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Advising & Curriculum Overview

Mentoring and advising are an essential part of the program. Students meet with faculty and the academic program director to ensure that educational goals and career learning and development goals are met. To learn more about the program, prospective students should contact the Assistant Director of MS Programs, Kristen Bergery via e-mail:

Graduate Programs in Geospatial Information Sciences includes a Master of Science and one Graduate Certificates. Students who successfully complete requirements for the Graduate Certificate may apply these credits towards the master’s program if the student applies and is admitted.

MS-Geospatial Information Sciences

  • A 30-credit, 10-course curriculum that focuses on remote sensing, statistics, and computing. Topics cover spatial analysis, spatial statistics, programming and scripting, spatial databases, GIS modeling, remote sensing, Internet GIS, Mobile GIS, Big Data, and Open Source GIS. Courses cover:
    • Concepts and practices of geographic information systems (GIS).
    • Concepts and practices of remote sensing.
    • Concepts and issues related to modeling and simulation in the GIS context.
    • Concepts and practices of GIS application development on Web and mobile platforms.
    • Scripting and object-oriented programming with Python.
  • Plan of study includes six 3-credit core courses (18 credits) and four 3-credit electives (12 credits). 
    • Includes GEOG797: Professional Project (core course) which is a faculty-advised independent research project. Students demonstrate problem-solving and critical thinking in one or more of the technical areas within the GIS domain. Students also take the initiative in planning and organizing this project, demonstrating effective communication in writing and through the capstone project presentation.
  • The program is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date education on geospatial technology, theory, and applications with the goal to assist students to become GIS developers. 

GC-Geospatial Information Sciences

  • A 12-credit, 4-course curriculum that provides specialized training in GIS and in the application of geospatial technologies, specifically geographic information systems, remote sensing, spatial analysis and modeling. 
  • Plan of study includes two 3-credit core courses (6 credits) and two 3-credit electives (6 credits).

The program offers two learning options: in-person or 100% online. Instruction is provided by University of Maryland faculty and professionals in the field. The curriculum is the same for both learning options. Courses are scheduled for weekday evenings (e.g., after 5:30 p.m.).

In-Person Learning

  • Instructors present dynamic and interactive seminar-style instruction. 
  • Classes are held in UMD College Park campus classrooms, offering a focused, distraction-free learning environment. 
  • Lectures are video archived. Students who are unable to attend a class session can review the session at their convenience.

100% Online Learning

  • Using advanced audio and video technology, UMD’s online learning environment delivers dynamic and interactive content.
  • Featuring convenience and flexibility, online instruction permits asynchronous or synchronous participation.
  • Students attend in real time via the use of webcams and headsets with microphones. Through synchronous participation, students see slides, see and hear instructors speaking, and also ask questions.
  • Lectures are video archived. Students who are unable to attend in real time can review the session through asynchronous participation.

International Students and Online Learning

  • Due to visa requirements, international students admitted into the in-person learning option are required to register for on-campus sections and attend lectures in-person. 
  • International students admitted into the online learning option are not eligible for Occupational Practical Training (OPT).

MS-Geospatial Information Sciences

Upon successful completion, graduates will have mastered the following competencies:

  • Understand the big picture of geospatial technology as a disciplinary field, with a good understanding of its history, current state, and future development trend.
  • Grasp of the connections between different geospatial technology components such as GIS, remote sensing, computing, and emerging software and hardware options, e.g. drones and artificial intelligence.
  • Develop a good understanding of how geospatial technology is applied to real-world problems.
  • Develop proficiency in the following specific knowledge and skills: 
    • Collection, processing, analysis, modeling and visualization of spatial data
    • Interpretation, analysis, design and implementation of spatial databases
    • Processing and analysis of digital images
    • Development of mobile GIS and native apps across mobile platforms (Android, iOS, etc.)
    • Interpretation and design of clearly structured programs using Python
    • Development of client-side and server-side Web applications for non-GIS applications
    • Creation, analysis, and dissemination of GIS data and services via the Web using [various technologies]
    • Spatial analysis, including enterprise GIS, spatial SQL, parallel processing, and display of GIS results on Internet, through open use of open-source software
    • Development of applications of experimental semivariograms, semivariogram models, kriging, cross validation, spatial sampling, and spatiotemporal pattern analysis
    • Analysis of big data with high pe1formance computing, especially spatial data in large volume and high velocity
  • Develop analytic thinking and real-world problem solving for future success in the workforce. Skills include · but are not limited to interpersonal communications and teamwork, creative and critical thinking, occupational planning and organizing, problem-solving and decision making.
  • Design and develop a comprehensive and in-depth GIS project.
  • Comprehend and apply ethical issues in geospatial practice and research, including ethical standards to protect data privacy, security, and copyright, among others.

GC-Geospatial Information Sciences

Upon successful completion, graduates will have mastered the following competencies:

  • Understand the big picture of geospatial technology as a disciplinary field.
  • Attain a good understanding of geospatial technology’s history, current state, and future development trend.

Graduate Programs in Geospatial Information Sciences have access to a variety of physical facilities, hardware and software resources.


  • UMD maintains an Electronic Learning Management System (ELMS) for coursework. ELMS is a Web-based platform for sharing course content, tracking assignments and grades, and enabling virtual collaboration and interaction. ELMS delivers online course content through easy to use web-based technology that enables learning in an engaging, interactive environment.


  • The Department of Geographical Sciences also maintains a Cisco WebEx Online course delivery platform, by which lectures and discussions can be streamed virtually. WebEx is a Web conferencing application that can be used to host classes, office hours, and other meetings, in an online environment. Faculty, staff, and students communicate in real-time using chat, voice (microphone and speakers), and video (webcam). WebEx allows for the ability to display presentations, annotate overtop slides, perform live editing of documents, and conduct a poll within the software. These interactions also allow the instructor to identify and authenticate the student and his/her involvement in the teaching and learning processes.

GIS Labs

  • Students have access to two 25-seat GIS labs equipped with dual-monitor high-end workstations and connected to remote storage facilities. The labs run a wide variety of commercial and open source software for GIS, remote sensing, statistical analysis, data access, image processing, mathematical analyses, graphics and 3D modeling, and software development. Students can study in these labs anytime as long as there are no classes in session.

High-Performance Computing

  • The CGIS has two high-performance Hadoop-based computing clusters that have been purchased for research and student teaching. These clusters are networked to other HPC resources in the Department of Geographical Sciences (the Department maintains a Linux-based HPC cluster). The CGIS and Department of Geographical Sciences link to high-performance computing in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (the "BSWIFT" cluster), as well as to the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), which operates several clusters. In partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), we also have high-performance networking access to other high-performance computing sites around the country, as well as nimble access to commercial computing resources (Amazon A WS).

GIS/Web/Data Servers

  • Two servers have been purchased specifically use in instruction. Students have access to these servers when they take classes such as Web Programming, Spatial Database, Internet GIS, etc.

VMWare Servers

  • VMW are servers provide a virtual environment so that students can access to the software installed on the server anywhere anytime as long as they have an Internet connection. It is essentially a cloud-based service that gives students free access to software needed for teaching and learning.

ArcGIS Software Suite

  • Graduate Programs in Geospatial Intelligence is one of the Esri Development Centers (EDCs). Based on the agreement, the students have free license to most ArcGIS software products including desktop ArcGIS, ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Pro, and ArcGIS Online. They can install the software on their own computer as long as they are enrolled in the program. Students also have free technical support from Esri.
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