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Best Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Denise Sullivan - May 09, 2022


Geographic information systems (GIS) is a web-based mapping program that is used in a broad range of fields, from land management to environmental science. The best geographic information systems master’s degrees offer a comprehensive look at GIS technology and provide an academic experience that will prepare students for real-world experience in the field.

Choosing the right Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems can be a challenge. Continue reading for an in-depth guide on the best master’s degree programs available, as well as a deeper look into the various geographic master’s degree jobs and salaries available after graduation.

Where Can I Get a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems?

The top schools offering a geographical information systems master’s degree include Arizona State University, Florida State University, and Temple University. Read on to get a deeper look at each program.

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What Schools Offer the Best Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degrees?

  • Arizona State University
  • Florida State University
  • Temple University
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison

What Are the Admission Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems?

The admissions requirements for a geographic information master’s degree include a Bachelor’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems or a related field. Many programs also require candidates to have at least one year of experience in the field of GIS.

Some schools will require GRE test scores, but most do not. However, schools will require you to submit two to three letters of recommendation, as well as a personal statement of purpose explaining why you want to pursue this degree.

Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems or related field
  • 3.0 average GPA
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Resume showing experience in the field

How to Get a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems

You can get a geographic information systems master’s degree by fulfilling all required credits in core courses and passing the courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Each program will have its own curriculum and degree requirements for graduation.

How Many Credits Do You Need for a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems?

You will typically need at least 30 credits for a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems. In addition, you’ll need 15 credit hours in general geographic information systems classes. The remaining 15 credit hours are specialized electives or core courses for a specific concentration.

Geographic Information Systems Degree Requirements

  • 15 credit hours for core courses, such as Introduction to GIS and Geospatial Analytics
  • 12 – 15 credit hours of core courses for specific concentrations, such as Map-Making
  • 0 – 3 elective credit hours
  • Individual studies, which require a proposal presentation and capstone project
  • Internship

Best Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Arizona State University Geographic Information Systems, MAS Higher Learning Commission
Florida State University Masters in GIS Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
George Mason University Geographic and Cartographic Science, MS Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Minnesota State University – Mankato Geographic Information Science, MS Higher Learning Commission
Temple University Professional Science Master’s In Geographic Information Systems Middle States Commission on Higher Education
University of Arizona Geographic Information Systems Technology (MS) Higher Learning Commission
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Master of Geographic Information Science Higher Learning Commission
University of Pittsburgh Professional MS Program in GIS and Remote Sensing
University of Washington – Tacoma MS in Geospatial Technologies Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
University of Wisconsin – Madison Cartography and Geographic Informations Systems M.S. Higher Learning Commission

Best Schools for Geographic Information Systems: Top Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Programs

Each graduate school offering a master’s program in geographic information systems provides students with unique skillsets needed for success in the geospatial industry. Below you’ll find an overview of the costs, requirements, and application processes of each master’s degree program.

1

Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Arizona State University was founded in 1885, with an original campus located in Tempe, Arizona. Originally constructed to be a training school for teachers, it has grown to be the largest of the four ASU campuses and offers highly-respected degrees in a broad range of subjects.

Geographic Information Systems, MAS Program

The master's degree program for geographic information systems is a one-year degree. Its comprehensive curriculum focuses on both theoretical and technical analysis of modeling solutions for the planet. The program’s classes are small in size and designed for working adults.

Geographic Information Systems, MAS Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $837/credit hour (in state); $1,308/credit hour (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Learning Format: In person
  • Arizona State University Graduation Rate: 66%

Geographic Information Systems, MAS Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $70 for US residents, $115 for international students
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree in a related field or bachelor's degree in any other field plus three years of professional experience
  • Other Requirements: International students must take and pass an English proficiency test (TOEFL)

Applying to Arizona State University

  1. Complete the online application and pay the fee
  2. Submit two letters of recommendation
  3. Submit resume
  4. Send official transcripts to the university
  5. Submit a personal statement describing your personal interest in GIS
  6. Submit proof of English proficiency (international applicants)

2

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

Florida State University was founded in 1851 and is the senior member of the State University System of Florida. It is located on the oldest site of higher education in Tallahassee, Florida. Today it has over 45,000 students and offers many competitive degree programs.

Masters in GIS Program

The Masters in GIS program at Florida State University prepares students for geo-statistical analysis. You will use software in specialized computer labs to learn important GIS topics, such as remote sensing, environmental change and spatial modeling, and water resource mapping.

Masters in GIS Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $479.32/credit hour (in state); $1,110.72/credit hour (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 12 months
  • Learning Format: In person
  • Florida State University Graduation Rate: 84%

Masters in GIS Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: GRE (currently waived due to COVID), GMAT, or MAT
  • Application Fee: $30
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Other Requirements: International students must take and pass an English proficiency test (TOEFL)

Applying to Florida State University

  1. Complete the online application and pay the fee
  2. Submit unofficial transcripts from an accredited undergraduate degree
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation
  4. Submit a one-page statement of purpose
  5. Submit resume
  6. Those who speak English as a second language must provide proof of English language proficiency

3

George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia

George Mason University was founded in 1949 as part of the University of Virginia. The name was then changed to George Mason, a founding father, in 1959. It now has over 39,000 students enrolled in its expansive undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Geographic and Cartographic Science, MS Program

The Master of Geography and Geoinformation Science program teaches geography students to collect, organize, and analyze spatial information. Once completed, you will be able to work for government services and companies with the skills necessary for cartography and geospatial intelligence.

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Geographic and Cartographic Science, MS Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $743/credit (in state); $1,631/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 or 37 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • George Mason University Graduation Rate: 72%

Geographic and Cartographic Science, MS Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: GRE
  • Application Fee: $70
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree or a post-secondary degree deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree in a geography-related field
  • Other Requirements: TOEFL scores for all international applicants, have taken at least one course in statistics

Applying to George Mason University

  1. Complete the online application and pay the fee
  2. Submit transcripts from an accredited undergraduate degree and GRE test scores
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation
  4. Submit a statement of interest, which should include reasons for pursuing the degree, area of interest, and long-term plans
  5. Submit resume

4

Minnesota State University - Mankato

Mankato, Minnesota

Minnesota State University is a public university located in Mankato, Minnesota. Established in 1968, MSU is the second-largest university in the state and features 75 graduate programs in a wide range of degree paths. It offers graduate students an excellent Master’s Degree in GIS.

Geographic Informations System, MS Program

In this MS program at Minnesota State University, you will gain the professional foundation of a geospatial scientist by learning the skills, science, and application of the tools and software programs used in the industry. The program is designed to be flexible for working students and offers specializations in business, IT, and urban studies.

Geographic Informations System, MS Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $710.95/credit (in state); $1,066.43/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 32-36 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • MSU - Mankato Graduation Rate: 51%

Geographic Informations System, MS Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.3 recommended
  • Standardized Tests: GRE (optional)
  • Application Fee: $20
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Other Requirements: International students must pass an English proficiency test (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 75

Applying to Minnesota State University

  1. Complete the online application and pay the fee
  2. Reach out to potential academic advisors of the department
  3. Submit a personal letter of intent
  4. Submit resume and all official transcripts to the admissions office and the administrative assistant of the geography department
  5. Submit three letters of recommendation

5

Temple University

Philadelphia, PA

Temple University was founded in 1884 by Baptist minister Russell Conwell as the Baptist Temple. Four years later, it was renamed Temple University and became a public state-related research school. Today it is one of the world’s most prominent schools for professionals.

Professional Science Master’s In Geographic Information Systems Program

Students of this program will learn cartography, statistics, and spacial databases. These courses will help them develop the skills required to create maps, program a database, and then analyze the information within the data set.

Professional Science Master’s In Geographic Information Systems Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $966/credit (in state); $1,329/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 12 months
  • Learning Format: In person
  • Temple University Graduation Rate: 75%

Professional Science Master’s In Geographic Information Systems Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $60
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Other Requirements: International students must submit TOEFL score of 88 or higher, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, statement of goals, professional resume

Applying to TempleUniversity

  1. Submit the online application and pay the application fee
  2. Submit transcripts from an accredited undergraduate degree institution
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation
  4. Submit resume
  5. Submit statement of goals, should be 500 to 1,000 words long

6

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

The University of Arizona is a public research institution founded in 1885 in Tuscon, Arizona. The first university in Arizona, the University of Arizona has over 10,000 post-graduate students and over 38,000 undergraduate students enrolled in its expansive educational degree programs.

Geographic Information Systems Technology (MS) Program

University of Arizona’s Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems Technology focuses on geospatial information science (GIS) technology and software application. Students of this program will also learn management skills for versatile skillsets to use in a wide range of industries and career paths, from remote sensing to human geography.

Geographic Information Systems Technology (MS) Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition (and Fees): $6,636.62/semester (in state); $12,210.62/semester (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 18 months
  • Learning Format: In person, online
  • University of Arizona Graduation Rate: 65%

Geographic Information Systems Technology (MS) Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $90
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Other Requirements: International students must submit TOEFL score

Applying to the University of Arizona

  1. Complete the online application, specify campus, and pay the fee
  2. Submit transcripts from an accredited undergraduate degree
  3. Submit a single letter of recommendation
  4. Submit resume or CV
  5. Submit a statement of purpose

7

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities was established in 1851 and is the oldest and largest university in Minnesota. Located in the neighboring cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the public research institution draws over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students from across the world to its numerous respected degree programs.

Master of Geographic Information Science Program

The Master of Geographic Information Science degree program will give you a solid foundation of the skills and knowledge needed to become a geospatial scientist in the field of your choice. Blending theoretical and technical concepts and applications, students will have the core knowledge of GIS technology, as well as the opportunity to specialize in an interest of their choice, from political and policy sciences to sustainability management.

Master of Geographic Information Science Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $1,548/credit (in state); $2,484/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 35 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Graduation Rate: 84%

Master of Geographic Information Science Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Other Requirements: English proficiency test for international students; all candidates must have taken college-level introductory courses in computer programing and statistics

Applying to University of Minnesota

  1. Complete the online application and pay the fee
  2. Submit a current resume or CV
  3. Submit all unofficial transcripts
  4. Submit three letters of recommendation
  5. Submit a two-page personal statement describing your experience, goals, and interest in GIS

8

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

The University of Pittsburgh began in 1787 as the Pittsburgh Academy, becoming a university in 1819 called Western University of Pennsylvania. In 1908, the state renamed it to University of Pittsburgh, and it has since become a top-ranked, leading research institution and member of the Association of American Universities.

Professional MS Program in GIS and Remote Sensing Program

This master’s program focuses on training professionals with geospatial and scientific qualifications. During the two-year course, students will learn computer programming, how to solve problems using GIS/RS tools, and how to digitally publish data and results.

Professional MS Program in GIS and Remote Sensing Program Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition (and Fees): $30,880/academic year (in state); $42,756/academic year (non-residents)
  • Required Credits: 41 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • University of Pittsburgh Graduation Rate: 84%

Professional MS Program in GIS and Remote Sensing  Program Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: GRE (optional)
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree in a related field
  • Other Requirements: Three letters of recommendation, writing samples, official transcripts, international students must take and pass an English proficiency test,

Applying to University of Pittsburgh

  1. Complete the online application and pay the fee
  2. Submit transcripts from an accredited undergraduate degree
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation
  4. Submit a 5 to 10 page writing sample of your own writing, cannot come from a group paper.
  5. Submit TOEFL scores for international students

9

University of Washington Tacoma

Tacoma, Washington

The University of Washington Tacoma was established in 1990 as a satellite campus of the University of Washington. The public university is known for its respected programs in psychology, computer and information sciences, and business administration.

MS in Geospatial Technologies Program

With a Master of Science in Geospatial Technologies from the University of Washington, you will be prepared to pursue any public planning career that requires the customization of geospatial technologies. This small, 20-student program focuses on GIS software within the public, environmental, and urban planning sectors, and enables students to have the skillsets necessary for private, public, and non-profit careers.

MS in Geospatial Technologies Overview

  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Tuition: $1,904/credit hour (in state); $1,588/credit hour (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 40 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Learning Format: In person
  • University of Washington Tacoma Graduation Rate: 60%

MS in Geospatial Technologies Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $85
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree with an emphasis on GIS, or any bachelor’s degree with certification and/or one year of GIS programming work experience
  • Other Requirements: 1 year of experience in a related field can be combined with the undergraduate requirement

Applying to University of Washington - Tacoma

  1. Complete the online application and pay the fee
  2. Submit unofficial transcripts from an accredited undergraduate degree or certificate
  3. Submit two letters of recommendation
  4. Submit resume or CV
  5. Submit a 500 to 1,000-word statement of purpose

10

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin at Madison is a public land-grant research university and the flagship campus in the University of Wisconsin system. Founded in 1848, today it is home to over 45,000 students.

Cartography and Geographic Informations Systems M.S. Program

The Cartography and Geographic Informations System master’s program gives students a firm foundation in the application of geographic information sciences and mapping. The courses teach students how to identify sources, assemble evidence, and evaluate information pertaining to geographic information systems and cartography.

Cartography and Geographic Informations Systems M.S. Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $12,176/year (in state); $19,292/year (Minnesota resident); $25,504/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison Graduation Rate: 88%

Cartography and Geographic Informations Systems M.S. Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree in a related field
  • Other Requirements: English language proficiency test for international students

Applying to University of Wisconsin

  1. Complete the online application and pay the fee
  2. Submit transcripts from an accredited undergraduate degree institution
  3. Submit three letters of reference
  4. Submit a statement of objectives, which should include reasons for pursuing the degree, area of interest, and long-term plans
  5. Submit resume

What Is a Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree?

A geographic information system master’s degree is a program that teaches students how to utilize geographic information science and technology to collect, analyze, model, and distribute data about the earth’s geography.

A Master’s Degree in Geography and GIS often combines geography, sustainable development, and computer science elements with project management. Depending on the program, a GIS master’s degree typically takes one to three years to complete.

How Important Is a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems?

A Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Science is important for growth and development in one’s career goals. A Master of Science degree lends scientific legitimacy to your education and further qualifies you with both the technical and soft skills needed for job security in the field. Additionally, those with a GIS master’s degree and certification can bill for a higher rate in the private sector.

What Types of Master’s Degrees Can You Get in Geographic Information Systems?

The majority of master’s programs in geographic information systems are Masters of Science. However, a few programs label their programs Masters of Art, as they categorize their programs in the liberal arts section. Masters programs focused on geography are often Masters of Arts and offer a GIS science-based specialization to accompany the MA degree.

Is It Better to Get a Master of Science or Master of Arts in Geographic Information Systems?

It is typically better to get a Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems, as it focuses more on the technical and scientific elements of the subject. In addition, it lends scientific legitimacy to your degree and allows you to work in sectors focused on science.

With a Master of Arts, the academic focus is more on the field of geography and less on hard science. It focuses more on historical data and social science. Both will help you gain employment in the field, however, you will have more opportunities with a science degree.

What Is the Difference Between a Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree and a Geographic Information Systems Certificate?

The difference between a geographic information systems master’s degree and a geographic information systems certificate is the time and level of education you receive. A master’s degree requires more classes and can give you more leverage in future employment.

A certificate can provide specialization in one or two areas of GIS. You can usually study online to earn certificates whereas degree programs are mostly completed on campus or in a hybrid format.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems?

A Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems costs between $18,600 and $25,000 on average , according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The cost varies between institutions and is based on factors like course load and whether the university is private or public.

Tuition at a public institution is often cheaper than at private universities. However, you will still get the same quality education at both types of schools. You should base your decision on the quality of the program offered by the school, and explore the types of financial aid options offered.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree?

Getting a geographic information systems master’s degree takes around two years, on average. However, if you can only take part-time courses, some master’s degrees could take up to three years.

For a two-year program, you will complete six semesters, including summers. For schools operating on a quarter schedule, you will attend classes for eight quarters, including summers. As most programs range from 30 to 36 credits, you’ll need to take six credits per semester.

How Hard Is It to Get a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems?

It is not very hard to get a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems if you already have some experience in this field. The classes focus on a specific skill set and user-focused data. However, it is much more difficult if you have not received your Bachelor’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems, or have not received any hands-on experience.

Why Should You Get a Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree?

You should get a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems because it will help you achieve higher-level jobs that involve GIS. For example, the information and skills learned in these courses will help you prepare for jobs as a cartographer, land surveyor, or even an urban and regional planner. GIS also offers many versatile career options, from database management in the private sector to modeling population growth in an academic setting.

What Courses Do You Need to Take in a Master’s Degree Program in Geographic Information Systems?

While completing your degree in geographic information systems, you will take core classes that focus not only on GIS technology but also on geospatial analysis and practical courses for specific fields. The following are examples of popular courses you may complete during the program.

Introduction to Geographic Information Science

In all graduate degree programs, you will take an introductory course in GIS. In this course, you will learn about the development and functions of GIS, the theory and concepts that dictate GIScience, and spatial data processing.

GIS Database Development

Database Development teaches graduate students how to design, create, and manage large databases. Students will also learn about using desktop GIS software and possible data integrations. This course often requires a problem-solving course as a prerequisite.

Spatial Modeling

Spatial modeling introductory courses focus on simulation models and how they apply to physical geography and human problems. Advanced spatial modeling courses focus on spatial statistics and the tools necessary to build a spatial modeling database.

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is not always a core course for all geographic information systems degrees, but it is a required course for those who specialize in geospatial intelligence. This course will teach remote sensing system operation, processing techniques, and data products used in the field.

Planning Principles

Master’s students will often take courses in planning principles. This course will teach you the skills necessary to analyze land for future use, and you will understand how to determine if the land is suitable for development, and the constraints on the area.

Continuing Education Paths for Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Graduates

Once you are finished with your GIS master’s degree, you may want to consider pursuing continuing education by earning a Certified GIS Professional certification. The GIS Certification Institute offers this certification and this professional certification shows employers that you adhere to professional and ethical standards required in the field.

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What to Look For in the Best Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Programs

Determining which master’s degree program to apply to can be overwhelming. There are a few critical things to consider before submitting your application. When searching for the right school, the following items should be on the top of your list.

Accreditations

Accreditation is essential for any school or program, so be sure to choose a university that is accredited. It shows that the college adheres to the same quality standards as other schools accredited by the same entity, and it shows potential employers that you have learned what they expect to give them confidence in your abilities.

Specialization/Concentration Options

There are many fields you can enter after obtaining your GIS master’s degree. Be sure to find a program that offers a concentration in your chosen field. If you are not sure which area you wish to specialize in, look for a program with a few options, such as environmental or urban planning or database management.

Program Reputation

As with accreditation, reputation is essential for future employers. You’ll want to find a graduate degree program that has a good reputation. Potential employers will know you have studied at one of the best schools for your concentration, and you can research the national and global rankings of your school of interest.

Cost

Cost is a very important factor in choosing a geographic information science master’s degree program. Most master’s degree programs offer financial aid to those who qualify to help offset the costs of tuition and other fees. Find a school with affordable tuition for your budget, and take advantage of financial aid opportunities by asking the university about available aid options.

Student Services

Student services can help you with securing a job after graduation. Students can use the service to polish their interview skills, meet potential employers, and prepare a resume for post-graduation employment.

What Is the Most Affordable Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree?

The most affordable geographic information systems master’s degree is offered by University of Minnesota. The program has a base tuition of $9,146 annually, with additional fees of only $1,650.

Salary and Job Outlook for Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Graduates

A land surveyor with a master’s degree in geographic information systems management stands in a grass field with surveying equipment 
The best geographic information system master’s degrees prepare students for careers in the GIS field.

Once you have graduated with a geographic information systems master’s degree, it is time to start looking for career opportunities. With a Master’s in Geographic Information Systems, you can work in the field collecting environmental data to model, or in the office analyzing information. There are many career options in the field of GIS for master’s degree holders.

How Hard Is It to Get a Job With a Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree?

It is not hard to get a job with a geographic information systems master’s degree. However, most entry-level positions in this field tend to be part-time and lower-paying internships. Once you gain some hands-on experience and a master’s degree, you can seek higher-paying opportunities.

What’s the Average Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Salary?

The average salary for a geospatial scientist with a geographic information systems master’s degree is approximately $65,000 per year on average, according to PayScale. With a master’s degree, you will earn an average of $5,000 more than those who have a bachelor’s degree.

What Types of Jobs Can You Get With a Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree?

The types of jobs you can get with a geographic information systems master’s degree include land surveyor, cartographer, environmental scientist, and hydrogeologist. These positions are available in areas such as conservation, climate science, public or urban planning, or forestry. In addition, you will use your education in data integration and analysis to collect and analyze geographic data to produce actionable intelligence and informative models.

Geographic Information Systems Degree Jobs

  • Geographic Information Systems Analyst
  • Geospatial Analyst
  • Cartographer
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Hydrogeologist

Potential Careers With a Geographic Information Systems Degree

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How Much Money Can You Make With a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems?

You can make between $53,000 and $85,000 per year with a geographic information systems master’s degree. For example, a geographic information systems analyst has a starting average salary of about $53,000 per year, while a hydrogeologist earns an average annual salary of $84,030.

Some of the higher-paying geographic information systems jobs include cartographers, geospatial analysts, environmental scientists, geographic information system analysts, and hydrogeologists.

Highest-Paying Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Jobs Average Salary
Hydrogeologist $84,030
Geoscientist $83,680
Environmental Scientist $73, 530
Cartographer $68, 900
Geospatial Analyst $60, 270

Best Jobs for Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree Grads

The best geographic information systems master’s degree jobs have a wide range of career paths. For example, you could work in an office analyzing data collected by field technicians or use GIS software to create three-dimensional models showing how much an area such as a riverbed has changed over time. Below are some of the careers available in GIS.

1

Hydrogeologist

Average Salary: $84,040

A hydrogeologist engineers flow and transport modeling, 3D hydrogeology visualizations, and GIS data analysis to support environmental projects. They focus on the movement and distribution of groundwater within the earth's crust and study how the quantity or quality of water is being impacted by other factors.

2

Geoscientist

Average Salary: $83,680

Geoscientists are environmental scientists focused on surveying and studying rock formations and deposits of the earth to understand its history and trends in the future. Geoscientists collect mineral or rock samples, survey land below the surface in search of oil or other natural resources, or work in conservation and prepare scientific reports for educational purposes. There are many career specializations in this path, and most heavily utilize GIS software.

3

Environmental Scientist

Average Salary: $73,530

Environmental scientists collect data from agriculture, water, soil, and air samples to assess potential environmental issues. Once issues are discovered, they develop a plan to fix the problems and prevent them from reoccurring.

4

Cartographer

Average Salary: $68,900

Cartographers are mapmakers, but that is not their only job responsibility. Cartographers work with logistics, assist in geospatial analysis, collect and analyze terrain information to update digital maps and processes, and prepare maps for educational purposes.

5

Geospatial Analyst

Average Salary: $60,495

Geospatial analysts perform spatial analysis using data from GIS programs and field data to create accurate mapping models and visuals. The use of geographic information science requires analysts to be detail-oriented and able to extract information from large amounts of data.

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Is a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems Worth It?

Yes, a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems is definitely worth it. With a Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems, you can obtain a more lucrative career path and gain the skills needed to analyze data that interests you. A master’s degree will further qualify you with the technical skills and hands-on experience necessary for success.

Many high-paying and high-rewarding career paths exist in the field of geographic information systems science. There are many parts of the earth that have not yet been explored, and GIS technology can help you find new revelations about our planet.

Additional Reading About Geographic Information Systems

An information systems master’s degree can help you to update your skills and increase your earning potential. Read more about it here.

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This article covers some of the best schools for learning database management, as well as roles to pursue after graduating.

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Geographic Information Systems Master’s Degree FAQ

Do geographic information systems require coding?

No, you do not have to be a coding specialist to gain employment in a geographic information systems (GIS) field. However, having some knowledge of basic types of coding languages such as Python or Java can be helpful, and many master’s degree programs include courses on them.

What is the difference between a geographic information systems analyst and a technician?

The difference between a geographic information systems technician and an analyst is that a technician is typically an entry-level, data-collecting position that only requires a bachelor’s degree , whereas an analyst is a mid-level career opportunity that analyzes data. Analysts require at least three years of experience, and a master’s degree can further qualify candidates.

Do you need to be good at math for a geographic information systems degree?

You should have a basic understanding of math to pursue a degree in geographic information systems, but math is not as heavily used as compared to other scientific or tech fields. GIS calculates areas, hill gradients, heights of places, and distances. You should be able to use the software to analyze and model data based on the application’s calculations.

Is there a future in geographic information systems?

Yes, there is a future in geographic information systems. It is an evolving industry that has embraced the digital connection between collaborators and allows us to visually depict changes in the natural environment. There is also room for growth in the industry, and BLS predicts an eight percent job growth for environmental scientists by 2030.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Denise Sullivan

About the author: Denise is an experienced freelance writer. She began her career as a technical writer, creating manuals for flight simulators. Since then, she has written about cloud computing, VPNs, printed circuit boards, and more. She holds an Associate Degree in Journalism from Eastern Oklahoma State College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from East Central University. She is currently working towards an additional Associate Degree in Marketing.

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