>> GIS Education
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(Stranger )
07/26/11 07:13 PM
3 questions about pre-requisites for GIS education Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

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 Another opinion which I'm hearing is that GIS as a whole is obsolete technology; a few years ago this was not the case, they're saying, but today all it takes is a few lines of code to send a request for a map to Google or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.

(Stranger )
07/27/11 10:10 PM
Re: 3 questions about pre-requisites for GIS education new [re: dtarasov]Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

First of all just make one thing very clear in your mind, GIS is rooted from Geography, all the basic concepts about development, analysis and data handling comes from Geography. You need programming part as per requirement when you want to change a functional GIS according to user needs (user friendly or to speed up some data editing tasks). Software is only needed to run and develop the system on computers it has nothing to do with the basic concepts, more you need solid concepts of Geographic data before doing any sort of software development.

GIS is not an obsolete field as only maps are avialable digitally but they are not so accurate to fulfil the requirements of advanced users, you still need to develop a GIS from scratch in several cases where accuracy matters.

You can hire a software developer if you need any programming help, most of GIS software are powerful enough that you never need any programming skills to use them, and there are freely available scripts and codes to use in your existing software.

I have 12 years of expereince in GIS and developed several projects at my own, I hired programmers and then guided them that what type of tool I want in my project. MY field of concentration is Geo-spatial analysis because I am not good in maths and programming but I am very sound in analysis.

You can even purchase GIS data online but at the end when you use it you always need analytical skills to evaluate your data and to publish reports related to your problems, like if you are using GIS in transport planning then just purchasing a road map will never answer any of your research questions, You will need Geo-spatial analysis skills for it.

GIS is entered in advance level now as the data development (Maps) is almost done, now the focus is on how to use this data efficiently and effectively. Even in job market you will be offered with two distinct types of job, one is GIS programmer and the other is GIS analyst.

In my opinion as per your background a graduate level GIS course from Geographic discipline will be enough as you are planning to do some research in urban and transport planning. By the way Urban planning and transportation courses are also offered in Geography. We studied both courses at graduate level with seperate courses of GIS.

Feel free to discuss if you have any more questions. 

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