Plot your destiny at CMU. If you’d enjoy solving geographic problems in city government, business, scientific research or public land management, you’ll like our geography program with emphasis on geographic information sciences. You’ll acquire the necessary computer skills, learn to work in the field and office, and develop a mix of creative and technical talents.
Points of Pride
- With a 6-foot-long unmanned helicopter equipped with a high-resolution digital camera, CMU geography experts are leading the way in research imaging of Great Lakes coastal wetlands.
- Through CMU's Center for Geographic Information Science, you’ll gain hands-on experience using the latest GIS hardware and software to provide geospatial research tools for solving academic, governmental and industrial problems.
- The geography department offers small classes, field trips and opportunities to work in close collaboration with faculty on research projects. You’ll also gain professional development, resources and contacts through student organizations such as the Geography Club.
Put Your Degree to Work
The federal government employs about half of all geographers. Many geographers do fieldwork, which may include travel to foreign countries or remote locations. Employment of geographers is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing use of geographic technologies and data will drive the growth.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sample data
|Job||Median Pay||Job Growth through 2022|
|Geographer||$74,760 per year||29% (500 more jobs)|
|Surveyor/mapping technician||$39,670 per year||14% (7,300 more jobs)|
|Urban/regional planner||$65,230 per year||10% (4,000 more jobs)|
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 academic bulletin AND consult with an academic advisor. This listing does not include the General Education courses required for all majors and may not include some program specific information, such as admissions, retention, and termination standards.
(Click on the course name or number for a complete course description.)
Geography Major: Geographic Information Sciences Concentration
Advisors: Becker, Heumann, Li, Patton, Tian, Wang, Zheng
Total: 40 semester hours
Required Courses I
An introduction to the physical processes of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere and the global distribution of climate, soils, and vegetation. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Satisfies University Program laboratory requirement. (University Program Group II-A: Descriptive Sciences)
An introduction to the human use of earth resources and quantitative examination of select environmental issues resulting from the societal use/misuse of our planet. Quantitative Reasoning. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. (University Program Group II-A: Descriptive Sciences)
Cultures of the World
Population, political, economic, and other cultural phenomena and their world distribution patterns are presented upon a non-technical background of physical geography. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. (University Program Group III-B: Studies in Social Structures)
Introduction to Geographic Information Science
Fundamentals of geographic information science - including spatial data gathering, measurement, classification, analysis, display and map interpretation. Current computer mapping technologies are used in laboratory. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Quantitative Reasoning. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Science)
Required Courses I
Geographic Information Systems I
Concepts and applications of geographic information systems (GIS). Capturing, storing, querying, and displaying geographically referenced data. Primary emphasis is on vector-based GIS. Prerequisite: GEO 203
Remote Sensing of the Environment
Characteristics and principles of remote sensing of the environment. The processes of remote sensing imagery acquisition, analysis, and information extraction. Prerequisites: GEO 203. Recommended: Six hours of geography or other environmental science.
Global Positioning System
Introduction to the Global Positioning System, system operation, data capture, mission planning and data import to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Prerequisites: GEO 203, 303. CR/NC option available.
Elementary Statistical Analysis
An introduction to statistical analysis. Topics will include descriptive statistics, probability, sampling distributions, statistical inference, and regression. Credit may not be earned in more than one of these courses: STA 282, STA 382, STA 392. Quantitative Reasoning. Prerequisite: MTH 130 or 132 or 133. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences).
Required Courses II
Select one of the following:
Information Technology Programming I
Introduction to operating a computer and writing computer programs. First programming course in the information technology major/minor. Language used is Visual Basic.
Principles of Computer Programming
Algorithm development and problem solving methods. Design and development of computer programs in a structured programming language. Pre/Co-requisite: One of MTH 130, 132, 133, 217. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences)
Select from the following in consultation with and approval of GISci advisor. A maximum of 3 hours of GEO 591 and/or GEO 597 may be applied to the concentration.
CAD Mapping for GIS
Concepts and practice of 2-dimensional Computer-Aided Drafting systems (CAD) from a GIS/Mapping perspective. Approach will include photogrammetric techniques and land surveying data. Prerequisites: GEO 203, GEO 303.
Advanced methods and theories concerning the field of cartography including: cartographic communication and visualization, digital map compilation and multivariate data representation. Prerequisites: GEO 303
Advanced Geographic Information Systems
Use of raster spatial data models and associated methods for the collection, processing, management, analysis and visualization of geographic data. Focus: land use/environmental applications. Prerequisites: GEO 303, 305; or GEO 501.
Digital Remote Sensing
Computer processing and data analysis of digital remote sensing data. Emphasis on multispectral image processing and analysis using standard image processing software. Prerequisites: GEO 303, 305. Recommended: STA 382.
Quantitative Methods for Spatial Analysis
Statistical techniques for solving spatial problems. Descriptive and inferential spatial statistics. Spatial pattern analysis. Regression modeling with spatial data. Prerequisites: GEO 303, STA 382.
Geographic Information Systems for Social Sciences
Spatial data visualization and analysis using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with emphasis on application to social sciences, planning, public policy, and business research. Co-requisites: GEO 303.
Advanced Remote Sensing Systems
Characteristics, processing, and applications based on advanced remote sensing systems including imaging radar, thermal and hyperspectral systems. Prerequisites: GEO 508 and STA 382.
GIS Operations and Practices
Practices and procedures utilized by professionals in the implementation and maintenance of large-scale GIS operations. Prerequisites: GEO 503 or Graduate Status in the MS GISci Program.
Special Studies in Geography
Various special topics offered at an advanced undergraduate and graduate level. Prerequisites: permission of instructor.
GEO 591/ESC 591
Experiences in applying geographic techniques to environmental analysis, resource management, and business applications. Up to 3 hours of internship credit can be applied to the geography/earth science major. Identical to ESC 591. Credit may not be earned in more than one of these courses. A full-time internship position for one semester may qualify for 12 hours of credit. Prerequisite: permission of program advisor.
Exploration of topics in geography agreed upon by student and instructor. Course may be taken for credit more than once, not to exceed nine hours. Prerequisites: At least 6 hours of Geography credit at the 400 level or above, permission of instructor.