- Global Studies Major
- Social & Behavioral Sciences Major
- Psychology Major
Both as citizens and as participants in the labor force, university and college graduates are confronting issues and problems that require geographic knowledge and spatial perspectives -- ranging from environmental degradation to local impacts of global economic change and effects of changing national demographics on the U.S. economy. The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) concentration within the Social and Behavioral Sciences Major is designed for students who would like to study the patterns and processes of economic, social, political, and cultural features on Earth's surface with the assistance of GIS technology.
Geographic Information Systems is an emerging technology that deals with computerized spatial information (i.e. digital maps and images). As the development and application of GIS continues to grow in both public and private sectors, GIS education and training have become very popular around the country. Most recently, the term Geographic Information Science has emerged to represent the science of spatial data processing-including theory and method of spatial data acquisition, storage, analysis, and visualization.
There are many exciting career opportunities for students with GIS background. The GIS software, data, and services industry is estimated at $4.2 billion in the United States alone, and appears to be growing at around 20 percent per year. The demand has been rapidly rising for people who are knowledgeable about using GIS within their own discipline and for people who are professional GIS technicians. Examples of job positions that students graduating with a concentration in GIS are the following: GIS analysts, GIS programmers, marketing analysts, planners, research associates at universities, etc. Opportunities are also abundant for students who want to enter graduate schools.
The study of GIS requires a core of basic knowledge in social sciences, in-depth understanding of geographic theory and method, proficiency of computing skills, and demonstrated ability of conducting complex spatial analysis. Students must achieve competency in the following aspects:
- a thorough understanding of basic theory and method of geography
- comfort with acquiring, transferring, visualizing, and evaluating both spatial and attribute data from a variety of sources
- the ability in applying GIS to study complex socio-economic issues by situating them in cultural, historical, and political context
- skill of using multimedia and web techniques in presenting and sharing spatial information
 National Academy of Public Administration, 1998. Geographic Information for the 21st Century: Building a Strategy for the Nation. Washington, DC: National Academy of Public Administration, Report 98-01, p. 298.