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Geographic Information Science

Degree: BS

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

What is GIS? Geographic information systems (GIS) allow us make informed, educated decisions based on geographic data. People intuitively understand maps. Trends and patterns become more apparent when viewed on a map. Maps are necessary for solving spatial problems. Knowledge of GIS and spatial analysis is crucial in today's interconnected and global society. GIS technology has many uses, ranging from emergency management and other city services, to business location and retail analysis, transportation and logistics modeling, regulating the spread of disease, monitoring local crime patterns, and managing natural resources.

Ohio State is designated as a Center for Academic Excellence in Geospatial Sciences by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and is among the nation's premier institutions in the development of geospatial technologies. 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 Department 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 of Geography offers students the opportunity to earn credit for a structured work experience either as an employment position or a position identified as an internship. GIS students may apply that credit toward their major as a major elective.

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. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists, and surveying and mapping technicians is expected to grow 19% from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing demand for fast, accurate and complete geographic information will be the main source of job growth. 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.

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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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