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Geographic Information Sciences (GISci), M.S.

Minimum Totals for Graduation: 33 hours

The Geographic Information Science graduate program provides students with high quality training in a cutting edge field combining geography, information science, statistics, remote sensing and environmental studies. The wide diversity of faculty expertise in the program enables students to pursue their own research interests by applying geospatial technologies (e.g. GIS, spatial statistics, cartography, unmanned aerial systems remote sensing) to surface hydrology, atmospheric processes, cultural and natural resource management, demography, historical change, location analysis, transportation/land use planning and regional economics. Program graduates are highly competitive in the job market; and most past graduates obtained high quality jobs upon graduation or continued on to pursue a Ph.D.

The M.S. in GISci is a program available either through a Plan A option (thesis) or Plan B option (non-thesis). The Plan A option requires students to propose, complete, and defend an MS Thesis; while Plan B requires students to propose, complete and defend a research project and complete an additional course. For both options, a total of 33 graduate credit hours are required to graduate, of which 15 credits have to be earned from courses at the 600 level or above. More detailed information is available in the Department office.

Admission Requirements, Retention & Termination Standards

Admission Requirement Snapshot

GPA: expected minimum of 3.0

Entrance Exam: GRE

Application Deadline: rolling admission; but February 1 (to be considered for funding the following Fall)

See Admission Requirement Details Below

To be eligible for full consideration for financial support, all application materials must be received in the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies no later than February 1 for the following Fall semester. Applicants should allow approximately one month for materials submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies to be processed and forwarded to the department.

To be eligible for Regular Admission at any time, applicants should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Applicants must submit transcripts, general GRE scores, two recommendation forms containing letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose on the scope of approximately 500 words that addresses the following questions: What are your career goals? How will this program help your career goals? An applicant who does not meet the foregoing requirements may be granted admission with stipulations by the department graduate committee. Details regarding the application process and the program may be found at

Program Course Requirements for Admission

• Three hours of Statistics (CMU equivalent: STA 282 or STA 382)

• Six hours of M.S. GISci-relevant courses at the undergraduate level, or three hours at the graduate level.

Program Requirements

Required Courses I (16 hours)

GEO 500Advanced Cartography


GEO 503Advanced Geographic Information Systems


GEO 510Python Programming for GIS


GEO 512Quantitative Methods for Spatial Analysis


GEO 615Research Design in Geographic Information Sciences



  1. GEO 615 may be taken up to four times.
  2. A student satisfying any of the required courses or their equivalents prior to entering the program may be excused from these courses. Other courses will be substituted with the approval of the advisor. Credits from these courses will be applied to the 22 hours of required courses. A student must receive a minimum grade of B- in each course to have their course work approved for the graduate program.

Required Courses II (6 hours)

Select 6 credits from the following:

GEO 601Special Topics in Advances GIS Theories and Methods


GEO 602Special Topics in Advanced GIS Applications



A student may take GEO 601 or GEO 602 more than once to fulfill Required Courses II or Electives.

Additional Requirement (3-6 hours)

Select either Plan A (Thesis) or Plan B (Directed Research)

Plan A Thesis (6 hours)

GEO 798Thesis


Plan B Directed Research (3 hours)

GEO 797Directed Research in Geographic Information Sciences


Electives (5-8 hours)

Electives should be selected and approved by a student's advisor and indicated on the Authorization for Degree Program form. Electives may be selected from courses at the 500-level or above in any program that complements the student's area of specialization.

Total: 33 semester hours

Accelerated M.S. in Geographic Information Sciences

Undergraduate students in Geography with a Concentration in Geographic Information Science can pursue a Master of Science degree in Geographic Information Science while still fulfilling the requirements for their Bachelor's degree. The Accelerated Master's Degree Program (AMDP) allows students to reduce the total number of credits to complete their undergraduate and graduate level degrees by applying up to 15 credits (500 level courses) towards graduate requirements on both degree programs.

Admission Criteria:

Students must have an overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.25 and have completed a minimum of 60 credits toward a Bachelor's degree the semester that they apply for admission to the Accelerated MS program in Geographic Information Science. Students must also satisfy all other requirements for regular admission to the MS program in Geographic Information Science to be eligible for the accelerated program including the completion of GEO 203, 303, and 308, or GEO 501; STA 282 or 382, submit GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose (see admission requirements).

Students can complete up to 15 credits of course work that will be counted toward both the undergraduate and graduate degrees from the following courses: GEO 500, 503, 505, 508, 512, 513, 528, 575, or 597. The student is responsible for fulfilling all of the requirements of the undergraduate degree and, therefore, additional credits may need to be taken to complete the Bachelor of Science degree requirements during the fourth year.

A sample curriculum for a student who has completed 90 credit hours of undergraduate course work is given below:

Year Four:

Year Five:

  • Fall
    GEO 601 (3)
    GEO 615 (1)
    Graduate Electives (6)
    Total: 10 credits