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What is GIScience?

Geospatial Information Science is a field of inquiry utilizing computer technology for presentation and analysis of all types of science and social science data referenced to the earth’s surface. GIScience uses an infinite variety of mapped data, aerial photographs, digital elevation models, satellite imagery, and more to solve problems and answer questions.

Among academic fields, Geography (both as an earth science and a social science), Environmental Sciences, Geology, History, Archaeology, Engineering, Planning, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Natural Resources Management, and Demographics are but a sampling of GISciences. In fact, it has been estimated that about 80% of all data has a spatial component, opening limitless potential uses for GIScience (

Marshall University offers an interdisciplinary Undergraduate Minor/Certificate and Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Science. The participating departments and colleges include:

  • College of Information Technology and Engineering
  • College of Liberal Arts
    • Geography
  • College of Science
    • Biology
    • Geology
    • Integrated Science and Technology
    • Physics

The program is directed by the James Leonard, Geography Department. The program is designed to:

  • offer GIS study in a variety of disciplines with a variety of applications;
  • teach students GIS techniques;
  • encourage students to apply GIS to solve scientific research problems;
  • encourage students to gain experience in the GIS field before graduation by means of internships and work study programs;
  • integrate GIS applications with appropriate computer science training;
  • prepare students for GIS employment or GIS work at the graduate level.

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