Geographic Information Systems – MS

Geographic Information Systems

Program Description

This Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems is a two-year professional degree specifically designed to prepare students of GIS for post-secondary appointments in government or the private sector. Graduates of the program acquire all the essential skills to assume management positions in business, government, and industry, or seek employment as specialists in other areas where geospatial expertise is needed.

Graduate students in GIS at AUM  learn how to operate high-tech scientific equipment and computers to collect information and analyze data using programs designed by the world’s leading geospatial software providers. They also work with internationally recognized faculty members on research at home and abroad, and fill internships with federal, state, and local government as well as private industry.


What is GIS?

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer-based system designed to collect, store, integrate, manipulate, analyze & display data in a spatially referenced environment.

It allows you to analyze data visually and see patterns, trends, and relationships that might not be visible in tabular or written form. With GIS, for example, law enforcement can overlay crime data one local maps to see trends and hot spots, social service agencies can map poverty levels to identify areas likely to need increased services, or business owners can determine optimum market locations. Thus, those skilled in using GIS offer businesses, organizations and government the ability to spot and address relationships between geographical entities and attributes that would be otherwise invisible.

Dr. Gabe Costa, Dr. Nick Cuba, and Dr. Hoehun Ha advise graduate students in GIS.

Dr. Gabe Costa is an Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences, and Coordinator of Environmental Sciences and GIS at AUM. His research is mainly focused on understanding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of variation in biodiversity across the globe. Dr. Costa teaches Biostatistics, Species Distribution Modeling, Landscape Ecology, and Biogeography and Macroecology. His classes usually have a strong focus on analytical skills including learning to work in the R environment, GIS and spatial analysis. Dr. Costa can be contacted at [email protected].

Dr. Nicholas Cuba is a geographer whose work analyzes ecological properties and processes over space and time to draw inferences about the functioning and governance of socio-environmental systems. Primarily drawing on remote sensing, GIS, and data science as methods, he investigates disruption to communities driven by climate change and localized impacts of extractive and infrastructure development. Much of his past and current research has purposefully engaged with international civil society and legal groups such as Oxfam America, Oxfam Honduras and the Center for Climate Crimes Analysis. Prior to joining AUM, he worked as a postdoctoral research scientist at the Center for the Study of Natural Resource Extraction and Society at Clark University and was a Voss Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society at Brown University.  Dr. Cuba can be contacted at [email protected].

Dr. Hoehun Ha is an Associate Professor of Geography specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). His primary research interests focus on the linkages between socio-physical environment and human interactions, using GIS, and statistical methodologies. His teaching interests cover a wide range of geography courses including: Introduction to GIS, Advanced GIS, GIS in Environmental Modeling & Management, GIS in Public Health, Cartography, Geography of World Region, Human Geography, Spatial Statistics, and Earth Systems Science. Dr. Ha’s publications have appeared in numerous internationally reputable scholarly journals including Environmental Science & Technology, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, Transportation, Applied Geography, Ecological Informatics, High Altitude Medicine & Biology and others. Dr. Ha can be contacted at [email protected].

In addition to its undergraduate degree, AUM also offers a GIS certificate for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in some other discipline.

Points of Pride

  • The Geospatial Research Institute is a lab with the necessary software and equipment for capturing and analyzing spatial date. Its services are available to business and government and provide opportunities for work in the field for undergraduates.
  • AUM’s program was one of four academic GIS programs in the U.S. was chosen to assist with rescue relief in the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
  • We’re home to the test program for one of the two major producers of GIS software in the U.S.
  • The program hosts the state of Alabama’s “GIS Day.”

Put Your Degree to Work

Note: While salaries vary depending on several factors including your level of experience, education and training, and geography and industry, here is a sampling of the future job growth and salaries nationally.

Jobs for those holding GIS degree are expected to grow by more than 20% over the next decade in the private and public sectors. Career opportunities and job titles in GIS include:

  • Conservationist
  • Climate Scientist
  • Health Geographer
  • GIS Manager
  • Cartographers
  • Urban/Regional Planner
  • Archeologist
  • Photogrammetrist
  • App Developer

U.S Bureau of Labor statistic sample

JobsMedian Annual PayJob Growth through 2028
Conservation Scientists and Foresters$61,3403%
Urban/Regional Planner$73,05011%

For More Information

Biology Department
Auburn University at Montgomery
Goodwyn Hall 301
[email protected]

Program Overview

The course listings below are a representation of what this academic program requires. For a full review of this program in detail please see our official online catalog AND consult with an academic advisor. This listing does not include the core curriculum courses required for all majors and may not include some program-specific information, such as admissions, retention and termination standards.

Course sampling specific to the GIS program includes:

Course #Course NameCourse Description
GEOG 4965Spatial Statistics for GISThis course informs the students on methods and theory for quantitative analysis within the GIS environment. The statistical methods taught in this course will enable the student to characterize geo-spatial distributions of geographic features and entities and verify casual relationships.
GEOG 3940Cartography w/LabThis course is an introduction to mapping sciences and arts. Topics covered include the basics in mapping (scale, spatial reference systems, and projections), data acquisition and organization, key techniques for thematic mapping, and the principles of cartographic abstraction and design.
GEOG 4950Advanced GIS w/LabGeographic Information Systems history and theory, spatial concepts, research design, computer cartography, data collection and entry, information, storage, relational database design, digitizing, raster/vector operations, GPS and GIS, remote sensing analysis, overlay operations, spatial statistics and predictive modeling, spatial queries, and GIS output.
GEOG 49703D & Raster GIS w/LabThe methods, theory, and applications employed to develop 3D objects in the GIS environment. This course covers raster conversion of vector data, grid surface, terrain and hydrological modeling, statistical surfaces, view-shed analysis, distance and density surfaces, and 3D or 4D visualizations.
GEOG 4990Application Research in GIS with LabThis is the capstone course for students seeking certification in GIS. The course provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate knowledge derived from four basic courses in GIS. Under faculty supervision, students design and carry out a major research project that incorporates topics relating to the history, philosophy, and science of spatial analysis.
GEOG 4960Remote Sensing & GPS Apps GIS/LabThis course is an introduction to remote sensing technology. Lectures and lab exercises cover the basic theoretical and technical aspects of various remote sensing platforms and their integration with SPS and GIS to facilitate accurate characterization of the Earth’s physical and human environment.
GEOG 4200Urban GeographyThe location, character and growth of urban centers with special attention to their interior patterns of land use and cultural development. Prerequisite GEOG 2010 or GEOG 2150.
GEOG 2010Principles of Physical GeographyStudy of the basic physical elements of geography, including climate, lithology, landforms, water resources, soils and natural vegetation.
Economic GeographyInvestigates the principles of economic geography through the interaction of man and his habitat with emphasis on economic types, food products, minerals, power resources and trade patterns.

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