The Community College of Baltimore County is one of the few community colleges on the east coast to offer a degree program in Geospatial Applications. The program was started in the fall of 2006 and is accredited by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
On March 1st, 2009, CCBC received statewide designation which allows for out of county students to take classes at in-county rate.
Students of all backgrounds are taking advantage of this program which feeds into the rapidly growing geospatial industry. A variety of ages are taking classes; from high school seniors to older adults in their late 60’s. Some students are seeking their first degree while others are returning for training and certification. With the downturn with the economy, more and more are returning to add a boost of GIS to their experience. Additionally, there is about a 3-2 male to female ratio.
Here is a breakdown of what the Geospatial Applications Program offers:
- Associate of Applied Science Degree
- 65-66 Credits
- 2 Year Program
- Transferable to a four year institute for a bachelor’s degree
- Introduction to Geospatial Applications Certificate
- 13 credits
- Provides immediate skills to enter the GIS workplace or as a way for skill enhancement
- Advanced Geospatial Applications Certificate
- 23 credits
- Provides additional experience in advanced spatial analysis and project design and management
- Focused on core courses and immediate employment
For those who desire to pursue a four degree, an articulation agreement has been negotiated for students to transfer to the two largest transfer institutions in the area. Students who complete the A.A.S Degree in Geospatial Applications can earn junior and senior level credit through Towson University or the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. CCBC is the first community college GIS program in the country to be able to achieve such an aggressive articulation agreement.
Class sizes are currently averaging about seven students. The introductory courses tend to have higher attendance with 10-16 students, and the advanced courses tend to be smaller with 3-6 students. Since the program is still relatively new, the class cohorts are slowly increasing each year.
Currently there are no classes offered online. Face-to-face interaction is important in GIS classes, specifically with Remote Sensing and GPS.
Beyond just the basic core classes of GIS, CCBC offers more specialized courses such as Decision Making Using GIS and Remote Sensing and GPS. Decision Making Using GIS focuses on the ArcGIS extensions (3D Mapper, Spatial Analyst, Network Analyst, etc.). Remote Sensing and GPS focuses on the principles of remote sensing and image interpretation as well as GPS software and technology.
In addition to ESRI’s ArcGIS software, students are exposed to other software programs. In the Remote Sensing and GPS class, students learn how to use Pathfinder Office, Terrasync, and ERDAS Imagine. The Adobe suite is also incorporated into map production with the use of Photoshop and Illustrator. As for software availability, enrolled students are provided with a free one year ArcView software license with all extensions.
CCBC is currently establishing a series of scholarships to help with tuition for the program. As students are usually required to present posters/maps at conferences, the college will often help cost the student’s conference fees.
As internships can be a key boost to jump starting a career, a variety of paid and unpaid internships are made available. The positions are usually with local, county and state municipalities, non-profit groups, and local and regional businesses.
Although there are currently no GIS student clubs/organizations in place, CCBC students have expressed an intrest in forming a chapter of Gamma Theta Epsilon, an international honor society in geography.
The CCBC program appears to be very well organized. Although they may not offer online classes, schedule flexibility is shown with the provision of day and night classes. The small class sizes make an excellent learning environment for more one-on-one time with the professor. I believe the huge benefit of this program is the ability to transfer the A.A.S. degree. Most colleges do not have a transfer program set up and if they do, very few geospatial classes will transfer. If you are looking to move forward with a four year degree then this would be an excellent one to look into further. Check it out for yourself!
Thank you to Professor Scott Jeffrey for taking the time to provide this valuable information.
Note: The information within this article has been thoroughly researched but should be verified with the college. Publication of this article was not initiated by the college but is the sole work of GIS Pathway.
Thanks to Timothy for this fine contribution – you can visit the GISpathway website at http://gispathway.com