Master of Geographic Information Systems

The Master of GIS helps geospatial professionals to attain the analytical, technical, and professional skills needed to attain leadership roles in geospatial enterprises. Graduates gain experience with the latest industry technology, including GIS, Lidar, drones, remote sensing, location intelligence, web mapping, geospatial programming, and much more. Students in this program learn to design, specify, and manage complex geographic information infrastructures as leaders in such fields as environmental resource management, urban and regional planning, cartography, business, facilities management, and transportation planning. You will find much of the course content related to this degree in these Open Educational Resources.

man pointing to a computer monitor. Three people sitting at a table looking at him.

Photo credit:  Filip Linders, MSF/Doctors Without Borders/Swedish Innovation Unit (used with permission)

Course Description

Do you believe that we can be more creative in planning our communities and protecting environments for a sustainable future? Would you like to learn a method to make a difference? One that empowers stakeholders and reduces conflict? Geodesign delivers creative solutions for environmental, economic, and social issues. This method works collaboratively across disciplines, deploying innovative technology to dynamically illustrate the impacts of alternative design scenarios.

Unmanned Aerial Systems

Credit: Photo by JESHOOTS.COM is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Unmanned Aerial Systems, or drones, are developing aggressively, and many government and non-government agencies are considering acquiring such systems. This course will focus on the geo-spatial utilization of a UAS. It will cultivate students' knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of the UAS and data post-processing systems. It introduces fundamental concepts surrounding operating a UAS such as strategies for selecting the right UAS, assessing its performance, managing resulting products (i.e.

Cloud and Server GIS

Credit: Binary One Cyborg Cybernetics-2302728 by Gerd Altmann is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Is your understanding of Cloud GIS a bit hazy? Does thinking about it leave you in a fog? We've designed GEOG 865, Cloud and Server GIS, to help you understand how all of the various pieces of architecture fit together. By the end of the class you'll have a clear understanding of esri's and others' offerings in the space, how to implement ArcGIS Enterprise on Amazon EC2, make online maps with Carto and Mapbox, and engage in some blue sky thinking of your own in our weekly discussions about trends and directions.

Location Intelligence for Business

Credit: Aerial Photography of Cars on Road-intersection 186537/ by Joey Lu is licensed under CC0 | location pins added to original

Course Description

Do you enjoy the competitive challenge of starting up a new business or expanding into new areas? Are you involved in economic and community development? Are you considering the best place to work and live? Do you like to gain an advantage? Location Intelligence for Business extends the application of geospatial intelligence analytical methods to the business world for competitive advantage.

Course Description

General James Clapper, former United States Director of National Intelligence and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), once said "everything happens somewhere." He stressed that there are aspects of time and place to every intelligence problem. In this course, you will examine how time and place work with general intelligence techniques to create geospatial intelligence. You will learn and apply critical thinking skills, structured analytical techniques, and other intelligence methods in a geospatial context.

Course Description

How would you like to travel to new places while collaborating on a geospatial data challenge with students from around the world? In this class, students collaborate on a global-scale geospatial analysis problem with a focus on data analytics and professional practice in Geographic Information Systems. Penn State MGIS students collaborate with graduate students from ITC - University of Twente in Enschede, Netherlands to develop solutions to analyze spatio-temporal patterns in refugee migration data.

Course Description

Independent Study is an opportunity for students to work with individual direction from a faculty member on a topic of mutual interest in geospatial intelligence. Students must have strong professional experience or have taken courses in the subject matter leading up to the chosen topic. Independent Study is reserved for advanced specialties or for intermediate study in areas in which the department does not normally offer course work. Faculty members are under no obligation to accept Independent Study students, but do so as their teaching load permits.

Independent Study in Geospatial Intelligence

Credit: Computer Laptop by Rudy and Peter Skitterians is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Independent Study is an opportunity for students to work with individual direction from a faculty member on a topic of mutual interest in geospatial intelligence. Students must have strong professional experience or have taken courses in the subject matter leading up to the chosen topic. Independent Study is reserved for advanced specialties or for intermediate study in areas in which the department does not normally offer course work. Faculty members are under no obligation to accept Independent Study students, but do so as their teaching load permits.

Course Description

A good detective or researcher like Sherlock Holmes knows the fundamental questions that need to be answered to gather facts to solve a problem. So how does geospatial intelligence contribute to answering these questions? While geospatial technology is useful in revealing who, what, when, and where events take place, it is less useful in explaining why events occur.

Remote Sensing Image Analysis and Applications

Credit: Jason 3a from NASA is Public Domain

Course Description

From satellites gathering imagery from hundreds of miles above the Earth's surface to aerial systems mounted with lasers capable of generating 3D maps with centimeter accuracy, we're gathering more data about our Earth from above than ever before. This course will help you make sense of these complex and exciting datasets. Whether your interest is in natural disasters, environmental assessment, or national security, we'll give you the tools, methods, and techniques to extract actionable and meaningful information from these data.

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Course Spotlight

pile of maps

Cartography and Visualization (GEOG 486) covers design principles and techniques for creating maps with contemporary mapping tools. Students will be introduced to future-focused application topics such as augmented and virtual reality, mapping with multivariate glyphs, the visual depiction of uncertainty, interactive geovisualization, and (geo)visual analytics, and decision-making with maps and mapping products. Visit the course.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Fritz Kessler

Dr. Fritz Kessler has taught various online courses in the Master's of Geographic Information Systems at Penn State since 2007. He's also an avid cyclist and musician. Learn more about Dr. Kessler, see what he has to say about online education, and hear him play a tune on the mandolin.