Student with tablet with mapping software

M.S. in Geographic Information Science

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota has long been a leader in providing students with the educational foundation and in-field experience necessary for successful careers and leadership positions in Geographic Information Science (GIS).

Interest in the field has increased significantly with the U.S. Department of Labor predicting an annual growth rate of 35 percent for the geospatial technology industry.

Post-degree Opportunities

Career paths for students who obtain their Master of Science in Geographic Information Science are quite varied—from information technology, business analytics, asset and resource urban planning, and emergency management to public safety and surveying. Regardless of your profession, your Saint Mary’s education will give you:

  • In-depth experience with applied cutting-edge geospatial technology
  • A comprehensive understanding of effective research strategies
  • Real-world examples and hands-on experience to promote the efficient use of geospatial technology in decision making
  • Thorough knowledge of data development techniques, analysis, and evaluation
     

In addition to the classroom experience, Saint Mary’s professors provide a rich learning environment through the university’s unique GeoSpatial Services affiliate, which gives students the opportunity to work in a mentored environment on active client projects. Saint Mary’s real-world experience, combined with networking opportunities with potential employers and alums, no doubt gives its students an advantage when beginning the career search. 

GIS Graduate Certificate

For those students who are looking for a thorough background in GIS theory and use but are not seeking a degree, we encourage you to learn more about Saint Mary’s Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science. Successful completion of the certificate program will allow you to apply for professional GIS certification through the GIS Certification Institute.

Words From an Alum

"Saint Mary's offered a challenging, dynamic, rigorous approach for developing my GIS skills. The assignments are structured in a demanding, yet cooperative-based framework, employing the most current GIS software applications. This type of learning environment put me on top of the job market. "

—Martin Murphy, Graduate of the Geographic Information Science program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

From Start to Finish

  • You can earn your M.S. in Geographic Information Science degree in less than two years.
  • Cohorts begin each spring and fall. Apply today.
     

Locations

This program is offered at our Twin Cities and Winona locations.

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

Required Foundation Course 3 cr.
Required Technology Courses 18 cr.
Required Research and Management Courses 15 cr.
Contextual Application Elective Courses 3 cr.
Total 39 cr.

Required Foundation Course 3 cr.

GIS605 GIS Methods (3 cr.)

This course introduces the concepts of spatial data creation, editing, and analysis using GIS software. Emphasis is placed on spatial concepts and understanding and utilizing standard operation procedures. Topics covered include coordinate systems, topological editing, metadata, overlay analysis, and cartography. Technical proficiency is a primary objective of the course reinforced by significant practical exercises utilizing GIS software.

Upon completion of this course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Apply knowledge of principles, theories, and concepts of spatial data analysis.
  2. Use basic and advanced GIS analysis techniques.
  3. Create effective maps and figures.
  4. Implement practices to promote spatial data integrity.

Required Technology Courses 18 cr.

GIS608 Internet Mapping (3 cr.)

This course introduces students to effective use of the Internet as a medium to publish map data. It examines the basic implementation details associated with serving spatial data and GIS capabilities over the Internet. Students are introduced to Internet mapping software as well as the particulars of designing and operating an effective map publishing/customization environment.

Upon completion of this course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Develop custom web applications and functional user interfaces.
  2. Use the internet as a vehicle to acquire and disseminate spatial data and solutions.
  3. Apply the concepts and logic of internet mapping technologies.
  4. Implement strategies for improving performance of GIS services and applications.

GIS632 Programming Principles (3 cr.)

This course covers foundational programming skills. Examples of programming topics covered include form controls, altering and enhancing properties at run time, variables, decision making, looping, and connecting Visual Basic applications to Microsoft Access databases.

Upon completion of this course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Develop custom applications and interfaces.
  2. Demonstrate the concepts and logic of structured computer programming.
  3. Apply the concepts and logic of object-oriented, event-driven programming with Visual Basic in application development.
  4. Develop applications that offer a functional and sophisticated interface to the user.

GIS642 Database Design and Administration (3 cr.)

This course follows a logical progression through basic data and database concepts into design theories, creation, and implementation of an enterprise spatial database. The course explores the role of various tabular structures, from simple flat files to the relational geodatabase. 

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of database terminology, design techniques, and data issues.
  2. Collect, format, manage, and implement both spatial and tabular data within a GIS.
  3. Design and develop geodatabases that promote data integrity and usability.
  4. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of relational database management systems such as SQL Server and ArcSDE.
  5. Use basic standard query language to manage and query databases.

GIS656 Spatial Data Collection (3 cr.)

This field and laboratory course introduces methods basic to the collection of data in a manner suitable for spatial analysis. Topics include basic orienteering, land navigation, total station and topographic surveying, use of global positioning systems (GPS) and mobile GPS, and preparation of data for conversion to a digital format.  

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Create and effectively utilize maps and figures.
  2. Appreciate the importance of reference frameworks.
  3. Apply best practice for capturing, utilizing, and automating field data.
  4. Utilize instruments such as GPS and total station surveying technology to effectively capture spatial data in the field and import it into a GIS.
  5. Recognize multiple technology options to collect data. 

GIS663 Advanced Modeling and Analysis (3 cr.)

This course builds on fundamental and advanced GIS concepts that promote problem solving, modeling, and critical thinking. The course explores research and use of designing models to effectively solve spatial and analytical challenges. The course addresses real world problems in business, natural resources, emergency management/homeland security, and other areas. Problem-solving approaches for advanced challenges are accomplished using an array of software options.

Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Apply principles, theories, and concepts to both basic and advanced analyses.
  2. Develop custom applications and interfaces.
  3. Utilize a variety of diverse data formats, software, and database types.
  4. Assess data, designs, analysis results, and supporting research.

GIS670 Advanced GIS and Imagery Analysis (3 cr.)

This course promotes exploration and utilization of advanced functionality of GIS technology. Substantial effort is directed towards developing proficiency in understanding data at complex levels with an emphasis on advanced raster and spatial analysis. The course covers advanced GIS analysis, image analysis techniques, and geospatial topic-specific areas of study.

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:  

  1. Analyzes geospatial data through principles, theories, and concepts.
  2. Understand basic & advanced GIS analysis techniques.
  3. Identify benefits and disadvantages to working with diverse data sets.
  4. Create and utilize maps and figures.
  5. Develop conceptual designs for problem solving.

Required Research and Management Courses 15 cr.

GIS619 Statistical Analysis (3 cr.)

This course introduces basic and fundamental statistics with emphasis on the more sophisticated tests and analysis common to sciences and technology researchers. Substantial attention is given to analysis of variance and experimental design.

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Use descriptive statistics including measures of central tendency and dispersion.
  2. Evaluate inferential statistics including parametric and nonparametric techniques, and when each might best be employed.
  3. Critique the importance of experimental design in the successful conduct of a research project.
  4. Apply knowledge of principles, theories and concepts to experimental design, data analysis, and interpretation.

GIS636 Advanced Research Methods (3 cr.)

This course examines effective research methodologies and grant writing fundamentals best used in understanding requirements and expectations associated with the graduate research project. This includes formatting and graphic requirements, literature review development, graduate proposal design, and expectations of the final journal-style graduate project manuscript. Additional emphases include ethical frameworks of research in technology and research related to varying aspects of grant writing/fund solicitation. Grant writing studies include discussions of grant sources, needs assessment, budgeting principles, developing full proposals, and proposal evaluation.

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:  

  1. Synthesize research and processes utilizing various formats to formulate reviews of literature and proposals suited to graduate research project preparation.
  2. Apply ethical principles and frameworks for decision making.
  3. Use processes and strategies to develop journal-style manuscripts.
  4. Implement strategies to research and develop grant proposals.

GIS645 Project Management (3 cr.)

This is a basic introductory course which presents concepts related to the management and supervisory skills necessary to effectively and proficiently implement multi-sized projects and/or programs. Course elements include management, administration, strategic planning/controlling/execution, scheduling, budgeting, GIS project integration, analyzing WBS, report writing/presentation, and project infrastructure.

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:  

  1. Apply knowledge of principles, theories, and concepts of project management to technical projects.
  2. Differentiate between management and leadership.
  3. Identify and plan within project life cycles.
  4. Use basic budgeting and financial management skills.
  5. Exchange ideas and information in a clear and concise manner to stakeholders.

GIS675 Graduate Project Completion (0 cr.)

This course is for students requiring additional time to complete the graduate project, as agreed upon with the program director. Course fee charged.
 

GIS693 Graduate Project I (3 cr.)

This course is grounded in developing a sound literature review, research proposal, and initial data augmentation as the first phase of the final graduate research project.    

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:  

  1. Apply knowledge of advanced principles, theories, and concepts of spatial data analysis for GIS research, design, and implementation.
  2. Select relevant peer-reviewed literature on a focus topic.
  3. Create a literature review.
  4. Develop a research proposal with data collection methods specified.

GIS694 Graduate Project II (3 cr.)

This course implements the graduate proposal, writing the final research manuscript, and presenting research findings through a defense/public presentation. Research tasks may include, but are not limited to refining and /or automating data, developing appropriate analysis of data, and/or statistical analysis used in confirming hypotheses or beliefs. Research findings are written in a professional journal-style project manuscript that conforms to the RA handbook. 

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:  

  1. Apply knowledge of advanced principles, theories, and concepts of spatial data analysis for GIS research, design, and implementation.
  2. Defend research methods and outcomes using both oral and written means according to professional program standards.

PRM600 Fundamentals of Project Management (3 cr.)

This foundation course examines the project management framework. This framework covers key terminology, project management context, and processes. Topics include project management knowledge areas, life cycles, and organizational designs.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Apply key project management terms.
  2. Analyze the environment in which projects operate.
  3. Describe a generalized view of how the various project management processes commonly interact.
  4. Identify project integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resource, communications, risk, and procurement management process inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs.
  5. Identify life cycle phases appropriate to a project.
  6. Analyze stakeholder needs and expectations.

Contextual Application Elective Courses 3 cr.

GIS671 GIS Customization (3 cr.)

This course focuses on customization of a GIS through programming and scripting languages.  Emphasis of the course is on customization of the ArcGIS software including modifications of the user interface, automation of workflows, and building custom applications. 

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Develop custom applications and interfaces that offer a functional and sophisticated interface to the user. 
  2. Respond to specific scripting requirements to improve geoprocessing and analytical workflows.
  3. Apply the concepts and logic of object-oriented, event-driven programming.

GIS672 GeoDesign (3 cr.)

This course covers how to use GIS tools to address real-world social, economic, and environmental planning scenarios. The skills and techniques presented in the course provide an effective and efficient means of carrying out spatial planning tasks. Learners are able to focus their learning from among the following geodesign implementations: business, natural resources, emergency management, or urban and regional planning.

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Develop familiarity with relevant data sources used for planning purposes
  2. Demonstrate competence with established spatial planning processes.
  3. Create effective maps and figures.
  4. Resolve issues based on evidence weighed against established criteria.
  5. Evaluate data and technology to understand simple and complex problems.

GIS673 GIS Legal Fundamentals (3 cr.)

This course explores the basics of the legal system and legalities associated with the collection, use, and sharing of spatial data, non-spatial data, and technology. Learners are exposed to legal considerations in specific areas of the law including: privacy and data practices, administrative law, criminal law, environmental law, intellectual property, liability and other areas.

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Identify technical, legal, and policy issues relating to the collection, use, and sharing of spatial and location data.
  2. Balance societal and economic benefits of geospatial and related technology against the potential risks to privacy and security.
  3. Evaluate various legal policies impacting current and emerging technologies.
  4. Relate structures of the legal system and how geospatial and other technology can be used within it.

GIS674 Location Analytics (3 cr.)

This course explores the principles of location analytics useful to business intelligence and the role location analytics plays in seeking a competitive market advantage. Applications may include marketing, consumer behavior, customer relationships, demographics, sales, insurance, community planning, competition, etc. The course utilizes processes, software, and data requirements necessary to implement technology-based location analytics.

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following: 

  1. Apply knowledge of principles, theories, and concepts of business intelligence to location analytics.
  2. Articulate the role of data and demographics used in decision-making.
  3. Analyzes visual and spatial patterns using statistical and spatial data. 
  4. Implement technical and research strategies to apply data in various applications in related business fields.



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Austin Pippin

SGPP Admission - Enrollment Counselor Graduate School of Business and Technology

LaSalle Hall-TC Campus, LSH114

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5198

apippin@smumn.edu

Austin Pippin