College of Social and Behavioral Sciences2022-2023

Department of Geography, Planning, and Recreation

Geographic Information Science with Remote Sensing, Master of Science

A 30-unit program that integrates geospatial problem solving with state of the art geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies. The program emphasizes geodatabase management, programming for GIS, geographic data analysis, geovisualization, web mapping, image analysis, and location intelligence. The graduate will be prepared to take leadership roles in geospatial data management and analysis in many fields and industries.


What Can I Do with a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science with Remote Sensing

Academia, public agencies and civil society organizations utilize GIS and geospatial technology to improve the efficiency of their major activities. Some applications include city planning, tracking environmental pollution, and maintaining important information on health and diseases. Businesses increase their investment in and use of GIS and  geospatial services to enhance the value and productivity of their business, attract new customers and boost sales. GIS and remote sensing techniques are essential skills for analysts in conservation, law enforcement, cartography, health sciences, climate science as well as any discipline that utilizes location based information including local government,
urban and regional planning, environment and resource management, transportation planning, energy and utilities, surveying and cartography, and facilities management.

Career opportunities that might be pursued:
  • GIS Developer, GIS Analyst, GIS Manager, GIS Programmer/Engineer
  • Cartographer
  • Conservationist
  • Geospatial data specialist/manager
  • Law enforcement/ Crime analyst
  • Health Geographer
  • Remote Sensing Analyst
  • City/Urban Planner
  • Landscape Architect
  • Transportation Planner
  • Hydrologist
  • Forester
  • Business Analyst

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Graduates may pursue further education in any discipline that requires geospatial data processing and analysis technologies.

University Requirements

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    Read the full policy.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 30
Additional Admission Requirements Additional admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are recommended.
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

The MS in Geographic Information Science with Remote Sensing program prepares GIS professionals who will take leadership roles in geospatial data management and analysis in many fields and industries.  It integrates geospatial problem solving with state of the art geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies. The program emphasizes geodatabase management, programming for GIS, geographic data analysis, geovisualization, web mapping, image analysis, location intelligence, and project management. It is designed for working professionals or new college graduates with a Bachelor's degree in any discipline who want to elevate their career or develop a new career in GIS and remote sensing. Upon completion of the program, students will be able to demonstrate abilities in effectively managing and analyzing geospatial data, working with remotely sensed images, producing high-quality maps, publishing interactive web maps, developing GIS tools and automating spatial data processing, as well as developing solutions for GIS problems and managing GIS projects. Graduates will be able to find opportunities and play leadership roles in fields and industries such as urban and regional planning, transportation planning, environment and resource management, energy development and management, and utility management, in either government or private sector.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion students will be able to:

Manage geospatial data

  • explain map projection, datum, and coordinate systems
  • define coordinate system to data and perform transformation between coordinate systems
  • explain spatial data representation and data models and perform between different data formats
  • explain how spatial and attribute information is stored in the computer
  • compile, create, and edit geospatial data
  • work with personal, file, and enterprise geodatabase
  • create and work with attribute domains, relationships, topology, and versions in enterprise geodatabase

Analyze geospatial data and provide decision making support
  • develop spatial analysis procedures
  • prepare and preprocess data for spatial analysis
  • perform vector-based and raster-based analysis
  • effectively find and use geoprocessing tools
  • perform raster-based analysis using map algebra
  • interpret analysis results

Develop GIS applications for the area of interest
  • identify problems, goals, and objectives of GIS applications
  • source data that are in appropriate format and quality for the applications
  • develop strategies and workflows for solving the problem
  • develop cartographic models to implement the strategies and workflow
  • implement the cartographic models using ArcGIS geoprocessing tools and ModelBuilder
  • creating Python script to implement geoprocessing automation
  • develop custom tools using Python scripts 
  • interpret model output

Manage GIS projects
  • describe the project
  • identify problems, goals, and objectives of projects
  • develop strategies, methodology, and procedures
  • prepare data that meet demands of projects
  • solve the problems by analyzing data
  • interpret and discuss the analysis results
  • provide management or policy recommendations
  • develop project plan including resources and timeline
  • create professional project reports

Create maps from data and publish maps on the web
  • explain the server-client model in web mapping
  • explain web map service and web feature service protocol
  • explain and use vector data formats GML and GeoJSON for web GIS
  • publish maps on the web using ArcGIS online, StoryMaps, and leaflet
  • client-side map customization using javascript and css

Perform high level remote sensing and photogrammetry analysis
  • explain basic concepts of remote sensing including platforms, sensors, properties electromagnetic radiation, etc.
  • effectively use popular and publicly available remotely sensed data sources
  • perform imagery data processing and visualization
  • perform supervised and unsupervised classifications
  • interpret imagery data
  • develop environment/resource monitoring applications



Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement or essay
Master's Requirements
Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

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