Graduate Studies at South Dakota or Miami of Ohio?

August 17, 2015 at 11:14 am  •  Posted in Education, Geography by  •  3 Comments

I would like to inquire about Master program in Geography. have been accepted into a graduate program in Geography at South Dakota State University and Miami University at Ohio. My question is which is the best South Dakota State OR Miami University at Ohio in Master of geography especially in GIS ? -A.

Dear A.,

Neither one is necessarily better than the other, but the two programs are completely different.

South Dakota State is affiliated with the USGS and its EROS Data Center which means a strong focus on satellite imagery data processing, analysis and visualization. I see the Department Chair is a fellow Oregon geography PhD specializing in Political Geography (I remember reading his dissertation as part of seminar on “Ethnoterritorial Conflict” taught by Ron Wixman) so you don’t need to be a remote sensing person. But, interest in remote sensing is the best reason to pursue a grad degree at South Dakota State.

Miami University of Ohio is a more traditional geography department with an emphasis on urban and regional planning. It’s also a smaller university with no PhD programs and that means fewer research-focused faculty and more teaching-oriented faculty. That can be really good or bad depending on your objectives.

The decision for you should be based on your interests and career aspirations. If you want to be a remote sensing guru or focus more on physical environment data go to South Dakota. If you’re interested in Urban Planning and want to focus more on human/cultural issues go to Miami. If you just want general GIS training, choose the program with a professor you really want to learn from. Or, flip a coin.

Good luck with the decision!



  1. Dave Hanna / August 17, 2015 at 9:13 pm / Reply

    Justin- You should give your own program some kudos, especially if you think having a mentor is a valuable part of your education.
    just sayin….

  2. Samuel / February 17, 2016 at 11:39 pm / Reply

    I’m also interested in GEOINT for my masters degree. which university best provide this. Keep in mind, I’m from Africa. thanks

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