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USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute

Master’s in Spatial Data Science

The USC master’s in spatial data science (M.S. SPDS) gives students an understanding of the data science field and how spatial data science skills can be applied to solve critical issues. This two-year master’s degree is offered through the USC Spatial Sciences Institute in partnership with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

“The guidance and support from faculty and staff throughout my time at the USC Spatial Sciences Institute have played an instrumental role in shaping my academic journey and student worker experience, and I wanted to express my gratitude for your mentorship. The knowledge and skills I gained from your courses and the research program have been invaluable, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to apply them to a professional setting.”

– Violet Lee,
M.S. in Spatial Data Science, Class of 2023

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Fill out the information below to learn more about the University of Southern California’s 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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Program Curriculum

Students complete a set of core courses that provide a foundation in information engineering, spatial analysis and thinking. Students will also select their own elective courses to optimize career preparation.

Many assignments can be assembled into a digital portfolio that will help students demonstrate their capabilities and skills for the job market. Students will also have the chance to lead discussions and work collaboratively on projects with classmates. In addition, the master’s in spatial data science includes experiential learning opportunities such as guest speaker talks, panels, colloquiums and informal discussions with peers, faculty and industry leaders.

Upon completion of the program, students will be uniquely qualified to:

  • Lead data science teams in companies and organizations working with geolocated information
  • Conduct data analytics in startups and tech companies that collect location-based data
  • Use emerging technologies that incorporate spatial data science

Career Outlook

The M.S. in Spatial Data Science engages with data science from the perspective of a GIS expert. Geospatial data accessibility, spatial decision support systems and geospatial problem-solving environments are leading to geospatial data science career opportunities in healthcare, marketing, social services, human security, education, environmental sustainability, transportation and more.

The USC M.S. in Spatial Data Science has the U.S. Department of Education CIP code of 11.0802 for Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration, identified as a STEM CIP code.

The “Data Science and Business Analytics” field has an average salary of $113,000/year, according to user data from Glassdoor.


What Is (Geo)Spatial Data Science?

Geospatial data science is at the intersection of multiple dynamic disciplines. Data science is used to gather information from human, technological and natural environments — and to try to make sense of it. The information derived from vast sets of data can lead to analysis and action that improve quality of life for both individuals and communities. Geospatial data science can be applied to a number of industry issues. In urban planning and public policy, for instance, it might address problems related to traffic flow or crime, while agricultural applications range from crop management to wildlife control.


What Is a Master’s Degree That Focuses on Applied Data Science?

A master’s level degree that focuses on applied data science should be designed to harness the practical aspects of data science. An M.S. in Spatial Data Science is considered such a degree. Students will study statistics, databases, machine learning and deep learning. At USC, students go beyond coursework, analyzing important case studies that demonstrate specific skill sets used to solve practical problems.

Ready to learn more? Download our brochure, and explore our curriculum, admissions and FAQ pages.