USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute

Geographic Information Science and Technology Master’s Program

The 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.

This video was created in 2019 and may contain out-of-date information.

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.

We strive to make education accessible to all, regardless of schedule, responsibilities or place of residence. Students pursuing the M.S. in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence can select from a residential or online modality. Online students can stream lectures live or watch a recording later. Students in the online Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology are free to attend class synchronously, asynchronously or both.

“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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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 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 20 units of foundational coursework and a choice of electives. This allows students to complete the program in as few as 20 months.

The core courses provide a comprehensive understanding of spatial thinking, data acquisition and the characteristics of spatial information, as well as providing a capstone thesis experience. By selecting a track, students can develop specialized expertise designed to support their career path.

We have identified three tracks that enable students to build robust knowledge and capabilities to support them in their career trajectories. Each track offers a choice of electives that have been especially curated to provide students with the opportunity to customize their course plan.

M.S. in GIST Program Tracks

  • Track 1: Spatial Data Management
  • Track 2: Spatial Computing
  • Track 3: Spatial Analytics

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 >

Veteran Funding

The Spatial Sciences Institute proudly offers a variety of funding options for active duty and veteran service members enrolled in GIS graduate programs and is a proud Yellow Ribbon Program participant.

Learn More about Funding Options >