicants must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, but they also should have the college-level math and writing skills necessary to pass college coursework. Classes are delivered in an accelerated eight-week format, and content includes video lectures, assignments, and participation in online forums. Students can complete the five-course program in 11 months. Cohorts of students are admitted into the program in the fall.
University of California, Berkeley
University of Redlands
University of Redlands has a Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems designed to give students strong technical skills along with an understanding of theory. The curriculum includes core theory courses that are paired with hands-on courses so students learn to use the technology. This 42-credit program requires all candidates to complete an major individual project in which they apply GIS technology to a real world problem. The degree can be completed as a one-year program or a two-year program. Courses are delivered in seven-week terms. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, but it can be in any subject. Applicants must submit GRE scores and two letters of recommendation. Cohorts start the program in September and January.
University of Southern California
Students in the Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology program at the University of Southern California can choose from four tracks: spatial data acquisition and integration, spatial data analysis and visualization, spatial application development, or spatial thinking. The master's program requires 28 credits, including 16 core credits and 12 credits in the specialization. The core includes a master's thesis. Classes are delivered online but students must attend a one-week field excursion to USC's marine science center on Catalina Island. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. GRE scores are required. The admission process for this 20-month program favors applicants with significant professional experience in GIS and related technologies.
University of Colorado Denver
The Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver has a Master of Arts in Applied Geography and Geospatial Science that focuses on human-environmental interaction. This is a 36-credit program that has both a thesis and coursework-only option. All students take nine credits in core classes, a six-credit service learning studio, and 12 credits in required geospatial coursework. The program takes four semesters. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a related field with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, three recommendations, and official transcripts. GRE scores are required for students with a GPA of less than 3.0. Students can only enter the program in the fall semester.
University of Delaware
The University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment offers a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems with three tracks: technician, analyst, or developer. The certificate is designed for working professionals who want to assume a leadership role and seek certification of their specialty. The program is open to non-traditional students who want to learn or update their GIS skills for employment and to traditional students who plan to use GIS in conjunction with their area of study. This 12-credit program has one required course with the other nine credits selected from the specialty track. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and must submit transcripts from previous schools, a statement of purpose, and two recommendations. Students can start the program in any semester.
The University of West Florida
Boise State University
Idaho State University
Idaho State University has a Graduate Certificate in Geotechnology that students can pursue as a standalone credential or as part of a master's or Ph.D. program at Idaho State. To earn the certificate, students must complete 19 credits, including 14 credits in core courses and five credits in electives. Options for electives are quite broad, spanning everything from a geotechnology internship to independent problems in anthropology or biology to advanced GIS programming. Students plan their program of study with a faculty adviser. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Applicants with a GPA higher than 3.5 are exempt from submitting GRE scores. Certificate students may be eligible for an assistantship.
Idaho State University has a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science that students complete in two years. Students can choose either a thesis option or a non-thesis option. Both options require students to complete 30 credits, including 11 credits in core courses and a graduate seminar. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in a discipline where a geotechnology research focus could be used, such as geoscience, biology, IT, business, or engineering. Applicants must submit GRE scores, transcripts, letter of intent, statement of goals, and three recommendations. Students can focus on developing new GIS tools and procedures or on applying tools and techniques to scientific problems. Teaching and research assistantships are available. Students may enter the program in the fall, spring, or summer.
Elmhurst College offers a Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems that students can complete entirely through online work. The curriculum calls for students to complete 10 courses, and waivers are available for one of those courses. Candidates must participate in an internship and do a research project or thesis. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in geography, GIS, or a related field. Courses are delivered in eight-week sessions, and students can complete the degree in as little as two years. Students in the program have online access to a dedicated GIS server to meet their high-end processing needs. Before graduating, candidates are required to present their research publicly and to join a professional organization related to geospatial technology.
University of Northern Iowa
Fort Hays State University
University of Maine
The University of Maine has a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems that students can complete entirely online. The program requires students to complete five courses, including three core classes and two electives. All required classes should be available online at least once in any two-year period. Course content is largely asynchronous, but there may be some instructors who hold a discussion session where students need to be online at a set time. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, a recommendation, and an essay. Students may be able to transfer credits to fulfill an elective, but the core courses must be taken through the University of Maine.
The University of Maine offers a completely online program for a Master of Science in Spatial Informatics. The curriculum is "course only," and students must complete 30 credits, including 15 credits in core classes and 15 credits in electives. Coursework is generally asynchronous, although some instructors may include live discussion meetings. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students admitted to the program must have completed a college class in algebra or a higher math, and a class or experience in computer programming is recommended but not required. Applicants must also submit GRE scores and recommendations. Students must complete all the requirements for the master's degree within six years.
University of Maryland-College Park
The University of Maryland offers a Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Information Sciences with an online option. Online classes are simultaneous broadcasts of on-campus classes, which are scheduled in the evening, and lectures are also videotaped and available for review later. This 31-credit program includes 22 credits in core courses and nine credits in electives. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. While applicants from various backgrounds are admitted, they cannot officially start the program until meeting two prerequisites: a course in introductory statistics and an introductory course or practical experience in GIS. GRE scores are not required. Classes are offered in 10-week sessions, and students may start in the fall or spring.
Boston University has a program leading to a Master of Arts in Remote Sensing and Geospatial Sciences that is designed to provide students with advanced technical skills in working with spatial data sets. This is a 32-credit program that requires students to complete three core courses and five approved electives. The program is aimed at applicants who have a bachelor's degree in fields such as a natural science or social science. Applicants should have passed a course in statistical methods. The application requirements include GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and transcripts from all colleges attended. Students enter the program in the fall semester, and applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
Michigan Technological University
Michigan Tech has a Master of Science in Integrated Geospatial Technology that offers students three options for obtaining the 30-credit degree. Students can select a thesis program, a plan that includes coursework and an independent study project or practicum, or a coursework-only plan. The program is designed to be flexible and customizable. Students are expected to take courses from at least two different areas and specialize in one area. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a related field with a GPA of at least 3.0. The program does not require GRE scores, but applicants must submit two recommendations, a resume, and a statement outlining their experience with geospatial software and hardware.
Delta State University
Delta State University has a Master of Applied Science in Geospatial Information Technologies that is designed to provide students with a balance of theory, practice, and research. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as geography, meteorology, ecology, earth science, computer information systems, or social sciences. The program also accepts applicants whose degree is not in a related discipline but who have at least three years experience in the industry and can supply recommendations from three professionals in the field. All applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75 and must submit a personal statement and two references. Students start the program in the fall and complete it in 16 months. Coursework is delivered online.
Missouri State University-Springfield
Missouri State has a Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences - Geography, Geology and Planning that encourages students to select one of three research concentrations: physical geography, human geography and/or planning, or environmental geology. The thesis option requires 33 credits with the thesis, and the non-thesis option requires 36 credits with a scholarly report. All candidates must pass a comprehensive exam. Applicants should have an undergraduate background that indicates the academic ability to handle the coursework and an interest in geography or geology. Accepted students may be required to take specific undergraduate courses if their background is deficient. Applicants are required to submit GRE scores, official transcripts, and three recommendations.
CUNY Lehman College
The Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial Sciences at Lehman College has a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science that gives students an option for a professional experience. This is a 40-credit program with either a traditional thesis or a combination of an applied research project and internship. The curriculum includes 14 core credits, 18 elective credits, and the eight-credit capstone project. Up to half the electives can be taken in a related cognate area, such as urban planning, environmental engineering, or public health. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, but there is no required undergrad major. Applicants must submit two recommendations and an essay explaining their interest in GIS. Students can enter in the spring or fall term.
Stony Brook University
The Geospatial Center at Stony Brook University has an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Science designed for working professionals or graduate students who want more knowledge and skills in the field of GIS and remote sensing. Full-time students can complete the 18-credit certificate in about one year. The curriculum requires nine credits in core courses and nine credits in electives. Options for electives include a teaching practicum, research, or internship, in addition to graduate level coursework. Some courses are available online. To apply for this program, potential students must have at least a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts, two recommendations, and an essay. Students may start in the fall, spring, or summer term.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's Master of Science in Geospatial Information Science and Engineering allows students to take some interdisciplinary courses in other, related topics along with core courses in GIS. Students in the master's program take courses in four areas of mastery: remote sensing, geographic information systems, spatial analysis and programming, and statistics. There is also a research component. Prerequisites for the program include at least one year of physics, one year of calculus, a course in statistics, and an engineering science course in computer science, numerical methods, or surveying. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 in the final two years of study. Applicants must submit GRE scores. Students may enter the program in the fall or spring.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
North Carolina University offers a Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Science that focuses on advanced GIS applications. This 12-credit program can be completed entirely online. The curriculum requires students to complete two core classes and two electives. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. While the program accepts students with a wide range of undergraduate majors, applicants should have some experience in GIS and its applications. Online classes for this program have both synchronous and asynchronous elements. Students are required to use a variety of software and are given access to NC State's virtual computing lab and a remote desktop.
North Carolina State University has a Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology that is offered through online courses. However, students in the program come to campus two times during their studies - for an orientation at the start of the program and for a professional showcase where they present their capstone projects at the end of the program. This is a 33-credit program that includes 21 credits in core classes and 12 credits in electives. Students compile a professional portfolio and participate in a capstone working on a real-world project. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and should have basic skills in geographic information systems, programming, and statistics. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose and resume.
University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota has a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science designed to give students from varied backgrounds the foundational knowledge and technical skills to seek a job in GIS. The 12-credit program is offered entirely online with no requirements for students to ever come to campus. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with an overall GPA of 2.75 or a GPA of 3.0 for their last two years of college. The program is open to students whose degree is in any discipline, although most applicants have some sort of science degree. Students can only enter the program at the start of the summer term, and they can complete the program in one year. Courses follow the semester calendar.
Bowling Green State University
Students seeking a Master of Science in Applied Geospatial Science from Bowling Green State University choose either a thesis or non-thesis option. Students who decide not to do a thesis must pass a comprehensive exam and complete an independent research project or perform an internship. Both options require students to complete 30 credits, spread among required core courses, electives in the geospatial core, and additional electives that can be in geospatial topics or other approved courses. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, and those seeking assistantships must have a 3.0 GPA. GRE scores are required, along with three recommendations and a statement of purpose.
Oregon State University
Oregon State University's online Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science is designed for working professionals who want to gain GIS credentials. The 19-credit program includes the option for an internship. Students may be able to arrange the internship with their current employer, and the program will also provide assistance in matching students with internships in their home location. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. While their degree can be in any field, applicants must have at least two years of experience in an organization related to GIS. Applicants should have taken basic courses in statistics, cartography, and at least high school algebra or a higher math. Students can enter the program in the fall, winter or spring term.
Portland State University
Courses in the Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems program at Portland State University apply towards nationally recognized GIS certifications such as GISP and ASPRS. This is a 20-credit program that includes introductory and advanced courses offered by the departments of Geography, Urban Studies and Planning, and Geology. Students take eight credits in core courses and labs and 12 credits in electives. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, although students with a GPA of at least 2.75 may be admitted conditionally. An undergraduate introductory GIS course is a prerequisite. Applicants must submit transcripts, statement of purpose, and one recommendation. Students can enter in the fall, winter, or spring term and must complete all the requirements within three years.
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
PennState World Campus offers an online Master of Geographic Information Systems that allows students to customize the program to meet their career goals. Students can choose an option in geospatial intelligence or geodesign or select electives that reflect their interests. The curriculum requires 36 credits, including an independent study project or capstone that must be presented publicly. The program is designed for GIS professionals. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and at least two years of experience. They must submit three references, a statement of purpose, and GRE scores. Courses are delivered in 10-week terms, with five terms per year. The program is for part-time students, who are not required to take a course every term.
University of Pennsylvania
University of Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island has a Graduate Certificate in GIS and Remote Sensing that gives students advanced training in using geospatial technologies to help analyze problems where location is a key element, such as environmental issues. Students will be able to practice their new GIS skills during class projects and specialty coursework. This is a 16-credit program with 13 credits in required classes and three credits in electives. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college, but the program does not require any specific undergrad majors. Applicants must submit transcripts, two recommendations, and a statement of intent. GRE scores are not required. Students can enter the program in the spring or fall semester.
The University of Texas at Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas has a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems that is designed to meet the needs of both newcomers and experienced professionals in the field of GIS. The curriculum requires students to complete five courses, including three required core courses and two electives selected from a restricted list. Students have up to three years to complete the requirements for the certificate. Courses for this certificate can be applied toward the Master of Science in Geospatial Information Sciences. The program is open to applicants with a bachelor's degree, who must apply to the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences as a non-degree seeking student. Applicants must submit transcripts from their undergraduate school.
Students who complete the Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence through the University of Texas at Dallas have met the requirements for GEOINT professionals set forth by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and may also be eligible for a certificate from the foundation. The graduate certificate requires students to complete five courses plus a one-credit capstone. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and should have taken some courses in remote sensing, geospatial information technology, or computer science. They should also have background in at least one science that can be studied from a spatial perspective, such as geography, public health, or hydrology. Individuals interested in the certificate must apply to the school as a non-degree-seeking student.
The University of Texas at Dallas has a Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing designed for individuals who want to gain skills in image analysis and understand the theories behind image acquisition. The skills are useful for individuals in fields such as meteorology, geography, ecology, and natural resources management. This is a 15-credit program requiring students to complete five courses. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree. A related undergraduate major is helpful for students who enter this program, but it is not a requirement for admission. Applicants must apply as non-degree-seeking students. Students can complete the program in as little as a year, but they have up to three years. Credits from the certificate can apply to the Master of Science in Geospatial Information Sciences.
The Master of Science in Geospatial Information Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas is presented by the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The 36-credit professional program requires students to complete 15 credits in core coursework, 18 credits in prescribed electives, and a research project or thesis. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in a related subject with a GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants must also submit GRE or GMAT scores, transcripts, three recommendations, and a personal statement. Students may enter the program in the spring or fall semester, but due to course scheduling, fall admission is recommended for students with no GIS experience. Calculus is not a prerequisite but is highly recommended.
The Ph.D. in Geospatial Information Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas is a cross-disciplinary program focused on developing researchers. The program is offered jointly by three schools at UT: School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and the Erick Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. Applicants must have a bachelor's or master's degree in a discipline related to GIS, such as geography, geology, computer science, statistics, economics, urban planning, or natural resource management. Applicants should have a GPA of at least 3.25, and they must submit GRE or GMAT scores. Prerequisites include calculus, proficiency in a programming language, and a course in inferential statistics.
George Mason University
George Mason University's Master of Science in Geoinformatics and Geospatial Intelligence requires students to complete 33 credits, including a master's thesis. The curriculum includes seven core courses, three electives, and the thesis. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a related field with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Prerequisites include courses in differential and integral calculus, and the college recommends students who enter the program have a working knowledge of a programming language. Applicants without the necessary background may be required to take foundation classes if admitted to the program. GRE scores are required, although applicants with a master's from an accredited school may waive that requirement. The application packet must include a resume, transcripts, goals statement, and three recommendations.
University of Mary Washington
The University of Mary Washington has a Master of Science in Geospatial Analysis that is designed to prepare students for professional careers in GIS. It is a non-thesis program that emphasizes practical applications. Students in the program must complete 24 credits in required courses and a six-credit capstone project. The master's program is designed for recent college graduates who majored or minored in geospatial technology and for professionals in the field who want to advance their career. Courses are offered in the evenings at UMW's campus in Stafford, Virginia, and full-time and part-time students are welcome. Full-time students can complete the program in a year. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and coursework or professional experience in GIS.
University of Washington-Tacoma Campus
The University of Washington Tacoma's Urban Studies Program has a Master of Science in Geospatial Technologies. The degree focuses on using geospatial data, hardware, and software for urban planning and environmental planning. The program uses a cohort model, with students entering the program in the autumn quarter and completing the degree in four quarters. This is a non-thesis degree with a practicum/capstone project. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must have academic or work experience with GIS or geospatial technologies. To meet that prerequisite, students must have a certificate, major, minor, or concentration in the field at the undergraduate or graduate level or at least a year of work experience in GIS. GRE scores are not required.
The Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Science - Advanced from Marshall University builds on the knowledge students gained in the basic GIS graduate certificate. Students who complete the advanced certificate learn to use advanced GIS techniques and apply them to analyze research questions in fields such as the social or natural sciences. The curriculum requires students to complete four courses, and most students can finish the work in two or three semesters. Certificate-only students must apply for admission as certificate/professional development students. They are required to have a bachelor's degree with a 2.5 or higher GPA, and they should have completed the GIS basic program. Students can start the program in any semester.
Marshall University's Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Science - Basic is designed to prepare students for a job involving GIS or remote sensing or to help them get ready for a doctoral program in GIS. As part of the program, students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through an internship or work-study program. To earn the certificate, students have to complete 12 credits of coursework. Students may enter the program in the fall, spring, or summer semester. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher and they are required to submit official transcripts of all previous college work.