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Best Undergraduate Programs in Geospatial Sciences

written by: Destiny Keller•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/9/2011

Geospatial Intelligence is a growing field requiring education in the geospatial sciences. Here are the five best geospatial undergraduate programs that offer students the chance to earn a minor or certificate in this exciting new field of study.

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    A Geospatial Program Is....

    The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation defines “geospatial intelligence” as the utilization and study of imagery and geospatial information to explain, review, and visually showing physical features and geographically referenced actions on the Earth. It consists of imagery, maps, charts, and digital displays of natural and manmade activities on Earth.

    The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or NGA is a Department of Defense combat support organization that produces images and map-based intelligence solutions for homeland security, U.S. national defense as well as navigation safety. This organization produces accurate and relevant geospatial intelligence in support of national security objectives, as well as for civilian leaders. This organization contributes to the preparation of our U.S. military forces, as well as keeping track of natural disasters such as floods, and contributes to disaster support.

    The United States geospatial Intelligence Foundation sets the standards for geospatial programs and colleges with good geospatial programs develop their curriculum around them. Many schools also work in partnerships with the National Geospatial -Intelligence Agency, or prepare students for possible internships with this and other agencies. Schools will either offer certificate programs, minors in geospatial sciences, or a masters in geospatial intelligence.

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    Your Top Choices Are....

    Missouri University- This University offers a Certificate Geospatial Intelligence Program for undergraduate students. It has received accreditation from the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, and has a formal Educational Partnership Agreement with the National Geospatial–Intelligence Agency. Through their Partnership Agreement, they send many of their undergraduates to the NGA for summer internships. Their certificate program gives students a wide variety of exposure to relevant geospatial intelligence issues and problems as they cover a span of technical and analytic subject matter in accordance to the USGIF guidelines.

    UT Dallas- This University offers a Bachelors of Science in Geospatial Information Science or GIScience. In this program, students will comprehend the logical, mathematical and technological foundations of GIScience, and be accomplished in solving geospatial problems so they can to move into professional positions taking care of the geospatial needs in government and nonprofit organizations.

    Emporia State University- This University has a unique program that is campus-wide in GeoSpatial Analysis (GSA). In this program students can earn a multidisciplinary minor in geospatial analysis that can be combined with any undergraduate B.A. or B.S. major or certificates in Geospatial Analysis. These options give students more freedom with their education and degree.

    Saint Mary’s University– This University offers a professional certificate program in Geospatial Technology. Their program provides students with hands on experience to applications and theories in geospatial sciences. Their program is provided to make sure that geospatial and technology enthusiastic students are provided with opportunities to stay current with advancing technologies Geographic Information Systems and related geospatial technologies.

    Boise State University- This University does not offer a certificate program. However, they do offer a minor in geospatial technologies, which can be achieved with any major. This minor is interdisciplinary as it applies geospatial technology towards problem solving with spatial elements.

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    How to Choose?

    There are also many other colleges that offer minors in geospatial intelligence, or related fields. This being said, it can be hard to find the best geospatial undergraduate program that fits you. The important thing is to be sure to find a college that fits you well. The schools listed above are based on their curriculum and hands on experience they provide their students with. Each school is unique in the curriculum they offer and has great experience and courses to offer their students. When deciding on a college, one should look at all aspects of the school and see what feels comfortable, and what feels like home to them. Good luck in your geospatial intelligence studies!

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    References

    U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation -http://usgif.org/system/uploads/1558/original/USGIF_Accreditation_Guidelines_2010.pdf

    National Geospatial Intelligence Agency- https://www1.nga.mil/Pages/Default.aspx

    University of Missouri -http://www.geog.missouri.edu/geoint.html

    UT Dallas- http://www.utdallas.edu/student/catalog/ugcurrent/epps/gis.html

    Emporia State University-http://www.emporia.edu/earthsci/geospat.htm

    St. Mary's University- http://www.smumn.edu/GeospatialTech.aspx