GIS/Planning Option

The GIS (Geographic Information Science)/Planning Option in the Department of Earth Sciences is designed to offer students a mix of technical skills and academic training that prepares them for careers in local, state, and federal planning as well as opportunities in private consulting firms that are involved in the planning process. The GIS/Planning Option recognizes the growing importance of Geographic Information Systems and Science in our society and how these analytic tools are applied in a wide variety of settings. The GIS/Planning Option takes advantage of excellent GIS facilities, lab space, expertise, and software available on campus and allows students to learn in an active hands-on environment. Students are prepared as map makers (cartographers) spatial analysts, and planners. The Department of Earth Sciences has connections with various local, state, and federal planning agencies within Montana and throughout the West. As part of their training, students may also be able to take advantage of internship opportunities as a way to further prepare for a wide variety of professional careers within the fields of planning and resource management. The optimal degree for employment and advancement in the in GIS/Planning area is the Master's Degree, and this undergraduate option is an excellent preparatory degree for graduate study. Some students interested in college teaching or advanced research may require a Ph.D. degree.

At the Freshman and Sophomore level, students take introductory courses in physical and human geography, GIS and cartography, statistics, intermediate technical writing, and computer aided design (CAD).  In addition, courses in economics and political science lay the foundation for understanding the broader context of the planning process. As juniors and seniors, students complete an advanced 2-course sequence in GIS/Spatial Analysis (GPHY 384/GPHY 484R) and take skills-related coursework in Remote Sensing and in GPS technologies.  Focused electives include courses in geographical planning, urban and economic geography, tourism and recreational planning, and in the politics of development.  Students also complete basic coursework in soils, geomorphology and weather and climate because these variables are critical in the planning process. Additional electives are available in advanced classes in geography, earth science, ecology, natural resources, water resources, and statistics allow students to specialize in areas of particular interest and develop their own emphases in subjects related to the geospatial sciences and the planning process.  All students take the GIS Capstone course (GPHY 484R) which emphasizes independent study in the geospatial sciences through a semester project.

Courses Required in Department

Freshman YearCredits
ERTH 101IN - Earth System Sciences4
GPHY 121D - Human Geography3
GPHY 141D - Geography of World Regions3
ECNS 101IS - Economic Way of Thinking3
MART 145RA - Web Design3
M 151Q - Precalculus4
WRIT 101W - College Writing I3
University Core, Prerequisites and Electives7
Year Total: 30
Sophomore YearCredits
GPHY 284 - Intro to GIS Science & Cartog 3
ENSC 245IN - Soils3
PSCI 210IS - Introduction to American Government3
CSCI 127 - Joy and Beauty of Data4
STAT 216Q - Introduction to Statistics
& STAT 337 - Intermediate Statistics with Introduction to Statistical Computing
or STAT 332 - Statistics for Scientists and Engineers
Take ONE of the following:3
WRIT 201 - College Writing II
WRIT 221 - Intermediate Tech Writing
Take ONE of the following:3
DDSN 114 - Introduction to CAD
SRVY 230 - Intro to Surveying for Engineers
University Core, Prerequisites and Electives5-8
Year Total: 30
Junior YearCredits
ERTH 303 - Weather and Climate3
ERTH 307 - Principles of Geomorphology4
GPHY 384 - Adv GIS and Spatial Analysis3
GPHY 365 - Geographical Planning3
GPHY 357 - GPS Fund/App in Mapping3
Take ONE of the following:3
GPHY 426 - Remote Sensing
GPHY 429R - Applied Remote Sensing
Take TWO of the following:6
GPHY 322 - Economic Geography
GPHY 325 - Cultural Geography
GPHY 326 - Geography of Energy Resources
GPHY 329 - Environment and Society
GPHY 401 - Environmental Planning and Management Toolkit
GPHY 445 - Adv. Regional Geography
PSCI 423 - Politics of Development
University Core, Prerequisites and Electives5
Year Total: 30
Senior YearCredits
GPHY 484R - Applied GIS & Spatial Analysis3
Take SIX of the following:18
BIOE 370 - General Ecology
BIOE 375 - Ecological Responses to Climate Change
BIOE 416 - Alpine Ecology
CSCI 440 - Database Systems
ERTH 432R - Surface Water Resources
GPHY 401 - Environmental Planning and Management Toolkit
GPHY 402 - Water and Society
GPHY 411 - Biogeography
GPHY 425 - Geographic Thought
GPHY 441R - Mountain Geography
GPHY 492 - Independent Study
GPHY 498 - Internship
NRSM 421 - Holistic Thought/Mgmt
NRSM 430 - Natural Resource Law
NRSM 453 - Habitat Inventory and Analysis
NRSM 455 - Riparian Ecology & Management
SRVY 375 - Analytic Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
STAT 411 - Methods for Data Analysis I
STAT 412 - Methods for Data Analysis II
STAT 436 - Introduction to Time Series Analysis
STAT 446 - Sampling
University Core, Prerequisites and Electives9
Year Total: 30
Total Program Credits: 120

Note: A minimum of 120 credits is required for graduation; 42 of these credits must be in courses numbered 300 or above.