Geospatial Sciences Programs

Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing (RS), and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), are individually and collectively important aspects of a geospatially-oriented education. The Department of Geosciences offers a geospatial curriculum that is part of a broader Bachelor's of Science degree and requires additional coursework chosen from a list of restricted electives from across the university. We believe this collaboration with other colleges and departments is beneficial to both faculty and students.

The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) model was used as a general framework for curriculum development. Although there is no national certification requirement in place at this time, MSU offers students the opportunity to acquire the Geospatial and Remote Sensing Technology Certificate.


Students at the undergraduate level not only develop basic geospatial skills, but also learn object-oriented programming and relational-database/geo-database skills. This set of skills is in high demand in the workforce and for students who choose to pursue advanced degrees.

At the graduate level students develop spatial modeling skills and continue to learn how geospatial technologies can provide insight into how landscape patterns are controlled by underlying physical processes. Students learn how these processes can be broken down into individual landscape elements suitable for spatial analysis and how the results of those analyses can be appropriately summarized in ways that are useful for management decisions.

Graduates of the Geosciences GIS program will be competitive in the job market and well prepared to succeed both now and in the foreseeable future. The program is continually expanded and modified as necessary to keep pace with the rapidly evolving geospatial field and to meet the growing demand for geospatial expertise in the public and private sector.

GIS B.S. Curriculum

Graduate Student Support

Full time-time and half-time teaching assistantships are often available for graduate students. Full-time TA's teach two or three lab sections per week; half-time TA's usually teach one lab section and assist in one other. Departmental TA's usually last for two years and include a tuition waiver. Research assistantships are also often available to graduate students. RA's are usually required to teach labs in addition to working on a research project. The amount of the monthly RA stipend is dependent on a particular project and grant but can be as much as $1500/month plus tuition waiver. For more information on the graduate program in the Department of Geosciences please contact Dr. Mike Brown, Graduate Coordinator.



Geospatial Sciences Courses

Maps and Remote Sensing - A hands-on course where students learn to use maps as valuable research tools. The course includes history of maps, latitude and longitude, Universal Transverse Mercator coordinates, map projections, working with scale to find distance and area, introduction to aerial photography interpretation, the electromagnetic spectrum, and introductions to remote sensing, GIS (geographic information systems) and GPS (Global Positioning System).

Survey of Geospatial Technologies: (3 hours) - Three hours lecture using current problems to illustrate applications of the course subject matter. Course will include field excursions for hands on experience and examples of current technologies. Successful completion and comprehension of course material will prepare students for more advanced courses in this study area.

Cartographic Sciences: (3 hours) - (Prerequisite: Junior or graduate standing, or consent of instructor). Two hours lecture, two hours lab. Principles of cartographic theory and map design. Types of maps, map projections, proportional symbols, use of color, mapping and statistics, interactive maps, and map animation.

Geodatabase Systems: (3 hours) - (Prerequisite: Consent of instructor). Three hours lecture and laboratory. Examination of database structures utilized in geospatial information systems. Course participants learn how geospatial databases are designed and how their use can be maximized through spatial programming in the development and implementation of spatial models. Emphasis is placed on geo-object oriented databases.

Geospatial Applications: (1 hour) - Introduction to geospatial computer packages available at MSU. Course will include hands on experience and examples of current geospatial technologies. Successful completion and comprehension of course material will prepare students for more advanced courses in this study area.

Introduction to Geodatabases: (3 hours) - (Prerequisite: Consent of instructor) Examination of geodatabase structures utilized in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with examples and illustrations from meteorology, geology, and geography. Students will also learn how GIS systems various components can be effectively implemented through spatial programming using Visual Basic (VB) applications designed for geospatial data.

Principles of GIS: (3 hours) - (Prerequisite: Junior or graduate standing, or consent of instructor). Spatial analysis and topological relationships of geographic data using Geographic Information Systems, with emphasis on GIS theory.

Remote Sensing of the Physical Environment: (3 hours) - (Prerequisite: Geospatial Applications, Survey of Spatial Technologies, Consent of instructor). Examines remote sensing methods applicable to large-area analyses. Areas of study include, watershed-level drainage systems, the urban landscape, landscape vegetation metrics, physical landscape structural components, and remote sensing of water features (surface water, snow/ice, and clouds).

Advanced GIS: (3 hours) - (Prerequisite: Principles of GIS, Consent of instructor). Examines vector-based file structure and GIS queries using spatial attributes and geodatabase attributes; descriptive and prescriptive modeling in the raster domain including regression and linear weighted modeling techniques; surface interpolation techniques, hydraulic flow models, and routing.






Department of Geosciences • 108 Hilbun Hall • P.O. Box 5448 • Mississippi State, MS 39762-5448

phone: 662-325-3915 • fax: 662-325-9423