Geospatial Information Science and Technology

 

Master | Geospatial Information Science and Technology

Program Format:   
Entrance Exam: Not required
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The Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology (MGIST) program equips students with the necessary knowledge and tools to become high-end geospatial professionals using a unique curriculum that leverages NC State’s strengths in computational sciences, geographic information systems (GIS) and natural resources in combination with professional skills development in areas such as project management, group dynamics, and communication.

 

The MGIST can be completed entirely online, allowing flexibility for both students just entering the workforce and working professionals. The program also admits a small number of on-campus students each year. The schedule, structure, expectations, and rigor of the program are identical, whether you are on-campus or in the online program.

Through a combination of geospatial theory, hands-on applications, and client-based instruction, students graduate from the program with a solid foundation to provide a wide range of geospatial expertise for local, state, national, and international organizations.

Students in the MGIST program also receive the Professional Science Master’s designation on their transcript upon graduation. The PSM program is a nationally recognized program focusing on preparing professionals with both the technical and professional skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. The NC State PSM Program and the National PSM Organization provide valuable resources for students in PSM degree programs, including mentoring, professional development workshops, and other resources.

Eligibility

Admissions to the MGIST is based on an applicant’s undergraduate and post-graduate educational background and professional experience.  At a minimum, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    1. Completion of an undergraduate degree and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. We accept students from a variety of undergraduate degrees, if you are unsure if yours qualifies, please contact us.
    2. Preferred Skills in the areas of:
      • Basic Geographic Information Systems
      • Introductory programming (in any language, but Python is taught in our program)
      • Introductory statistics

Generally an undergraduate course or 1 to 2 years of using these skills in the workplace are sufficient.  For applicants concerned about not having 1 or more of these skills in place at the time of admission, the program may recommend one or more courses to be completed during the first semester of enrollment (or students may consider taking courses as a non-degree student prior to admissions to gain these skills). Please address these skills in your personal statement.

Professional experience is not required, but many of our students have had some experience in GIST outside the classroom. This can be highlighted in your resume/CV and personal statement uploaded as part of your application.

A full application consists of:

  1. Graduate School Application (indicate 'Distance Track' for the online program)
  2. Official transcripts from colleges and universities attended
  3. A resume/CV
  4. Personal Statement
  5. Three Letters of Recommendation

Cost

This master's degree requires 33 credit hours. At 2018-19 tuition rates, the cost of the required courses is $453 per credit for North Carolina residents and $1,261 per credit for non-residents. Thus, the total estimated cost for the 30-credit program is $14,949 for North Carolina residents and $41,613 for non-residents. See Online and Distance Education Tuition and Fees for cost details.

Plan of Study

The MGIST curriculum consists of at least 33 credit hours, 21 of which are required core courses. The additional 12 credit hours are electives and allow the student to focus on related areas of interest to supplement their GIS instruction and professional skills development. As part of the program students will complete a Capstone project and develop a Professional Portfolio.

Students are required to take at least one course per semester (Fall and Spring) for the duration of the program (unless financial aid or other considerations require half-time (4.5 hours) or full-time (9 hours) status). Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater in order to graduate. It typically takes a minimum of 4 semesters (2 academic years) to complete the appropriate sequence of courses. Students have a maximum of 6 years to complete the program.

Courses cover theory, application, and back-end development relevant for today's geospatial professionals using both open source and ESRI tools.

Capstone Experience

An integral part of the Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology program is participation in a Capstone project during the last semester of the program. Students work directly with community and industry partners to apply the knowledge and skills they have developed in the program to real-world problems. The program works closely with each student to identify an appropriate project based on our partner’s needs and the interests of the individual students. Students present their final project to their peers and the greater geospatial community during our Professional Showcase. Visit our Capstone page for more information, or view sample student projects.

Professional Portfolio

All students are also required to produce a professional digital portfolio. The digital portfolio will present personal MGIST program accomplishments to demonstrate individual competences through knowledge, skills, and abilities of a geospatial science professional. NOTE: Students entering the MGIST program prior to Fall 2016 have the option of completing the Portfolio requirement within GIS 590 or can take GIS 660. For students entering Fall 2016 and after, GIS 660 is a required part of the curriculum.

Residential Component

A unique aspect of our online Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology program is an emphasis on building relationships between our online students, faculty, and on-campus students. We feel this is an extremely important component of graduate education. It is important that our program provide a sense of community among our students, event those that may be studying in a different state or country. To facilitate this interaction, our program requires that students come to campus on two occasions during the program.

The first is an all-day orientation program at the start of the program designed to introduce faculty and advisors, bridge relationships between our new online and on-campus students, learn about the details of the program, and have fun together!

The second on-campus experience takes place at the end of the program during our Professional Showcase. Students graduating will be asked to participate in a symposium to present their Capstone projects to our community partners, and the geospatial community at NC State. It is a great networking and professional development opportunity for graduating students.

Career Prospects

The job market for individuals with GIS development and analytic skills is excellent and growing. For example the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency alone will require 7,000 analysts per year for the foreseeable future.The U.S. Department of Labor currently identifies the Geospatial Technology sector as one of 14 high growth industries in dire need of new professionals and targeted with special funding to develop this workforce.

Core Required Courses - 21 hours

GIS 501 - Geospatial Professionalism

Units: 2

Students will examine a variety of topics critical to successful navigation of the geospatial profession, with an emphasis on map communication and presentation, interpreting geospatial research, the ethical, legal, and social implications [ELSI] of using spatial data, metadata concepts, and linking results to policy actions. Students will engage in several writing, presentation, and interpretation exercises.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 510 - Fundamentals of Geospatial Information Science and Technology

Units: 3

This course provides an advanced overview of how geographic information systems [GIS] facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems. Students improve spatial reasoning and problem definition expertise while emphasizing geographic data models and structures, data manipulation and storage, customization through programming, and the integration of geospatial analysis and modeling into project-based problem solving applicable to a variety of disciplines. Skilled application of both desktop and cloud-based GIS software supports these areas. Extensive independent learning and computer experiences include virtual laboratory sessions, alongside optional online or in-person weekly help sessions to facilitate student learning.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 530 - Spatial Data Foundations

Units: 3

This course focuses on geospatial information systems from a mathematical and information science perspective. We discuss theoretical frameworks for conceptualizing geographic data, including levels of measurement, data control, and the vector data and raster data paradigms. Then we discuss the geometric underpinnings of geospatial systems: representing data with geographic elements, spatial referencing systems, and projection. Next, we explore map-related topology and computational geometry concepts. Finally, we survey the algorithms for core spatial manipulations, such as interpolation and polygon operations.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 540 - Geospatial Programming Fundamentals

Units: 3

This course provides fundamental skills for geospatial programming. Topics include calling geographic processing tools, batch processing, performing file i/o in an external computing language and building, graphical user interfaces and displays. To support these tasks, students learn basic programming concepts, such as pseudocode, flow-control, code re-use, and debugging. In the final project, students streamline GIS work-flow and customize GIS user interfaces. Familiarity with GIS software is required, but no prior programming experience is expected.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 550 - Geospatial Data Structures and Web Services

Units: 3

This course examines the spatial database models and structures used in geospatial information science and technology as well as the design and implementation of web and related mobile computing geospatial tools and systems. Students develop, evaluate, and deploy multiple spatial data models and web services that include connections to external data sources and systems.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 582 - Geospatial Modeling

Units: 3

The course provides foundations in methods for GIS-based surface analysis and modeling. The topics include proximity analysis with cost surfaces and least cost paths, multivariate spatial interpolation and 3D surface visualization. Special focus is on terrain modeling, geomorphometry, solar irradiation, visibility, and watershed analysis. Students are also introduced to the basic concepts of landscape process modeling with GIS and to the principles of open source GIS. Introductory level knowledge of GIS or surveying/ geomatics principles is required.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 590 - Geospatial Information Science Master's Project

Units: 3

This is the culmination course for The Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology degree. This course provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their accumulated degree skills and expertise by developing and communicating the solution to a complex geospatial problem through a Master's Capstone project. The project will include interoperable spatial and non-spatial data, web services, customized user interfaces and workflows completed in collaboration with a community partner. The student will design and manage a major project and professionally communicate their analysis and results to a public audience.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 660 - MGIST Professional Portfolio

Units: 1

This course will focus on creating an effective digital portfolio, including content selection, description and reflection, and web site organization and design. The digital portfolio will present personal MGIST program accomplishments to demonstrate individual competences through knowledge, skills, and abilities of a geospatial science professional. Intended for students in their last semester in the MGIST Program.

Offered in Fall and Spring

Find this course:

2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

Electives - 12 hours

The following are just a sample of electives that have been approved for students. Other courses may serve as electives after consultation with an advisor.

GIS 505 - Introduction to Geovisualization Technologies

Units: 2

This course provides an overview of emerging methods and tools for the visual exploration, analysis, synthesis, and presentation of data that contains geographic information. Specific methods include the collection and representation of three-dimensional, remotely sensed, and gigapixel imagery. An introduction to the display of digital imagery and visualizations through interactive GIS and immersive virtual environment technology is also covered. This hands-on course provides an opportunity to interact with current technologies within the Center for Earth Observation's Digital Imagery Visualization Laboratory.

Offered in Spring Only

GIS 512 - Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing

Units: 3

Principles and hands-on techniques for processing and analyzing remotely sensed data for natural resource applications. Topics include review of the electromagnetic spectrum, pre-processing [georectification, enhancements and transformations], processing [visual interpretation, indices, supervised and unsupervised classification] and post-processing [masking, change analysis and accuracy assessment] of digital image data. This course will provide students with fundamental concepts and skills needed to pursue further studies in digital processing of remotely sensed data.

Offered in Fall and Spring

TERM: Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 515 - Cartographic Design

Units: 2

Principles of cartographic design and how to apply them to produce high-quality geographic information system [GIS] based maps. Successful students will acquire an understanding of map design and experience applying it with GIS software. Students produce project maps in both print and web media.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 520 - Spatial Problem Solving

Units: 3

Focus on spatial problem solving from a geographic information perspective. Students learn to solve spatial problems through advanced analysis using geospatial technologies, learn to integrate and analyze spatial data in various formats, and explore methods for displaying geographic data analysis results to guide decision making. All course materials are delivered through the Internet, with optional weekly on-campus and synchronous online help sessions.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 521 - Surface Water Hydrology with GIS

Units: 3

The application of geographic information systems [GIS] to surface water modeling including stream and watershed delineations, regulatory wetlands jurisdiction determinations, and flood mapping. In addition students will develop spatial computation methods to support hydrological analysis in land use planning, landscape management, and engineering assessments.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term

GIS 609 - Geospatial Forum

Units: 1

The Geospatial Forum brings together researchers, educators, practitioners, and students of the geospatial sciences in an exciting, weekly series of lively presentations and facilitated discussions centered upon frontiers in geospatial analytics and geospatial solutions to complex challenges. Live discussions are recorded and made available online for students.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

GIS 630 - Independent Study

Units: 1 - 3

Advanced topics not otherwise included in curriculum for advanced graduate students on a tutorial basis. Determination of credits and content by participating faculty in consultation with Director of Graduate Programs. Departmental consent required

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Summer Term 1 2019 Fall Term

GIS Special Topics Courses

Special topics courses will be labeled GIS 595 or GIS 610 and cover topics that are not part of our regular curriculum. These offerings change each semester and there may be multiple offerings in a given semester.

Professional Skills Electives

Graduate students are also eligible to earn a Certificate in Professional Communication and Managerial Skills (PCMS) by completing 4 professional skills electives.

BUS 590 - Special Topics In Business Management

Units: 1 - 6

Presentation of material not normally available in regular courses offerings or offering of new courses on a trial basis.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

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2019 Spring Term

MBA 553 - Business Process Design and Analysis

Units: 3

Identification, development, analysis, improvement and management of business processes. Strategic and executional issues critical to high-performance processes. Lean tools. Six sigma. Process redesign. Outsourcing. Service oriented architecture. Examples from different industries and functional areas within firms, to identify similarities and differences of well run processes.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term

COM 521 - Communication and Globalization

Units: 3

Economic, political, cultural dimensions of globalization. Role of information and communication technologies, networks, institutions, and practices in human social organization.

Offered in Summer

YEAR: Offered Alternate Odd Years

Find this course:

2019 Summer Term 1

COM 527 - Seminar in Organizational Conflict Management

Units: 3

Examination of conflict antecedents, interventions, outcomes through multiple texts, journal articles. Emphasis on workplace conflict, organizational outcomes, dispute system design. Evaluation through participation in class discussion, independent papers, research project, presentation.

Offered in Summer

YEAR: Offered Alternate Odd Years

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2019 Summer Term 2

COM 530 - Interpersonal Communication in Science and Technology Organizations

Units: 3

Blends theory and research to understand and analyze interpersonal communication practices and issues within organizations, including managing impressions and conversations, engaging in active listening, managing conflict, influencing others, and communicating in teams. Focus on developing and maintaining effective interpersonal at work and improving student's communication competence.

Offered in Summer

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2019 Summer Term 2

Environmental Science/Natural Resource Electives

FOR 510 - Introduction to GPS

Units: 1

One-third semester mini-course. Introduction to collection and use of mapping grade global positioning satellite systems data. Includes review of cartographic properties, mission planning, hands-on collection of GPS points, lines, and areas, differential correction, editing, and exporting GPS files to a GIS.

Offered in Fall Only

FOR 753 - Environmental Remote Sensing

Units: 3

Principles and applications of remote sensing technology to earth resources and environmental studies. Electromagnetic energy, data acquisition platforms, sensors and scanners, processing of digital remotely sensed data, error analysis and accuracyassessments, and integration of remotely sensed data with other data types used in natural resource management.

Offered in Fall Only

YEAR: Offered Alternate Years

MEA 511 - Introduction to Meteorological Remote Sensing

Units: 3

Meteorological remote sensing data sets used in operational forecast and research applications. Sensor physical principles. Emphasis is on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the different types of observational data so that the student can judge adequacy of purpose for their applications.

Offered in Fall Only

SSC 545 - Remote Sensing Applications in Soil Science and Agriculture

Units: 3

Overview of remote sensing including history, evolution, vocabulary, and physical principles, i.e., electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with matter. Distant and proximate remote sensing techniques [aerial photography, satellite imaging, radar, lidar, etc.], hardware, and platforms and their application in the characterization and management of soils and crops. Development of strategies for incorporating remote sensing into soil and agronomic research, and of practical skills for processing, analysis, display, and discussion of remote sensing data with applications in soil science and agriculture.

YEAR: Offered Alternate Even Years

SSC 540 - Geographic Information Systems [GIS] in Soil Science and Agriculture

Units: 3

Geographic information systems [GIS], global positioning system [GPS], and remote sensing to manage spatially variable soils, vegetation, other natural resources. Develop: function understanding of GIS principles, working knowledge of ArcGIS, problem-solving/critical-thinking necessary to use GIS to characterize and manage soils, agriculture, natural resources. Introduction to GIS; Maps/Cartography; Vectore/Raster Data Models; Georeferencing/Coordinate Systems; Spatial Data Sources; GPS/GPS skillls/ Remote Sensing; Statistics/Interpolation; Precision Agriculture; Computer Aided Design and GIS; Creating Analyzing 3-D Surfaces. Credit not given for both SSC 440 and SSC 540.

Offered in Spring Only

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2019 Spring Term

Engineering Electives

CSC 540 - Database Management concepts and Systems

Units: 3

Advanced database concepts. Logical organization of databases: the entity-relationship model; the relational data model and its languages. Functional dependencies and normal forms. Design, implementation, and optimization of query languages; security and integrity, consurrency control, transaction processing, and distributed database systems.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Fall Term

BAE 535 - Precision Agriculture Technology

Units: 3

Overview of technology available for implementation of a comprehensive precision agriculture program. Topics include computers, GPS, sensors, mechanized soil sampling, variable rate control system, yield monitors, and postharvest processing controls. Applications of precision agriculture in crop planning, tillage, planting, chemical applications, harvesting and postharvest processing. Credit may not be received for BAE 435 and BAE 535.

Offered in Spring Only

YEAR: Offered Alternate Even Years

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2019 Spring Term

CE 705 - Intelligent Transportation Systems

Units: 3

Intelligent Transportation Systems [ITS] planning and human factor elements; application of monitoring, communications and information dissemination technologies to transportation systems; advanced traffic management for freeway and arterial systems; traveler information and public transportation systems; automated vehicle and highway systems. ITS evaluation methods and models.

Offered in Fall Only

YEAR: Offered Alternate Even Years

ECE 759 - Pattern Recognition

Units: 3

Image pattern recognition techniques and computer-based methods for scene analysis, including discriminate functions, fixture extraction, classification strategies, clustering and discriminant analysis. Coverage of applications and current research results.

Offered in Spring Only

ECE 763 - Computer Vision

Units: 3

Analysis of images by computers. Specific attention given to analysis of the geometric features of objects in images, such as region size, connectedness and topology. Topics include: segmentation, template matching, motion analysis, boundary detection, region growing, shape representation, 3-D object recognition including graph matching.

Offered in Spring Only

ISE 754 - Logistics Engineering

Units: 3

Elements of logistics networks. Supply chain design: facility location and allocation; great-circle distances; geocoding. Multi-echelon production and inventory systems; sourcing decision systems. Vehicle routing: exact, approximation, and heuristic procedures; traveling salesman problem; basic vehicle routing problem and extensions; backhauling; mixed-mode transportation system design.

Offered in Spring Only

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2019 Summer Term 1 2019 Fall Term

Statistics Electives

ST 507 - Statistics For the Behavioral Sciences I

Units: 3

A general introduction to the use of descriptive and inferential statistics in behavioral science research. Methods for describing and summarizing data presented, followed by procedures for estimating population parameters and testing hypotheses concerning summarized data.

Offered in Fall and Spring

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2019 Spring Term

ST 508 - Statistics For the Behavioral Sciences II

Units: 3

Introduction to use of statistical design principles in behavioral science research. Presentation of use of a statistical model to represent structure of data collected from a designed experiment or survey study. Opportunities provided for use of a computer to perform analyses of data, to evaluate proposed statistical model and to assist in post-hoc analysis procedures. Least squares principles used to integrate topics of multiple linear regression analysis, the analysis of variance and analysis of covariance.

Offered in Spring Only

ST 511 - Statistical Methods For Researchers I

Units: 3

Basic concepts of statistical models and use of samples; variation, statistical measures, distributions, tests of significance, analysis of variance and elementary experimental design, regression and correlation, chi-square.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

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2019 Summer Term 1 2019 Fall Term

ST 512 - Experimental Statistics For Biological Sciences II

Units: 3

Covariance, multiple regression, curvilinear regression, concepts of experimental design, factorial experiments, confounded factorials, individual degrees of freedom and split-plot experiments. Computing laboratory addressing computational issues and use of statistical software.

Offered in Fall Spring Summer

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2019 Spring Term 2019 Summer Term 2

ST 733 - Spatial Statistics

Units: 3

Introduction to the theory and methods of spatial data analysis including: visualization; Gaussian processes; spectral representation; variograms; kriging; computationally-efficient methods; nonstationary processes; spatiotemporal and multivariate models.

Offered in Spring Only

Other 500 level Statistics courses
Entry Semester Application Deadlines and Details
FallApr 15 (US); Mar 1 (Int)
SpringOct 15 (US); Jul 15 (Int)

Dr. Eric Money

Associate Director of Professional Education, Director of Graduate Programs, Assistant Professor

College of Natural Resources

919.513.0408
esmoney@ncsu.edu