Geospatial science is a field of infinite possibilities – but it helps to know the territory! Our GIScience guide has a quick 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, hydography, cartography, statistics, engineering, and computer science.
Geospatial experts have a number of cool tools & technologies at their disposal – including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – but they have the same goals as any data scientist:
- Harvest relevant data sets.
- Analyze them 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 have always been 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 draw 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).
- Law Enforcement: Police are drawing on geospatial data to track crime waves, evaluate prevention measures, monitor convicted felons (e.g. a person with a GPS tracking device crossing a boundary), and even predict the probability of where & when the next crime might occur.
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 (e.g. snow shovels) that would appeal to loyalty card owners in different ZIP codes? Geospatial analysis can help with all these decisions.
- Utilities & Communications: Companies are always trying to improve their asset management. Geospatial strategies help them to 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 plays 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 (e.g. flooding for storm surges) 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 (e.g. unusual patterns).
- 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 & 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 & 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 & rescuers, locate refugee populations, and prevent major loss of life.
- Public Health: Physical environment factors – pollution, access to care & healthy food, tainted water supplies, neighborhood violence, housing quality – play an enormous role in a person’s life. That’s why geospatial analysts are now looking for trends and patterns, including disease clusters, in an effort to improve public health.
- Ecology & Environmental Protection: Environmental groups increasingly 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 often occur in remote or dangerous locations. But geospatial tools (e.g. satellites) can go where angels fear to tread. This allows human rights groups to report on conflicts & 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 (e.g. ice core data), loss of biodiversity, population growth & density, and landscape use. Many are involved in created 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 of the most well-known examples is ArcGIS® by Esri.
GIS is famous for its ability to gather a large range of geospatial data from various sources (e.g. databases) 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.
GIS was once pretty simple. But as big data technologies and sources evolve, it is becoming increasingly sophisticated. The next generation is CyberGIS, a field that integrates advances in high performance computing, distributed computing, the Internet, and collaborative problem-solving.
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 (e.g. software packages) 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, GLONASS, Galileo, and Beidou.
- 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 (e.g. drones) 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 (e.g. Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth) 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, BIM (Building Information Modeling) 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
Types of Geospatial Degree Programs
Geospatial science is an evolving field, and academics still haven’t made up their mind on terminology. Because there tends to be a blurry line between terms like Geoinformatics, Geospatial Science, and Geographic Information Science, it’s best to check the curriculum to see what’s actually covered.
- Geodesy: Geodesy tackles the measurement and representation of planets, particularly Earth. Geodesists study a planet’s size, shape, orientation, mass distribution, and gravitational field in time & space and explore various geodynamical phenomena (e.g. polar motion, tides, etc.).
- Geographic Information Science (GIScience): Confusingly, this field can also be referred to as GIS. However, it goes way beyond Geographic Information Systems to explore all kinds of concepts, applications, and technologies. For instance, in addition to courses on key geographic tools (e.g. ArcGIS® and MapInfo, remote sensing, etc.) and areas (e.g. geodesy, cartography, surveying, etc.), the curriculum usually includes statistics, computer science (e.g. spatial analysis, database management, programming, data mining, Artificial Intelligence, etc.), and diverse electives.
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS): This type of degree often emphasizes GIS and CyberGIS, including courses in database management systems, programming, and software. Most students can also expect exposure to topics like remote sensing, geostatistics, cartography, and even GIS customization.
- Geoinformatics: Geoinformatics programs are concerned with all aspects of geodata – from collecting & processing it, to storing it, analyzing it, modeling it, visualizing it, and even building the databases & tools necessary for these tasks (i.e. Applied Geoinformatics). In fact, some programs are deliberately geared toward helping students develop new computational, visual, analytical, and statistical methods (e.g. remote sensing software).
- Geomatics: Geomatics is sometimes used as an alternative term for the field of “geospatial science.” However, because geomatics evolved from surveying departments, geomatics programs often emphasize subjects such as land surveying, cartography, photogrammetry, remote sensing, and GIS.
- Geospatial Analytics: Just as the title suggest, these programs focus on areas like GIS-based spatial analysis, social and environmental modeling, and decision support.
- Geospatial Engineering: The curriculum tends to follow the model of a general geospatial science program, with work in GIS, surveying, cartography, and related technologies. However, because it bears the title of engineering, there may be an emphasis on practical applications such as military operations or civil engineering projects.
- Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT): GEOINT refers to intelligence that can be gathered about entities (e.g. humans) in a particular geo-location – on, below, or above the Earth. Think national security, defense and law enforcement. Data and information for this task can come from a variety of sources, including IMINT (Imagery Intelligence), SIGINT (Signals Intelligence), MASINT (Measurement and Signature Intelligence), Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), CYBINT (Cyber Intelligence), and HUMINT (Human Intelligence).
- Geospatial Technology: This degree will often provide a grounding in concepts and practical training in specific technologies, including GIS, remote sensing, GNSS, and the like.
- Spatial Informatics: This term refers to theories, methods, and applications of spatial information – including data handling and visualization – so you may find that programs aren’t that dissimilar to Geospatial Informatics or GIS programs.
But wait, there’s more! You’ll also find programs in specific technologies & tools (e.g. Remote Sensing) and areas of interest (e.g. planning, archeology, environmental geology, geodesign, etc.). In addition, you may find similar coursework in Geography, Computer Science, Engineering, or Urban Planning degrees.
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: Schools like Penn State, USC, and Johns Hopkins 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: Look for 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: You want tough courses that will school you in “must-have” data science skills, including programming and spatial analysis. You want a curriculum that is on the cutting-edge of CyberGIS and technology. You 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 will 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.
If you can’t afford a degree, consider all the online courses out there. Esri offers a lot of training opportunities, including MOOCs. And online course providers like edX, Coursera, Khan Academy, and Udacity provide technical classes in all areas of computer science (e.g. programming, databases, specific technologies, etc.).
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.
- Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri): Based on exams, Esri’s Technical Certification Program is 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).
- GIS Certification Institute (GISCI): GISCI is a 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): COGI is a coalition of 13 national professional societies, trade associations, and membership organizations in the geospatial field. In 2015, it issued a Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).
- 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. It runs a Symposium and a Summit.
- 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 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 the 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 (e.g. water, minerals, energy), 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) meeutups worldwide.
Geospatial Job Sites
Geospatial Conferences & Events
Popular Geospatial Conferences
- ACM SIGSPATIAL International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems: Geared toward a technical audience, this geospatial research conference is the premier annual event of the ACM Special Interest Group on Spatial Information.
- Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT): Held every two years, COSIT is an international conference series concerned with theoretical aspects of space and spatial information.
- Esri User Conference (UC): 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. It is held annually in the U.S., usually for one week. Esri also organizes other events.
- 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 GeoComputation Conference: This research-based conference aims to bring together leading academic scientists and scholars in the field of Geocomputation. It alternates every year with GIScience.
- 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 2017 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), ICC takes place every two years.
- 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.
- Geo4Africa: Geo4Africa brings together experts and organizations across Africa (and beyond) who are working on new developments in GIS, geo tools, and geospatial science.
- 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.
- GEOINTSymposium: 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.
- Geo IoT World: This conference addresses the hottest tech trends and geospatial opportunities in the Internet of Things (e.g. high precision GNSS, UWB for indoor location, LPWA networks, Location Intelligence, Big GeoData, Crowdsourcing revolution, etc.).
- GIS/CAMA Technologies Conference: Organized by URISA and IAAO, this conference focuses on property assessment, tax administration, mapping and information technology. The four day event will be held from March 19, 2018 – March 22, 2018.
- 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 three day 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.
- Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI) World Conference: GSDI’s conference is particularly focused on spatial data infrastructures, both in theory and in practice.
- Imaging and Geospatial Technology Forum (IGTF): Formerly known as the ASPRS Annual Conference, this forum is a week devoted to networking, exhibits, and the latest technological advancements in photogrammetry and remote sensing.
- INTERGEO: INTERGEO is a global trade fair on geodesy, geoinformation and land management that appeals to experts in multiple industries.
- MAPPS Summer Conference: MAPPS is a good 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.
- Open Source Geospatial Research & Education Symposium (OGRS): OGRS is a neutral forum devoted to sharing knowledge and methods that are free of software license limits.
- 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
- 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.
- Geo International: Published by GeoConnexion, Geo International features the latest news and stories, as well as reports from geotechnology industries worldwide.
- 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. It posts a list of upcoming events.
- 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 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 information 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 (e.g. remote sensing 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. See also: Remote Sensing Letters.
- 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 and 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
- Cartography and Geographic Information Science (CaGIS): CaGIS is the official publication of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS), which is a member organization of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM).
- 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 36 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 info (at) mastersindatascience.org.
University of North Alabama
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
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 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
University of Delaware
The University of West Florida
Boise State University
Idaho State University
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.
Michigan Technological University
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
CUNY Lehman College
Stony Brook University
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
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
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
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.