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Duluth Campus

Geographic Information Science B.S.

Geography & Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts
  • Program Type: Baccalaureate
  • Requirements for this program are current for Spring 2021
  • Required credits to graduate with this degree: 120
  • Required credits within the major: 50 to 54
  • Degree: Bachelor of Science
Because of the growing awareness across disciplines of the strategic value of Geographic Information Science (GIS), particularly through its ability to understand better the complexity of economic, environmental, and social systems, the US Department of Labor identifies GIS as one of nine “high growth industries”. For example, GIS has been instrumental to emergency managers in the face of natural hazards, who utilize it to determine how communities can best mitigate such disasters. Urban planners utilize GIS to optimize existing systems and services, while forecasting where they will be most needed in the future based on emerging population and growth trends. Remote sensing allows land managers to monitor environmental changes via satellite and drone technologies, and inform adaptation strategies for industry and communities alike. Spatial analysis provides epidemiologists with the tools necessary to track and forecast the spread of diseases, helping health care officials limit their impact. In each of these cases, GIS professionals use geospatial technologies to create sustainable solutions to environmental, economic, and societal problems. The mission of the GIS BS program at UMD is to train future GIS professional by providing theoretical and practical instruction, modeling and mentoring, and real-world professional experiences, guided by the GIS&T body of knowledge and the GISP code of ethics. Students learn both the basic and the latest methods to collect, manage, analyze and visualize data, including scripting methods for web-delivery of geographical information and automation of geo-processes. And they learn how to put these methods into action through application classes, community-based research projects and internships. The GIS program is assessed annually by students, faculty and GIS professionals conjointly, to ensure it remains relevant and keeps in touch with the fast-paced evolution of the field. The major interweaves well with disciplines such as environment, sustainability and geography, computer science, statistics, mathematics, history, political science, anthropology, sociology, criminology, geology, biology, chemistry and engineering. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of GIS applications, students are encouraged to double major.
Program Delivery
This program is available:
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Admission Requirements
For information about University of Minnesota admission requirements, visit the Office of Admissions website.
General Requirements
The Board of Regents, on recommendation of the faculty, grants degrees from the University of Minnesota. Requirements for an undergraduate degree from University of Minnesota Duluth include the following:
  1. Students must meet all course and credit requirements of the departments and colleges or schools in which they are enrolled including an advanced writing course. Students seeking two degrees must fulfill the requirements of both degrees. However, two degrees cannot be awarded for the same major.
  2. Students must complete all requirements of the Liberal Education Program.
  3. Students must complete a minimum of 120 semester credits.
  4. At least 30 semester credits must be earned through UMD, and 15 of the last 30 degree credits earned immediately before graduation must be awarded by UMD.
  5. Students must complete at least half of their courses at the 3xxx-level and higher at UMD. Study-abroad credits earned through courses taught by UM faculty and at institutions with which UMD has international exchange programs may be used to fulfill this requirement.
  6. If a minor is required, students must take at least three upper division credits in their minor field from UMD.
  7. For certificate programs, at least 3 upper-division credits that satisfy requirements for the certificate must be taken through UMD. If the program does not require upper division credits students must take at least one course from the certificate program from UMD.
  8. The minimum cumulative UM GPA required for graduation will be 2.00 and will include only University of Minnesota coursework. A minimum UM GPA of 2.00 is required in each UMD undergraduate major and minor. No academic unit may impose higher grade point standards to graduate.
  9. Diploma, transcripts, and certification will be withheld until all financial obligations to the University have been met.
Program Requirements
1) A second field of study (either a minor, another major or dual degree). 2) Study abroad is encouraged for all students and the department makes every effort to facilitate such experiences.
Geography (7 cr)
GEOG 1205 - Our Globalizing World [SOC SCI, GLOBAL PER] (3.0 cr)
GEOG 1414 - The Physical Geography [LE CAT, NAT SCI, SUSTAIN] (4.0 cr)
or GEOL 1110 - Geology and Earth Systems [LE CAT, NAT SCI, SUSTAIN] (4.0 cr)
Mathematics or Statistics (3 cr)
Take 1 or more course(s) from the following:
· MATH 1160 - Finite Mathematics and Introduction to Calculus [LE CAT, LOGIC & QR] (5.0 cr)
· MATH 1290 - Calculus for the Natural Sciences [LE CAT2, LOGIC & QR] (5.0 cr)
· MATH 1296 - Calculus I [LE CAT, LOGIC & QR] (5.0 cr)
· STAT 2411 - Statistical Methods [LE CAT, LOGIC & QR] (3.0 cr)
Programming (3 cr)
Take 1 or more course(s) from the following:
· CS 1121 - Introduction to Programming in Visual BASIC.NET [LE CAT3, LOGIC & QR] (3.0 cr)
· CS 1141 - Introduction to Programming in C# (3.0 cr)
· CS 1411 - Introduction to Programming in Matlab (4.0 cr)
· CS 1511 - Computer Science I [LE CAT, LOGIC & QR] (5.0 cr)
· CS 1581 - Honors: Computer Science I [LE CAT3, LOGIC & QR] (5.0 cr)
Mapping and Techniques (10 cr)
GIS 2552 - Mapping Our World [LOGIC & QR] (3.0 cr)
GIS 3580 - Earth Imagery (4.0 cr)
ES 4612 - Field Techniques and Research Design (3.0 cr)
GIS Core (4-8 cr)
GIS 3563 - Geographic Information Science I: Theory and Analysis (4.0 cr)
GIS 3564 - Geographic Information Science II: Applied GIS (4.0 cr)
or Graduate Level Course (consent required)
GIS 4565 - Geographic Information Science Intensive: Theory, Analysis, and Applications (4.0 cr)
GIS Advanced Core (12 cr)
GIS 3597 - Internship in GIS (3.0-4.0 cr)
GIS 4909 - Professional Preparedness (1.0 cr)
GIS 4533 - Distributed Geographic Information Services: Mobile and Web Based Solutions (4.0 cr)
or GIS 4586 - Geoprocessing with Python (4.0 cr)
GIS 4585 - Applied Statistics in GIS (4.0 cr)
or GIS 5581 - Digital Image Processing and Analysis (4.0 cr)
GIS Electives (8 cr)
Additional courses taken from either GIS Core will apply to this requirement. This course list excludes: GIS 5533, 5585, 5586.
Take 2 or more course(s) from the following:
· GIS 5571 - Geographic Information Science in Urban Analysis (4.0 cr)
· GIS 5572 - Environmental Application of GIS (4.0 cr)
· GIS 5573 - GIScience in Regional Sustainability Applications (4.0 cr)
· GIS 2xxx - 5xxx
· Optional Experience
Take 0 - 4 credit(s) from the following:
· GIS 3591 - Independent Study in GIS (1.0-3.0 cr)
· GIS 4910 - Teaching Assistantship in Geographic Information Science (1.0-4.0 cr)
· GIS 4999 - Honors Project in Geographic Information Science (1.0-4.0 cr)
Advanced Writing Requirement (3 cr)
WRIT 31xx - Adv Writing (3 cr)
 
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GEOG 1205 - Our Globalizing World (SOC SCI, GLOBAL PER)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
This course analyzes the relationship between the environment, economic development, culture, and politics by examining human geography in the context of global regions. This course introduces core concepts in human geography such as space, place, and scale, and globalization, and applies those concepts to understand the diversity of our globalizing world. Topics from the impact of climate change, to colonialism, the geography of agriculture, urbanization, geopolitics, and ethnic and national identities are explored.
GEOG 1414 - The Physical Geography (LE CAT, NAT SCI, SUSTAIN)
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Periodic Fall, Spring & Summer
The environment is highly dynamic and is continually modified by human and environmental processes. This course examines these processes to better understand how the Earth's landscapes were formed and how they are currently being transformed. Specifically, students will understand the fundamental processes that govern the physical environment including Earth-sun relations, water resources, landforms, weather and climate, natural vegetation, and soils.
GEOL 1110 - Geology and Earth Systems (LE CAT, NAT SCI, SUSTAIN)
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Earth systems science is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the processes operating within and the interactions between the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. In this course we investigate the changing nature of the Earth; its composition, architecture, and antiquity; the internal and external processes that shape it through time; cycles of energy and matter; the development of life and impact of human activity; and both local environmental issues and global change.
MATH 1160 - Finite Mathematics and Introduction to Calculus (LE CAT, LOGIC & QR)
Credits: 5.0 [max 5.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Elementary functions, matrices, graphical and algebraic methods for solving systems of linear equations and inequalities, introduction to linear programming, and abbreviated treatment of calculus with emphasis on business and social science applications. prereq: Math ACT 24 or higher or a grade of at least C- in Math 1005 or department consent; if you have received credit for 1290 or 1296 or 1596, you will not receive credit for Math 1160.
MATH 1290 - Calculus for the Natural Sciences (LE CAT2, LOGIC & QR)
Credits: 5.0 [max 5.0]
Course Equivalencies: 01420 - Math1290/1296/1596
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Differential and integral calculus needed for modeling in earth and life sciences. Computational software. Not intended for students in mathematics, engineering, or physical sciences. prereq: Math ACT 27 or higher or a grade of at least C- in Math 1250 or department consent
MATH 1296 - Calculus I (LE CAT, LOGIC & QR)
Credits: 5.0 [max 5.0]
Course Equivalencies: 01420
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
First part of a standard introduction to calculus of functions of a single variable. Limits, continuity, derivatives, integrals, and their applications. prereq: Math ACT 27 or higher or a grade of at least C- in Math 1250 or department consent
STAT 2411 - Statistical Methods (LE CAT, LOGIC & QR)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Graphical and numerical descriptions of data, elementary probability, sampling distributions, estimations, confidence intervals, one-sample and two-sample t-test. prereq: Math ACT 24 or higher or a grade of at least C- in Math 1005 or higher or department approval
CS 1121 - Introduction to Programming in Visual BASIC.NET (LE CAT3, LOGIC & QR)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 01394 - FMIS 2225/CS 1121
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Introduction to programming in the modern Visual BASIC language. Projects are developed in a .NET environment using the Visual Studio. Includes GUI interface development and expert-driven Windows programming. Major topics include variables, datatype, arithmetic expressions, control structures, arrays and database file processing. For students with no prior programming experience. prereq: 1 yr high school algebra or instructor consent
CS 1141 - Introduction to Programming in C#
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Introduction to programming in the C# (read as C sharp) programming language. C# is a simple, object-oriented programming language based on C++. This course will cover data representation, operators, expressions, control structures, arrays and programming with C#. Requires implementation of significant programming projects. prereq: 1 year high school algebra or instructor consent
CS 1411 - Introduction to Programming in Matlab
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
An introduction to programming in the Matlab language. Topics covered will include the creation of algorithms, function definition, basic programming statements, input and output, mathematical operations, matrix manipulation, and representing data. As time allows, additional coverage of plotting methods, data structures using cellular arrays and other advanced topics. prereq: one to two years of high school math or instructor consent
CS 1511 - Computer Science I (LE CAT, LOGIC & QR)
Credits: 5.0 [max 5.0]
Course Equivalencies: 01383
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
A comprehensive introduction to computer programming using the C++ language. The course covers program design, C++ programming basics, control structures, functions and parameter passing. Students write and implement programs with data structures (arrays), pointers and files. Object-oriented programming is also introduced, along with concepts of abstraction, ADTs, encapsulation and data hiding. prereq: 3 1/2 yrs high school math or instructor consent
CS 1581 - Honors: Computer Science I (LE CAT3, LOGIC & QR)
Credits: 5.0 [max 5.0]
Course Equivalencies: 01383 - CS 1211/1511/1581
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Similar to 1511, but in greater depth and with more challenging assignments. For high-ability students. prereq: Honors student, 3 1/2 yrs high school math
GIS 2552 - Mapping Our World (LOGIC & QR)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 02628 - GIS 2552/GEOG 2552
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
This course starts with the definition of what a map is and considers maps as tools for communication. Students are led to explore the effects of scale, projection, cartographic symbolization and generalization on the mapping process and resulting digital databases. Students are introduced to spatial data models, types of spatial data and representation, and study alternative or non-tradition map representations provided by GIS and Remote Sensing. The course includes hands-on map activities; map reading/interpretation, map use, and map production where students will use their laptops to create online web mapping services.
GIS 3580 - Earth Imagery
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
his course is a selective overview of the methods used for imaging the Earth and its atmosphere. The objective is to expose students to the common methods of Earth imaging and provide them with hands-on experiences in exploring these rich datasets. This course introduces aerial photographs, satellite imaging (active and passive forms), and Digital Elevation Models (DEMs). By the end of the course students will be able to comfortably analyze mulitspectral Earth imagery, handle a LiDAR point cloud, and create a variety of informative outputs from an image. prereq: 2552; credit will not be granted if already received for GEOG 3580
ES 4612 - Field Techniques and Research Design
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 02629 - ES 4612/GEOG 4612
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Periodic Fall & Spring
This course is an introduction to qualitative research methods in environmental sustainability, and is designed to equip students to plan, analyze, and present original research. Students will follow the complete research design process, including funding and grant proposals internal review board applications, and how to use these leverage employment and graduate school applications. Specifically, students will learn to collect data through interviews, focus groups, textual analysis, and participant observation; how to analyze data through these techniques; and how to prepare sound scientific arguments based on these analyses. Based on the collection of data throughout the semester students will produce original research that will be presented to the public. no grad credit
GIS 3563 - Geographic Information Science I: Theory and Analysis
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
GIS 3563 emphasizes the concepts needed to use GIS effectively for acquiring, editing, querying, analyzing and visualizing spatial data. This course is an introduction to GIS and trains basic skills with industry standard GIS software in a wide variety of applications in both the natural and social sciences. The course covers basic data modeling, data manipulation, analytical methods and implications of geospatial technologies on society. prereq: credit will not be granted if already received for GEOG 3564 or 4563 and 4564 or GIS4565.
GIS 3564 - Geographic Information Science II: Applied GIS
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
GIS 3564 follows 3563 and provides more hands-on skills with industry standard GIS software in a wide variety of applications in both the natural and social sciences. It covers more advanced analytical methods for both raster and vector data. Lastly, the course questions ethics regarding geospatial information and introduces the code of ethics for GIS professionals. prereq: 3563; credit will not be granted if already received for GEOG 3564 or 4563 and 4564 or GIS4565.
GIS 4565 - Geographic Information Science Intensive: Theory, Analysis, and Applications
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Course Equivalencies: 02453 - GIS 3564/GIS 4565
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course is an intensive introduction to GIS, effectively condensing both GIS 3563 and GIS 3564 into one semester. It is intended for students with excellent computer skills, the capacity to handle a heavy workload but not enough time to take both courses. The course covers the concepts needed to use GIS effectively for manipulating, querying, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data. It will also equip students with basic and advanced skills with industry standard GIS software, through a wide variety of hands-on applications in both the natural and social sciences. Students will have to create, manage, and complete their own GIS application throughout the semester. pre-req: grad student or department consent This course is equivalent to GIS 3563 and GIS 3564 combined, but 3563 and 3564 carry no graduate credit.
GIS 3597 - Internship in GIS
Credits: 3.0 -4.0 [max 8.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Scheduled assignments with direct supervision in public agencies or relevant private firms. prereq: GIS major with minimum 60 credits and instructor consent
GIS 4909 - Professional Preparedness
Credits: 1.0 [max 1.0]
Grading Basis: S-N only
Typically offered: Every Spring
This course is intended for GIS seniors graduating in the spring or the following fall. This is a seminar/workshop course where a group of graduating students work together and under the guidance of their instructor to assess and self-reflect on where they stand as early career GIS professionals. Courses activities include tests, discussion, construction of portfolios and mock job interviews. The course grade is satisfactory/non-satisfactory, based on participation. pre-req: GIS major, minimum 90 credits, no grad credit
GIS 4533 - Distributed Geographic Information Services: Mobile and Web Based Solutions
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
There are currently over 1 million GIS users world-wide producing nearly 15,000 maps daily. The vast majority of these users utilize the internet and mobile devices to collect, manage, process and store the geospatial data necessary to create and distribute these maps. As such, GIS is shifting from a system where the focus lies almost entirely on the data itself, to a geographic information service where the focus lies on the distribution of spatial content to stakeholders and end users via the internet. The aim of this course is to expose students to the practical and theoretical applications of distributed geographic information services including web and mobile apps, virtual and physical servers, APIs, and scripting languages (Javascript, CSS, HTML5, SVG). Labs and a group semester project will focus on a distributed GIS for a stakeholder within the region. Software used will vary, but may include ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, or open-source software. pre-req: GIS 3563 or instructor consent; credit will not be granted if already received for GIS 3533
GIS 4586 - Geoprocessing with Python
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Python has become the main scripting language used for geoprocessing. In this class, building on previous GIS experience, students learn how to automate geoprocessing workflows with Python and how to turn their code into tools and add-ins for the main commercial and open-source GIS software systems. prereq: 3563 and 3564 or 4565 preferred
GIS 4585 - Applied Statistics in GIS
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Spring Odd Year
This course provides GIS students, or students in related fields or interested in spatial data analysis, with little to no previous statistical knowledge, with the basic skills needed to question and analyze data and reach valuable conclusions. Methods covered in this course are commonly used in various fields of social or environmental studies, in economy and management, in sciences and engineering: statistics are a linqua franca that is often a key element of interdisciplinary work. However, there will be an emphasis on the specificity of data that varies in space, and methods specific to spatial analysis will be introduced. The class focus more on application that on theory, through a game dynamic. We may use a variety of software, mostly ArcGIS, QGIS and MS Excel. prereq: 3563 and 3564 or 4565, STAT 1411 preferred; credit will not be granted if already received for GEOG 3585 or GIS 3585; no grad credit.
GIS 5581 - Digital Image Processing and Analysis
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
This advanced remote sensing course focuses on theories and applications of digital image processing and provides students with knowledge and skills of advance digital image processing and a variety of analyitical techniques. Topics include image display and visualization, methods for geometric and radiometric corrections, image enhancement, image classification, change detection, and Principal Component Analysis (PCA). prereq: 3580 or instructor consent; credit will not be granted if already received for GEOG 4580 or GEOG 5581
GIS 5571 - Geographic Information Science in Urban Analysis
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
This advanced course provides students with an opportunity to explore the many applications of geographic information systems in local government, transportation development, and sustainable community planning. Students learn how GIS can be used to effectively carry out urban and regional planning tasks and gain a basic understanding of GIS project planning and data management. Labs focus on land use planning, transportation development, green infrastructure, and population dynamics from across the globe, with a particular focus on the Duluth area. Software used will be ESRI ArcGIS. prereq: 3563 and 3564 or 4565 (preferred) or instructor consent; credit will not be granted if already received for GEOG 5571
GIS 5572 - Environmental Application of GIS
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
Explore GIS applications to the environmental issues such as natural hazards, forest management, contaminated sites, soil erosion, habitat assessment, and regional planning. Prereq: 3563 or 4565 or grad student or instructor consent; credit will not be granted if already received for GEOG 5572.
GIS 5573 - GIScience in Regional Sustainability Applications
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
This course provides students with an opportunity to explore the many applications of geographic information science in environmental and societal sustainability, renewable energy, and community planning. This course is based on the idea that in order to successfully transition toward sustainability, a better understanding of coupled human and natural systems in critical, and that because of the unique challenges and conflicts present within northern Minnesota between human and natural systems, it is an ideal location to attempt to mitigate these challenges through the use of Geographic Information Science. Labs focus on current topics relevant to the region including energy use calculations, food deserts, LEED certification, water pollution, and transit planning. Software used will be ESRI ArcGIS. Prereq: 3563 and 3564 or 4565 (preferred) or instructor consent; credit will not be granted if already received for GEOG 5573
GIS 3591 - Independent Study in GIS
Credits: 1.0 -3.0 [max 6.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
For students interested in doing advanced work in selected fields of GIS. prereq: instructor consent
GIS 4910 - Teaching Assistantship in Geographic Information Science
Credits: 1.0 -4.0 [max 8.0]
Grading Basis: S-N only
Typically offered: Periodic Fall, Spring & Summer
Practical experience in teaching beginning courses in the department. Students serve as intern teachers assisting the instructor in administration of the course. pre-req instructor consent, no grad credit
GIS 4999 - Honors Project in Geographic Information Science
Credits: 1.0 -4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Periodic Fall, Spring & Summer
Advanced individual project in any area of Geographic Information Science demonstrating sound theoretical and research foundations and resulting in a written report or other expression of scholarly production. pre-req: instructor consent; no grad credit