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Geographic Information Science


Geographic Information Science (GISc) is a sub-field of Geography concerned with the acquisition, storage, analysis and communication of geographic information. In addition it conducts primary research on the manner in which we acquire knowledge from spatially referenced data. Geographic information analysts have applied skills in the concepts of Geodesy, Cartography, Remote Sensing, Spatial Analysis and Decision Science, and strong working knowledge of the Global Positioning System, Geographic Information Systems and Digital Image Processing software, Dynamic Modeling and Geostatistics. They are skilled in the problems of spatial georeferencing, error modeling and the propagation of uncertainty, the modeling of spatial processes, and procedures for multi-criteria and multi-objective decision making. In addition, they have the graphic communication and cartographic skills required for the production of effective map displays and geographic information presentations.

Program of Study

The MS 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. 297/397: Advanced Raster GIScience, Geog 190: Intro GIScience and Geo 206/306: Advanced Vector GIScience and Geography 293: Introduction to Remote Sensing by the end of the Senior year.  Candidates for the fifth year program are also required to develop a master's research proposal, with a signed statement of support from three faculty sponsors who will act as the advisor and the readers. The 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 and a one-credit directed research project associated with the master's research project. This project is focused on database development for the Master's project, and may be linked to the internship project. Typically, this course is completed off-campus. However, it requires frequent communication with the student's advisor. Details of the mechanism for this communication must be included in the project proposal.
  • 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 research project. In April the student will be required to give an oral presentation of the findings of the master's research project, along with other students in the GIS and GISDE masters programs. In addition, the student must submit to the BA/MS Advisor, by the end of the spring semester, a publication quality paper, associated with the project, certified by the student's advisor and reader.
  • Summer folling the fifth year. By August 1 following the fifth year, the student must have a formal defense of their proposal and submit the approved version as a PDF to the Graduate School via the Graduate Program Administrator in the Geography Department.  Students completing the 5th year receive the master's in GIS at the University August graduation date. 

Departmental Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the fifth year MS program in GISc, a student must meet all university requirements for entry into the fifth year program, as well as having completed Geography 190: Intro to Geographic Information Systems, Geography 206: Vector GIScience, Geography 293: Digital Image Processing, and Geography 296/397: Advanced Raster GIScience by the end of the senior.  Additional, for the MS GIS program, a GPA of 3.6 (overall at Clark) is required by the Graduate School of Geography to enter this program, although students not meeting this requirement may petition the School for a waiver.

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.

In accordance with these requirements, students who have declared their intention to apply for the fifth year program must submit a formal application to the Graduate Admissions Office.

Program Fees

Students are required to pay a one-time Program Fee of $1,000 which is assesssed in the first semester of graduate study. Students in the Geography GIS program also pay a $500 lab fee in both the fall and spring semesters.

Graduate students also pay a $15.00 activity fee in the fall and in the spring semesters and a one-time Enrollment Fee of $100 in the first semester of graduate study.

Contact Person

The Geography BA/MS Program Advisor is Professor John Rogan; 508-793-7562;

Recent BA/MS Graduates and First Employment

  • Blaize Denfeld (BA'10/MA'11) is continuing her education in pursuite of a Ph.D. 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 DoW Project. (
  • Tom Hamill (BA'10/MA'11) is continuing his education in pursuite of a Ph.D. in Geography and Urban Studies from Temple University.  Tom was also a on-year member of the HERO REU site project and student manager in HERO for two years.
  • Boyd Zapatka (BA'10/MA'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 reinsurace 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.
  • Samuel Blanchard (BA '09/MA'10) has accepted a position at UC Berkeley as a Staff Research Associate II in the College of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management. Sam is the lead researcher for the Advanced Tools for Consolidation of California's Groundwater Data project to develop a webGIS spatial database and visualization platform aggregating archival groundwater data throughout the state of California. 
  • Nick Bumbarger (BA'09/MA'10) is a Geospatial Analyst Level II for MDA Information Systems, Inc. in Maryland.  He is currently serving as the Task Lead of validation within a high-priority global-Coverage mapping contract.
  • David Hattis (BA'09/MA'10) is a Research Analyst for AIr Worldwide, a consulting company that models risk for insurance companies.  David's main role is to help develop a geospatial database of insurance exposures.
  • Rachel Shmookler (BA'09/MA'10) is a Junior Scientest at Applied Sciences Associates, Inc. in Cranston, RI.  She uses geospatial techniques to process model outputs of aoil spills in the marine system for the presence of surface, entrained, and shoreline oil.  Rachel supports environmental data analysis for projects suche as entrained oil tracking, coastal habitat assessments, and windfarm site planning, and develops data automation models in ArcGIS using VBA and Python.  She is building off of the skills acquired from undergraduate, graduate, and HERO experience at Clark University, and looks forward to working on future projects at ASA on habitat assessments, marine spatial planning, and water quality monitoring.


Recent Publication by BA/MS Grads

Gao, Y., Marpu, P., Niemeyer, I., Runfola, D.M., Giner, N., Hamill, T., Pontius Jr., G.R., 2011.  "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., "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, S., Rogan, J., and Woodcock, 2010. "Geomorphic Change Analysis using ASTER and SRTM Digital Elevation Models in Central Massachusetts, USA. " GIScience & Remote Sensing, 47 (1): 1-24.