M.P.S. in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Department of Geography and Environmental Systems

ERWIN VILLIGER, Graduate Program Director
ASHLEY WATERS, Graduate Program Coordinator

Adjunct Professors
ABDULLAH, QASSIM A., Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle; Analytical Photogrammetry, Digital Remote Sensing, and Civil and Surveying Engineering
ALAMEH, NADINE, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; Geospatial Interoperability, Web-Services Architecture, and Geospatial Standards
BERMUDEZ, LUIS, Ph.D., Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA; Hydroinformatics
EVANS, OWEN, M.S., Cornell University, Ithaca; Spatial Database, System Design, and GI Systems Architecture
CSANYI MAY, NORA, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, Columbus; Surface Extraction and Modeling, Sensor Fusion, Calibration of Multi-Sensor System, Digital Imagery
HEIMANN, RICHARD, National Geospatial-Intelligence College, Geospatial Intelligence & Geography
KALWEIT, SUSAN, M.S. Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C.; National Resource Strategy
SCHLEE, JOHN, MPA, George Mason University, Fairfax; GIS Database, GIS applications, Enterprise Solutions
WILSON, RONALD, M.A., Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA; Geography
YANG, XIUZHU, Ph.D., East China Normal University, Shanghai; GIS Programming, Remote Sensing
YOUNG, PAUL, M.A., University of Maryland, College Park; Map Digitizing, Image Analysis

Degrees Offered

M.P.S.: Geographic Information Systems (non-thesis degree)

Professional Graduate Certificate: Geographic Information Systems

The Master in Professional Studies and the Professional Graduate Certificate: Geographic Information Systems is offered at The Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, MD.

Geographic Information Systems, M.P.S

The curriculum addresses five specific areas:

  • Advanced Analytical Methods and Tools
  • Enterprise Systems Management
  • GIS Application Development
  • GIS Databases
  • Refection on Professional Practice

For additional information, please consult the M.P.S. Web page at www.umbc.edu/shadygrove/gis/gis.html


The Master in Professional Studies (M.P.S.): Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a 30-credit graduate program that will provide an advanced-level of education to professionals working or interested in the region's geospatial technology industry.

Upon completing the M.P.S. in GIS, students will possess an advanced knowledge of the information systems, computer science, and analytical aspects of the field of GIS. Students will utilize the knowledge, tools and techniques of database management, application development, and analytical assessment to appropriately address geographic information requirements and answer spatial questions.

The program addresses these areas through a combination of technical coursework, project management, and reflection on the past, present and future of geospatial technology industry. Drawing on the diverse and outstanding expertise of regional professionals and academics, this program raises the bar for educating geospatial professionals. Our aim is to develop the next generation of GIS professionals.

Degree Requirements/Program Admission

  • B.A. or B.S. in Geography, Computer Science or Information Systems -OR-
  • A bachelor’s degree in a related field with GIS-related work experience

Program Requirements

Applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) from an accredited undergraduate program. Applicants should also possess a working knowledge of Geographic Information Systems. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for admission to the GIS program.

Applicants should follow the application procedures set by UMBC's Graduate School.

Application Deadlines

Spring: December 1 (Domestic Students); May 1 (International Students)

Fall: August 1 (Domestic Students); January 1 (International Students)

Course Listing


GES 670: Advanced Seminar in GIS [3]
This course provides a geographic foundation vital to effective spatial systems development and an introduction to common geospatial tools including ESRI’s ArcGIS and Google Earth. A range of topics are introduced and discussed through student projects, presentations, and guest lecturers.

GES 671: Spatial Database and System Design [3]
Students are introduced to the process of spatial database development from data modeling to database implementation in an enterprise environment. Students also learn about database diagramming techniques (e.g., UML), spatial data formats and storage options, database query languages (e.g., SQL), and installation of spatial database software.

GES 673: Geoprocessing and Spatial Analysis [3]
This course covers the manipulation and analysis of geospatial data, and focuses on automated approaches to geographic feature overlay, feature selection and analysis, topology processing, raster processing, and data conversion. This course also addresses the role of geoprocessing and spatial analysis in the definition, management, and analysis of information used to form decisions.

GES 675: GIS Application Development I [3]
This course provides a working knowledge of desktop GIS application development to help students understand the logic and structures of programming languages, most notably Visual Basic .NET. A feature of this course is students’ ability to conduct applications needs assessments, diagram application logic, develop basic applications, and deploy desktop applications within an enterprise GIS.

GES 678: Project Management of the Enterprise GIS [3]
This capstone course involves advanced study and application of structured analysis and design methods throughout the GIS life cycle. The course stresses common approaches for gathering requirements, modeling, analyzing and designing geographic information systems. The course employs the case method of instruction.

GES 679: Professional Seminar on the Geospatial Technologies [1] x 3
These professional seminars expose students to the diversity of issues, applications, and developments in the industry. Seminars focus on a specific topic or issue of import to the geospatial industry or professional practice. Each student enrolls in three Professional Seminars over the course of their program.


GES 770: Special Topics in Enterprise GIS [3]
This course is reserved for topics that are not otherwise covered in the set of courses listed in the graduate catalogue. May be repeated for credit (as long as the topic is different) and may be offered in multiple sections concurrently.

GES 771: Advanced Spatial Data Management [3]
This course extends students’ engagement with spatial database development and covers best practices for managing vector and raster data, complex data production workflows, spatial database maintenance, and enterprise integration. Prerequisite: Spatial Database and System Design.

GES 772: Geospatial Web Services and Interoperability [3]
This course focuses on the key web technologies used for publishing and orchestrating web services. Topics covered include proprietary and open-source tools, network communications protocols, industry standardization efforts, and the overarching system design principle of services-oriented architecture (SOA). Students will develop a number of web-delivered data, visualization, analysis, and application services over the course of the semester using ArcGIS Server, SOAP, XML, GML, Google Earth/KML, Microsoft Virtual Earth, and IBM WebSphere. Issues of data interoperability are examined via case-method learning.

GES 773: GIS Modeling Techniques [3]
This course addresses the concepts, tools, and techniques of GIS modeling, and presents modeling concepts and theory as well as provides opportunities for hands-on model design, construction and application. The focus is given to model calibration and validation.

GES 774: Spatial Statistics [3]
This course investigates statistical techniques for exploring and characterizing spatial phenomena. The course covers local/global cluster analysis, spatial autocorrelation, interpolation, kriging, as well as exposure to prominent GIS statistical packages. An emphasis is placed on exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA) to develop spatial cognition and analytical skills with practical applications to modeling spatial phenomena in computer environments.

GES 775: Advanced GIS Application Development [3]
The course enables students to understand the logic and structures of coding languages, most notably JAVA. A feature of the course is students’ ability to conduct applications needs assessments, diagram application logic, develop basic applications, and deploy Web-based applications with an enterprise GIS.

GES 776: GIS Data Sources, Tasking, and Acquisition [3]
In this course, the myriad sources of spatially-referenced and non-spatially-referenced data are examined. Raster, vector, and socio-economic data sources are explored including sensor networks, aerial and satellite-based collection systems, GPS, and data conversion planning. Particular attention is paid to the development of a framework within which students may judge the value of third-party geospatial data to the enterprise GIS.

GES 777: Advanced Data Modeling and Editing Techniques [3]
This course provides students with the concepts and skills required to automate and maintain GIS feature data. It focuses on the automation of data workflow, editing processes, coordinate system reconciliation, the maintenance of topology, and the creation and maintenance of metadata. Advanced data modeling is investigated including feature-based and rule-base topology, and custom object development.

GES 778 Advanced Visualization and Presentation [3]
Web technologies are providing increasingly sophisticated environments for visualization of spatial data. This course explores advanced techniques for visualizing multivariate and multidimensional data. Topics include advanced cartographic techniques, 3D and virtual environment development, dynamic data update, and temporal modeling.

Geographic Information Systems, Certificate

Consisting of five courses (15 credits), the Professional Graduate Certificate in GIS is designed to provide students with a set of core technical and analytical tools which reflect the technical interdependence of the GIS career field. Students are able to earn this certificate first and then choose to transfer all of the credits into the M.P.S. program.

Required 12 Credit Core (3 credits per course unless otherwise noted)

Course Title [Credits]
GES 670: Advanced Seminar in GIS [3]
GES 671: Spatial Database and Systems Design [3]
GES 675: GIS Application Development [3]
GES 679: Professional Seminar on the Geospatial Technologies [1]- taken 3 times

Required 3 Credits of Elective (choose one)

Course Title [Credits]
GES 673: Geoprocessing and Spatial Analysis [3]
GES 678: Project Management of the Enterprise GIS [3]
GES 770: Special Topics in Enterprise GIS [3]
GES 771: Advanced Spatial Data Management [3]
GES 772: Geospatial Web Services and Interoperability [3]
GES 773: GIS Modeling Techniques [3]
GES 774: Spatial Statistics [3]
GES 775: Advanced GIS Application Development [3]
GES 776: GIS Data Sources, Tasking, and Acquisition [3]
GES 777: Advanced Spatial Data Modeling and Editing [3]
GES 778: Advanced Visualization and Presentation [3]