The Earth from space

Accelerated B.A./M.S. Program in Geographic Information Science

MS GIS Class of 2015-16 is an historic group of seven young women, a first for the program. Students in this class are left to right:  Erin Glennie, Hannah Rush, Suzanne Birdsell, Sarah Philbrick, Michino Hisabayashi, Moriah Day and Charlotte Mays

Who is Eligible

Students majoring in geography, global environmental studies, earth system science, economics, international development and social change, environmental science and policy, or environment and conservation biology can apply to the accelerated B.A./M.S. program in Geographic Information Science.


To be eligible for the fifth year M.S. program in GISc, (program became an MS in July 2014) a student must meet all university requirements for entry into the fifth year program, as well as have completed Geography 190 Intro to Geographic Information Science, ID 388: Advanced Vector GIScience, Geography 293: Introduction to Remote Sensing, and Geography 397: Advanced Raster GIScience by the end of their senior year. A GPA of 3.6 (overall Clark GPA aggregate of Sophomore and Junior year transcripts) is required for entry into this program, although students not meeting this requirement may petition the School for a waiver. Applicants must complete an Honors Thesis in their senior year, although in some circumstances students may opt to enroll in the honors program for the spring semester of the junior year and fall semester of the senior year.

In accordance with these requirements, students who have declared their intention to apply for the fifth year program must do so by May 1 of their Junior year. Then by April 1 of the senior year, it is necessary to submit to the Geography B.A./M.S. Program Advisor, evidence (such as a current transcript) that all course requirements will be met, and an approved Master’s Thesis research proposal, signed by a Geography faculty advisor and two readers. One reader can, with the approval of the Geography B.A./M.S. Program Advisor, be a faculty member from outside Geography. In their senior year, students must achieve at least 3.6 PGA to meet the final requirement to continue into the fifth year MS GIS. Final offers of admission will be made by the Graduate Dean.

Masters in GIS Program of Study

The M.S. degree in Geography specializing in Geographic Information Science requires the completion of 10 graduate course credits, two of which are taken during the senior year and two of which are completed during the summer between the senior year and the fifth year. Three of the 10 credits are devoted to the completion of a master’s research project. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Senior year: Geog. 397: Advanced Raster GIScience (please note prerequisites for Geog. 397 are Geog 190: Into to GIS and ID 388: Advanced Vector GIScience) and Geog 293: Introducation to Remote Sensing. Candidates for the fifth year program are also required to develop a master’s thesis research proposal, with a signed statement of support from two faculty sponsors who will act as the advisor and the reader. The thesis proposal must include a three-semester work plan. See the Departmental Requirements section for details on timing.
  • Summer following senior year: a one-credit internship in Geographic Information Science. This internship is focused on database development for the Master’s Thesis. Typically, this course is completed off-campus and must be a minimum of 20 hours per week, paid or unpaid. However, it requires frequent communication with the student’s advisor. Details of the mechanism for this communication must be included in the project proposal.  By August 1 a letter from the internship advisor must be sent to the MS GIS program director showing that the student satisfactorally completed the internship in order to receive credit.
  • Fifth year: six graduate course credits (three per semester), of which one credit each semester will be devoted to the completion of the Master's thesis reserach project. In April the student will be required to give an oral presentation of the findings of the master’s thesis research project, along with other students in the program. In addition, the student must submit to the B.A./M.S. Advisor, by the end of the spring, a master's thesis of publication quality paper, associated with the project, certified by the student’s advisor and two readers. 
  • Summer following the ADP year. A credit in Directed Study is required for the final summer and a defense of the master's thesis* by July 15 and a final PDF of the defended thesis submitted to the MS GIS program director by August 1 to meet the graduation requirement of August 30/31.

    * master's thesis must follow the university formatting guidelines located on the graduate school web site under graduate student resources.

Of the six courses not associated with the master’s project and internship (taken during the senior and fifth years), a minimum of four must be directly associated with Geographic Information Science and two may be electives associated with the application area of specific interest to the student.

Lab Fee

Because of the very heavy costs associated with hardware and software licensing in the GIS and Image Processing area, students will be required to pay a university fee of $1,000 plus a lab fee of $500 per semester (fall and spring) during the completion of their fifth-year program. This lab fee is NON-refundable and will be billed through your student account.

Current MS GIS Students*

*As of July 1, 2104 the MA in GIS is now an MS in GIS

Students admitted for the accelerated B.A/M.S. in fall 2015:

Suzanne Birdsell B.A. '15
Moriah Day B.A. '15
Erin Glennie B.A. '15
Michino Hisabayashi B.A. '15
Charlotte Mays B.A. '15
Sarah Philbrick B.A. '15
Hannah Rush B.A. '15

MS IN GISc in August 2015:

Elliot Altbaum B.A. '14
Michelle Andrews B.A. '14
Samuel Berman B.A. '14
Sean Cunningham B.A. '14
Anastassios Dardas B.A. '14
Lucas Earl B.A. '14
Cody Litchfield B.A. '14
Kayla Patel B.A. '14
Zoe Ritter B.A. '14

MS in GISc in August 2014*

Joseph Danko B.A. '13
Yelena Finegold B.A. '13
Christina Geller B.A. '13
Alexander Kappel B.A. '13
Matthew Manley B.A. '13
Noam Raffel B.A. '13
Emily Sturdivant B.A. '13


Recent MA GIS Graduates and First Employment

  • Dylan Broderick B.A. '12/M.A. '13
  • Andrew (A. J.) Shatz B.A. '12/M.A. '13 has accepted a position at AIRWorldwide as a GIS analyst replacing fellow MA GIS graduate, Boyd Zapatka, B.A.  '10/M.A. '11 who has been promoted.  A.J. was also a 3-year HERO Student, and 2-year HERO Manager.
  • Blaize Denfeld (B.A. '10/M.A. '11) is continuing her education in pursuit of a PhD at Uppsala University in Uppsala Sweden. She will be studying dynamics of CO2 emissions from inland waters in relation to ice cover dynamics. Her research will be incorporated into the Nordic Center of Excellence CRIACC and into the CoW Project.
  • Tom Hamill (B.A. '10/M.A. '11) is continuing his education in pursuit of a PhD in Geography and Urban Studies from Temple University. Tom was also a one-year member of the HERO REU site project and a student manager in HERO for two years.
  • Boyd Zapatka (B.A. '10/M.A. '11) has accepted a position at AIR-Worldwide as an analyst. AIR-Worldwide is the leader in catastrophe modeling and risk analysis for the insurance and reinsurance industry. As a part of the Data Management Group, Boyd's duties include developing and organizing claims databases, general DBA, generating internal reports, and making maps for publications.

Recent Publications by MA GIS Grads

Broderick, Dylan E, Karen E. Frey, John Rogan, Heather D. Alexander, and Nikita S. Zimov, (2015) "Estimating upper soil horizon carbon stocks in a permafrost watershed of Northeast Siberia by integrating field measurements with Landsat-5 TM and WorldView-2 satellite data." GIScience & Remote Sensing 15481603.2015.1010434#

Denfeld, Blaize A., Karen E. Frey, William V. Sobczak, Paul J. Mann & Robert M. Holmes, (2013), "Summer CO2 evasion from streams and rivers in the Kolyma River basin, north-east Siberia." Polar Research, 32: pp 1-15

Gao, Y.,Marpu, P., Niemeyer, I., Runfola, D.M., Giner, N., Hamill, T., Pontius Jr., G.R., (201). "Object-based classification with features extracted by a semi-automatic feature extraction algorithm - SEaTH." Geocarto International. 26 (3)

Rogan, J., Bumbarger, N., Kulakowski, D., Christman, Z., Runfola, D.M., Blanchard, S., (2011). "Improving forest type discrimination with mixed lifeform classes using fuzzy classification thresholds informed by field observations." Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing.

Fortier, J., Rogan, J., Woodcock, C., Runfola, D.M., (2011). "Utilizing temporally invariant calibration sites to classify multiple dates of satellite imagery." Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing. 77 (2): p.181

Blanchard, Samuel D., John Rogan, and Deborah W. Woodcock, (2010), "Geomorphic Change Analysis using ASTER and SRTM Digital Elevation Models in Central Massachusetts, USA" GIScience & Remote Sensing, 47 (1): 1–24

Contact Person

The geography B.A./M.S. program advisor is Professor John Rogan (508) 793-7562 or the program administrator, Brenda Nikas-Hayes,