Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science & Technology

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

The USC online Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) program provides a core foundation in geographic information science (GIS) and spatial sciences, cutting-edge GIS applications, and the resources and facilities of a leading research university.

With training in spatial thinking, geospatial research and problem solving, data collection, analysis, modeling, and visualization techniques, USC GIST students and alumni produce their own GIS applications which improve decision making, communication, and quality of life.

Anyone today with a computer or smart phone is both a consumer and producer of geospatial information.  Analyzing “big data” generated by social and economic phenomena requires the ability to utilize spatial science.  Geographic information science (GIS) has grown beyond its roots in computer science, geography, mathematics, and surveying.   Geospatial technologies is now one of the 21st century’s most important high-growth industries, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Career Options

Individuals with GIS skills and capabilities often have careers in public, private and nonprofit institutions—government, real estate developers, utilities and telecommunications firms—on where to build new roads, buildings, power plants and cable lines, as well as on environmental matters such as where to build a landfill or preserve wetland habitats. GIS professionals also work with police departments to allocate resources in crime-prone areas; public health agencies to locate cancer “hot spots”; transportation planners to unravel rush-hour congestion; and wildlife biologists to map the critical habitats of endangered species.  GIS tools like Geographic Information Systems, Global Positioning Systems, Image Processing Systems, and Location-Based Services help business professionals measure spatial attributes, often with reference to specific places, and spatial thinking helps them analyze and understand the data. Expanding geospatial knowledge is important in any discipline in assessing profitability, logistics, and feasibility.

GIST Graduate Certificate Program:

Students in the 16-unit GIST Graduate Certificate online program take the same three core courses as students in the 28-unit M.S. in GIST, plus one elective. The USC Graduate Certificate program operates year-round, through fall, spring, and summer semesters.

CORE COURSES (12 units):

SSCI 581: Concepts for Spatial Thinking (4 units)
The unique characteristics and importance of spatial information as they relate to the evolving science, technology, and applications of Geographic Information Systems.

SSCI 587: GPS/GIS Field Techniques (4 units)
Field exploration of methods and problems of data acquisition and integration using GPS/GIS data collection systems at Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island.

SSCI 582: Spatial Databases (4 units)
Design, implementation, and interrogation of relational, object-oriented and other types of geospatial databases. Recommended preparation: SSCI 581.

ELECTIVES (Choose one 4 –unit course):

SSCI 583: Spatial Analysis and Modeling (4 units)
Examination of the process of geographic abstraction and modeling in relation to the different data models and spatial analysis operations available in current GIS. Recommended preparation: SSCI 581.

SSCI 585: Geospatial Technology Project Management (4 units)
Concepts, principles and use of project management tool and the issues encountered in running GIS projects. Recommended preparation: SSCI 581.

SSCI 586: GIS Programming and Customization (4 units)
Design, coding, and implementation of GIS-based software and models with the Python programming language. Recommended preparation: SSCI 581.

SSCI 588: Remote Sensing for GIS (4 units)
Principles of remote sensing, satellite systems, and the role of remote sensing data in GIS applications. Recommended preparation: SSCI 581.

SSCI 589: Cartography and Visualization (4 units)
Principles of visual perception, spatial cognition and cartographic design and their contributions to the maps, animations, virtual reality and multimedia displays produced with modern GIS. Recommended preparation: SSCI 581.

SSCI 591: Web GIS (4 units)
Design, implementation, and technological building blocks for distributed web-mapping services. Recommended preparation: SSCI 586.

SSCI 592: Mobile GIS (4 units)
Design, coding, and implementation of mobile GIS applications using the Java and Javascript object-oriented programming languages. Recommended preparation: SSCI 591.

SSCI 599: Special Topics: Geospatial Data Integration (4 units)
Role of crowdsourcing, volunteered geographic information, spatial data infrastructures, and web portals in helping with the collection, storage, curation, and distribution of geospatial data assets.  Recommended preparation: SSCI 587 or permission of the instructor.

SSCI 599: Special Topics: Spatial Modeling (4 units)
Provides the knowledge and skills necessary to investigate the spatial patterns which result from social and physical processes operating at or near the Earth’s surface.  Recommended preparation: SSCI 581 or permission of the instructor.

Faculty Spotlight

John Wilson