2014 Rankings – Top 10 Graduate GIS Programs

January 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm  •  Posted in Education, Geography by  •  226 Comments

In each of the past 2 years I have produced rankings for the top graduate geography programs in the U.S. You can see my 2012 NRC-based rankings and my 2013 rankings in previous posts. This year I don’t see a compelling reason to revisit geography department rankings, so I suppose that means I’m satisfied with the 2013 rankings, at least for now.

New rankings are now available! Check out my 2015 Top Graduate Programs for Spatial Careers!

This year I’ve decided to produce a set of rankings for students interested specifically in GIS-related graduate studies. Note that these rankings are meant to highlight outstanding GIS programs within geography departments. So, while there may be other graduate programs that produce outstanding GIS-practitioners, scientists, programmers, etc I have focused on programs that are led and taught by academic geographers.  Also note that, along with my previous rankings, I do NOT recommend selecting a graduate program based solely on these rankings.  You can use this as a starting point but be sure to explore as many programs as possible, seeking to find the best individual fit.

Top 10 Graduate GIS Programs

  1. UC Santa Barbara
  2. Ohio State
  3. Penn State
  4. Arizona State
  5. Michigan State
  6. Buffalo
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Illinois
  9. Clark
  10. South Carolina

If you’ve read my Spatial Career Series you know that I like to divide the GIS world into a few different areas and the “specialty” rankings below reflect that perspective. All of the programs listed below would likely provide a top-notch education in most elements of GIS but I’ve grouped and ranked programs by their primary area of expertise/focus…or at least what I perceive to be their primary strength.

Top Cartography Programs

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Penn State
  3. Oregon
  4. Kansas

Top Spatial Statistics Programs

  1. Ohio State
  2. Arizona State
  3. Buffalo
  4. University of Texas at Dallas

Top Remote Sensing Programs

  1. Boston
  2. Maryland
  3. South Carolina
  4. Georgia

Top Computation Programs

  1. Illinois
  2. Arizona State
  3. Iowa
  4. San Diego State
  5. George Mason

Here are some other top notch programs that didn’t make one of the lists above but deserve serious consideration.

Outstanding Alternatives

  • Kentucky
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon State
  • Tennessee
  • Texas State

I’m certain that I’ve left out many well-deserving programs and for that I apologize. Who did I miss? Who doesn’t deserve to be here? What else did I do wrong? I want my readers to hear alternative and opposing views so let me have it in the comments below.


  1. Kevin / January 7, 2014 at 3:30 am / Reply

    No love for Minnesota? They always hype their program up here as one of the best (first) in the country. Did you base these on the school’s performance/known specialty as an academic geography program?

    • Justin / January 7, 2014 at 10:50 am / Reply

      Hi Kevin. Thanks for the comment. Funny, someone asked the same question on my 2013 rankings. Here’s what I said: “Yes, Minnesota is an interesting case. It was one of the very best geography departments in the 90s but seems to have fallen dramatically in the past decade. I don’t know enough to comment further but I will see what I can find and report back.” Note that their professional Master’s wouldn’t be part of the equation – I’m looking at academic graduate programs – so an emphasis on a more traditional Master’s or PhD. Thanks again! Best, Justin

      • robert / September 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm / Reply

        I need to study Msc. In gis and remote sensing.
        I have a bsc.forestry…
        I do have problem finding the university to study and if they are offering any scholarship.

        • Justin / September 8, 2015 at 3:18 pm / Reply

          My list is meant to serve as a starting point. You’ll have to contact Universities individually to find out about scholarships.

      • Colleen / May 24, 2016 at 1:18 pm / Reply

        University of MN program has gone down, but St. Cloud State (MN) has a great program. MN overall has a great geography, especially GIS culture.

  2. Pingback: 2014 Rankings – Top 10 Graduate GIS Programs | NYS GIS Association

  3. Ann / February 2, 2014 at 12:14 am / Reply

    Any idea of talking (writing) about online graduate programs in GIS for those of us who could do it while working? I hold a BS in geography with emphasis in GIS and want more, but need to work to as I have a family to support.

    • Justin / February 2, 2014 at 10:19 am / Reply

      Hi Ann,
      I can’t say that I strongly recommend any on-line programs at the moment but I certainly understand the desire to continue to advance while earning a paycheck. I guess, off the top of my head, I would favor Penn State because they’ve been at it (online GIS education) for some time and the geography department is outstanding. Let me know if there are any specific programs that you’ve found intriguing and I could check them out.
      Hope this helps!

    • Paul Vines / May 30, 2014 at 12:18 pm / Reply

      I’m currently attending Northwest Missouri State University’s online graduate program for GIS; and I am quite satisfied with the experience.


      • Justin / May 30, 2014 at 12:43 pm / Reply

        Thanks Paul! Glad to hear things are going well! Best, Justin

  4. Nicole / February 22, 2014 at 4:12 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin. Any thoughts to offer of medical geography programs in particular?

    • Justin / February 22, 2014 at 4:22 pm / Reply

      Hi Nicole, The following programs come to mind: Buffalo, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina, Colorado. There are probably others that I’m overlooking but if you check out the top medical geography researchers in each of those departments and review some of their publications that would be a great start. Hope that helps! Best wishes, Justin

  5. Pingback: Top 20 Graduate Geography Programs in the U.S. | Geographical Perspectives

  6. Eli / March 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm / Reply

    hi,Justin.I’m gonna get my BS in GIS,and I’ve received admissions for MS in GIS from Buffalo,U of Texas at Dallas,Utah University and Nebraska Lincoln.I’m an international student,pls give me some advice about which to choose(considering the expense,environment etc.)

    • Justin / March 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm / Reply

      Hi Eli – your decision depends largely on your research interests and the fit with department faculty. Where you want to live should be allowed to play a role as well. Each of these programs is located in a very different part of America. That said, from a pure program quality standpoint, I recommend Buffalo, Texas-Dallas, Utah and Nebraska, in that order. On the other hand, Nebraska and Utah are flagship State Universities and that can make a positive difference. It sounds like you have a great set of options to choose from – congratulations! If you want to provide more details I’d be happy to discuss further. It’s a huge decision! Hope this helps.
      Best wishes, Justin

      • Eli / March 7, 2014 at 11:39 pm / Reply

        Thanks,Justin,your reply is of great help.And there’s one more question.The most ideal University is Arizona State for me,but there’s only a one-year program in MS,and that’s the reason why I didn’t apply for it.So how can it rank 4th while it doesn’t have a 2-year program?

        • Justin / March 8, 2014 at 11:38 am / Reply

          Eli, if you look closely you’ll see that Arizona State offers 2 separate paths. For those seeking applied training and a professional credential they offer a 1-year Master’s degree (MAS) program with no thesis required: https://geoplan.asu.edu/academics/graduate-studies/mas-gis. For those interested in research they recommend applying directly to the PhD program but also offer a research-oriented Master’s degree: https://geoplan.asu.edu/academics/graduate-studies/about-phd-and-ma-geography. I think this makes very good sense and I would certainly reconsider your decision if ASU is ideal in other aspects. Cheers, Justin

          • Lucas / September 12, 2014 at 2:53 pm /

            Really late here, but I would not recommend Nebraska to anybody seeking GIS education. The Geography department is down to one GIS professor who is near retirement. They are not filling vacancies within the department (glaring losses so far have been one GIS prof and their cartography prof). CALMIT and their remote sensing focus will persist (probably as part of Agriculture), but as a whole Nebraska’s geography program is dying a slow death.

          • Justin / September 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm /

            Hi Lucas, thanks for sharing your thoughts on Nebraska’s GIS faculty situation. Sorry to hear that a great University is allowing its geography program to decline. Best, JH

  7. Lindsay / March 14, 2014 at 12:22 am / Reply

    Hi! I was considering the online M.A. GIS program at USC, do you have any opinion on it?

    • Justin / March 14, 2014 at 9:51 am / Reply

      Hi Lindsay, If doing a traditional (on campus) graduate program is not an option then, yes, I like what I see. From what I can gather (their website isn’t easy to navigate) they seem to be on the right track, emphasizing spatial data analytics and a broad array of technology skills to put in your tool kit rather than just teaching ESRI stuff. All that said, I have no direct experience or knowledge of the program and can’t really say with any certainty how good it will be. One concern is that the spatial institute is relatively new and the geography department has been disbanded. This could be good or bad but I think it’s too early to tell. Hope this helps! Best wishes, Justin

    • Austin / March 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm / Reply

      Hi Lindsay, I just completed the M.S. program at USC. Prior to this I was involved in the gradate studies program of a different nationally ranked brick-and-mortar institution. The USC program is truly exceptional. The direction they are planning to take the program is very encouraging as well. I believe they have began working on their first Ph.D track program. I feel the program’s focus is taught from a strong information technology / informatics perspective. What used to be the geography department was integrated with several other schools and departments (medicine, computer science, engineering) to produce their spatial science program. I work with a lot of top talent from a few of the school’s mentioned on Justin’s list this year and can tell you that I believe my education to be at least on par with my professional colleagues. I will caution you, USC’s program is very rigorous and does go beyond technician GIS (e.g. using just Esri products) and gets into the nuts and bolts of GIS theory, information theory, computer programing, etc. Instead of the laid back life of a typical graduate student you will work your tail off.

      • Justin / March 16, 2014 at 9:26 pm / Reply

        Austin, thank you for sharing your perspective! Best, Justin

      • Lee Ziegler / April 14, 2015 at 7:23 pm / Reply

        Are you speaking of the program at South Carolina or California at Santa Barbara?

    • Eric Peña / December 19, 2014 at 1:07 pm / Reply

      Ditto to what Austin mentioned about USC’s online MS in GIST. It is rigorous and quite a challenge compared to graduate studies at Texas A&M’s Spatial Sciences Laboratory. I worked my tail off from 2010 to 2012 for my MS degree. There was much more research and writing than I expected, but this was a good challenge for me that went well beyond technician GIS skills. I would highly recommend it. The week-long field study on Catalina Island doesn’t hurt either.

      • Justin / December 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm / Reply

        Eric – thanks for sharing your thoughts on USC! They seem to be doing a lot of things right! Cheers, Justin

  8. Luke Lai / March 16, 2014 at 11:14 pm / Reply

    Hi, thanks.
    How about the ranking of Geodesy?

    • Justin / March 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm / Reply

      Hi Luke, no I don’t have a ranking for geodesy. I’m not really familiar with geodesy programs. Sorry! Best wishes, Justin

  9. Eli / March 18, 2014 at 1:35 pm / Reply

    Hi,Justin,I’ve just been way 2 busy on my final projects and final thesis,and what’s more,still wondering which college to go.How about the GIS program in U of Nebraska and U of Utah,I’ve really got no idea.It just seems that Buffalo’s GIS program is much better and i’m lucky enough to be admitted(with gpa of 2.6).But i don’t quite feel like going to the northeast,i’ll only choose Buffalo if it is that much better than Utah or Nebraska.What’s more,I just got quite depressed to receive the denial from USC and U of Iowa..Best wishes.

    • Justin / June 5, 2014 at 9:30 am / Reply

      Hi Eli – I’m sorry but your follow up comment must have slipped through the cracks. Buffalo’s program is superior but if you will be miserable living in the chilly northeast then it may not be your best bet. Utah and Nebraska are outstanding Universities with good Geography programs. I don’t think you can go wrong here – try to visit each department and get a sense as to who you’ll be working with and where you feel you’ll have the best chance to succeed. I’m guessing this may be too late. Let me know if you’ve already made your decision. Again, this decision is a good problem to have – better than not being admitted anywhere, right? Best wishes, Justin

    • Eric / June 22, 2014 at 4:30 pm / Reply


      I just got admitted to Buffalo and accepted a month or so ago. Buffalo’s weather, in my experience is better than Chicago’s or Boston’s. It’s actually not that bad. The winter isn’t that miserable at all.


      • Justin / June 22, 2014 at 5:00 pm / Reply

        Congrats on Buffalo, Eric! And thanks for sharing your thoughts. Best, Justin

  10. Lily Zhang / March 18, 2014 at 8:12 pm / Reply

    Hi, Justin. I am a Chinese student and have applied for GIS master program in several university in the U.S. In my case, I need financial aids to go further study. And only University of Georgia and Clark University offer me some kind of help. I prefer UGA as their help may cover most of my expense. I want to ask about the academic situation of UGA. My interests lie in GIS and Spatial Analysis, especially the applications in urban planning or city construction. And I prefer to work in some government department. Will the UGA be a good choice for me? Other Admission which don’t provide any scholarship have been passed by me. Is it reasonable? Thank you for you help in advance. : ) Have a nice day.

    • Justin / March 19, 2014 at 9:28 am / Reply

      Hi Lily! Congrats on your admission to Georgia and Clark, both outstanding Universities with terrific Geography/GIS programs. I don’t think you can go wrong either way. If Georgia is offering more money I would definitely go there. I spent 2 days at a small symposium with Professor Marguerite Madden, Director of the Center for Geospatial Research at UGA and I was very impressed. Georgia is a major University and the research activity on campus will be far more extensive. There are other advantages that come with attending a flagship public University that Clark won’t be able to offer in terms of culture, entertainment and networking opportunities…and far better weather. Go Georgia Bulldogs! Best wishes, Justin

      • Lily Zhang / March 19, 2014 at 9:28 pm / Reply

        Justin, thank you very much! I was a little hesitated to make decision, but now I can make my final one based on your comments. Thank you for all your helps for us students. Have a lovely day. : )

        • Justin / March 19, 2014 at 9:43 pm / Reply

          Glad I could help, Lily! Best of luck to you!

  11. Mohammed Hafiz / March 21, 2014 at 1:40 am / Reply

    First of all I am a big fan of your blog. I appreciate of what you are doing. I am in a small confusion. I am currently pursuing M.Tech (Master) GIS from India. I am planning to pursue MS from a reputed university in US. I started developing an interest in Application of GIS in Marine field. As I was researching I came to know that in Geography Department in Oregon State University works closely with the Marine Science. Can you throw some light on GIS program and Universities that has a research in marine field. I truly appreciate that.

    Note:- I was an undergraduate in Computer Science and Engineering. I have less knowledge in Natural Science(I had an elective during my Masters).

    • Justin / March 21, 2014 at 10:39 am / Reply

      Hi Mohammed – thank you for following my blog! For GIS + Marine Science you have already found the right starting point. “Deep Sea” Dawn Wright is absolutely the best possible scientist to learn from if you are interested in both marine science and GIS. I don’t know much about other program options but a quick search led me to this site (maintained of course by Dawn Wright!) with a list of related research institutes and programs: http://marinecoastalgis.net/research
      Hope this helps! Best wishes, Justin

  12. Marisa / March 24, 2014 at 9:42 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    Thanks for providing all of this information! I had a a few questions for you if you don’t mind.

    I’m based in New York City and was wondering what your opinion was on the GIS masters program at Lehman College and the GIS certificate program at Hunter College. Right now I’m leaning more towards Lehman’s since it seems to offer more flexibility but I was hoping for some objective input.

    Also how important is a school’s prestige when studying GIS? From someone with not a lot of experience in GIS it seems that as long as you learn the material and develop good networking relationships that the program that you should go to is subjective. Please correct me if I’m wrong though.


    • Justin / March 24, 2014 at 11:55 am / Reply

      Hi Marisa, I don’t think you’d go wrong either way. Hunter has a more typical Geography faculty but Lehman has a dedicated program in GISc. If you’re leaning toward Lehman I would go there. Remember, it’s a people decision. Worry less about the program details and worry more about who will be training you. You’re correct about school prestige. If your objective is to earn a Master’s degree and then find a good job the brand name on your diploma won’t make or break your career. That said, networking is critical and if one program facilitates networking opportunities more so than another program that would be a factor worthy of consideration. This is generally true for any discipline but perhaps more so for geography since it’s not offered everywhere. Hope this helps. Best wishes, Justin

  13. Rebecca / March 26, 2014 at 10:25 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    When you mention North Carolina, are you referring to UNC Chapel Hill or NC State? I’m interested in NC State’s Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology program, but I haven’t seen it mentioned in rankings. Does it have a good reputation? Or do you recommend that I pursue online studies via Penn State?

    Thank you,

    • Justin / March 26, 2014 at 11:06 am / Reply

      Hi Rebecca – yes, I’m referring to UNC Chapel Hill. I don’t know too much about NC State’s program but just taking a glance at the details on their web page it looks like they offer a very good “professional” GIS masters. If given the option and all else being equal I would always take the traditional “in-person” program. Plus NC State is a world class University. I worry that both programs over-emphasize ESRI software skills so be sure to learn a separate suite of tools along the way including at least one stand alone programming language (e.g., Python), one database program (e.g., MySQL, PostGRES, even Access) and something for number crunching (e.g., R, SPSS, etc or better yet plug Python into NumPy or PySAL, etc). Best wishes, Justin

      • Rebecca / May 28, 2014 at 5:48 am / Reply

        Thank you! The information you provided is very helpful, and I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

        • Justin / May 28, 2014 at 10:35 am / Reply

          You’re welcome! Good luck!

  14. Mahendra Bhattacharjee / March 27, 2014 at 11:52 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,
    Thank you so much for the extensive information that you have provided. In fact, I was looking for such a site that would help me with deciding on my carrer in Geography. I wish to be an international student as I intend to study in US in 2015. I am utterly confused which university would best suite me for a person for me who wishes to be a GIS analyst. Do I need to have a double major in Computer Science and Geography for all that ??? Please guide me.

    Thank you once again,

    • Justin / March 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm / Reply

      Hi Mahendra! You don’t need a double major in Geography and Computer Science but that would be a powerful combination and likely set you up nicely for the job market. Any University that offers both majors would likely be perfectly suitable. At the undergraduate level I think it’s important to find a University or College where you can be successful. That might mean a familiar campus location near friends or family or it might mean considering some other non-academic factor that will allow you to be happier and more productive. If you’re still not certain then I would look for one of the many outstanding public State Universities. If you’re looking for one specific recommendation then I would target the University of Illinois because they have outstanding offerings in both computer science and geography. Other terrific options would include Wisconsin, Penn State, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Georgia, Kentucky (in no particular order). Hope this helps! Best wishes, Justin

  15. Sviatlana / April 2, 2014 at 8:26 am / Reply

    Hey Justin,

    Is the U of Minnesota worth pursuing for GIS? I can see it on your 2013 rankings but not on 2014.

    Thank you.

    • Justin / April 2, 2014 at 10:56 am / Reply

      Hi Sviatlana, if you plan to pursue a professional GIS type Master’s program and have no interest in a PhD then I’m sure Minnesota would provide an excellent education and may be your very best bet if your goal is a good job in Minneapolis. My 2014 rankings are intended to highlight top graduate programs where you can study GIS at the Masters AND PhD level. It is not an attempt to rank what I think of as “professional” Master’s programs or certificate programs, etc. Minnesota is an outstanding University and the Department of Geography has a history of excellence, but it is not a premier GIS department when compared to the programs listed in my 2014 GIS rankings. Hope this helps. Good luck! Best, Justin

  16. Lindsay / April 4, 2014 at 9:51 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    I just found your site and am excited that you are willing to provide direct responses to commenters! I will be graduating with a BA in Anthropology in a few months. As one of my Senior level courses I have taken GIS in Anthropology and love the class. So, I have bee toying with the idea of pursuing a graduate degree in GIS, but am a little confused about all the options. A quick job search shows that most jobs expect a degree (usually a Bachelors) and some experience. First, do you know if having a Masters degree in GIS would be considered equivalent to a Bachelors + experience? In my mind there is no way an undergrad degree could come close to the breadth of knowledge provided in a graduate program. Second, I am mostly interested in doing an online program as I am unable to move (currently in St. Louis) and there is no local grad program. I see that you seem a little weary of online programs. Arizona, a school you consider tops for grad program, offers an online option for 30k… and Northwest Missouri State offers an online option as well, for which I would pay 11k as in state resident. So, I guess I wonder how different the two programs would be. Is it the equivalent to attending Harvard (ASU) or a community college (NW Missouri)? If that’s the case, then the choice is clear.. Look forward to your feedback.
    Thank you,

    • Justin / April 4, 2014 at 11:31 am / Reply

      Hi Lindsay, thanks for reading my blog! Here are a few responses to your questions: (1) Master’s probably won’t count as job experience but there are other sorts of jobs that require a Master’s. I wouldn’t think of the Master’s as a way to pursue the jobs you’re seeing online calling for a Bachelors + experience; instead, I would look at it as a way to open different, more interesting types of career doors and job opportunities. (2) For online programs I would probably opt for one of the big names like Penn State. I also really like what I see at USC (Southern Cal). They offer an online Master’s through their “Spatial Sciences Institute”. The “Arizona” program you mention is the University of Arizona, not Arizona State University. U of A does have a great geography department and I’m confident their program would be beneficial but ASU has a superior GIS program (but it’s not available online). Hope that makes sense? (3) Generally speaking, especially since you are just finishing undergrad, I would advise that you first try to land a job. Any job. It’s a bit late to line up grad studies for fall anyway. I think you would benefit from some time in the workforce before committing to graduate study. Keep researching GIS – there’s TONS you can learn on your own for free. Invest some time on self-study and keep your eyes open for GIS-oriented internships, jobs, etc. If you continue to find yourself drawn to GIS then you can get a jump start on the admissions process for Fall 2015 and go into it with a better idea about what you want to accomplish along the way. Hope this helps! Best wishes, Justin

  17. Lindsay / April 4, 2014 at 6:50 pm / Reply

    Hello again,
    I didn’t even start college until I was 27.. after many years of finding a job, any job. If only time were an infinite thing I would be happy waiting it out until 2015 and deciding then, but unfortunately I am not getting any younger. I do really appreciate your insight and think it clarifies a few things.


    • Justin / April 4, 2014 at 7:06 pm / Reply

      Ah yes. Sorry for assuming you were 22-ish. I would still be careful about rushing to a grad program based on 1 class. Have you read my Spatial Career series posts with descriptions of the different GIS career paths? Any one of them catch your eye? Your preference might change my program recommendations. Best, Justin

  18. Sviatlana / April 5, 2014 at 5:51 pm / Reply

    Hey Justin.

    Thank you for your response. But can you please specify why you think that MN is good for a master’s degree and not for a PhD? I am in two minds. I have fully funded offers to pursue a master’s degree (and I want to get a PhD afterwards) from the Ohio State and the Uni of Minnesota and both programs appeal to me but I cannot decide… You said if I wanted to land a good job in Mineapolis, it’d be fine to go to MN. But what would be my chances of landing a good job anywhere in the US with a degree from UMN? Would I be more marketable with a GIS degree from the Ohio State? Please share your perspective.

    • Justin / April 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm / Reply

      Hi Sviatlana.
      First, congratulations on having 2 excellent options for graduate study! You must have done some great work to put yourself in this position.
      Now, if I’m looking at your option purely from a program quality and reputation standpoint it’s no contest. Ohio State is far better. But, since you’re considering a PhD, your choice of advisor is critical. If you feel a strong connection with one of the Minnesota professors I would take that into careful consideration. Did you see this recent post about grad school: http://www.justinholman.com/2014/03/10/how-to-get-into-graduate-school-3-secrets-to-success/
      I don’t think you can go wrong either way. Both Universities are outstanding and if you take full advantage you’ll have exciting career options to follow. Plus you’ll have a lifelong connection to a great alumni network.
      I’m happy to provide further assistance if you think I can help. Either way, let me know what you decide!
      Best wishes, Justin

  19. Sviatlana / April 7, 2014 at 8:06 am / Reply

    Hey Justin,
    This is Sviatlana again. Thanks a lot for the information. I heard this idea that if you want to get a job in the academia or industry after getting a PhD, the instituion where you graduated from is very important. Why is that so and what do both industrial and acedemic employers look at in your resume?
    Thank you very much,

    • Justin / April 7, 2014 at 11:21 am / Reply

      Hi Sviatlana – yes, the institution is important. I think the only reason is name recognition. But Ohio State and Minnesota are both highly respected R-1 Universities. I don’t think attending either one will limit you in any way. This might be a reason to question whether or not to attend Clark (outstanding geography program but University is not as large or well known) but no worries with Ohio State or Minnesota. Private sector and academic employers look at your resume/CV in completely different ways. Too many differences to cover in a comment. Probably worthy of an entire blog post. Bottom line: unless you’ve found a great potential advisor at Minn or you’d really prefer to live in Minneapolis I would choose Ohio State. Best wishes, Justin

  20. Ryan / April 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm / Reply

    What are your thoughts on the GIS Master’s program @ USC? I didn’t see it any of your rankings.
    Could you make a rankings list of top online programs as well?

    • Justin / April 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm / Reply

      Hi Ryan, I like what I see at USC but I don’t have any way to evaluate the quality of their program at this point. Same goes for the other online programs. That said, I recognize the demand and will do what I can to provide some guidance in the near future. Thanks for the submitting this comment/question! Best wishes, Justin

  21. Sviatlana / April 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin.
    This is Sviatlana again. I have been roaming on the internet and found that quote: “I have also heard recently from two sources that Minnesota still suffers from some internal boloney that makes being a student there a drag. If anyone out there can refute that, please do because I don’t want to be disparaging, but I don’t want to encourage folks to go there if it’s a hard place to be still.”
    It is from quite a famous forum and dates back to 2009. You also mentioned that there was a decline at UMN in the past decade. Do you know what it was? Do you know what was going on there in 2009 and if it is still the case?
    Please advise.
    Thank you.

    • Justin / April 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm / Reply

      Hi again Sviatlana!
      No, I haven’t been able to gather the inside scoop on Minnesota. My guess is there was some sort of personality conflict among faculty leading to a partial exodus. Maybe the most poisonous personality stayed behind and kept good scholars away. This is just conjecture – I have no idea what really happened. In any case, I think this amplifies the case for Ohio State over Minnesota. I would have chosen Ohio State over Minnesota in the 90s as well. Now it’s more or less a slam dunk. Is something keeping you from accepting the offer at Ohio State? Not a fan of Columbus?

  22. Sviatlana / April 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin!

    What would have been your reason to choose Ohio State over UMN in the 90s?
    As for OSU, I haven’t got a chance to talk to my potential advisor too much. That is because I found out about my acceptance to OSU very recently (as opposed to UMN), so I am way more aware of what I will be doing at UMN than at OSU, by that I mean the research project I’ll be working on. And I have to say I really like it and I really like my potential advisor at UMN. Am I thinking too much? I know some people go to grad school without even contacting their faculty of interest and still do great. And here I am, trying to find out details about the research projects for my master’s degree. Other than that I don’t have any preferences of one over the other. However, the weather in Minnesota must be really harsh.

  23. Justin / April 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm / Reply

    I was most interested in spatial/quantitative/computational methodologies and Ohio State was a leading program in that arena in the 90s. Still is today. Minnesota was a great geography department back then but not a GIS/Spatial powerhouse.

    As I mentioned before, if you’re really excited about working with a particular advisor that is the most important factor. You can always do a Master’s at Minnesota and then move elsewhere for the PhD. Admission becomes much easier once you’re a known quantity. But, if you want to stay in one department for both degrees (which probably would save some time) then Ohio State may be a better bet. Another thing to look for is the professor’s rank. Is your potential advisor tenured? I like Associate Professors the best for grad students because they are less likely to leave or become burdened with admin responsibilities but are still hungry for another promotion.

    Weather in Minnesota will be harsh but Columbus won’t be much better.

  24. Masha / April 11, 2014 at 6:44 am / Reply

    Hey Justin!

    I would appreciate your insight.
    So I’ve been accepted to a Master’s program in one of the schools from your list and I would like to focus on remore sensing and its different applications. I have a good GIS background and even though in my undegraduate studies I had some practical experience in remote sensing, it was pretty much limited to doing some labs in ERDAS and other software packages, as well as having some courses. My POI has a very intensive research activity in the area of remote sensing. However, when I browsed a list of his publications, I literally got intimidated by their names. They just sounded so difficult and smart. I do realize the “graduate” remote sensing is a step higher than the “undergraduate”. So I wonder, is it normal? How do you predict your success in remote sensing? My mother says I am going to grad school to learn, not only do research, so, that is okay. But I am a bit insecure 🙂
    Please let me know what you think.
    Thank you very much.

    • Justin / April 11, 2014 at 9:31 am / Reply

      Hi Masha – you’ll have to learn a whole new language in graduate school. Journal articles seem to be written to obscure and intimidate rather than to inform and illuminate. I was intimidated too and most students probably are but, like anything, practice helps. No one expects you to know everything on day 1. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and work hard. You may need to read a journal article 5 or 6 times before you start to really comprehend the material. The key to success is persistence and determination. Best wishes, Justin

  25. Paul Yacobellis / April 15, 2014 at 7:33 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin, thank you so much for this website and it’s contained information. It is helping me a great deal. I am looking to apply to a PhD program in GIS. I am most interested in Spatial Statistics. Particularly, I am looking to apply to UT Dallas, University of Illinois Urbana, Arizona State, and University of Colorado – Boulder. I noticed that you ranked U Colorado highly in Geography, but not at all for GIS. Any insights into this? Also, while I know every department is different, regarding the GRE is the Quant score much more important than Verbal? I am getting a respectable Quant Score on practice tests (158/740 old scale), but my Verbal is abysmal (which is why I am not applying to Ohio State). Note, I have been working as an environmental economist using GIS for the past 10 years, and I have a Master’s in Statistics (Data Mining focus) and an Economics degree / Math minor undergrad.

    • Justin / April 15, 2014 at 8:42 pm / Reply

      Hi Paul – first, you should apply to Ohio State if you’re interested in Spatial Stats. You can draw from both Geography and Statistics faculty as they have a strong program in Environmental/Spatial Statistics. Not everyone wants to live in Columbus so your odds may be about the same as the others. I would also add Buffalo to your list unless you’re allergic to snow. Colorado has a good program and if you find a good faculty fit I think it could be great. I just happen to think other programs are better. One key issue at Colorado is distribution of professor rank. Most of the GIS-oriented faculty are Assistant Professors (unless recent promotions haven’t yet been posted to the dept website) with one very successful and busy full Professor. The ideal advisor is tenured but not yet canonized. Good luck with your applications! Let me know if you need a part time gig to supplement your subsistence-level grad student wages. And keep me posted. Cheers, Justin

  26. Cameron / April 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin– great blog and thank you so much for answering questions and helping out, it’s great to find a trustworthy source. I’m just returning from Peace Corps in West Africa and was inspired there by the applications of GIS in development work, particularly in public health. I have a international affairs background, and have been considering a master’s program in geography. I took some human geography classes in undergrad and have done reading and know I would be happy in a human geography-based program, but I’d like to come out of school with a tangible, portable skill. (My partner is an epidemiologist and we would both like to be able to work wherever.) Do you think I should apply to a GIS-centric program, or will I be able to learn GIS reasonably well in a non-GIS focused geography program? Based on your job descriptions in your earlier post, I’m shooting for a public health/economics related geospatial analyst job, probably in the global south. I’m tempted by the various certificate programs, but I’m not sure if they command much respect. These are broad questions I’ve been researching on my own, but I thought you could shed some new light. Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Justin / April 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm / Reply

      Hi Cameron, you have a great background for geography. You should be able to learn GIS on your own so I would not shy away from a “non-GIS” focused program. Ideally, you’d find an advisor who is a human geographer using GIS/spatial approaches in a particular area of public health or economics. I would take a good look at Buffalo where they have top notch geo-health researchers and a unique program focused on International Trade. Based on your interests in public health and economics I would encourage you to emphasize spatial analysis/statistics skills. Learn GIS too but dive deeper into statistical methodology to get a bigger bang for your buck. Hope this helps! Best, Justin

  27. Paul Yacobellis / April 21, 2014 at 3:10 am / Reply

    Thanks Justin for the insights, very helpful! Hadn’t looked at Buffalo yet, but after looking at its website, certainly keen to apply. Might as well give Ohio State a shot, What the heck. And thank you for the kind offer of part-time work, I am certainly going to need additional revenue over that five year period so I will be keeping that offer in the forefront of my mind. Note, I am keen to live in Colorado, so in the event I decide not to go for the PhD for whatever reason, would love to have a chat about any full-time opportunities. Regardless, I will keep you posted on my efforts and any guidance is appreciated. -Warm regards, Paul

    • Justin / April 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm / Reply

      Sounds good! Look forward to hearing your progress along the way. Best, Justin

  28. kevin / April 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm / Reply

    I’m just exploring GIS as a possible undergraduate major. Wondering what you think of that route as a starting point. Also would like to know about rankings of universities that may offer GIS undergraduate programs. I’m in the Northeast US. Thanks

    • Justin / April 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm / Reply

      Hi Kevin, I think it would be great for you to study GIS as an undergrad. In the Northeast you have some excellent options including Clark, Buffalo, Maine (Orono) to name a few. For undergrad studies the best options in the Northeast would be, in my opinion, Dartmouth or Middlebury. As far as GIS as a starting point, I like it as part of a program in geography or in combination with computer science, statistics or some sort of computationally oriented curriculum. I’d be very careful NOT to enroll in a program that *only* teaches ESRI ArcGIS and related software programs. If you graduate 4 years from now knowing everything about ArcGIS but not much else your career prospects will be severely limited. Same goes for other proprietary software specialization. As an aside, generally speaking I would recommend a liberal arts curriculum with a heavy dose of literature/writing and problem solving through the lens of mathematics, computer science, statistics or one of the life/physical or social sciences. You must learn to communicate effectively and to solve problems involving quantification or scientific inquiry or you will hit a low ceiling early in your career. Liberal arts education isn’t the only way but it’s a good one. Hope this helps. Good luck! Best, Justin

  29. Justlooking / April 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm / Reply

    Hello Justin,

    This blog is awesome – Thank you!

    What have you heard about Purdue’s Geomatics program? I see that they didn’t make your list this year, but perhaps you have heard something about them? I would like to learn all that I could.

    Thank you so much,


    • Justin / April 28, 2014 at 9:39 am / Reply

      The Purdue program is in Civil Engineering so it would be a completely different type of program. If you want to be an engineer it may be great but I don’t really know anything about it. In any case, it’s not comparable to the GIS programs on this list. Best wishes, Justin

  30. Cizhen / May 12, 2014 at 11:19 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,
    Thanks for the blog.

    I have been admitted to the MAS-GIS program by ASU and MS in Geography by USC(Carolina),. I am confused that does the ASU ranked in your blog refer to the MAS-GIS program? Is the MAS degree different from other masters degrees? By the way, any idea about MPS-GIS program in UMD-college park?

    Thank you very much.


    • Justin / May 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm / Reply

      Hi Cizhen, yes, the MAS (Masters of Advanced Studies) degree is different. It is a professional degree with no thesis requirement. Basically one year of advanced coursework. Looks like a good program if your primary goal is to get an entry level technical GIS job. Read more here: https://geoplan.asu.edu/academics/graduate-studies/mas-gis
      The MS in Geography at South Carolina is a more traditional research Masters. You would be required to do research and might have an opportunity to collaborate on funded research. This program would be your best option if you intend to pursue a PhD. http://artsandsciences.sc.edu/geog/academics/masters.html
      The Masters of Professional Studies (MPS) at Maryland looks similar to the MAS at ASU. I imagine it is a very good applied program. But, Maryland appears to be closely tied to ESRI technology so I would be concerned about becoming dependent on ESRI products. Open source tools are becoming more important so I would probably favor ASU over UMD. http://geog.umd.edu/gis
      Hope this helps! Best, Justin

      • Cizhen / May 13, 2014 at 2:44 am / Reply

        Thanks, Justin. Your answer is really helpful. But as an internatnal student, I concern more about the degree. If I want to get a job in U.S., will the MAS or MPS degree be considered the same as other masters degrees, such as M.S/M.A?

        Again, thanks for your answer.

        • Justin / May 13, 2014 at 10:20 am / Reply

          Cizhen, for most employers, yes, the MAS or MPS will be treated equally. But, if you wanted to work for a University or govt agency or a private company engaged in research, they probably would know the difference are would likely favor the M.S./M.A. All else being equal I would definitely choose the M.S. or M.A. option but if you’re looking for the most efficient path to a job the MAS is probably the ticket. Best of luck! -Justin

  31. bob / May 14, 2014 at 11:34 am / Reply

    Great post. As several others requested, it would be good to see a list of the top online schools for GIS masters degrees. USC looks really good, but the tuition rates seem extremely high. Even Penn State is about half the price per credit.

    • Justin / May 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm / Reply

      Thanks, Bob! I’m working on it! Best, Justin

  32. Clifford Okembo / May 20, 2014 at 10:20 am / Reply

    I have heard of MSGIS at the University of Redlands http://www.spatial.redlands.edu/msgis/. How do you rate it?

    • Justin / May 20, 2014 at 11:09 am / Reply

      Hi Clifford, yes, I am familiar with programs at U. Redlands. I was offered a faculty position with the Business School there in 2005. I actually wanted to take the job but I couldn’t work out the logistics – bad timing as we had just purchased a home in Ann Arbor and home prices in So Cal had gone through the roof. As it turns out I probably would have lost a boat-load of money on any housing investment in the vicinity as San Bernadino Greater Metro was one of a few ground zero locations for the housing crisis in ’08-’09. My impression of Redlands was very favorable at the time. I don’t know how things have changed since but, yes, I think they offer a great program with one caveat. Because of their neighborly relationship with ESRI and because of the many dollars donated by Jack Dangermond, they are somewhat beholden to ESRI. I don’t think this is an insurmountable problem so long as you recognize the situation and make an effort to train yourself in other key technologies so as not to become ESRI-dependent. Best, Justin

  33. Chris / May 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    Please consider University of Akron in your rankings for next year.


    Great program, has gone through some redevelopment over the last 5 years but still cutting edge!

    • Justin / May 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm / Reply

      Hi Chris – will do! Thanks for sharing this link! Best, Justin

  34. Jack / May 27, 2014 at 9:02 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin-
    I’m doing some research on the intangable value of Landsat. I’d love to cite some statistics on the number of post graduate publications that included work based on Landsat. Any thoughts on where I might start?


    • Justin / May 28, 2014 at 10:33 am / Reply

      I would start with Google Scholar and search for “Landsat”: http://scholar.google.com/
      Next I would go to your nearest major University library and ask a librarian to help you get started on a full lit search. The best remote sensing journals when I was paying attention to such things were “Remote Sensing of Environment” and the “International Journal of Remote Sensing”. There may be newcomers but the best articles on Landsat are more likely to appear in these two journals than anywhere else. Hope this helps! Best, Justin

  35. Luke Kaim / May 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    Great Post. I might be biased, but the University of Denver and the University of Maine both have great GIS programs. Maine is part of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. One reason why Maine does not get as much recognition is because it is not called GIS, but Spatial Information Science and Engineering . The University of Minnesota also have a great Remote Sensing department.

    • Justin / May 30, 2014 at 1:16 pm / Reply

      Hi Luke, thanks for the comment. I restricted my rankings to geography departments offering a PhD. Denver doesn’t offer a PhD and Maine isn’t a geography department and doesn’t seem to have any geographers on the faculty. As a result, neither program was considered. I’m certainly aware of Maine’s role as part of the NCGIA but, to me, it’s a unique program. It may be the perfect program for some students but I don’t understand the differences well enough to recommend it to anyone. Perhaps you can enlighten me? Best, Justin

  36. Luke Kaim / May 30, 2014 at 1:47 pm / Reply

    Thank you for your quick reply. I understand and agree. For full full disclosure I went to both the University of Denver and the University of Maine. The University of Denver does offer a PhD in Geography.

    I applied to Arizona State, Maine and Buffalo for my Masters. I choose Maine for the weather, I mean funding and research, but it still has a world class faculty in my opinion. I agree that Maine is a unique program, but I do not see that as being a bad thing. As Geography and Computer Science become ever more intertwined I see programs like Spatial Information Science and Engineering becoming even more valuable then a degree in Geography. Maine’s research focus is on Topological Relations (Dr. Egenhofer), Indoor Navigation (Dr. Beard and Dr. Giudice) and Relational Database Design.

    We should grab coffee next time I am in Pueblo and talk tech.

    Best, Luke

    • Justin / May 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm / Reply

      Luke, I stand corrected re Denver offering a PhD. I’ll need to go back and check but perhaps Denver was excluded from the NRC rankings and as a result was also omitted from my list here. Maine being unique is certainly not a bad thing at all and I agree re computer science providing tremendous value. But I would need to know more before I could relate Maine to the other programs I’ve ranked…or recommend it on its own merits. Thanks again for your input! Definitely glad to meet over coffee if you’re passing through Pueblo. Best, Justin

  37. Morten / May 30, 2014 at 6:28 pm / Reply

    Dear Justin

    Im a PhD student at Aarhus University. Denmark.(far away from USA). Studying participatory modelling in environmental/agriculture science. I hopefully are going abroad to the states for a study abroad period of 6 months in 2016. I am therefore looking for state of the art universities (Geography departments) doing participatory modelling/participatory GIS.

    Do you have an overview of which universities I should look into.

    • Justin / May 30, 2014 at 11:13 pm / Reply

      Hi Morten, I’m not too familiar with participatory modelling research but a quick glance around pointed to Sarah Elwood and Katharyne Mitchell at the University of Washington (Seattle), although not so much for environment/agriculture. Also looks like a preference for qualitative approach. Nothing wrong with that, quite the contrary; however, most folks looking at GIS-related graduate work tend to be more on the quantitative side of things. Sorry I can’t provide more assistance. Perhaps try to make email contact with one or both of them and ask for their suggestions. Best wishes, Justin

      • Morten / June 2, 2014 at 1:19 am / Reply

        Hi Justin
        Thanks for your reply, I will definitely try to contact both of them.
        Have a nice day

  38. Rachael / May 30, 2014 at 7:19 pm / Reply

    Hi! What about Australia ? Rachael

    • Justin / May 30, 2014 at 11:14 pm / Reply

      I’ve never been but I hear it’s delightful.

    • Justin / May 30, 2014 at 11:31 pm / Reply

      Ha Ha. Just kidding. I’m assuming you mean to ask, “Where should one go to study GIS in Australia?” If so, I have no idea. I do know that Mark Gahegan, one of the world’s leading GIS scientists, received his PhD from Curtin University in Australia. But he’s now at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. If a consortium of Australians would like to make arrangements for me to travel to all major Universities with geography programs in Australia, and New Zealand if desirable, I’d be delighted to make the journey, check out the programs first hand and create a full set of rankings. Let me know. Until that time I’ll probably be forced to limit myself to North America. And mostly the US. Sorry I can’t be more help. Best wishes, Justin

    • Paul Yacobellis / July 8, 2014 at 12:54 am / Reply

      Hi Rachael/Justin,

      I found out recently that Noel Cressie (the Godfather of Spatial Statistics from my understanding) recently moved from Ohio State to University of Wollongong, which is about 40 minutes south of Sydney, Australia. Can’t tell you anything about its program, but might be worth checking out. I myself am in Sydney right now but am applying to schools in the U.S. Justin, just to catch you up, I took the GRE back in May (770 Q/590 V based on the old scale), and after taking a month off to relax, I am now starting to put my personal statement together. I have decided to apply to U. Colorado Boulder, Ohio State, Arizona State, Buffalo, and Illinois. Currently reaching out to faculty at all those universities. Any insights on the Personal Statement part of the application?

      Thanks again for the help,

      • Justin / July 8, 2014 at 10:49 am / Reply

        Hi Paul – the personal statement is very important. You need to “tell your story” and, perhaps more importantly, demonstrate how you’re a good fit with the department in terms of research interests. Take the time to learn about various faculty in each program and illustrate for the admission committee how you will both utilize and contribute to existing resources. Good luck! Best, Justin

  39. Pingback: 2014 Top 10 GIS Graduate Degree Programs | GIS Priority

  40. sivapratap / June 3, 2014 at 6:29 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    I completed my Bachelors Degree in Computer Science and currently working in Consultancy Company that has a client which uses GIS based application. I found the subject area very intresting and changed my idea of doing Masters in Information Systems to GeoGraphical Information Systems.Can you please suggest me some Universities which offers 2 year Masters programme and assures promising career in this field (I mean in terms of pay package and job security).

    Thanks in advance.


    • Justin / June 3, 2014 at 10:44 am / Reply

      Hi Pratap, thanks for the question. Given your computer science background, I would suggest looking into the top “Computation” programs including Illinois, Arizona State, Iowa, San Diego State and
      George Mason. Best of luck! -Justin

  41. sivapratap / June 4, 2014 at 8:03 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    Are the Computation Programmes you mentioned refer to GIS or its purely Masters in Computer Science. I checked Arizona State University website, they say their GIS Masters is for one year. A complete 2 year would be helpful to get deep understanding of the subject, as i studied Geography only at my schooling.


  42. elijah / June 12, 2014 at 4:20 pm / Reply

    do you have any information on the GIS program at texas a&m Corpus Christi? I’ve heard great things about the program.

    • Justin / June 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm / Reply

      Corpus Christi looks great if you’re interested in surveying but it’s not the same as the other GIS programs listed here.

  43. Phil / June 23, 2014 at 7:45 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    I was hoping to get your thoughts on the GIS Master’s Program at UMBC.


    • Justin / June 23, 2014 at 10:00 am / Reply

      Hi Phil, I’d never heard of it before but it looks pretty decent. Might be a reasonable deal if you are a Maryland resident. That said, I’m not wild about the proliferation of Master’s in “Professional Studies” programs. If you can manage it I would try to pursue a traditional 2-year Master’s degree. Best wishes, Justin

  44. Pingback: GIS Rankings Featured in UC Santa Barbara Newsletter | Geographical Perspectives

  45. Rich Quodomine / June 24, 2014 at 10:08 pm / Reply

    Justin, As a Buffalo Grad (2x), I wanted to say thank you. I also want to add in a note to all prospective students, whatever U you choose: Be sure to round out your education, if you can, with a look at social, urban or economic geography, in addition to GIS and physical work. When I graduated Buffalo (96, 03), GIS was somewhat reserved for the Geek Squad, and I came to it somewhat later than most. I find the broader background in Geography, and not just knowledge of GIS, is really critical to increasing geographic understanding, awareness, and solution building. While I am a GIS Analyst in Transportation, my concentration was in International Trade with an emphasis on carrier transport networks. I used GIS to complete my thesis, but it was only later that I did it professionally. Having a broad background in a few fields may help your career prospects by way of keeping a diverse, thinking mindset. Great research, and thanks again, Justin!

    • Justin / June 25, 2014 at 9:51 am / Reply

      Hi Rich. Thanks for your kind words and for sharing your thoughts! I agree completely re breadth in geography! Best, Justin

  46. AHagopian / June 25, 2014 at 7:28 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    I’ve just started researching online GIS programs. What is your take on the Masters of Science GIS program at John Hopkins? I know you prefer brick and motor institutions but I am a military spouse and my husband is stationed at a base where the nearest city is over 2 hours away, including large universities. Relocating is out of the question while he is active duty. Thanks for your feedback! Its been invaluable to me!

  47. Sara / June 25, 2014 at 7:30 am / Reply

    How about University of Albany NY or Hunter College in NYC?

    • Justin / June 25, 2014 at 9:48 am / Reply

      Hi Sara. Hunter’s geography department has a good reputation but it wasn’t considered in this list of GIS grad programs because there’s no PhD offering. I think it would be a great place to get a bachelor’s or a master’s in geography but if you’re really focused on GIS there are other programs to consider. The GIS certificate program looks good as well if that’s what you’re after. Don’t really know anything about Albany but all of the SUNY programs seem to be pretty top notch so I’m sure it would be solid. Neither program can compete with Buffalo or any of the other departments listed here in terms of access to top researchers in the field. Hope this helps. Best, Justin

  48. Rajeshree / July 3, 2014 at 7:53 am / Reply

    Hey Justin,

    Thanks for the great insight. I had my BS specialisation in electrical engineering, i would like to know which area in my field of specialization will give me a hand if i do my masters in Geoinformatics.

    Thanks in advance,

    • Rajeshree / July 3, 2014 at 7:59 am / Reply

      Also, I would like to know why the general top universities like Stanford or UC Berkeley etc come in the top ten universities for offering GIS program.

      Thank you

  49. Dorothy / July 18, 2014 at 9:02 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin, Thank you for your great help.

    I am considering a Ph.D. program focus on business geography, and I notice the Wharton GIS lab of upenn do some great job on it. Since the Wharton is too competitive, I think maybe you have some other good choices of business geograhy programs especially those combine the theory and real-world business projects well.


    • Justin / July 23, 2014 at 11:12 am / Reply

      Hi Dorothy, I wish there were programs to recommend but, at the PhD level, you’ll need to create your own. My advice would be to look for a University that has both a good Business School and a Geography Department, ideally the geography department should have an economic geographer or some other applied person who can help bridge the gap. The B-School will need to have an open minded advisor for you as well. Good luck and let me know what you find along the way. One last thought – you should look up Grant Thrall and maybe reach out for his advice. Best wishes, Justin

  50. sivapratap / July 22, 2014 at 5:25 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    I wish to do my Masters in locataion analytics. I am a computer science graduate. can you please suggest best universities for masters in location analytics.

    Thanks in advance.


    • Justin / July 23, 2014 at 11:28 am / Reply

      Arizona State, Ohio State, Buffalo, Illinois and UT-Dallas would be my top suggestions, probably in that order. Best wishes, Justin

  51. Beibei / July 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm / Reply

    Dear Justin

    Thanks for your valuable information! I am considering to apply a Ph.D. in U.S. or Canada. I have some questions and would like to ask for your advices.

    I am Chinese. I obtained a BA in urban planning (under the school of Geography, learnt some human geography related courses) in China, then I came to Japan studying sustainability science. I received my master degree this March. I am currently in a gap year.

    I can speak fluent Japanese and I am very interested in urban Japan. I want to focus on it in my Ph.D. study. The detained field may be shrinking/decline cities/region but I have not yet decided more detailed. My interest in Geography only lies in urban/economic geography and I like qualitative approach rather than quantitative approach. Regarding my career, I want to be a faculty either in North America or China or other countries, specializing in urban geography or economic geography, with area focus of both China and Japan.

    Now I am hesitating about the following questions about the Ph.D. application and would like to ask for your advices.
    1) Japan is not an area focus by a large number of professors, especially in the field of urban or economic geography. Among the top ranking Geography graduate programs in U.S. you listed, I only found Prof. Yuko Aoyama in Clark University. How can I find other potential professors that may be interested in and willing to instruct my Ph.D. research? Should I not emphasis so much on area of focus in searching professors? Do you have some programs or professors that you would like to recommend to me?
    2) I am also hesitating about whether I should also consider Ph.D. program in urban planning. I do not know whether you are familiar with those Ph.D. programs. However, as far as I know, the number of professors researching Japan in this field is also very few or almost none. And Ph.D. admission and funding in urban planning may be more competitive.

    Thank you in advance!

    • Justin / July 28, 2014 at 8:32 am / Reply

      Hi Beibei, these are great questions and it sounds like you are well prepared for PhD studies. I think your best option will be to identify a major university on the west coast with both Economic/Urban Geography and Asian Studies programs so you can draw from a diverse faculty for your research. I would start by looking at faculty profiles at UCLA, Berkeley, Oregon and Washington. Urban Planning is a different discipline and I don’t know enough to provide guidance. Best wishes! -Justin

    • Justin / July 28, 2014 at 8:43 am / Reply

      Beibei – one more suggestion – check out Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning: https://geoplan.asu.edu/
      Only issue may be methodology as ASU tends to be quantitative.

  52. Alastair Keith-Lucas / July 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    When you list “Tennessee” under great alternatives, which school in particular do you mean? Also, what in particular do you find strong about its program?

    – Alastair

    • Justin / July 28, 2014 at 8:37 am / Reply

      Hi Alastair, I mean the University of Tennessee (Knoxville): http://geography.utk.edu/
      They have produced an excellent group of PhDs with strengths in economic geography, spatial analysis and transportation, among other specialties. Cheers, Justin

  53. Imtiaz Syed / July 26, 2014 at 11:38 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    I am a BE graduate in Information Technology with 3 years of work experience in GIS field. I wish to pursue Master’s degree in GIS and complete it in 1 year. Please suggest me some universities for the same.

    Thanks and regards,

    • Justin / July 28, 2014 at 8:47 am / Reply

      Hi Imtiaz – well, that’s the whole purpose of this post. Check out any of these programs and look for a 1-year option. Best wishes, Justin

  54. jayesh / July 27, 2014 at 11:58 am / Reply

    hello my name is jayesh from india i want to pursue ms in gis
    i have bachlors in computer science and 1.5 years of gis expirence
    is it ok for me to do ms in gis as i have bachlore in cs
    suggest me top university were i can
    be a gis programmer
    and what pay i will get after completing ms in gis
    thank you

    • Justin / July 28, 2014 at 8:51 am / Reply

      Hi Jayesh – for GIS programming I like Arizona State, Illinois and San Diego State but there are many good options. I can’t estimate post-Master’s pay because so much depends on the individual applicant. Best of luck! -Justin

  55. Marie / July 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    It was a great surprise to find this blog as I was searching for graduate programs in GIS/Remote Sensing. A quick reference in background, I have a BA in Art History (archaeology) and a MA in Intelligence. Currently, I am in the workforce but looking to make somewhat of a career change. Could you recommend a MA program that focuses in GIS/Remote Sensing/Intelligence? Does one exist? I was initially looking at a program that could be applied to archaeology (Boston University was my top pick), but recently I have been trying to find a way that would allow me to stay marketable for Govt work (already paid into retirement system, favorable to stay) or become marketable to the research community. Does this exist yet in the GIS world? Would I need to focus in Geospatial Research and then separately find a way to apply this to the intelligence/DoD world? Interdisciplinary studies at a college to merge these worlds?

    Does OSU or Penn State fit these type of interests? Boston better? Online or brick and mortar are a toss up at this point. I attended an online university for my MA, but I felt it lacked the ability to provide the resources – and face-to-face network – a traditional university provides. Has Penn State’s program found a way around this problem? Any suggestions, tips, expertise you can provide is greatly appreciated!


  56. Marie / July 28, 2014 at 8:01 pm / Reply

    It exists! That really couldn’t have been a closer match, thank you!

  57. Marie / July 28, 2014 at 8:20 pm / Reply

    After looking back at your previous polls, you did not include them in your 2012 or 2013 picks. Why this year? My undergrad was at Ohio State, and reasonable to say I would go there (if accepted) as I am still somewhat local, though I am willing to relocate. I want to attend a program with great faculty that invest in their students, work and want to prevent their program from becoming stale. Would you recommend George Mason’s program over OSU?

    In your opinion, would George Mason’s program still prepare me for work in the GIS/Remote Sensing world should I choose to veer off in a different direction down the road? Would the George Mason program limit me to an Intel problem space?

    Thank you again for the suggestion! I laughed at the parallels between their program and my original post. I never would have thought to look at them without your suggestion.

    • Justin / July 29, 2014 at 5:16 pm / Reply

      Hi Marie – George Mason is *not* a top Geography program but I consider it a strong GIS/Remote Sensing program particularly well suited if you want a career in Intelligence. Ohio State would be far better from almost every angle with one key exception: George Mason is in DC Metro giving you a ring-side seat for Federal job opportunities. Best, Justin

  58. Emma / August 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    Thanks for the informative list.

    I was wondering whether you have any thoughts on the University of Arizona’s GIST (GIS Technology) Masters of Science (online or classroom modes available) and Graduate certificate programs – here’s the website: http://geography.arizona.edu/gis-masters. They seem to have a lot of graduates (as compared with other disciplines offered). In particular, are you able to comment on how the U of A compares with ASU for GIS?

    Thank you,

    • Justin / August 8, 2014 at 9:42 am / Reply

      ASU has a superior GIS faculty but that may not matter if you’re looking for professional training, especially on-line. I don’t think you can go wrong – both great Universities and solid programs. Best wishes, Justin

  59. Romina / August 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm / Reply

    Hey Justin,

    So I am an undergrad at the University of South Florida, studying Environmental Science and Policy, graduating this December. I have taken classes in environmental toxicology and GIS and am looking for grad schools that excel in both. I realize there isn’t a direct correlation between the fields but know I could create one with the right school.
    I have been eyeing Berkeley and would love to know your opinion about the school but also where else there might be great grad programs for these two fields, with a little bit of maneuverability to tailor my degree?

    Thanks for your time 🙂

    • Justin / August 24, 2014 at 10:42 pm / Reply

      Hi Romina, check out the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and take a peek at Dan Brown’s work: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~danbrown/. I think it’s right up your alley. Probably plenty of other great programs out there, and I’m sure Berkeley is one, but difficult to beat UMich and Ann Arbor for a solid grad school experience. Best wishes, Justin

  60. Jane R / August 24, 2014 at 8:34 pm / Reply


    Are you aware of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s new Masters of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology (MS-GIST)? How would that program compare to the top 10 listed above? It is not located in the geography department but rather in their planning school. Thank you!


    • Justin / August 24, 2014 at 11:16 pm / Reply

      Hi Jane, Georgia Tech is a world class University and this is probably an outstanding program if you intend to pursue a career in planning or architecture or engineering. But if you’re primarily interested in GIScience I would look elsewhere, starting with the list above. Best wishes, Justin

  61. christopher / August 31, 2014 at 11:08 pm / Reply

    how do you feel about San Francisco States program?

    • Justin / September 1, 2014 at 11:28 am / Reply

      Hi Christopher, I don’t know much about the geography department or GIS offerings at SF State but I suspect they are quite good based on my experience with other Cal State programs. Can’t beat the location! Best, Justin

  62. Mohammed / September 11, 2014 at 12:45 am / Reply

    Hi Justin. Lots to say about your blog. Good Work. I just completed my Undergraduate in Computer Science. I would like to pursue my further studies in GIS domain. As you have mentioned for all the Computation program, We have to take MS in Geography with GIS concentration. Does any University provide MS in Computer Science with GIS concentration?


    • Justin / September 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm / Reply

      Hi Mohammed, I’m not aware of any Computer Science programs offering a GIS concentration. Your best bet along those lines might be to pursue a dual-Master’s degree at a University with both computer science and geography programs. The University of Illinois might be your best bet for such a campaign. Good luck! Best, Justin

  63. Ali / September 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm / Reply

    Hello Dr Justin,

    I would like to tell me about the best universities in remote sensing (RS) geography in the United States.

    • Justin / September 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm / Reply

      Hello Ali, you’ll see in the post that I noted Boston, Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia as great places for remote sensing. There are many others. In fact most geography departments have courses dealing with remote sensing. The question you should answer is remote sensing of what? Are you interested in river systems, vegetation, human settlement, wildfires, etc? I think you’ll want to identify an application area to go along with your interest in RS. That will allow you to narrow down the list of potential professors and programs. Best wishes! -Justin

  64. Soumil / September 15, 2014 at 6:09 am / Reply

    Hello Justin,

    I am from India. I have completed my masters in Geoinformatics. Also I have a 2 years of experience in GIS industry.I am looking forward for some professional course for my career growth. I have completed my bachelor’s in Environmental science, but I started my career with industry which is majorly dealing in mapping sector(eg., energy,media, bank.etc). I am little bit confused in both because i would like to work in any of the field mentioned above.Please help me out in opting out one and suggest me some universities that won’t produce any difficulties in getting F1 visa. My GRE scores are comparatively less, so i also wanted to know that does GRE score maters a lot or not. I am thinking for admissions in Fall 2015.

    • Soumil / September 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm / Reply

      Hello Justin,

      Please help me out for this

  65. Jill / September 30, 2014 at 7:15 pm / Reply

    Hello Justin,

    I will graduate with my B.S. in environmental science and GIS certificate this December. Do you know of any Master’s programs in environmental science that focus heavily on GIS/spatial analyses.

    Thank you!


    • Justin / October 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm / Reply

      Hi Jill, there are many geography departments providing training in both fields but I’m not sure about environmental science departments offering GIS/spatial analysis. You might look for Universities with both geography and environmental science departments. I know the University of Oregon offers both and I recall some students who worked with both departments to get what they wanted in the way of training. Hope this helps. Best, Justin

  66. Nitin Kulkarni / October 7, 2014 at 5:16 am / Reply

    I have recently completed my masters in Geology and currently in an certificate program for gis software s. I want to pursue a career in the field of GIS. I am planning for a masters degree in GIS with the background of geological sciences. I know remote sensing is one of the topics connecting GIS and geology but are there any GIS masters program focusing on geology (Earth Sciences)or climate change modelling.
    In the ranking list given above, I have narrowed it down to:
    1.University of Maryland (UMBC)-MPS-GIS.
    2.Clark University(GISDE program)
    Any advise most appreciated,
    Thank you.

    • Justin / October 7, 2014 at 9:13 am / Reply

      Hi Nitin, yes, most geography departments have faculty with expertise in climatology, biogeography and/or geomorphology. Of the three, I think geomorphology would likely appeal to you most given your background in geology. You might check out some of the research that has been published by W. Andrew Marcus at Oregon. He has completed several studies involving the use of remote sensing to analyze river systems. He’s now a bigwig Dean at Oregon but there are many other scholars throughout the discipline who do related work that might be of interest. I would add Oregon and Colorado to your list. There are many others that you should consider. Maryland and Clark are both outstanding but also a little bit different than most geography departments in their own way. Cast a wider net to maximize your chances of finding a good fit. Best wishes, JH

  67. P / October 7, 2014 at 10:00 pm / Reply

    Hello, thanks for all the information. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on the University of Washington’s Online Master of GIS With a Focus in Sustainability Management? [http://www.gisonline.uw.edu/] It seems somewhat unique in its focus.

    • Justin / October 9, 2014 at 11:23 am / Reply

      Hi Peter, great question. As an Oregon grad I was hoping to find good reasons to critique this offering from our Pacific Northwest rivals but I must say it looks really good. Dr. Nyerges has been a leading GIS researcher for a few decades and I like what I see in Dr. Withers profile, especially her statistical/demographic expertise. The course offerings are right in line with what I would hope to see. The key question to try and answer in advance is how good are Man Wang and Robert Aguirre as instructors because they are carrying the lion’s share of the teaching load. If they check out and if you have strong interest in sustainability, particularly as it relates to management of coastal environments, I would go for it. Good luck! Best, Justin

  68. Hyeyeon / October 11, 2014 at 11:34 am / Reply

    Hey Justin. Here is another big fan of you!! 🙂 Im a currently senior undergraduate majoring in educational geography and considering going to graduate in the same department specifically in GIS.I have some quick questions!

    1. After getting the MA focused on GIS, I would prefer working on retail/marketing strategy or real estate in private sector. But the graduate, which is the same school where im going to finish my BC and would offer full scholarships, is not concentrated on business GIS. I guess it’s about more city planning in the government sector. Do you think it is recommendable to just continue to study GIS at the same school for MA in that case? You can advice it might be difficult to find a job in private sector later on or not. Or do you think it is much better to find a graduate focusing on business GIS more although it doesnt offer a scholarship? If yes, could you give me some lists of it?

    2. More fundamentally… do you really support my leaning to start to study GIS next year? Isnt it pretty late? I’ve read your post ‘Spatial is indeed special but GIS software skills will be soon obsolete’ and a bunch of others further. I feel the same way that GIS itself is not that attractive longer and geospatial data analyst looks more promising. In this changing environment, do you believe it is worthy studying GIS as MA? Actually, im comparing another major which is Big data analyzing under the same school as MA. What would you recommend more between them or any other area you suggest fundamentally?

    Btw, im an international student and studying out of the U.S. !! Always thank you for your brilliant ideas shared on this blog and your answers in advance.

    • Justin / October 11, 2014 at 8:57 pm / Reply

      Hi Hyeyeon!
      If you can find a way to learn statistics, cartography/GIS and spatial analysis on a full scholarship then, yes, go for it. There are very few programs focused on business applications and it’s always better to graduate without debt. No, I don’t think it’s too late to study GIS. Just be sure you’re studying spatial analysis, cartographic visualization and, if possible, economic geography and statistics – not just how to use GIS software. The key is to become a great geographer with technical skills rather than someone who knows how to push ArcGIS buttons but not much else.
      Hope this helps. Thanks for your kind words. Best of luck!

      • Hyeyeon / October 14, 2014 at 2:34 pm / Reply

        Thanks a lot, Justin!
        That’s totally true! I wanna learn how to think more creatively and apply that kind of imagination of thoughts and knowledge in various aspects to technical skills in GIS 🙂 Then i believe the working future after finishing the MA course would be brighter than I can expect now. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. Im just right now writing an application form to register to the graudate school which is placed in Seoul, South Korea. 🙂
        Best wishes!

  69. Moein / October 26, 2014 at 3:09 pm / Reply

    Dear Jastin
    At first I like to admire your blog and the appreciate your effort to help others
    I have M.Sc of remote sensing with 4 years of experience. I deeply became interested in GIS and I like to continue my education in GIS. I am an international student so the fee is important for me. At first I searched for online programs but I found that here is a little difference between online and in compos programs. I like to know
    1) Are there any chance for financial aid for master students (for example a project which they need my background in RS) and if so, what are those universities?
    2)I know that there is a higher chance to get financial aid for PhD student but personaly I like to study an M.Sc in GIS and after that PhD to build a solid base for my PHD. what is your opinion and suggestion?
    I am waiting to hear from you
    Best wishes!

    • Justin / October 27, 2014 at 8:06 pm / Reply

      Hi Moein,
      Since you already have an MSc I would go straight for the PhD. Another Master’s won’t do much for your career. My suggestion is to contact as many programs as possible to ask if any faculty need remote sensing assistance for funded research projects. Think of it as a job search rather than an effort to gain admission. In fact, a good strategy might be to look for Universities hiring researchers in your area. Based on a quick search I would start with George Mason and University of Maryland Baltimore County.
      Good luck!

  70. Raju / October 27, 2014 at 10:02 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    I have just finished my MLA. Could you please suggest some specific GIS programs that is ideal for landscape architects? Graduate certificate or Masters will do.

  71. Bill / November 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin,
    I am going to get my MS in GIS next year,I am thinking about getting a PHD in geography.I would like especially to focus on something related to glaciology,because I really want to go to polar areas even just once in life.I was thinking about Colorado,there are many professors who focus on glaciology.But I couldn’t afford the tuition,and I don’t know if there are enough funds.So I wanna ask,are there any other universities which are worth of taking into account,and how do you think of the geography in Colorado?

    Have a nice day!

    • Justin / November 2, 2014 at 11:22 pm / Reply

      Hi Bill – I don’t know much about glaciology but physical geography attracts decent funding. If you go for a PhD it has to be funded or it’s not worth it. Colorado has outstanding programs in Physical Geography so it’s probably a good option but, like I said, I don’t really know. You’ll need to do some research to find professors doing the sort of work that interests you. By the way, you might want to go see glaciers before you go all-in on the PhD. Maybe volunteer for a research expedition of some sort. Might be expensive to travel to a polar region but it would pale in comparison to the years you’d invest in doctoral studies. Best wishes, Justin

      • Bill / November 2, 2014 at 11:42 pm / Reply

        Thanks for your quick reply,Justin.I’ll think about your advice about going on an expedition.And I’ll search for some other professors doing such work.
        Best wishes

  72. Virus / November 6, 2014 at 7:01 am / Reply

    Greetings Justin,
    I received an offer from Binghamton SUNY this morning for the Spring 2015 semester on its M.A. in Geography program. Honestly my GPA is relatively limited thus I value this chance seriously, however I have some concerns and hope you might take some time from your busy schedule to give me some advice. I finished my undergraduate course in Wuhan University, China, major in GIS. During my 4-year learning experience, I found myself not interested in GIS programing nor did I do well in related courses, and I am a little worried if Binghamton’s M.A. program will lead me that way, since there are no course description on its admission. I myself tend to choose program on application area, for example the role GIS could play in urban planning. Maybe it seems ridiculous to ask, but would you mind giving me some introduction on that according to your expertise. Besides, I also applied geography programs from other universities ( Buffalo ,Clark ,Marylan ,Oregon) for the Autumn 2015 semester. I know Binghamton is already good enough for me, but for insurance purposes, I still want to ask for your advice on this issus,do I take this offer that is good enough or do I take some risk to wait till offers for Autumn 2015 semester from those universities( actually because I have no resource to compare between these programs).
    Actuallly this is my first time to ask for help on a non-Chinese website so perhaps there are some serious mistakes in the paragraph above and I want to say sorry for your trouble while reading.
    If you can spare some time to replay I will be grateful.Thanks.

    • Justin / November 8, 2014 at 10:59 am / Reply

      Congrats on the offer from Binghamton! I don’t know too much about their program but I met Professor Florence Margai at an AAG meeting and she’s terrific. I was very impressed. I wonder if Binghamton might be willing to defer your admission to Fall ’15 to give you time to evaluate other offers? Might be worth asking. You could also accept the offer from Binghamton to attend in Spring but then transfer if you get a better offer and/or if things don’t work out at Binghamton. It’s difficult to know how to advise you without knowing more about your situation and the terms of the offer from Binghamton. Hope this is helpful. Best wishes, Justin

  73. Dan / November 8, 2014 at 7:45 am / Reply

    Hello Justin!

    I find your blog quite interesting. Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective on some interesting topics. I would really appreciate it if you would offer me some advice on choosing a graduate program. I am an Army officer who is transitioning off of active duty. I am interested in commercializing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology. It seems to me that there isn’t necessarily much of a market for actual UAS technology as a standalone product. Instead, I see UAS technology as a cost efficient means of collecting information. I see the organization and analysis of the collected information as being the true product of UAS technology. I have been investigating different graduate programs that I think may help me to better understand how to make the information collected from UAS of value to a user. Geography seems like it may be a good fit for me. Remote sensing and GIS are topics that seem directly relatable to finding useful applications for UAS technology. An understanding of some agriculture and forestry topics may also be of benefit. Do you know of any programs that would be a good fit for me? I am currently looking at Oregon State University because they have the Aerial Information Systems (AIS) lab which researches the use of UAS for remote sensing. The program director, Mike Wing, is a professor of geomatics and works in the forestry engineering department. A little more about me: I am a scout helicopter pilot in the Army so I am familiar with collecting information from an aerial platform. I also have formal training and experience in military intelligence so I have some familiarity with geospatial and imagery analysis. I studied economics as an undergraduate at the University of Idaho. I have family in the Pacific Northwest so all things being equal; I would prefer to live there. Thanks for the help!

    • Justin / November 8, 2014 at 11:18 am / Reply

      Hi Dan,
      Glad you found me. Your professional ambitions are unique so no matter where you go you’ll need to create your own program, at least to a certain extent. For that reason I recommend attending a major research University where you can tap into resources from multiple programs on campus. Oregon State U. certainly fits the bill. I would also look closely at the University of Washington. They have a good geography department but you may want to explore other departments to find deep expertise in remote sensing. Here’s a research lab I found in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences after doing a quick search: http://depts.washington.edu/rsgal/.
      The other advantage UW offers is proximity to the dynamic technology industry in Seattle. Corvallis has cool stuff going on too but pales in comparison to the number of opportunities in Seattle.
      As an Oregon guy I’m always reluctant to encourage growth of the Husky population but in this case, given all that you’ve told me, I think you need to give UW a very close look.
      Hope this helps!
      Best, JH

  74. Thiyaku / November 16, 2014 at 7:50 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,
    I am from India, I am doing my Masters in RS and GIS in India. I want to do my next year project abroad, Please suggest me any University offering final year Master project and how to apply for it.
    Thank You in advance.

    • Justin / November 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm / Reply

      Hi Thiyaku, I’m not aware of any programs in the US offering a final year Master’s project unless you are already enrolled in the same Master’s program. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Or maybe I misunderstood? Best wishes, Justin

  75. Harmeet / December 17, 2014 at 1:36 am / Reply

    Hey Justin
    I am from India and pursuing B.Tech / B.S in Geoinformatics Engineering. I am interested in doing my masters from abroad. I have seen your ranking list but I am still confused. Can you suggest me a university which would be best for me?
    and do you have any idea about masters in geophysics?


    • Justin / December 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm / Reply

      Hi again, Harmeet. I don’t know anything about geophysics programs. Sorry. Cheers, Justin

  76. Harmeet / December 18, 2014 at 1:26 am / Reply

    Hey Justin

    I am from India and pursuing B.Tech / B.S in Geoinformatics Engineering. I am interested in studying abroad for my masters. I have seen your list but I am still confused. Can you suggest me a University which would be best for me in terms of education and providing scholarships?


    • Justin / December 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm / Reply

      Hi Harmeet – I’m afraid I can’t be much more specific. Opportunities for funding and admission vary from year to year. Generally speaking, I favor flagship public State Universities. It’s hard to go wrong at Ohio State, Penn State, Colorado, Arizona State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Oregon, Kansas, Iowa, Georgia, etc. You’ll get the full American college experience where you’re sure to find someone interesting to show you the way regardless of where your research interests lead you. Best of luck, Justin

  77. Sivapratap / December 24, 2014 at 5:25 am / Reply

    HI Justin,

    You have suggested illinois for computational programe in GIS. Are you referring to University of illinois, Urbana or some other university.


    • Justin / December 24, 2014 at 11:39 am / Reply

      Hi Sivapratap – yes, I am referring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Here’s a direct link to the department: http://www.geog.illinois.edu/

  78. Liz / January 13, 2015 at 9:58 am / Reply

    What is the best GIS undergrad school. East coast, west coast, texas?

    • Justin / January 13, 2015 at 1:02 pm / Reply

      Hi Liz, it’s an individual decision with lots of variables to consider. On the East Coast I like Dartmouth and Middlebury in addition to the larger programs appearing in this post. On the West Coast, I have to go with Oregon and UCSB but, of course, I’m biased. You might also check out Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota. In Texas, I guess Texas State, UT and A&M would all be pretty good options. Corpus Christi seems to have some interesting things happening too. But I don’t necessarily recommend any of these geography departments for graduate study. Just places to check out if you really want to live in Texas. Hope this helps. Best, Justin

  79. Pingback: 2013 Geography Graduate Program Rankings | Geographical Perspectives

  80. Michael / January 18, 2015 at 3:39 pm / Reply

    Hey Justin,

    I was looking at ASU MAS GIS program to help bolster my marketability and skill set for pursuing a PhD in wildlife biology, particularity where I may not have as much experience as the next guy. Do you have recommendations for other programs. Reading your blog I know that you said that the ASU program is a professional degree. I don’t know whether or not it would be good fit for my needs. –Thank you! Michael

    • Justin / January 18, 2015 at 4:24 pm / Reply

      Hi Michael, if your objective is a PhD in wildlife biology why not look for a University offering both wildlife biology and GIS programs? You will likely save a lot of time taking GIS courses as electives in parallel. If you feel you need to pursue graduate studies in another discipline before applying to the PhD program I would recommend finding a geography department with strong Biogeography and GISci faculty. This will help you develop more applicable GIS-related skills. Hope this helps. Best, Justin

  81. Adwitiya Patro / February 24, 2015 at 11:25 pm / Reply

    Hi Justin,
    I’m a postgraduate Student in Planning interested in GIS program which takes me into computational Dimension of it and teaches more into advance analysis. which are the schools which can offer me such an postgraduate program.

  82. erol / March 3, 2015 at 11:42 pm / Reply

    hey i am about to graduate with a geography degree from Jacksonville University, I have concentrated in GIS and was wondering which schools in florida would be a good fit….. 3.5 gpa haven’t taken the GRE yet.

    • Justin / March 4, 2015 at 11:54 am / Reply

      Hi Erol. There are programs worthy of consideration at the University of Florida, Florida State and the University of South Florida. But, I don’t really know enough about any one of them to provide a strong endorsement. You might investigate U. Georgia if you’re willing to cross the border into enemy territory. Best wishes, Justin

  83. David C / March 6, 2015 at 11:42 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,

    Any thoughts on The U of Western Florida’s online program? I saw your rec for PSU but am curious to hear your opinion. Also, I’d like to find an online program with a strong serving of spatial analysis. Any thoughts? Thanks!!

    • Justin / March 8, 2015 at 8:29 pm / Reply

      Hi David,
      I don’t know anything about Western Florida. Take a look at USC for online + spatial.

  84. Trevor / April 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm / Reply

    I am interested in cartographic visualization. I have a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Oregon Tech and would like to use this degree as well in my professional career. What programs would you recommend that have an emphasis in this?

    Thank you,

    • Justin / April 21, 2015 at 10:23 am / Reply

      Hi Trevor,
      Since you’re already an Oregonian I would take a close look at Oregon and Oregon State, probably in that order depending on specific interests. The InfoGraphics Lab at U. Oregon would be a great place to gain experience as they have ongoing contract work for ODOT (I think) where I’m certain your Civil Engineering background would be useful. Other top programs in Cartography include Wisconsin, Penn State and Kansas … again, probably in that order.
      Best wishes,

  85. Madhavi / April 24, 2015 at 3:50 am / Reply

    Hi Justin,
    I persuaded my b.tech in civil engineering in India.Am interested in remote sensing.Could you please suggest me some good universities with low fee.Thank you in advance.

    • Justin / April 27, 2015 at 12:20 am / Reply

      If you can convince a department to take you on as a PhD student you will probably be offered funding. My top Remote Sensing picks include Boston, Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia. But, many departments have solid remote sensing offerings. I would suggest contacting as many PhD granting programs as possible. Best wishes, Justin

  86. Christina / May 9, 2015 at 7:11 pm / Reply

    I live in Idaho, and ISU is the only university in the state that offers a masters in GIS. Do you know anything about this program? Also, can you recommend a masters program that combines GIS with either epidemiology or public health? Thanks–Christina

    • Justin / May 10, 2015 at 6:19 pm / Reply

      Hi Christina. I’m familiar with the program in Pocatello but don’t know enough to have an opinion on the quality of education offered. It’s probably very good but who knows for sure. For “geohealth” head to Buffalo, North Carolina, Illinois or Iowa. But there are many others. Find a good professor with funding. Better that than the primo program without. Best, Justin

  87. Trevor / June 23, 2015 at 12:05 am / Reply

    I am planning to travel and would like to study remote sensing, midair, and cartography online. Looking for a master’s as my undergrad is in Civil Engineering. I really appreciate your help.

    • Trevor / June 23, 2015 at 12:06 am / Reply


    • Justin / June 23, 2015 at 1:48 pm / Reply

      Hi Trevor, Penn State is probably your best bet. Best wishes, Justin

  88. Cassie / June 30, 2015 at 12:39 am / Reply

    Hi Justin, Do you have any recommendations for GIS programs outside of the states/globally? Also, are there any universities you are aware of that have programs in or are similar to geodesign? Cassie

    • Justin / June 30, 2015 at 10:18 am / Reply

      Hi Cassie. I don’t know much about programs outside the US. For geodesign, USC and Penn State have programs of some sort. You might check out the website for previously held conferences on geodesign. Might be a good way to identify possible faculty mentors. Best wishes, Justin

  89. Santosh / July 20, 2015 at 12:04 pm / Reply

    Hey Justin,
    Thumbs up for this page,
    I have a engineering degree in computer science from India. I m really keen on pursuing Geography IS in USA or Canada. Could you please suggest me the right university for indian students with full time program. I was interested in UT dallas as my sister did her masters there, and also came across a lot more info from your blog, I am confused as few universities are way too expensive and I also wish to continue with Phd.

    • Justin / July 21, 2015 at 10:47 am / Reply

      Hi Santosh, if you want to pursue a PhD then my suggestion is to apply directly to some of the PhD programs listed here. There are no preferred programs for Indian students. Try to find a professor willing to take you on as a grad student and provide funding for your studies in exchange for research assistance or teaching. If you’re paying tuition for a PhD you’re doing it wrong. Hope this helps. Best wishes, Justin

  90. Mohammed Nazeer Ahmed / October 28, 2015 at 4:11 am / Reply

    Hi Mr.Justin,
    First of all Thanks..Justin Holman is doing Great Service especially for Students Who are Puzzled in Finding their appropriate Stream..Allah apko Eemaan se Nawaaze Inshallah.
    Im from India i completed my B.tech in Civil Engineering branch in 2015 fresher..And I Want to do MS In US in GIS Specialization..at first i thought Of doing M.tech in Structural engg..but later on this turned me to switch to GIS..when i was in 4year 1semester GIS and Remote Sensing was one of the Subjects..my faculty who is a merit student in the best college in Telangana State,India told me that her Classmate who is also from civil engg background was doing MS in Newyork,in 2nd year She got placement in a well Reputed Company but i Dont which department did she choose like GIS and Remote sensing,Geospatial,Geodetic,GIS Geography or GIS surveying etc,..i Wanted to Know more about it but my faculty is in not in contact with her now..
    Though i Saw some reviews of GIS job holders of having less chances of getting job or having low salary job in US i need justice about it!
    ..okay can you help me in picking the right stream and Suggest me to admit in Right university.
    Thanks and Regards,

  91. kam / November 12, 2015 at 11:39 am / Reply

    Hi Justin
    I use your weblog alot and I have got so many useful info in GIS field. Actually, I have a bachelor degree in computer engineering and interested in Master of GIS. Do you think, is it good decision or not?

    • Justin / November 16, 2015 at 10:04 pm / Reply

      Hi Kam,
      It’s a case-by-case decision. Sounds like a good combination. But, it depends on so many things.

  92. Prasad / December 15, 2015 at 3:31 am / Reply

    Hi Justin

    Happy look at your blog.

    I am B. Tech (Civil) 8th Semester student from NIT, Calicut, India.

    Would like to study Masters Degree in GIS.

    Attempted GRE and got 310 marks. My academic GPA is 7.2

    In which US University, I could get Masters degree admission in GIS?

    Thanks in Advance.



    • Justin / January 1, 2016 at 12:17 pm / Reply

      Hi Prasad,
      I have no idea where you might be able to secure admission. It’s competitive and depends on many factors, not just GPA and GRE. You should do some research to find a program and a location you find attractive.
      Best wishes,

  93. Balaji / December 30, 2015 at 9:46 am / Reply

    I am currently pursuing my under graduate course in final year computer science and engineering at kongunadu college of engineering and technology.After finishing my under graduate course.I interested to study in abroad PG-Diploma GIS & Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing(1year) or else GIS Mapping related course(1year).OR Certification Course in GIS Mapping field.Why because i want to GIS field Specialist. I need an information regarding Which country provide better GIS Studies & plenty of job opportunity in this field.I expect from you Europe countries & University.or else whatever you told i agreed.Please kindly tell me anyone GIS People.I want to achieve my career.please I don’t know GIS studies & job opportunity exposure.I will be waiting for your reply.
    Best Regards,
    Email-id: [email protected]

    • Justin / January 1, 2016 at 11:45 am / Reply

      Hi Balaji,
      I’m not really sure how I can help. My advice is to work on improving your written English before seeking to study or work abroad.
      Best wishes,

  94. Sadia / January 15, 2016 at 5:30 am / Reply

    Hi Justin

    I gone thru ur site info and i learn alot thnx.
    However, am in a bit of a fix on which Uni to apply for, for a PhD in Remote sensing and GIS.

    My research area is on APPLICATION OF REMOTE SENSING AND GIS TO REDUCE THE EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON AGRICULTURE (OR PRECISION AGRICULTURE). If i want to use Radar, Lidar, Optical and Drone technology to achieve my goals, which uni will u advice me to apply to?


    • Justin / January 15, 2016 at 4:54 pm / Reply

      Hi Sadia,
      I would take a look at Clark, Maryland, Georgia and possibly South Dakota State. South Dakota State isn’t a top geography program but it is closely linked with the USGS EROS Data Center where lots of the leading edge remote sensing work takes place. You might also look at Universities with strong Agriculture offerings and a geography department. Univ of Illinois comes immediately to mind.
      Hope this helps!

      • Sadiya / January 16, 2016 at 3:11 am / Reply

        It’s does. Thanks a lot.

        • Sadiya / May 14, 2016 at 7:13 am / Reply

          Hi again Justin,

          Pls I need your opinion on the following uni I got admissions from:

          1. University of south Florida for a PhD in d application of remote sensing to study d effect of deforestation on carbon sequestration.
          2. Rutgers University, NJ. For d same course
          3. George Mason for same course or I might change to military applications of gis & remote sensing.
          Though am considering d first two more because location.

          • Justin / May 24, 2016 at 1:29 pm /

            Tough decision, depends on many factors. Of the three, I’d favor George Mason because of its location in DC and because my impression is that Peggy Agouris has turned it into a pretty strong program. Why would you prefer Florida or Jersey over DC? In any case, it’s an individual decision and I can’t tell you what to do. Follow your instincts. Best wishes, Justin

  95. Laura / April 11, 2016 at 6:39 pm / Reply

    Hello Justin,

    Any thoughts on Elmhurst Colleges online GIS masters program? Starting to seriously consider grad school to advance my career at the state level in the environmental protection field. Looking for programs that have an emphasis on environment/water resources. Thoughts?

    Much appreciated.

  96. Angela Johnson / April 19, 2016 at 11:03 am / Reply

    Hi, Justin.
    The info u have given is soo cool. I am from Ghana and I have gained admission to the University of Akron, Ohio to pursue an MS in GIS. Is their MS programme In GIS up to the top?

    • Justin / April 19, 2016 at 11:48 am / Reply

      Hi Angela,
      It’s not a big PhD granting program so it doesn’t appear on my rankings. That said, it looks solid and should give you a good set of skills to help launch a career.
      Best wishes,

  97. Venkatesh / June 10, 2016 at 8:03 am / Reply

    Hii Justin.

    Great to see you helping the confused buds like us.

    im graduated in Civil engineering and has zero knowledge on computer programming,
    In my last year of graduation i had the subjects named Remote sensing and GIS, Spatial data analysis and modelling and i had learnt Arc GIS, LIDAR, Photgrammetry softwares(i just know how to work with them and nothing related to their programming) and i had done a project regarding pollution using gis. I am interested to do masters and probably Phd in the field of RS or GIS

    Im confused between RS or GIS, keeping in view of the above mentioned qualifications which one do u recommend

    And can i complete my masters in these areas with very less knowledge regarding programming the softwares but a better knowledge in using the above mentioned softwares.

    Justin Please do help me get out this confusion

    • Justin / June 13, 2016 at 10:32 am / Reply

      Hi Venkatesh,
      To me, RS is a source of data and falls under the umbrella of GIScience. Given that, I recommend pursuing graduate studies in GIS/spatial analysis. You can still specialize in RS and get what I would consider to be the best of both worlds.
      Best wishes,

  98. Ethan / August 28, 2016 at 3:35 pm / Reply

    Thank you for offering this resource! Best wishes.

    New Haven, CT

    • Justin / August 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm / Reply

      Glad to help!

  99. Fateme / January 7, 2017 at 12:38 am / Reply

    Hi justin
    i’m looking for a top university in GIS & RS for phd.
    i want your help for introduce some university for this major.
    please help me
    thanks alot

  100. M.khalid / February 3, 2017 at 8:39 pm / Reply

    how can I take master´s in arc gis spetiality on-online?

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