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GIS and Spatial Analysis

Ohio State is designated as a Center for Academic Excellence in Geospatial Sciences by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and is among the nation's premier institutions in the development of geospatial technologies. Ohio State is a leader in the fields of cartography, spatial analysis, and geographic information technology. We offer two different degree options for students interested in GIS: a Bachelor of Science degree in Geographic Information Science and a Bachelor of Science in Geography with a specialization in Spatial Analysis.

What is GIS? Geographic information systems (GIS) allow us make informed, educated decisions based on geographic data. People intuitively understand maps. Trends and patterns become more apparent when viewed on a map. Maps are necessary for solving spatial problems. Knowledge of GIS and spatial analysis is crucial in today's interconnected and global society. GIS technology has many uses, ranging from emergency management and other city services, to business location and retail analysis, transportation and logistics modeling, regulating the spread of disease, monitoring local crime patterns, and managing natural resources.

Students majoring in both GIS and Geography with a specialization in Spatial Analysis will learn the tools, methods, and software necessary for managing and analyzing geographic information. Students will become skilled in a variety of computer technologies through coursework in surveying and measurements, technical mathematics, statistics, remote sensing, and graphics. An optional credential for GIS students is professional certification. Information on becoming a certified GIS Professional (GISP) is available from the GIS Certification Institute, the leading GIS certification organization in the United States.

Current Students Changing to the GIS or Spatial Analysis Major:  There are no required prerequisites or a required application to declare a major in Geographic Information Science or Geography with a specialization in Spatial Analysis.  However, it is strongly recommended that a student be in good academic standing and have successfully completed Math 1151 or is making progress to the completion of the required math sequence when declaring the major.

If you are a currently enrolled OSU student interested in the GIS or Spatial Analysis major, we recommend that you follow these steps:

  1. Review the GIS and/or Spatial Analysis curriculum sheets
  2. Make an appointment with a Geography Advisor 


GIS and Spatial Analysis Curriculums

Undergraduate Curriculums

Issues & Topics:

Mapping patterns

  • Population change
  • Migration
  • Urban Development
  • Ocean currents
  • Voting and elections

Issue analysis

  • Air pollution
  • Logistical Analysis
  • Unemployment
  • Land use change
  • Disease rates
  • Hazard incidence

Location optimization

  • Facilities/site selection
  • Mass transit routes
  • New construction

Implementation and presentation

  • GIS software
  • Modeling
  • Organization
  • Symbolization
  • Color usage


Acquired skills:

Critical skills

  • Critical thinking and reasoning
  • Oral and written communication
  • Research techniques and application
  • Visual design

Technical skills

  • Quantitative data analysis
  • Graphic communication (including map reading and geovisualization)
  • Graphics and statistical software packages
  • Computer programming


Below is a partial listing of careers for which students majoring in Geographic Information Science or Geography with a specialization in Spatial Analysis are well-suited and where previous graduates have found employment.

  • Geospatial Analyst/Consultant for a metropolitan planning organization
  • Cartographer for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Manager/Planner: transportation, urban development, health services, land use
  • Project Manager for Woolpert, Inc.
  • GIS Software Developer for Esri
  • Real Estate Appraiser/Researcher
  • Shipper/Route Delivery Manager
  • Computer Systems Manager
  • Web Developer or Designer
  • Market Researcher/Analyst
  • Location/Site Selection Expert
  • Solutions Engineer
  • Information Technology