The Earth from space

Accelerated B.A./M.S. Program in Geographic Information Science

MS GIS Class of 2015-16 is an historic group of seven young women, a first for the program. Students in this class are left to right:  Erin Glennie, Hannah Rush, Suzanne Birdsell, Sarah Philbrick, Michino Hisabayashi, Moriah Day and Charlotte Mays

Who is Eligible

Students majoring in geography, global environmental studies, earth system science, economics, international development and social change, environmental science and policy, or environment and conservation biology can apply to the accelerated B.A./M.S. program in Geographic Information Science.


To be eligible for the fifth year M.S. program in GISc, (program became an MS in July 2014) a student must meet all university requirements as well as have completed Geography 190 Intro to Geographic Information Science, Geography 293: Introduction to Remote Sensing, IDCE 388: Advanced Vector GIS, and Geography 397: Advanced Raster GIS by the end of their senior year. A GPA of 3.6 (overall Clark GPA aggregate of Sophomore and Junior year transcripts) is required for entry into this program, although students not meeting this requirement may petition the Graduate School for a waiver. Applicants must complete an Honors Thesis in their senior year, although in some circumstances students may opt to enroll in the honors program for the spring semester of the junior year and fall semester of the senior year.

In accordance with these requirements, students who have declared their intention to apply to the Accelerated Degree Program must do so by May 1 of their Junior year. Then by April 1 of the senior year, it is necessary to submit to the Geography B.A./M.S. Program Advisor, evidence (such as a current transcript) that all course requirements will be met, and an approved Master’s Thesis research plan, signed by a Geography faculty advisor. In their senior year, students must achieve at least 3.6 GPA to meet the final requirement to continue into the fifth year MS GIS. Final offers of admission will be made by the Graduate Dean.

Masters in GIS Program of Study

The M.S. degree in Geography specializing in Geographic Information Science requires the completion of 10 graduate course credits, two of which are taken during the senior year and two of which are completed during the summer between the senior year at the 300 level and the ADP year. Three of the 10 credits are devoted to the completion of a master’s thesis. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Senior year: Geog. 397: Advanced Raster GIS (please note prerequisites for Geog. 397 are Geog 190: Into to GIS and IDCE 388: Advanced Vector GIS) and Geog 293: Introduction to Remote Sensing. Candidates for the ADP program are also required to develop a master’s thesis plan, with a signed statement of support from a faculty sponsor who will act as the MS thesis advisor. See the Departmental Requirements section for details on timing.
  • Summer following senior year: a one-credit internship in Geographic Information Science. This internship is focused on database development for the Master’s Thesis. Typically, this course is completed off-campus and must be a minimum of 20 hours per week, paid or unpaid. However, it requires frequent communication with the student’s advisor. Details of the mechanism for this communication must be included in the project proposal.  By August 1 a letter from the internship advisor must be sent to the MS GIS program director showing that the student satisfactorally completed the internship in order to receive credit.
  • ADP year: six graduate course credits (three per semester), of which one credit each semester will be devoted to the completion of the Master's thesis reserach project. In April the student will be required to give an oral presentation of the findings of the master’s thesis research project, along with other students in the program. In addition, the student must submit to the M.S. thesis committee, by the end of the spring semester, a master's thesis of publication quality certified by the student’s committee. 
  • Summer following the ADP year. A credit in Directed Study is required for the final summer and a defense of the master's thesis* by July 15 and a final PDF of the defended thesis submitted to the MS GIS program director by August 1 to meet the graduation requirement of August 30/31.

    * master's thesis must follow the university formatting guidelines located on the graduate school web site under graduate student resources. A PDF of the final thesis must be sent to the Graduate Program Administrator, Brenda Nikas-Hayes,

Of the six courses not associated with the master’s project and internship (taken during the senior and fifth years), a minimum of four must be directly associated with Geographic Information Science and two may be electives associated with the application area of specific interest to the student.

Lab Fee

Because of the very heavy costs associated with hardware and software licensing in the GIS and Image Processing area, students will be required to pay a university fee of $1,000 plus a lab fee of $500 per semester (fall and spring) during the completion of their ADP program. This lab fee is NON-refundable and will be billed through your student account.

Current MS GIS Students*

*As of July 1, 2014 the MA in GIS is now an MS in GIS

Students admitted for the accelerated B.A/M.S. in fall 2015:

Suzanne Birdsell B.A. '15
Moriah Day B.A. '15
Erin Glennie B.A. '15
Michino Hisabayashi B.A. '15
Charlotte Mays B.A. '15
Sarah Philbrick B.A. '15
Hannah Rush B.A. '15

MS IN GISc in August 2015:

Elliot Altbaum B.A. '14
Michelle Andrews B.A. '14
Samuel Berman B.A. '14
Sean Cunningham B.A. '14
Anastassios Dardas B.A. '14
Lucas Earl B.A. '14
Cody Litchfield B.A. '14
Kayla Patel B.A. '14
Zoe Ritter B.A. '14

MS in GISc in August 2014*

Joseph Danko B.A. '13
Yelena Finegold B.A. '13
Christina Geller B.A. '13
Alexander Kappel B.A. '13
Matthew Manley B.A. '13
Noam Raffel B.A. '13
Emily Sturdivant B.A. '13


Recent MA GIS Graduates first employment or acaemdic programs

  • Michelle Andrews - GIS computer literacy - Americorp-CTEP For Emerge Community Development
  • Joseph Danko - Doctoral Program - UConn
  • Anastassios Dardas - Doctoral Program - MacMaster University - Health Sciences
  • Lucas Earl - Data Mapping Specialist - Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, WA
  • Yelena Finegold - FAO Italy
  • Christina Geller - GIS Analyist with AirWorldwide
  • Alex Kappel - GIS Analyst with AidData at The College of William and Mary
  • Cody Litchfield - GIS Analyst with E & J Gallo Winery, CA
  • Matthew Manely - GIS Analyist with LandVest

Recent Publications by MA GIS Grads

Broderick, Dylan E, Karen E. Frey, John Rogan, Heather D. Alexander, and Nikita S. Zimov, (2015) "Estimating upper soil horizon carbon stocks in a permafrost watershed of Northeast Siberia by integrating field measurements with Landsat-5 TM and WorldView-2 satellite data." GIScience & Remote Sensing 15481603.2015.1010434#

Denfeld, Blaize A., Karen E. Frey, William V. Sobczak, Paul J. Mann & Robert M. Holmes, (2013), "Summer CO2 evasion from streams and rivers in the Kolyma River basin, north-east Siberia." Polar Research, 32: pp 1-15

Contact Person

The geography B.A./M.S. program advisor is Professor John Rogan (508) 793-7562 or the program administrator, Brenda Nikas-Hayes,