USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute

Online M.S. in Geographic Information Science and Technology

The online M.S. in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) equips students with an understanding of how spatial data shapes decisions in the modern world and provides hands-on experience with leading-edge GIS tools.

Designed and updated by GIS experts from diverse backgrounds, the program offers both the foundational and specialized knowledge necessary for sourcing spatial data and applying sophisticated spatial analysis to virtually any industry or academic domain.

USC M.S. in GIST graduates come from all varieties of professional backgrounds, but they tend to share scientific curiosity and an interest in spatial thinking. They are lifelong learners who want to use their knowledge to solve problems within their respective fields.

“USC and the GIST program at the Spatial Sciences Institute have changed my life. The coursework was intellectually stimulating and challenging, and gave me the flexibility and skill set required to pursue a real-world thesis project.”

– Trevor Denson,
M.S. in GIST, Class of 2017,
Wilderness Ranger,
National Park Service

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Fill out the information below to learn more about the University of Southern California’s online GIS Graduate Programs and download a free brochure. If you have any additional questions, please call 877-650-9054 to speak to an enrollment advisor.

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M.S. in GIST Career Opportunities

M.S. in GIST professionals hold a unique position within the overall career market: they have specialized expertise, yet the application of their knowledge is limitless in scope. Government organizations hire GIS professionals for roles ranging from disaster planning and preparedness to community development. The military leverages GIS in surveillance operations and threat response. Businesses in many different industries utilize GIS expertise across supply chain logistics, marketing and countless other industry domains.

USC’s online M.S. in GIST degree program is tailored for individuals who want to develop deep GIS expertise, those interested in senior-level GIS roles, or current GIS professionals who wish to pursue leadership positions.

Through the robust coursework, consulting with their thesis advisors and connecting with the GIS community, many of our GIST master’s students find career opportunities and advancement before they finish the program.

“While still completing my thesis, I landed my dream job working at Orca Maritime Inc. in Imperial Beach, California. My job came about through networking at a local Geospatial LinkedIn event which showcased specialized GIS engineering research projects.”

-Nate Novak
M.S. in GIST, Class of 2016
Geospatial Technologies Manager at Orca Maritime, Inc.

Learn more about GIS Careers >


Curriculum Summary

The program consists of 28 total units, including 16 units of foundational coursework and an extensive selection of electives. This allows students to complete the program in as few as 20 months.

The core courses provide a comprehensive understanding of spatial databases, data acquisition and the characteristics of spatial information, while the electives provide a way for students to pursue specialized expertise in numerous areas, ranging from the development of mobile GIS software to developing descriptive and predictive spatial models.

We have identified four tracks that enable students to build robust knowledge in specific areas within the overall GIS discipline. Although we suggest declaring a track, students can take electives in any track regardless of declaration.


M.S. In GIST Program Tracks

  • Track 1: Spatial Application Development
  • Track 2: Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization
  • Track 3: Spatial Data Acquisition and Integration
  • Track 4: Spatial Thinking

Visit the curriculum page for detailed information on each of the tracks.


GIS Fieldwork on Catalina Island

Our M.S. in HSGI, M.S. in GIST and graduate certificate in GIST programs will take students on a weeklong fieldwork excursion to the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies — a half-acre research and educational campus on Catalina Island.

Learn more about the GIS fieldwork excursion >