Geographic Information Science Concentration

image: Mei-Po Kwan

The GIScience concentration involves the creation and analysis of unique geographic information to examine economic, environmental, physical, and social phenomena. GIScience students gather in-depth knowledge of GIS principles, and gain expertise with contemporary software packages to prepare for work in the GIScience industry. There is a growing demand for professionals with knowledge of Earth’s systems, and how geographic information systems are used to enhance business, protect the environment, and manage the massive amounts of spatial data that are becoming widely available. The University of Illinois is also home to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), a powerful computer system used to simulate and analyze large sets of geographic, and other scientific data.

Requirements for the GIS Concentration

Selected GIS Courses

Careers in GIScience

  • Digital Cartographer
  • Geointelligence Specialist
  • Logistics Analyst

Internship Program

Geography Interns with Geological Survey (GIGS) is a program for undergraduate geography majors to work as paid interns with the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). This offers an opportunity for students to apply classroom knowledge derived from GIScience courses to real-world problems being studied by a major Illinois state agency. ISGS is located on the Illinois campus, so students can participate in the internship program while still attending classes. Students work between 10 - 20 hours per week during the academic year, and full-time during the summer.


The Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science has two computer labs available for students in the GIScience option: a 30-workstation classroom for formal instruction, and a second lab with 2 additional software-equipped computers for students to complete class assignments. Some examples of software used by GIScience students are ArcGIS, Erdas Imagine, ENVI and Stella. ArcGIS software is used to manage geographic information about places at scales from local communities to global ecosystems. Erdas Imagine software is used to inventory and monitor the earth’s environment with images collected by earth-orbiting satellites.

Other Equipment

The Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science has other equipment available to support undergraduate students, such as high resolution image scanner, Global Positioning receivers, and a large-format plotter to print project posters.