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Geographic Information Science, M.S.

Saint Louis University’s master’s program in geographic information science addresses an increasing demand for professionals with geospatial science skills. It offers a combination of geospatial theory and practical training.

Students collaborate in the Academic Tech Commons, located in SLU's Pius XII Memorial Library.

About the Program

The interdisciplinary Master of Science (M.S.) in Geographic Information Science (GIScience), also known as Geospatial Science, from Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Saint Louis University, is offered in cooperation with Department of Sociology and Anthropology and other departments that offer GIScience courses (e.g., Department of Biology). The program combines geospatial theory and practical training in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and global positioning system software. The program prepares students to become experts well qualified to meet the increasing demand for experts in geospatial analysis. As an interdisciplinary program, the M.S. in GIScience focuses on research to address environmental, social and economic issues.

Students apply GIS, remote sensing, geovisualization, spatial analysis and statistics, database management and GIS programming within natural science, social science and integrative human-environment domains using innovative technologies and software programs (e.g., ArcGIS, QGIS, ENVI+IDL, SARscape, Python, GeoDA, R).

MS in GIScience Flyer

Program Highlights

Students in the program choose from three completion options:

  • A coursework-only, no-thesis option for students who do not plan to pursue a doctoral degree or academic career 
  • A coursework-plus-research-project option for students who wish to enhance their geospatial research skills in a particular area 
  • A coursework-plus-thesis option for students who plan to pursue a doctoral degree or academic career 

Other program highlights:

  • Curriculum informed by the Geographic Information Science and Technology Body of Knowledge (GIS&T BoK), 
  • Late-afternoon or evening classes that accommodate working professionals
  • Instructors with advanced degrees who work and conduct research in the field
  • State-of-the-art research labs equipped with modern computing, commercial and open-source software tools, various remote sensing sensors, and manned and unmanned aircrafts
Curriculum and Program Details

The M.S. in Geographic Information Science (GIScience) is a 30-credit-hour degree that students can pursue on a full- or part-time basis, usually completing the degree in two years of full-time study. Students can choose to complete coursework only, conduct a research project as part of their studies or write an academic thesis. Most courses are offered during the late afternoon and evening to accommodate working professionals.

18-credit hours of required courses include:

  • GIS 5010 – Introduction to GIS (fall only)
  • GIS 5040 – Introduction to Remote Sensing (fall only)
  • GIS 5070 – Research Methods (fall only)
  • GIS 5020 – Intermediate GIS (spring only)
  • GIS 5060 – Geospatial Methods in Environmental Studies (spring only)
  • GIS 5080 – Digital Cartography and Geovisualization (spring only)

12-credit hours of approved electives

  • GIS 5090 – Introduction to Programming for GIS and Remote Sensing
  • GIS 5091 - Advanced Programming for GIS and Remote Sensing
  • GIS 5092 - Machine Learning for GIS and Remote Sensing
  • GIS 5100 – Microwave Remote Sensing: SAR Principles, Data Processing and Applications
  • GIS 5110 – Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar
  • GIS 5120 – Geographic Information Science, Society and Sustainability
  • GIS 5970 – Research Topics
  • GIS 5990 – Thesis Research
  • SOC 5640 – Demography: Measuring & Modeling
  • SOC 5670 – Spatial Demography: Applied Statistics for Spatial Data
  • SOC 5700 – Applied Spatial Analysis
  • BIOL 5190 – GIS in Biology

Note that not all courses are offered each semester or every year, and students should check Banner Self-Service for course scheduling and availability. All students are required to develop a plan of study with their mentor when they begin the program.



Plan Of Study

The GIScience program requires that students develop a plan of study when they begin the program to (1) help them stay on track for graduation and (2) make advising sessions more productive. See schedules below for part-time and full-time plans.

Plan of Study, 2018-19

Please note that these are samples and not indicative of the program's expectations. Students should customize their own plans based on the amount of time they are able to dedicate to the program, their finances and course availability. Students have five years from their initial enrollment date to complete the program before they must obtain an extension.

Create your own plan of study using this editable form.

  • Greg Brunner, M.Sc.
  • Jack Fishman, Ph.D.
  • Jason Knouft, Ph.D.
  • Daniel M. Hanes, Ph.D.
  • Elizabeth A. Hasenmueller, Ph.D.
  • Sidike Paheding, Ph.D
  • Zaitao Pan, Ph.D
  • Vasit Sagan, Ph.D. (Program Coordinator)
  • J.S. Onesimo Sandoval, Ph.D.
  • Ethan Shavers, PhD
Graduates from SLU’s GIS master’s program have a very good employment outlook. According to the Geospatial Information and Technology Association, employment in this field is growing at an annual rate of almost 35 percent, with the commercial subsection of the market expanding by 100 percent each year.

Recent graduates from this program have been employed by various environmental, remote sensing and GIS companies, including Monsanto, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2018-2019 Tuition and Fees
Cost Calculator
Financial Aid

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences offers graduate-level assistantships for GIScience students.

Graduate assistantships are competitive and based on current faculty research needs and a candidate's academic record and relevant experience rather than financial need. Assistantships include tuition scholarships of nine credit hours per semester during the nine-month academic year, a monthly stipend, health insurance and extended library privileges. Assistants work 20 hours per week for the University and may not have outside employment.

Students also can apply for fellowships, need-based aid and other financial assistance.

Applicant Criteria

Successful applicants possess sufficient test scores, a sufficient GPA and sufficient TOEFL scores (for international students).

Application Requirements

Application form and fee
Three letters of recommendation
GRE scores (optional)
Professional goal statement

*Any student who exceeds the minimum GPA or GRE test scores will be admitted to the program. Students who are below one or more of these minimums will be evaluated for admission on a case-by-case basis.

**Students may submit a petition to the program coordinator to wave or substitute GMAT or LSAT scores for the GRE scores.

Requirements for International Students

Application and Assistantship Deadlines

The final deadline for fall admittance is May 1 for international students and August 1 for domestic students. To be considered for assistantships, students should apply by Feb.1st.

Review Process

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as received, beginning Aug. 1 and continuing until the July 1 general application deadline.

Program Coordinator
Dr. Vasit Sagan
Associate Professor of GIScience
Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Louis University