In brief, the situation is as follows:
A few years ago I received a bachelor's in a discipline other than geography or information technology (history, to be exact, but since then I've taken enough courses in geography and programming to compensate for this). Now I want to study GIS, preferably in order to use it in a field such as urban or transportation planning, although I'm open to other options. As far as I could determine, getting a master's in geography with a concentration in GIS is the definitive way of doing so. However, I still have a few questions about this, namely the following:
1. In some careers/majors guide, I've read that the recommended way to study GIS is to study geography at the undergraduate level and then geography with a focus in GIS at the graduate level. Most if not all the universities that I've looked at treat GIS as a branch of geography rather than information technology. In the program which I'm considering, most if not all students majored in geography rather than information technology as undergrads. Yet a GIS system is, roughly speaking, a combination of a map and a database, so some programming is obviously required, and some around me are saying that one should not study GIS without a bachelor's in database programming. How do you reconcile these two facts? If someone did not major in information technology (but in geography, for example) as an undergrad and then goes on to graduate studies in geography with a concentration in GIS, at which point does he learn Python, VisualBasic, etc.? Are these included in the master's program? (The grad schools to which I'm applying have all essentially told me that their programs include all the programming I'll need, but I want to hear from someone who is not affiliated with any of these schools; I have taken a number of programming and geography courses in the Virginia community college system over the last couple of years to compensate for this deficiency in my academic background.) In other words, is someone with a background in geography or some other discipline not related to programming fit for a master's program with a focus in GIS?
2. Another opinion which I'm hearing is that GIS as a whole is obsolete technology; a few years ago this was not the case, they're saying, but today all it takes is a few lines of code to send a request for a map to Google or whoever provides the data; there's nothing to get a master's degree about. They are obviously talking about maps on Web sites, but is this true of other applications of GIS, such as statistical analysis or resource management?
3. As yet, I have not yet worked in any position that requires the use of GIS, but it is my highest priority to have done so by the time I obtain my master's degree. Is it fair to say that I need to "walk before I can run" and work for some time in a position that utilizes GIS before I go on to graduate studies, or else suffer from "over-experience" (experience not commensurate with my degree) as I search for jobs?
Thank you all for taking the time to answer these questions.