Geographic Information System Technology

Geographic Information Systems Technology

Master of Science

Seeking employment or advancement in the fast-growing geospatial industry? The Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems Technology (GIST) trains you to succeed in a variety of careers.

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GIST programs at the University of Arizona emphasize cutting-edge trends and have become some of the largest and most successful programs in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Our newly redesigned graduate curricula respond to emerging technologies in GIST-related fields, focusing on web, mobile and open source applications to ensure graduates are ready for an ever-evolving workplace.

Arizona is dedicated to offering the highest-quality GIST programs available, both in person and online. That’s why our programs meet the standards of the GIST Body of Knowledge compiled by the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, which guarantees the program provides a comprehensive overview of GIST topics such as programming and development, data capture and management, analytics and modeling, and cartography and visualization. Our online instructional methodology meets all relevant standards for quality in online education. As a result, MS-GIST graduates often find or advance related careers in fields such as public administration, natural and cultural resources, IT engineering, and defense.

Other amazing features of this program include:

  • Earning your MS-GIST online in 18 months from a top-ranked geography department with some of the most cost-effective programs available.
  • Learning about:
    • Current remote sensing and LiDAR processing skills.
    • Professional geodata analytics and the latest trends in big data applications to geospatial analysis.
    • The fundamentals of web GIS, mobile GIS and GIS programming with Python.
  • Gaining hands-on experience in the use of leading proprietary GIS/remote sensing software (e.g., ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, ERDAS) and open source solutions such as QGIS.
  • Working with the Arizona’s internationally renowned faculty.

View detailed program information

Career Level: Graduate
Degree: Master of Science
College: College of Social And Behavioral Sciences

Cost & Eligibility

Per Unit Cost: $820
*Residents of some U.S. Territories may not be eligible. Please see our Eligibility & State Authorization page for more information.

The core curriculum for this degree program includes: 

  • GIST 601A: Geographic Information Science - Cover the fundamental concepts of geographic information systems technology (GIST). This course combines an overview of the general principles of GIScience, including tools for storing, retrieving, and displaying spatial data, and how they relate to the nature and analytical use of spatial information within GIS software and technology. Throughout this course, you will begin to apply the principles and science of GIST through a series of practical labs using ESRI’s ArcGIS software.
  • GIST 601B: Remote Sensing Science - Learn the scientific principles and practices of remote sensing. This course emphasizes integration issues and analysis techniques that arise when merging remotely sensed data with geographic information systems (GIS) by covering topics such as issues of spatial resolutions, the electromagnetic spectrum, multispectral and LiDAR image processing and enhancement, and land-use and land-cover classifications (LULC).
  • GIST 602A: Raster Spatial Analysis - Examine the principles and practices associated with raster data development and analysis, particularly the development of real world surfaces and statistical analysis based on these surfaces.  The course is presented in a lecture/laboratory format which presents conceptual issues necessary for the use of raster approaches within a GIS framework and practical experience with rasters in an ArcGIS environment.
  • GIST 602B: Vector Spatial Analysis - This course focuses on an introduction to vector based spatial analysis and its application in GIS software. You will learn how to analyze distribution, direction, orientation, clustering, spatial relationships and processes, and how to render analytic outcomes into cartographic form. This course also provides foundational knowledge of global positioning systems, data collection, geodatabase development, and georeferencing.
  • GIST 603A: Geographic Information Systems Programming and Automation - Explore introductory-level geographic programming and data automation techniques. In this course, you will become familiar with the ModelBuilder tools inside ArcGIS for Desktop to automate redundant tasks using ModelBuilder and learn how to build a script using Python to customize functionality and task with GIS.
  • GIST 603B: WebGIS - Gain an understanding of web mapping using applications like ArcGIS for Server, ArcGIS Online (AGOL), WebAppBuilder (WAB), web-enabled geoprocessing, Story Maps, AppStudio, and the Javascript API.
  • GIST 604A: Applied GIS - Prepare to apply a GIST-based problem solving approach within the context of a student-directed project. Specific GIS skills covered include project planning, spatial data sources and acquisition, data compilation, coding, analysis, and presentation of results. The course topics may vary, each session examines a different urban or environmental issue in the natural and social sciences using geographic information systems technology. 
  • GIST 604B: Open Source GIS - This course provides students a brief introduction about Open Source software for both desktop and internet GIS applications. You will go through hands-on learning about applications hosting, data development, processing, and sharing using open source tools and technologies such as GITHub , Quantum GIS (QGIS), Python, GeoServer and PostGIS using real-world data in lab assignments.
  • GIST 909: Master's Project in Geographic Information Systems Technology - The Master’s Project includes a formal report and presentation submitted in lieu of a Master’s Thesis and reflects what a student has learned from the MS-GIST program. This course focuses on addressing normative and/or scientific geographic problems, data capture, compilation and manipulation, and formulating methods and analysis to address the problem in a given timeline.
Student taking a UA Online course

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Prepare for a Career in GIST

The MS in GIST gives students the opportunity to explore diverse areas like programming and development, analytics and modeling, and cartography and visualization. Kiri Carini shares details about the program and her experience as an online student.