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Master’s Degree Programs in Geographic Information Systems Overview

Majors Overview November 18, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in geographic information systems (GIS) and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and continuing education choices.

Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Geographic Information Systems

Geographic information systems (GIS) program graduates can choose from various career options, including geographer and surveyor. Each of these careers often have different educational requirements. For example, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement for surveyors while a master’s degree is a prerequisite for aspiring geographers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Mapping and surveying professionals who wish to stand out from the pack would benefit from holding a master’s degree in GIS to augment real-world field experience. Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science, Master of Science (M.S.) in Cartography and Master of Science (M.S.) in Surveying Methodology are some examples of related programs.

Master’s Programs in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Those who graduate from master’s degree programs in GIS are awarded a Master of Science (M.S.) in GIS or a Master of GIS, among other degrees. Students learn about applying environmental awareness, research techniques, and engineering skills to various careers, including that of a remote sensing analyst or a GIS technician. Additionally, students might be taught about the functioning of geographic information systems. A research-based thesis project for a capstone experience may be a requirement.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in various areas, such as English, history, or finance, may be accepted, apart from geography or related fields such as biology or geology. Completion of a course in computer programming may be a prerequisite for admission.


Program coursework includes instruction in the analysis, planning and implementation of GIS projects via the development of applicable technology skills, including remote sensing, internet mapping, and digital image processing. Courses in technology may be available to students seeking instruction about GIS techniques and software applications. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Urban analysis
•Remote sensing
•Statistics in Geography
•Database design
•Theory and research of GIS
•Using global positioning systems (GPS) in GIS
•Natural resources and GIS

Career Choices

Program graduates may seek jobs in regional planning or natural resource management. Students may seek employment in architecture or engineering, in the form of completion of research, offering of technical support or planning of transportation systems. They may choose from possible career positions such as:

•GIS Analyst
•Environmental scientist
•Mapping Technician

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education may pursue a Ph.D. program in Geography or a related field. A Ph.D. in Earth Systems and GIS or a Ph.D. in Geography with a specialization in GIS may be a viable option.

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