2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    
    May 14, 2021  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Geography (M.S.) - Geographic Information Sciences Specialization


Program Coordinator/Contact

Bob Watrel, Department Head
George White, Professor/Graduate Coordinator
Department of Geography and Geospatial Sciences
Wecota Hall 109, Box 506
605-688-4511

Program Information

The Department of Geography and Geospatial Sciences offers graduate students the opportunity to earn a Master of Science Degree. The curriculum, organized through formal courses, seminars, internship experiences, and supervised research, is designed to prepare students for positions in such professional areas as planning, remote sensing, geographic information sciences, government service, research, business, and teaching. The program also is designed to provide students with the education needed to pursue further graduate study. Students seeking this degree are expected to select courses that will provide a sound foundation in geography (philosophical, physical and human, and research techniques) supported, if appropriate, by courses outside the department. Students may also seek out opportunities such as the cooperative program with the EROS Data Center and/or internships, generally available with planning districts, governmental agencies, business, and industry.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Critical thinking: Demonstrate foundational and specialized knowledge in both the physical and human sciences and their interconnectedness at local, regional, and global scales.
  • Critical thinking: Interpret the ethical consequences of global issues concerning the environment to strengthen commitment to local, national, and global citizenship.
  • Problem solving: Demonstrate proficiency in the application of appropriate geographical technologies and techniques to address issues in the physical and/or human sciences.
  • Written communication: Communicate geographic ideas clearly and effectively (e.g., maps, writing, oral presentations, posters, photos, flowcharts, tables, graphs, and illustrations). (Communication Skills)
  • Creative thinking: Apply observations from laboratory and/or field experiences to analyze problems and offer solutions.
  • Creative thinking: Demonstrate the ability to collect, organize, analyze, and synthesize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial-temporal context.
  • Inquiry and analysis: Explore complex local, regional, and global issues using a geographical perspective to formulate questions and draw informed conclusions that are based on critical scientific analysis and interpretation of information.

Course Delivery Format

Geography is not only a classroom subject but one that also includes laboratory research, fieldwork, and travel, as well as limited online coursework.

Facilities and Services

The department houses the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence and produces its own annual Geography Convention, the longest running such event in the United States.

Student Support and Engagement Opportunities

The department provides numerous opportunities for student engagement. For example, the Geography Club is a student organization centered on both academic and social functions. Membership is open to anyone interested. Additionally, the South Dakota State Geography Convention.

Students and faculty regularly travel including attendance at regional and national geography meetings, as well as travel to other parts of the world in pursuit of their individual scholarly interests.

Available Options for Graduate Degrees


Master of Science Option A - Thesis 30 Credit Hours
  Option B - Research/Design Paper 32 Credit Hours
  Option C - Coursework Only 36 Credit Hours

Select one of the following options


Option A - Thesis


  • Credits: 1-7 (6 credits required)
  • Electives will be determined in consultation with the advisor. Credits: 9

Option B - Research/Design Paper


Option C - Coursework Only


  • Electives will be determined in consultation with the advisor. Credits: 21

Total Credits: 30 (Option A), 32 (Option B), 36 (Option C)


Additional Admission Requirements


GRE: Required
TOEFL: Department requirement of 590 paper-based, 80 Internet-based
IELTS: 6.5

The Department of Geography has listed the following additional admission requirements:

  1. Submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. 
  2. Submission of 1-2 page statement describing applicants’ interests in the master’s program in Geography at SDSU.
  3. Submission of two (2) letters of recommendation from persons acquainted with the academic ability and professional competency of the applicant.
  4. Bestow conditional status on those applicants who have not completed the following courses or their equivalents prior to entering the program:
  • GEOG 131 (Physical Geography: Weather & Climate) or GEOG 132 (Physical Geography: Natural Landscapes)
  • GEOG 200 (Human Geography) or GEOG 210 (World Regional)
  • GEOG 372 (Introduction to GIS)

       These courses may be completed pass/fail.

General Requirements


Graduate students should consult with their advisor before registering for graduate coursework.

For additional information refer to the Master’s Degree Requirements .