Professional MS program in GIS and Remote Sensing

Specific Goals of the Pro-M.S. Degree in GIS/RS:

The goal of this program is to train a new class of professionals with strong scientific and geospatial qualifications, as well as managerial and business skills. These future leaders and skilled professionals require analytical skills beyond what is offered by traditional curricula at the bachelor's or Master's level. The curriculum has been carefully designed to reflect the real-world requirements needed for careers in the geospatial sciences. The specific goals of the Program are:

  • to take coursework across a wide range of disciplines in order to provide all skills needed for a professional position
  • to solve a challenging problem using GIS/RS tools and data, becoming proficient in the software and analysis techniques
  • to prepare and edit a working project document
  • to present this history verbally
  • to digitally-publish these data/results

General Information

The GIS/RS Professional-M.S. program in the Department of Geology & Environmental Science is a multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental, non-research degree. Designed to be completed in two academic years (plus one summer), the required courses are centered in the Geology and Environmental Science Department and focus on GIS and RS core proficiencies. Students are also required to take at least one course in the Schools of Business, Law, and Information Sciences. Flexibility is designed into the 41-credit program so that the student can tailor his/her coursework to fit specific future career goals and personal interests.


First Semester:

Skill Set Development: GIS and Remote Sensing fundamental principles & software use; communication proficiency; exposure to geospatial professionals

  • GEOL 2449: Introduction to GIS and Computer Methods
  • GEOL 1460/2461: Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • COMMRC 1102: Organizational Communication
  • GEOL 2015: Colloquium

Total Credits: 10

Second Semester:

Skill Set Development: advanced GIS/RS proficiency; computer programming; personalized elective expertise

  • GEOL 2446: Advanced GIS
  • GEOL 3946: Python Scripting
  • GEOL 2460: Applied Remote Sensing -- OR --
  • FIRST FOCUSED ELECTIVE: See below for detailed options

Total Credits: 9

Summer Semester:

Skill Set Development: independent project experience utilizing geospatial analysis tools; compilation of digital dossier; oral/written presentation experience

  • GEOL 3902: Directed Study: Summer Internship

Total Credits: 4

Third Semester:

Skill Set Development: statistical data analysis; methodology of information science; introduction to business administration

  • PSYED 2014: Statistical Methods I
  • INFSCI 2000: Introduction to Information Systems #
  • BUSINESS: Busines Elective
  • SECOND FOCUSED ELECTIVE: See below for detailed options

Total Credits: 9

Fourth Semester:

Skill Set Development: advanced GIS/RS proficiency; awareness of comparative law; personalized elective expertise; data mining & database management

  • LAW: Law Elective
  • PSYED 2015: Statistical Methods II #
  • GEOL 2460: Applied Remote Sensing -- OR --
  • FIRST FOCUSED ELECTIVE: See below for detailed options

Total Credits: 9

# an appropriate equivalent course may be substituted depending on the career goals of the student. See possible options.

Focused Electives:

These two elective courses should be used to further focus the student's particular interests and career goals. The sequence must be approved by one of the Pro-M.S. Program Directors and should be focused in one specialization area (i.e., in one Department or School). Students are encouraged to create their own sequence, but several example sequences and courses are listed below:

  • Geological Sciences: Exploration Geophysics (GEOL 1410); Advanced Geohazards and Risk Management (GEOL 2640), Volcanology (GEOL 2750)
  • Information Sciences: Statistics in Information Sciences (INFSCI 2060); Information Systems (INFSCI 2510); Software Tools and Techniques (TELECOM 2300)
  • Advanced GIS Theory: Geographic Information Systems (INFSCI 1068); Advanced GIS (INFSCI 2720); Arcview Programming (GEOL 2447)
  • Computer Programming: Visual Languages (INFSCI 2650); Programming for Web Applications (COE 1520)


During the summer of Pro-M.S. student's first year, a 4-credit Internship (GEOL 3902) will be completed. With the assistance and approval of the Program Directors, the student will work in the business environment and utilize his/her geospatial skills. During this internship a digital dossier will be compiled and include the final published report, database dictionary, and georeferenced workspace. The written report must include: an executive summary, introduction, description of GIS/RS/GPS methodology, spatial and tabular analysis, conclusions, references and any appendixes. The database dictionary must include all images, spatial, map, and attribute metadata in a standard format. The student must also present an oral summary and description of project during the semester following their internship.

Law Elective:

One mandatory course centered in comparative or electronic law is required for the Pro-M.S. degree. There are a large number of possibilities including courses offered at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, as well as several other Universities in the Pittsburgh area.

  • University of Pittsburgh: Intellectual Property (LAW 5260); Copyright Law (LAW 5328); Cyberspace and the Law (LAW 5404)
  • Duquesne University: Intellectual Property: Trademark and Copyright Law (C208)
  • Carnegie Mellon University: Ecommerce Law and Regulation

Substitutional Electives:

Depending on the skill set of the student, times of scheduled offerings within other schools at the University, and permission of the Program Directors, students may substitute certain courses for those designated.

  • INFSCI 2000: Statistics in Information Sciences (INFSCI 2060); Information Systems (INFSCI 2510); Database Management (INFSCI 2710)
  • PSYED 2015: Data Mining (STAT 2270); CMU: Mining Data for Decision Making (45-963)