Skip to main content
spatial data science
Master of Science in
Spatial Data Science


The Master of Science in Spatial Data Science is a customizable program that gives you the flexibility to earn a Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Programming and Web Map Development or another certificate we offer in remote sensing, geospatial intelligence, or GIS while pursuing your master’s degree online. The program is structured into four distinct areas of study:

  1. Required courses (15 credits)
  2. Spatial data science methods electives (9 credits)
  3. Spatial data science application electives (6 credits)
  4. Scholarly paper or research thesis (3 or 6 credits)

A minimum of 33 credits at the 400, 500, 600, or 800 level is required. At least 18 credits must be in 500- or 600-level courses.

Depending on course availability, you can complete the program in as little as two years of study or spread out the courses to suit your personal responsibilities and work commitments. We make it easy to pause and restart your studies at any time.

Program Engagement and Flexibility

Your education will blend self-study with peer-to-peer interaction over an online learning network. You'll complete weekly assignments, readings, discussions, and occasional group work, as well as projects and other activities designed to enhance your learning outcomes, all at times that are most convenient for you. Every class is designed as a partnership between expert faculty and learning designers for optimal online delivery; courses are not just recorded lectures.

The degree operates on five 10-week terms, a structure that delivers the greatest flexibility possible in completing your degree at your preferred pace. New courses typically begin every 10 to 12 weeks, so you can get started on your master’s degree sooner—with less wait time. Students also have the freedom to take semesters off to address the changing demands of their personal and professional lives.

Five 10-weeks semesters are Fall 1: August to October, Fall 2: October to December, Spring 1: January to March, Spring 2: February to April and Summer 1: May to July.
Required Courses (15 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
GIS Programming and Software Development GEOG 485

Customizing GIS software to extend its built-in functionality and to automate repetitive tasks.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484 or permission of the program

3 credits
Cartography and Visualization GEOG 486

Theory and practice of cartographic design, emphasizing effective visual thinking and visual communication with geographic information systems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484 or permission of the program

3 credits
Geovisual Analytics GEOG 580 Focuses on the science of analytical reasoning mediated through human-centered interactive geographic visualization and computational methods; provides students with hands-on experience solving complex problems through the design, implementation, and application of geovisual analytics tools. 3 credits

Geospatial System Analysis and Design

GEOG 583

Systematic approach to requirements acquisition, specification, design, and implementation of geospatial information systems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484 or permission of the program

3 credits
Geographical Information Analysis GEOG 586

Choosing and applying analytical methods for geospatial data, including point pattern analysis, interpolation, surface analysis, overlay analysis, and spatial autocorrelation.

Prerequisite: GEOG 485, GEOG 486, or GEOG 487

3 credits
Spatial Data Science Methods Electives  (select 9 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Exploring Imagery and Elevation Data in GIS Applications GEOG 480

An introductory-level course focusing on the use of remotely sensed imagery and elevation data in GIS applications.

3 credits
Topographic Mapping with Lidar GEOG 481

Understanding lidar systems' design, operation, data processing techniques, and product generation to address typical application scenarios faced by the geospatial professional.

3 credits
Making Maps that Matter with GIS GEOG 482 Case studies, student investigations, and projects reveal the scope, impact, and character of the Geospatial Revolution.
3 credits

Problem-Solving with GIS

GEOG 483

How geographic information systems facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 482 or permission of the program

3 credits
GIS Database Development GEOG 484

Database design, creation, and maintenance and data integration using desktop GIS software.

Prerequisite: GEOG 483 or permission of the program

3 credits
Advanced Python Programming for GIS GEOG 489

Learn advanced applications of Python for developing and customizing GIS software, designing user interfaces, and solving complex geoprocessing tasks using both proprietary and open source platforms.

Prerequisite: GEOG 485 or permission of the program

3 credits
Open Web Mapping GEOG 585

Design, development, and implementation of web mapping applications using OGC standards and open source software.

Prerequisite: GEOG 485

3 credits
Emerging Trends in Remote Sensing GEOG 589 Advanced topics in remote sensing and image processing, including new sensors, applications, and decision-making. 3 credits
The Earth is Round and Maps are Flat: Working with Spatial Reference Systems in GIS GEOG 861

Explores three important topics related to georeferenced data: datums, map projections, and grid systems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 483 or permission of the program

3 credits
Web Application Development for the Geospatial Professional GEOG 863 Focuses on how geospatial professionals can create applications using industry-relevant geospatial APIs. Students will build applications using the core web technologies of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 3 credits
Cloud and Server GIS GEOG 865

Theory and practical applications of using cloud computing and server resources to solve geospatial problems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484 or permission of the program

3 credits
Spatial Database Management for the Geospatial Professional GEOG 868 Advanced topics in the storage, management, and retrieval of geospatial data using common proprietary and open-source relational database technologies. 3 credits
Remote Sensing Image Analysis and Applications GEOG 883 Understanding remote sensing systems' operation, data products, and processing techniques to address typical problem scenarios faced by the GEOINT professional. 3 credits
GIS for the Geospatial Intelligence Professional GEOG 884 How geographic information systems facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems faced by the geospatial intelligence professional. 3 credits
Advanced Analytic Methods in Geospatial Intelligence GEOG 885 Prepares current and aspiring geospatial intelligence professionals to apply and interpret results of non-quantitative analysis and modeling techniques. 3 credits
Geospatial Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) GEOG 892 Common platforms, analytical strategies, and policy dimensions of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in public, private, defense, and humanitarian applications. 3 credits
Analytics Programming in Python DAAN 862 This course will explore the development of analytics systems and the application of best practices and established software design principles using the Python programming language and its several toolkits. 3 credits
Data Visualization DAAN 871 This course provides a foundation in the principles, concepts, techniques, and tools for visualizing large data sets. 3 credits
Foundations of Predictive Analytics IE 575 Survey course on the key topics in predictive analytics. 3 credits
Applied Statistics STAT 500

Descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, power, estimation, confidence intervals, regression, one- and two-way ANOVA, Chi-square tests, diagnostics.

Prerequisite: one undergraduate course in statistics

3 credits
Applied Data Mining and Statistical Learning STAT 508

Data mining tools are exploring data with regression, PCA, discriminate analysis, cluster analysis, and classification and regression trees (CART).

Prerequisites: STAT 501 or a similar course that covers analysis of research data through simple and multiple regression and correlation; polynomial models; indicator variables; step-wise, piece-wise, and logistic regression.

3 credits
Spatial Data Science Application Electives  (select 6 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Spatial Data Science for Cyber and Human Social Networks GEOG 479

Examines the nexus of geospatial intelligence analysis with cyberspace, the geopolitics of cyber threats, the politics of censorship and hacking, public safety, disaster response, and humanitarian relief; students will utilize a range of cyber data, systems, and spatial sciences to examine human social networks of the Internet.

Prerequisite: GEOG 160, GEOG 482 or permission of program
3 credits
Environmental Applications of GIS GEOG 487

Real-world applications of GIS and spatial analysis to investigate a variety of current environmental issues.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484 or permission of the program

3 credits
Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security GEOG 571

The application of cultural geography in the intelligence analysis and synthesis process by identifying prominent threats to civil security.

3 credits
Conservation GIS GEOG 587 Conservation GIS applies geospatial problem-solving to ecological research and resource management issues to enhance conservation planning. 3 credits

GIS for Health Analysis

GEOG 591

The role of geographic information systems in understanding disease, including relevant spatial analysis and cartographic visualization techniques.

Prerequisites: GEOG 484 or permission of the program

3 credits
Location Intelligence for Business GEOG 850

Understanding location technology and geospatial analysis to support an efficient and effective pathway to better business decisions.

3 credits
Spatial Data Analytics for Transportation GEOG 855 This course examines the use of GIS principles, data, and applications that have been developed for the field of transportation. 3 credits
Spatial Data Science for Emergency Management GEOG 858

Requirements analysis and proposal writing to plan and implement GIS solutions supporting emergency management activities of government agencies and contractors.

Recommended Preparation: GEOG 483

3 credits
Professionalism and Ethics in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) GEOG 864 Prepares current and aspiring professionals to recognize, analyze, and address legal and ethical issues in the GIST (GIS technology) field. 3 credits
Geospatial Technology Project Management GEOG 871 Principles of effective project management applied to the design and implementation of geospatial information systems. 3 credits
Geographic Foundations of Geospatial Intelligence GEOG 882 Orientation to the geographic foundations of geospatial intelligence and its applications in national security, international relief work, and disaster management. 3 credits
Data, GIS, and Applied Demography APDEM 802 This course provides an overview of key demographic data sets and promotes familiarity with, and appropriate use of, these data. 3 credits
Spatial Demography SOC 579 This graduate course will expose students to spatial analysis tools and analytical methods applied to demographic research. 3 credits
Geodesign History, Theory, Principles GEODZ 511

Students study the theory and principles of geospatially based design by investigating the methods and collaborative nature of the geodesign process.

Prerequisite: GEOG 482 (Please contact the program to discuss waiving this requirement.)

3 credits
GeoDesign Models I: Evaluation and Decision GEODZ 822

The principles, inherent values, and practical applications of evaluation and decision models as implemented within the geodesign framework.

Prerequisite: GEODZ 511

3 credits
Weather and Climate Datasets METEO 810 Students will learn a variety of methods for accessing appropriate weather and climate datasets available from government and research institutions. Working with very large datasets in a computationally efficient manner will be stressed, as will consideration of factors that affect data reliability. Students will be encouraged to consider numerous possibilities for presenting weather and climate data with a minimum of quantitative analysis. Finally, students will learn to construct a site-specific or regional climatology and to communicate a qualitative analysis of those data to others. 3 credits
Culminating Experience: Scholarly Paper or Research Paper  (select 3 to 6 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits

Capstone in Spatial Data Science


Thesis Research

GEOG 570



GEOG 600 (or GEOG 610)

A semester project that demonstrates the student's ability to apply advanced knowledge and skills related to applying spatial data science principles in a way that makes a substantial contribution to research in Spatial Data Science.


Thesis Research

3 credits



6 credits

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Penn State World Campus Student

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

* required 1/3

I agree to be contacted via phone, email, and text by Penn State World Campus and affiliates. Privacy Policy. reCAPTCHA protected. Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.