MS GeoInformatics

 

The Master of Science in GeoInformatics is a science and technology based degree program that provides training for research and professional careers in local and national governments, international agencies, non-government organizations, corporations, consulting firms, and information technology companies as well as in academia. The focus on GeoInformatics, which combines Geographic Information Science (GISci) with Computational Science, makes the program unique within the New York City Metropolitan area. We offer world-class education in GeoInformatics training the next generation of analysts, thinkers, and leaders in the field of geospatial and informational technologies. Our training in computational aspects of GIS includes modeling and programming, remote sensing, visualization, databases, spatial ontologies, spatial statistics, big data, complexity, as well as applied research topics such as human and animal mobility, transportation, crime and health, environmental modeling, urban environments, biogeography, disaster management, and community-based GIS.

The MS GeoInformatics program extends the existing Hunter College GIS Certificate program by providing a more advanced technical and computational perspective. Graduates will be proficient not only in the use of geo-spatial technologies but also in their theoretical and computational foundations. They will be equipped with a skillset that will enable them to work both in upper management as well as in high level technical positions. The MS program meets a growing demand for scientists trained in the collection, organization, analysis, and dissemination of geospatial data, particularly those who are able to devise and develop new analytical methods and visualizations of large geospatial datasets. The focus on GeoInformatics, therefore, provides a major competitive advantage to the graduates of our program.


 

Admission and Exit Requirements

Admission requirements include a BA or BS degree with a GPA of at least 3.0, GRE exam scores, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Additionally, students are required to have taken an introductory statistics course and an introductory computer science/programming course prior to beginning the program (the programming course may be waived if the applicant shows professional programming experience by other means. Foreign students, whose first language is not English, must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and meet the requirements set by Hunter College.

Exit standards. In order to graduate from the MS GeoInformatics program, students must have a cumulative GPA 3.0 or higher and they must have met the program requirements. In particular, they must have completed 33 (Thesis Option) or 37 (Exam option) credits of coursework, and complete a thesis if they elect the Thesis option or take an exam and submit a research paper if they elect the Exam option.

Admissions procedures are established by the Hunter College Office of Graduate Admissions. If you have any questions about the information in this catalogue, please contact the MGEOi advisor.


 

Application Deadline

For fall semester: April 30, likely to be extended to June 1 (February 1 for international students)
For spring semester: November 15 (September 1 for international students)
We encourage graduate application submissions by early deadlines of September 1 and February 1. This will help with allocation of scholarships and funding if these are available. Students applying before the deadline will receive early admission decisions.


 

Curriculum

The MS GeoInformatics program is designed to prepare students for management- and advanced research-level employment positions and/or acceptance into PhD programs in GIS-related fields. Students must choose one of two program options: the Thesis Option or Exam Option. The Thesis Option is recommended for students who will subsequently pursue a Ph.D. For other students, either option is acceptable. Classes vary in their structure from lecture to computer laboratory classes to seminars. Most classes provide hands-on computer experience. Students will be required to take courses from the following groups:

  1. GeoInformatics and GIS core courses (19 credits); 
  2. Elective courses in GeoInformatics and GIS or allied fields such as Geography, Computer Science, Urban Planning, Geology, Economics, etc. (12 credits);
  3. Two one credit courses in the Thesis Option (2 credits) OR two elective courses in Exam Option (6 credits).

In addition to traditional courses, students will have the opportunity to participate in an active technology and research seminar series, field trips to local private and public sector GIS groups and research sites, as well as contribute to real-world GIS projects through internal and external mentorship programs.


 

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the MS GeoInformatics program it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. Identify the theoretical and methodological foundations of GeoInformatics and GIScience including data models and data structures, spatial ontologies and linked data, simulation and spatial-temporal modeling, remote sensing and spatial data capture, as well as spatial analysis and computational methods;
  2. Apply a wide range of research methods and scientific computing skills for the analysis of spatial information that emphasize geospatial computation, modeling, and big data; 
  3. Develop advanced spatial analytical software tools including web-based tools and implement these software tools in a range of application areas; 
  4. Explain how governments and private corporations collect geospatial information for various purposes (e.g., population censuses, analyses of consumer behavior, and security and surveillance) and understand the ethical issues involved; and 
  5. Explain the impacts of geospatial technologies on economic, social, institutional, and cultural practices locally and in the context of globalization, grass-roots movements, and democracy. 

Students will leave with hands-on analytical skills in different GIS and remote sensing software packages, open source geospatial software tools, experience working with high-performance computing (HPC) environments, and at least two different computer programming languages. The rise of Geoweb and its role as a source of geographic data and a device for its collection, mapping, and analysis plays a key role in our program. An emphasis on theory as well as techniques of GeoInformatics means that students will graduate prepared to assume positions as advanced practitioners and to contribute to the growing field of GeoInformatics itself.


 

Semester by Semester Schedule
The following table provides a sample of required (R) and elective (E) course sequence for a full-time student who has elected to complete the Thesis Option. This sequence reflects only one possible sequence:


YEAR 1

Fall

R

    GTECH 70200: Quantitative Methods

3 cr

R

    GTECH 70900: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

3 cr

R

    GTECH 71000: Concepts and Theories in GeoInformatics

3 cr

R

    GTECH 71200: Remote Sensing of the Environment

3 cr

Spring

E

    GTECH 78517: Free and Open Source GIS

3 cr

R

    GTECH 73200: Advanced GeoInformatics

3 cr

E

    GTECH 73500: Location Based Services

3 cr

R

    GTECH 73100: GeoComputation I

4 cr


YEAR 2

Fall

E

    GTECH 73300: GeoComputation II

3 cr

E

    GTECH 78502: GIS Applications in Social Geography

3 cr

R

    GTECH 70800: Seminar in GeoInformatics

1 cr

R

    GTECH 79900: Thesis Credit

1 cr

    33 cr


The Exam option would have a similar sequence but in the third semester students would take two 3 credit elective courses instead of the two 1 credit courses required for the Thesis option. This would bring the total course work to 37 credits for the Exam option.


 

Program Options

The core component includes two introductory courses: GTECH 70900, Introduction to Geographic Systems and GTECH 71000, Concepts and Theories in GeoInformatics, as well as one advanced course: GTECH 73200, Advanced GeoInformatics. This series of courses provides students with the theoretical background and foundational skills and techniques. Other core components (GTECH 70200, Quantitative Methods in Geography; GTECH 73100, GeoComputation I; and GTECH 71200, Remote Sensing of the Environment) extend the conceptual range and skillset as students begin to move into the elective component of the program.

The curriculum for the elective component is relatively open, although the program suggests several specialized tracks for developing expertise in specific areas of GeoInformatics. These tracks are informal designations and students may switch tracks or combine multiple tracks at any time in consultation with the program adviser and relevant faculty. We suggest four topic tracks that help students focus the program according to their needs: (1) Spatial Data Analytics and GeoVisualization, (2) GeoComputational Modeling and Remote Sensing, (3) Distributed and Web-based GeoComputation, (4) Applied GIS and Management. A track sequence would typically involve taking three to four required courses and complementing them with several electives courses. Exam option students in each track must take two additional 3 credit elective courses from GTECH and GEOG including GIS applications courses (GTECH 785xx).

  1. Spatial Data Analytics and GeoVisualization:

The Spatial Data Analytics and GeoVisualization track is designed for students who are interested in the analysis and exploration of geospatial information. This track focuses on core computational statistical methods as well as tools and techniques for effectively conveying research findings, in both static and interactive formats. The track includes the six required courses as well as GTECH 72100, Introduction to Cartographic Design & Geovisualization; GTECH 72200, Advanced Topics in GeoVisualization; GTECH 70500, Spatial Data Analysis; and GTECH 73300, GeoComputation II. Students following the Spatial Data Analytics and GeoVisualization track will be prepared to analyze and effectively communicate geospatial information to a wide range of audiences and research fields.

  1. GeoComputational Modeling and Remote Sensing:

The GeoComputational Modeling track is designed for students interested in spatial-temporal modeling and algorithm development. Students will acquire expertise in the development of conceptual models, turning them into computational models (i.e. data structures and algorithms), and validating the results of those models. A range of spatial-temporal models will be examined, programmed and applied to real-world problems that often require "big data" solutions. The track includes the six required courses as well as GTECH 73300, GeoComputation II; GTECH 71300, Image Processing and LiDAR Remote Sensing; GTECH 72100, GeoVisualization I; GTECH 78517, Open Source Geospatial Technologies; and GTECH 70500, Spatial Data Analysis. Students following the GeoComputational Modeling track will master the principles surrounding GeoComputational models and be able to write computer programs to create spatial-temporal models in both the research and application domains.

  1. Distributed and Web-based GeoComputation:

The Distributed and Web-based GeoComputation track is designed for students interested in GeoWeb services, spatial data infrastructures, cloud computing, location-based services, and Big Geospatial Data. The track focuses on the use and development of these technologies, including OGC web services, map service setups for raster and vector tiles, as well as distributed computing solutions such as MapReduce and Hadoop. In addition to the six required courses, the track will include GTECH 78517 Open Source Geospatial Technologies, GTECH 73300 GeoComputation II, GTECH 73500 Location-based Services, and GTECH 73400 GeoWeb services. The Distributed and Web-based GeoComputation track will prepare students to develop and manage geospatial software solutions that make use of the above-mentioned technologies.

  1. Applied GIS and Management

The Applied GIS and Management track provides students with knowledge and skills necessary for taking the GISP (Geographic Information Systems Professional) exam administered by the GIS Certification Institute. The goal of this concentration is to help students fast track into positions in GIS management. As part of their education, they work with and learn from current GIS managers to look beyond the technical realm and understand GIS in a larger institutional context. In addition to six required courses, students will take GTECH 78514, GIS Program Management; GTECH 78515, GIS in Metro NY; and other GIS Applications courses from our GTECH 785xx range


 

Course Descriptions

Required Core Courses (19 credits):

GTECH 70200 – Quantitative Methods in Geography (3 credits/3 hours)
Application of scientific methods to geographic research, including sampling, distribution measurement, characterizing relationships, multivariate analysis, and a strong focus on computational modeling statistical relationships using (either) R or Python.

GTECH 70800 – Seminar in GeoInformatics (1 credit/1 hour)
This seminar introduces students to the wider GeoInformatics field, industry and community of New York City area. Requirements includes regular attendance at seminars, presentation of the students work at a student seminar, and preparation of a literature review.

GTECH 70900 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (3 credits/4 hours) Co-requisite with GTECH 71000.
Thorough introduction to geographic information systems (GIS) using multiple desktop and web-based GIS with an emphasis on spatial data handling and project management. 

GTECH 71000 – Concepts and Theories in GeoInformatics (3 credits/3 hours) Co-requisite with GTECH 70900.
Conceptual introduction to GeoInformatics and geographic information science.
Focus on theoretical aspects of GIS and spatial temporal information. 

GTECH 71200 – Remote Sensing of the Environment (3 credits/4 hours) Prerequisite: GTECH 71000 or permission of instructor. 
An overall introduction to remote sensing, particularly focused on the use of satellite imagery to study our environment.

GTECH 73100 – GeoComputation I (4 credits/6 hours) Prerequisite: GTECH 71000.
A comprehensive course in programming that concentrates on object-oriented programming methods and algorithms specific to geographic and cartographic applications.

GTECH 73200 – Advanced GeoInformatics (3 credits/3 hours) Prerequisite: GTECH 70900 and 71000.
Expansion of GTECH 70900 and 71000 concentrating on advanced concepts in GeoInformatics, including data models, algorithms, GIS analysis and scripting.

GTECH 79900 – Thesis Credit (1 credit/1 hour) Leads to a thesis approved by the student’s committee. Required for Thesis Option only.
Formal approval of a proposal for thesis research is also required. The student’s committee determines whether the proposal is of a breadth, depth, and quality consistent with the expectations for a master’s degree thesis.
A thesis of a breadth, depth, and quality consistent with the expectations for a master’s degree thesis prepared in a format conforming with Hunter College guidelines. The student’s committee determines whether the thesis is acceptable.

Student who choose the exam option have to:

  • Take an additional six credits of GTECH or outside courses;
  • Receive a passing grade on the comprehensive examination conducted by the student's graduate committee; and
  • Submit a research paper of a breadth, depth, and quality consistent with expectations for a master’s degree student prepared in the format of Transactions in GIS or its equivalent.

 

Elective Courses (19 credits):

A minimum of six additional credits selected from GTECH courses. Most students choose a principal area of concentration (i.e., topic track) such as Spatial Data Analytics and GeoVisualization; GeoComputational Modeling and Remote Sensing; Distributed and Web-based GeoComputation; and Applied GIS and Management, in which they take most of their credits. Students are allowed a maximum of six credits from independent study courses, except in rare circumstances when the MS GeoInformatics advisor and the student's academic advisor agree to allow more.

Some portion of the remaining six credits may be selected from Geography graduate courses or outside the Department of Geography (e.g., Computer Science, Economics, Public Health, Sociology, or Urban Planning), according to the policy outlined below. The following is a non-exhaustive list of elective courses currently offered:

GTECH 70500 – Spatial Data Analysis (3 credits/3 hours)
This course covers a number of techniques aimed at the analysis and understanding of spatial data, with a particular emphasis on computational issues and analytical capabilities. The primary software used for this course is the R statistical programming language.

GTECH 71300 – Image processing and LiDAR Remote Sensing (3 credits/3 hours)
Quantitative processing of digital imagery; enhancement, information extraction, classification; algorithms, registration, rectification; and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology.

GTECH 72100 – Introduction to Cartographic Design & Geovisualization (3 credits/5 hours)
Acquisition of professional-level skills in cartography; production and design methods; color separations; use of automated techniques.

GTECH 72200 – Advanced Topics in Geovisualization (3 credits/5 hours)
Computer and other automated applications; theory and algorithms; production of computer-generated maps.

GTECH 73300 – GeoComputation II (3 credits/3 hours)
Theory and applications of GeoComputing.  Models and algorithms for advanced spatial and temporal modeling are examined and programed.  Emphasis is on an object-based computational paradigm and spatial data structures.

GTECH 73400 – GeoWeb services (3 credits/3 hours)
Thorough, hands on introduction to the setup, management, and use of different GeoWeb Services.

GTECH 73500 – Location Based Services (3 credits/3 hours)
Hands on introduction to the development of Location Based Services.

GTECH 785xx – Special Topics in GIS (3 credits/3 hours)
Courses under this label include Open Source Geospatial Technologies, GIS Applications in Urban Geography, GIS Applications in Social Geography, GIS in Metro NY, GIS Program Management, PPGIS, GIS in Public Health, and Mapping Earth Surfaces.


 

Policy for Credits Taken Outside MS GeoInformatics Program

Master’s degree students are allowed to take up to six credits outside of the MS program provided that the courses are acceptable for use towards completion of MS GeoInformatics degree. This includes courses at other institutions as well as courses from other Hunter College departments such as Computer Science, Urban Affairs and Planning, Economics, Art, or other related fields. Courses must meet the minimum requirements for transfer of graduate credits at Hunter College. For courses taken outside Hunter College, students must follow the Hunter College guidelines for transfer of graduate credit. Note that only courses for which a student received a grade of B or higher are accepted, and that there is a constraint of three years on how far in the past these credits are acceptable. The graduate adviser (program director), in consultation with the student’s academic adviser, determines which courses are acceptable for use towards completion of a MS GeoInformatics degree. For credits taken from other Hunter College departments, the grade will be transferred and count towards the student’s cumulative GPA. For credits taken at other institutions no grade will be transferred and, therefore, the grade will not affect the student’s cumulative GPA. No credit is given for internships undertaken via other institutions. This six credit limit applies to incoming transfer credits and courses taken after students have started the MS GeoInformatics program.