Program Overview

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The School of Urban Studies at UW Tacoma offers a Master of Science in Geospatial Technologies degree. Admission is open during autumn quarter only and will be comprised of a 20 student cohort.  The degree will provide advanced training in GIS, training students to use and apply geospatial hardware, software, and data in urban and environmental planning scenarios.  It will also prepare students to become leaders in the management and utilization of geospatial technologies within the job market -- public, private, and not-for-profit sectors.  It will also offer training in the development and deployment of location-based mobile applications and management of web-based geospatial data. This program will maintain a theoretical/critical focus on the application of these technologies to urban and environmental problem solving. 

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Program Design

The forty credit program is one year (4 consecutive quarters - Aut/Win/Spr/Sum) and consists of the following courses:

Course descriptions

Autumn Quarter
T GIS 502, Introduction to Geospatial Technology (5 cr.)
T GIS 503, Web-Based GIS (5 cr.)

Winter Quarter
T GIS 501, GIS Customization and Automation (5 cr.)
T GIS 504, Mobile Geospatial Application Development (5 cr.)
T GIS 507, Practicum I: Planning and Design (5 cr.)

Spring Quarter
T GIS 505, Cartography & Data Visualization (5 cr.)
T GIS 506, Environmental Planning Applications (5 cr.)

Summer Quarter
T GIS 508, Practicum II: Implementation (5 cr.)

This is a non-thesis MS program.  To complete this degree a student must complete a total of eight courses at UW Tacoma.  Each course will be five credits for a total of forty credits in the program.  Courses cannot be substituted or taken at any other institution.



Completion of an undergraduate or graduate certificate program or one year experience working with GIS.  Equivalent coursework or experience will be considered upon request.  Students currently enrolled in the Urban Studies GIS Certificate Program may apply, but all prerequisites must be completed before the start of the program in September.


Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the increasingly central role that geospatial technologies play in the governance of contemporary lived and environmental spaces.
  2. Be proficient in the automation and customization of geospatial technologies such as GIS, web-based data services, locative mobile devices, and mobile & handheld geospatial sensors.
  3. Recognize appropriate uses and limitation of geospatial technologies in urban and environmental planning scenarios.
  4. Be equipped to carry out an independent geospatial project through all stages of conceptualization, planning, design, and implementation.
  5. Geo-visualization and representation of modeling results.

Instructional Faculty

Matt Kelley
Ph.D. Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, 2007

Emma Slager
Ph.D. Geography, University of Washington, 2018

Jim Thatcher
Ph.D. Geography, Clark University, 2014

All Urban Studies faculty