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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.

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 BA/MS program in Geographic Information Science.

Program of Study

The MS degree in Geography specializing in Geographic Information Science requires the completion of 10 graqduate courses credits, two of which are taken during the senior year two of which are completed during the summer between the senior year at the 300 level and the ADP year. Three of the 10 credits are devoted to the completion of a master's thesis. The breakdown is as follows:


  • Senior year: Geog. 397: Advanced Raster GIS (please note prerequisities for Geog. 397 are Geog 190: Intro to GIS and IDCE 388: Advanced Vector GIS) and Geog 293: Introduction to Remote Sensing. Candidates for the ADP program are also required to develop a master's thesis plan, with a signed statement of support from a faculty sponsor who will act as the MS thesis advisor. See the Departmental Requirements section for details on timing.
  • Summer following senior year: a one-credit internship in Geography 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 adivsor. 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 satisfactorily completed the internship in order to receive credit.
  • ADP 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 research 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 MS thesis committee, by the end of the spring semester, a master's thesis of publication quality certified by the student's committee.
  • 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 webpage. A PDF of the final thesis must be sent to the Graduate Program Administrator, Brenda NIkas-Hayes,


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 interest to the student.

Departmental Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the fifth year MS program in GISc, (program became an MS in July 2014) a student must meet all university requirements as well as have completed Geography 190: Intro to Geographic Information Science, Geography 293: Introduction to Remote Sensing, IDCE 388: Advanced Vector GIS, and Geography 397: Advanced Raster GIS by the end of their senior year. A GPA of 3.6 (overall Clark GPA aggregate of Sophormore and Junior year transcripts) is required for entry in this program, althrough students not meeting this requriement may petition the Graduate 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 fro 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 to the Accelerated Degree Program just 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 BA/MS Program Advisor, evidence (such as a current transcript) that all course requirements will be met, and an approved Master's Thesis research plan, signed by a Geography faculty advisor. In their senior year, students mut achieve at least 3.6 GPA to  mee the final requirement to into the fifth year MS GIS. Final offers of admission will be made by the Graduate Dean.

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

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

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; (508-793-7562 or the program administrator, Brenda Nikas-Hayes

Recent MA GIS Graduates first employment or academic programs

  • Michelle Andrews - GIS computer literacy - Americorp-CTEP for Emerge Community Development
  • Sean Cunningham - Doctoral Program University of British Columbia, CN
  • Joseph Danko - Doctoral Program - Uconn
  • Anastassios Dardas - Doctoral Program - MacMaster University - Health Sciences
  • Yelena Finegold - FAO Italy
  • Christina Geller - GIS Analyst with AirWorldwide
  • Alex Kappel - GIS Analyst with AidData at the College of William and Mary
  • COdy Litchfield - GIS Analyst with E&J Gallo Winery, CA
  • Matthew Manely - GIS Analysit with LandVest


Recent Publication by BA/MS 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 date." GIScience & Remote Sensing.

Denfeld, Blaize A., Karen E. Frey, William V. Sobczaqk, Paul J. Mann & Robert M. Holmes, (2013),

"Summer CO2 evasion from streams and rivers in the Kolyma River basin, north-east Siberia." Polar Research,

pp 1-15.