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Geographic Information Science

Degree: BS

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

Maps have long served as a means for presenting location-based information. However, since the advent of computerized geographic information systems in the 1960s, as well as the subsequent development of software and computing power, maps have become a much more widespread means for managing, analyzing and communicating geospatial information. The extensive demand for geographic information science skills has entailed a significant role for geography. Indeed, although geographic information science is a multi-disciplinary endeavor, geographers have produced the bulk of what now comprise the core knowledge areas of the field. 

The Department of Geography at Ohio State has been at the forefront of geographic information science developments over the past 40 years. The department is ranked as one of the top five geography departments in the United States and is recognized globally as a leader in teaching and research in cartographic, spatial analytic and geographic information science.

Upon admission to the university, students can enroll directly in the geographic information science program. 

Freshman year

  • Human Geography or Economic and Social Geography
  • Introduction to Statistical Analysis         

Sophomore year

  • Cartography and Map Design    
  • Elementary Computer Programming
  • Spatial Data Analysis    

Junior year

  • Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems
  • Geovisualization    
  • GIS Algorithms and Programming 

Senior year

  • Geographic Applications in Remote Sensing
  • GIS Design and Implementation
  • Emerging Topics in GIS
  • Spatial Simulation and Modeling

Contacts among state and local government agencies (e.g., Ohio Departmet of Transportation) and local businesses are especially valuable for students seeking part-time work or internships. Current geography students with a specialization in geographic information science have obtained valuable experience through such internships, many of which are paid positions.

The department's faculty in the area of geographic information and related sciences are easily accessible to students for course-related issues, career advice and research opportunities.

Students graduating from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in geographic information science will be prepared to find employment in areas such as resource management, spatial database development and management, environmental planning, transportation planning, software development, cartography, conservation, urban planning, and spatial decision support services. Graduates will also be competitive applicants for graduate schools. 

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor identified geotechnology as one of the three most important emerging and evolving fields, along with nanotechnology and biotechnology. Traditionally, the public sector has been the main employer of geographic information science professionals, but there are also growing opportunities within the private sector. 

Graduates will be prepared for positions beyond routine use of geospatial technologies and will be able to apply spatial analysis techniques to address sophisticated problems in a variety of fields. In addition, graduates will have begun to develop the business and communication competencies required for advancement in government agencies and private businesses.

Department of Geography

1036 Derby Hall

154 North Oval Mall

Columbus, OH 43210


Gardner Family Map Room in the Thompson Library includes a wide array of map collections of regional and global significance. The library has a dedicated map librarian who has many years of experience with the collection and with helping undergraduate students.

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