Master of Science in Geographic Information Science

Graduate Advisors: Leonhard Blesius, Jerry Davis, Ellen Hines, XiaoHang Liu

Admission to the Program

For admission to the graduate program, a student must meet the general University requirements as stated in the Bulletin. An applicant must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.25 or better in geography or a related discipline, with emphasis or experience in spatial data analysis, and have earned a grade of B or better in GEOG 603, or equivalent.

Please submit applications through Cal State Apply.  Transcripts, a Statement of Purpose, and two letters of recommendation are required.  Personal interviews with graduate advisors and the appropriate department faculty are recommended.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate skills appropriate to master's-level work in Geography.
  2. Understand the use of appropriate methods of inquiry in GIScience research.
  3. Quantitatively analyze a geographic research question.
  4. Develop and formulate research questions from literature or internship experience.
  5. Use skills and knowledge to answer research questions through a thesis or research project.

Written English Proficiency Requirements

The University has a requirement for written English proficiency that is to be assessed at two different levels.

Level One

Written English proficiency will be assessed on the basis of the Statement of Purpose. Students who demonstrate a need for additional writing support will be required to take a graduate-level writing class. 

Level Two

Satisfactory completion of GEOG 895 or GEOG 898.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to fulfilling all University requirements, students must complete the required curriculum outlined below. All graduate seminars and all courses used on the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) with the exception of Geography 895 and 898 must be taken on a letter grade basis and have earned a B– or better. Not more than three units of Special Study (GEOG 899) and 1 unit of Special Study (GEOG 699) may be included on the ATC. Each student must consult with their graduate advisor regularly and design an individual program leading towards the culminating experience requirement (thesis or research paper). For advancement to candidacy, the student must select a culminating experience committee comprised of two or three members, at least two of whom must be full-time faculty in geography at SF State, and must present a research proposal to the department.

Upper-division courses offered by the department may be included with the approval of the graduate advisor. Depending on a student's background and/or objective, additional courses in geography or a related field may be required on advisement. Note: A maximum of 30% undergraduate-only courses may be used in a graduate program.

Geographic Information Science (M.S.) — Minimum 30 units

Prerequisites as Needed (0-3 units)

GEOG 603Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (or equivalent)3

Core Courses (24 units)

GEOG 705Geographical Analysis3
GEOG 801Scope and Method in Geography3
GEOG 815Seminar in GIScience3
Select one:
GIScience Internship
Directed Reading in Geography
Select one:3
Environmental Management
Seminar in Physical Geography (any variant: Biogeography, Climatology, or Geomorphology)
Human and Social Geography
Select 12-16 units on advisement from the following:12-16
Remote Sensing of the Environment I
Remote Sensing of the Environment II
Geographical Information Systems
Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Analysis
Approved courses from among the following on advisement:
Internet Application Design and Development
Introduction to Database Systems
Programming for Geographic Information Science
Watershed Assessment and Restoration
Natural Resource Management: Biotic Resources
Field Methods in Environmental Science & Physical Geography
GEOG 704Environmental Data Science3
GEOG 810Seminar in Physical Geography3
GEOG 820Human and Social Geography3
GEOG 857Issues in Marine and Estuarine Conservation3
or ERTH 702 Quantitative Methods in Geosciences

Culminating Experience (3 units)

Select one:3
Research Project (and Master's Comprehensive Oral Examination)
Master's Thesis (and Oral Defense of Thesis)

Comprehensive Oral Examination (GEOG 895)

A two-hour oral examination is required of all students using this option. One hour is devoted to the research topic (GEOG 895) and a second hour of comprehensive oral examination on the theory and applications of GIScience. The examination or either of its parts may be repeated only once. Students must have completed all coursework prior to taking the oral examination, which can be scheduled only during the fall and spring semesters. Examination guidelines are available from the graduate advisor.

Research Proposal

The department requires all graduate students to present a proposal of their research for culminating experience to faculty and peers within a semester of filing the Proposal for Culminating Experience. The object is to provide students with useful feedback in the critical developmental stage of the research experience. Students present a twenty-minute synopsis of their research ideas to faculty and fellow graduate students focusing particularly on linking the research to a broader theoretical framework and presenting a methodology design to achieve the stated objectives. This is followed by twenty minutes (maximum) for questions and comments. Proposal presentations are scheduled as needed.