Geospatial Information Sciences

“A unique multidisciplinary program that equips students to perform geospatial analysis, to build on and enrich geographical knowledge, and to contribute to urban, regional and environmental policy and planning. ” — Brian J. Berry

Powerful new technologies have emerged in recent years that greatly improve our ability to collect, store, manage, analyze and utilize information regarding the features of the Earth's surface and to combine these with other types of economic, social and environmental information. These technologies include geographic information systems (GIS), the global positioning system (GPS), and satellite based remote sensing. They now penetrate every aspect of our lives, from digital maps in vehicles to the management and maintenance of city infrastructure, regional agriculture and forest lands. The GIS industry generates between $150 - $270 billon of revenue globally (Oxera Consulting Ltd, 2013). The GIS industry is projected for continuous growth in the United States requiring the number of geospatial workers to increase from its current 850,000 nationwide to around 1.2 million by 2018 (GeoTech).

Geospatial information science (GISc) was the term coined to describe this quickly growing field that is concerned with geographic concepts, the primitive elements used to describe, analyze, and show how phenomena are distributed over earth's surface. GISc has revolutionized many traditional disciplines, including geography, and brought together scientists and practitioners from a variety of fields. For a decade, UT Dallas has been a leader in GISc education and research. We offer:

  • Bachelor of Science in Geospatial Information Sciences: a 120 semester credit hour degree with emphasis on either Geocomputation or Geography and providing students with thorough training in the theory and technologies of GIS.
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems: a 15 semester credit hour certificate focusing on the application of GIS in government, private sector and scientific areas, which can be completed in one year of part-time evening study.
  • Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing: a 15 semester credit hour certificate focusing on processing remotely sensed satellite and airborne data and using them for a range of applications from urban change analysis to environmental management, which can be completed in one year of part-time evening study.
  • Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence: a 15 semester credit hour certificate focusing on the application of geospatial ideas and techniques to national security and other intelligence activities.
  • Master of Science in Geospatial Information Sciences: a 36 semester credit hour degree program incorporating the GIS Certificate, jointly offered between the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, takes a student beyond the training for the GIS Certificate and exposes him/her to a more rigorous analysis of spatially referenced phenomena of their interest.
  • PhD in Geospatial Information Sciences: a 75 semester credit hour research oriented degree program in geospatial sciences jointly offered between the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the Eric Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Why Choose GIS at UT Dallas?

  • Excellence: Recognized by Geographical Perspectives as the number one program for both GIScience/Computation and Spatial Analysis/Statistics in 2015, selected as a designated Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Geospatial Sciences (GS) by NGA and USGS in 2015, and recognized by the North Central Texas Council of Governments in October 1999 for "excellence in geographic information systems".
  • Experience: More than two decades of research and teaching in GIS.
  • Innovation: The first certificate in GIS in the Metroplex (1994); the first master's degree in GIS (1998) and the first Ph.D. degree in GIS (2005).
  • Involvement: Accredited Member of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), an Esri Development Center (EDC), and founder of the North Texas GIS Consortium (now part of NCTCOG) and continuing service on the North Central Texas GIS Coordinating Council.
  • Uniqueness: Unlike programs at other schools in which geospatial information sciences is offered as a concentration within traditional geography, geology, environmental science or engineering programs, the degrees at UT Dallas are devoted solely to GIS, focusing on advancement of the technology, its associated theory, and the enhancement of its application in a variety of substantive areas. As such, it provides a unique option for students wishing to concentrate in this inherently cross-disciplinary area across three schools at UT Dallas.
  • Flexibility: The ability to incorporate GIS, Geospatial Intelligence and Remote Sensing certificate courses in master's degrees in Public Affairs, Geoscience (Geology and Geophysics), and Applied Economics and Computer Sciences.
  • Commitment: Full-time faculty experienced in GIS teaching with national and international reputations, including a member of the National Academy of Sciences and three endowed chair professors. The research of the faculty is funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as other major federal agencies and state and local governments and private sector companies.
  • Employment: The Geospatial Information Sciences program at UTD has a strong history of job placement for its graduates (including at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels). Since 2010, 72.7%* of Bachelor of Science in Geospatial Information Sciences recipients have found gainful employment. Many of the undergraduates have been so motivated by their coursework, that 33.3%* of them have gone on to enroll in the Master of Science program. Master's recipients in the GIS program have even higher job placement rates, with 97.6% of them being gainfully employed after graduation. Finally, 100% of the Ph.D. recipients since 2010 have found employment, with 60% of them going on to careers in academia. (*Some BS recipients come back to do their master's coursework after having found employment, which explains why these two numbers do not sum to 100%).

GIS Facilities

Classes are offered through state-of-the-art GIS facilities housed in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences. These include 4 computer labs for GIS instruction; 1 high performance lab for more specialized GIS research involving high-resolution imagery and large-scale GIS data. The university's extensive instructional computing facilities are also available. Facilities are open extended hours including evenings and weekends. Enrollment in hands-on courses is controlled to ensure access to computer resources.

For further information, explore our website, send an e-mail to the GIS Program Head, Dr. Fang Qiu, or contact the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.