2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Oct 27, 2020  
2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Geographic Information Sciences (GIS) Major

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George White, Head
Department of Geography
Scobey Hall 232
e-mail: george.white@sdstate.edu

(See also Geography)


Professor White, Head; Distinguished Professor C. Gritzner; Professors Berg, Cochrane, J. Gritzner, Hansen, Henebry, Napton, Roy; Associate Professor Watrel, Wimberly, Zhang; Assistant Professor Millett; Adjunct Faculty Eidenshink, Fosnight, Fouberg, Gallo, Giri, Loveland, Lu, Senay, Vogelmann, Zhuliang; Professor Emeritus Hogan.


Geographic Information Sciences (GISc) is the science of geographic and spatial analysis. It is concerned with the basic elements of spatial information including data gathering, description, manipulation, analysis, modeling, interpretation, and presentation. The knowledge gained from GISc is used to help make decisions about spatial phenomena that are distributed on the earth’s surface. This major includes the necessary courses to prepare the graduate to use the tools of GISc in business or governmental agencies.

The GISc graduate will be able to apply the tools of GISc to analyze spatial data in the natural and social sciences. This program gives students an opportunity to become professionals in a career area that has been growing and will continue to grow in numbers. GISc is a highly technical field. Graduates will find themselves on the cutting edge of an important area and will be able to find highly rewarding and remunerative jobs.

The Department of Geography provides coursework leading to the Bachelor of Science degrees in Geographic Information Sciences and Geography. The Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Sciences major requires 41 credit hours and includes GEOG 131, 132, 200, 210, 382, 383, 483, 484, 487, 488 and 489. MATH 120 and STAT 281 are also required and included in the 41 credit hours.

Minors in Geography and Geographic Information Sciences are also offered by the Department.

A Certificate in Geographic Information Sciences is available to those who hold a bachelor’s degree in areas other than geography.

A Ph.D. in Geospatial Science and Engineering is now available. Geography faculty participate in that doctoral program as teachers and advisers.

Geographic Information Sciences Center of Excellence

Matthew C. Hansen
Thomas Loveland
Wecota Hall 115F
e-mail: matthew.hansen@sdstate.edu


The study of the land surface and its modification over time is a major component of global change research. Land cover change impacts climate, biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem function, and the state of human welfare. To study large area land cover dynamics, satellite-based earth observations are required. The Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence (GIScCE) is a new collaboration between SDSU and the US Geological Survey EROS Data Center (EDC) with a focus on the science of earth observation and monitoring. EDC is the world’s largest repository of remotely sensed data sets and a renowned center of applied earth science studies. The GIScCE is a research partnership of SDSU faculty and EDC scientists which employs the capabilities of geographic information science (GISc), namely remote sensing, geographic information systems, digital mapping, and geostatistics, to document and understand the changing earth. To achieve this, an interdisciplinary center of study is required, one which utilizes engineering principles to efficiently and accurately process earth observation data, geographic principles to create meaningful thematic depictions of land cover and land use change, and applications which focus on the resultant effects of change on the geosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere. Through the combined resources of many disciplines, the GIScCE seeks to investigate important questions regarding the dynamic earth system.

Students play an integral role in the research performed by the center. A student can earn graduation recognition as a Center Scholar by completing a combination of courses, programs, and professional experiences. Center Scholars must have completed all Regental and University core classes with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in major and GISc coursework at time of graduation. Undergraduates must also have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 for all coursework at time of graduation. Graduate students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 for GISc and all other coursework at the time of graduation. All Center Scholars will participate in a Center Internship, which will include the development of a scholarly study. Results from this study must then be presented to an appropriate professional meeting or accepted by a peer-reviewed science journal. A final student portfolio will be assembled and submitted for approval to the GIScCE portfolio review committee. Graduates of the program will be qualified to work as GISc professional scientists in government, education, business and industry throughout the state, nation and world. The Center is also a major player in the Ph.D. in Geospatial Science and Engineering.

Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Sciences:

Curriculum for Undergraduate

Freshman Year:


  • SGR Goal 4: Humanities and Arts Credits: 3*
  • Geography Electives Credits: 3

Fall or Spring


  • SGR Goal 4: Humanities and Arts Credits: 3*
  • Geography Electives Credits: 3

Sophomore Year:


  • Humanities and Arts, Arts and Sciences Requirement Credits: 3
  • SGR Goal 3: Social Science (not GEOG) Credits: 3*
  • Biological Science Electives Arts and Sciences Core Credits: 3

Fall or Spring


  • Biological Science Electives Arts and Sciences Core Credits: 3

Junior Year:


  • IGR Goal 3: Social Responsibility/Cultural andAesthetic Awareness (not GEOG) Credits: 3**
  • Free Electives Credits: 6-8


  • IGR Goal 1: Land and Natural Resources Credits: 3**
  • Free Electives Credits: 7

Senior Year:

  • Geography/Other Electives Credits: 16

Total Credits

Total 128 credits, 35 credits in Geography, minimum 18 upper division credits. GEOG 382 meets the Advanced Writing Requirement.


Students must earn at least a “C” in each course used to meet the departmental requirements of all majors, minors, and certificates.

Curriculum Notes:

* The 30 credit Board of Regents System General Education Requirements (SGRs) must be completed as part of a student’s first 64 credits.

** South Dakota State University has an 8-9 credit Institutional Graduation Requirement (IGRs).

(G) Globalization Requirement.

(AW) Advanced Writing Requirement.

Students must take the proficiency examination after completing 48 credits. English 101, and a course in each of the General Education areas of social science, mathematics, natural science, and humanities and arts must be taken prior to taking this exam.

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