Changing the Face of Undergraduate Geospatial Education

The majority of collegiate degree programs treat geospatial technologies as a set of bolt-on courses to traditional underlying geography, ecology, or computer information systems core program of study. This approach was reasonable five or more years ago when the full swath of geospatial technologies was not as full as it is now. However, advents in GIS, remote sensing, positioning, geo-data management, geo-visualization, and geospatial analysis have become robustly populated and now comprise a base wide and deep enough to warrant recognition of geospatial technologies as an academic discipline.

Delta State University

Pedagogy stresses that a higher education should advance from a broad base to highly specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities. To meet the demands of a growing student population interested in spatial technologies, the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University assessed emerging trends in workforce needs, geospatial certification programs, and the depth of knowledge required to complete competitive graduate programs in spatial technologies. Results from this assessment strongly suggested that the time had come to formulate a Bachelor of Applied Science in Geospatial Analysis and Intelligence degree program (BAS-GAI).

The BAS-GAI is designed to provide graduates with a well-rounded geospatial technologies education that is still rooted firmly in geography. Building on a traditional liberal arts base, the program requires students to complete 53 semester hours of core geospatial training which includes positioning, remote sensing, GIS, geo-analytics and geo-statistics, programming and 15 semester hours of geography and advanced geospatial technologies electives. Students are also required to complete at least one full semester of internship or capstone project work in association with an industry partner. Students completing this program will meet the educational requirements needed to sit for their journeyman surveyor exam, the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s Certified Geospatial Professional exam series, and the GIS Certification Institute exam.

The resulting program of study has quickly gained attention and acclaim. It was the basis for the DSU being recognized as a Center of Academic Excellence by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the US Marine Corps has recently developed a partnership whereby enlisted GEOINT Marines may earn their undergraduate degrees. DSU offers the program both fully online and as a blended online/on-campus program of study, waives all out-of-state tuition for online students, and offers financial aid and student employment opportunities to competitive prospective students.

For more information about this program or to apply, please visit

Author: Talbot Brooks, Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University

Talbot Brooks has served as the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University since 2005. In this capacity, he acts as the department chair, reporting directly to the Dean, College of Arts and Sciences. Mr. Brooks teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels, conducts sponsored research and development activities, performs service to the University and profession, and administers all aspects of the Center. Moreover, Mr. Brooks is responsible for the creation of geospatially-oriented academic and training programs.

Author: GISuser

GISuser, founded by Spatial Media (2003), is the leading online technology, news resource for GIS and mapping professionals

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