2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 20, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geographic Information Science, BA/MS

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Clark’s Accelerated B.A./Master of Science Degree Program in Geographic Information Science (GIS) is a collaborative program between the Department of International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE), the Graduate School of Geography and Clark Labs. This twelve unit program curriculum enhances spatial analytic skills through courses that integrate geospatial and time-series theory with practical application methods. This degree provides essential skills in four main areas: Geospatial Modelling, Conservation GIS, Land Change Analysis, and Programming (R and Python). Students who successfully complete this program graduate with a MS-GIS degree (“Master of Science in Geographic Information Science”). This program is also referred to as the MS-GIS ADP (MS-GIS Accelerated Degree Program).

Departmental Eligibility Requirements

The MS-GIS ADP is open to students in all majors meeting the prerequisites and GPA requirement (see below for more information). In recent years, students have typically come from the following undergraduate programs: Geography, Global Environmental Studies, Economics, International Development and Social Change, and Environmental Science.


Prior Coursework to Qualify for Application

Students interested in enrolling in MS-GIS ADP should enroll in and complete the following courses prior to or during their senior year (further details below in “Program of Study” section):

  • GEOG 190 - Introduction to Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 293/393 - Introduction to Remote Sensing (could count as one of additional 300-level courses, below, if taken senior year for graduate credit)


Coursework Completed during the senior year at graduate level (if not taken already at 200 level)

  • ID 296/IDCE 388 - Advanced Vector GIS (take at 300 level)
  • GEOG 296/397 - Advanced Raster GIS (take at 300 level)
  • Two additional 300-level GIS-related courses


The senior year coursework must include four GIS-related courses at the 300 level.


Qualifying GPA

A minimum GPA of 3.60 (aggregate of sophomore and junior year Clark GPA) is required for entry and must be maintained throughout the applicant’s senior year for continued program qualification. Additionally, students must complete two semesters of Honors in Geography (or in their major’s home department) and successfully write and defend an Honors thesis before the end of their senior year.


Students are required to meet with the Program Advisor (Professor John Rogan) as a formal part of the admissions process. This meeting will assist prospective students in assessing the appropriateness of the degree to their professional aspirations.



Students should apply to the program by completing the Online Application through Graduate Admissions no later than May 1st of their junior year. Please note that application deadlines differ for students who are graduating off cycle (i.e. either a semester earlier or later) or who have advanced standing. Such students should contact Graduate Admissions for alternate dates and deadlines.


Program of Study

The MS-GIS ADP requires the completion of 12 graduate-level courses/units overall. The program currently has two tracks: the Thesis Track and the Internship Track. Students should select their track before entering the graduate program and inform the Program Adviser prior to the end of add/drop during their graduate-year course registration.  Students in the ADP program are required to complete the Geography-ADP Concentration, please visit the Geographic Information Science, MS  for more information.

Before entering their graduate year, students must complete the following requirements as undergraduate students

Undergraduate Coursework

Prior Required Coursework (can be during or prior to Senior Year):

  • GEOG 190 - Introduction to Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 293/393 - Introduction to Remote Sensing

Senior Year Required Coursework:

  • GEOG (or other subject) 297 - Honors (2 units) - Students must complete two semesters of Honors and successfully defend an Honors thesis before the end of their senior year. (Does not count towards the Advanced Degree Program (ADP)’s 12-unit total, only counts towards undergraduate program).
  • ID 296/IDCE 388 - Advanced Vector GIS (must be taken at the 300 level for graduate credit)
  • GEOG 296/397 - Advanced Raster GIS (must be taken at the 300 level for graduate credit)
  • Two additional 300-level Geography GIS-related courses (2 units total)

One per semester, both must be taken at the 300 level (graduate level) in order to carry over to the Graduate Fifth Year program


Post-(Undergraduate) Graduation Coursework

(Summer between Senior Year and the Graduate Fifth Year):

  • GEOG 398 Summer Internship (1 unit)

The student should secure an internship in a GIS-related position (paid or unpaid) for a minimum of 20 hours per week over the summer after they receive their undergraduate degree/prior to beginning the graduate program. Typically, this internship is completed off-campus and requires frequent communication with the student’s advisor. All internships must be approved by the Program Advisor in order to satisfy the pre-graduate year requirement. Some examples of recent internships are listed below.

Upon completion of the internship, the internship supervisor/advisor must send a letter to the Program Director confirming that the student has successfully completed the internship in a satisfactory manner. This is a requirement in order for the student to receive credit for the internship.

Internship examples (recently completed by current or previous MS-GIS ADP students):

  • NASA DEVELOP, NASA Langley Research Center
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Clark Labs
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center & Center for Climate Simulation
  • Town of Sudbury
  • Army Corpos of Engineers
  • Cadmus Group
  • Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
  • Landvest
  • Oxfam America
  • Worcester Department of Public Health
  • Worcester Public Schools

Graduate Fifth Year Coursework

Students who are provisionally admitted into the MS-GIS ADP during their undergraduate program will be officially admitted into the graduate program upon successful completion of their prerequisites (completion of required coursework, meeting GPA requirement, and successful completion of their honors thesis (receiving Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors)).

Once students have completed their undergraduate degree and their pre-summer internship requirements, the graduate-year begins. Students must now select which track of the program to pursue: the Thesis Track or the Internship Track.

Track 1: Thesis Track

Candidates for this program who plan to pursue the Thesis Track are also required to develop a Master’s Thesis Project Proposal upon provisional acceptance, along with a signed statement of support from a faculty sponsor who will act as the Thesis Advisor throughout the graduate fifth year.

In order to graduate from the Accelerated B.A./Master of Science Degree Program in GIS on the Thesis Track, an acceptable M.S. Thesis must be completed (typically by the deadlines set for August graduation in the summer immediately following the graduate year).

To complete the Thesis Track, the following requirements must also be completed:

Graduate Fifth Year Required Coursework (Thesis Track):

During the Fall and Spring semester of the graduate year, students on the Thesis Track must enroll in:

  • GEOG 399 - MS Thesis Directed Research (2 units total: 1 in fall semester, 1 in spring semester)
  • At least four additional courses (minimum 2 courses/units per semester)**

Summer following Graduate Fifth Year (Thesis Track):

Prior to program completion, students on the Thesis Track must complete 1 summer credit (May-August) to complete/defend their thesis. Students on the Thesis Track will graduate at the end of August. (Students may petition to walk/participate in commencement prior to program completion, however must abide by a separate set of deadlines in order to qualify - see below in timeline for details).

  • GEOG 399 - MS Thesis Directed Research (1 unit )

This is a one-credit Directed Research experience in which the student is fully engaged in final stages of the Master’s Thesis preparation. This experience will include an oral defense and the submission of a final approved PDF of the MS thesis to the department. The diploma is awarded in August following the graduate fifth year.


Further details regarding timelines and the thesis can be found in the “Clark Geography MS GIScience Program Guideline and Timeline for Completion Document” available in the department.


**Please Note: Of the courses not associated with the Master’s thesis and internship (taken during the senior and Graduate/Fifth years), a minimum of four must be directly associated with Geographic Information Science and two may be electives associated with the application area of specific interest to the student. **Students in this program may take longer than the fifth year to complete the culminating requirement. Students must register as a non-resident if they do not complete the requirements in time for August degree conferral. Students have up to one year of nonresidency status (fall and spring) to complete all requirements for the master’s degree.**


Track 2: Internship Track

In order to graduate from the Accelerated B.A./Master of Science Degree Program in GIS on the Internship Track, an internship or sequence of internships must be completed. The following requirements must be completed throughout the program of study:

Graduate Fifth Year Required Coursework:

  • GEOG 399 Internship (2 units: one in fall semester, one in spring semester)
  • At least five additional courses (minimum 2 courses in fall semester; minimum 3 in spring semester)


Internship Reports

At the end of each semester of the internship track, students must complete an Internship Report evaluating their experience with the organization they interned for during that semester. The students must also send their internship supervisor a Supervisor Evaluation Form in order for the supervisor to evaluate the student and their performance/contribution throughout the prior semester. All internship paperwork is available through the Program Administrator in Geography.


Program Completion (Internship Track)

Students on the Internship Track will complete their degree program at the end of the spring semester of the graduate year, contingent upon successful completion of the internship and course requirements during the academic year. Students on the Internship Track do not need to register for a summer credit following the graduate year, as they will complete the 12 credits during the graduate year by taking one additional course than the students on the Thesis Track need to take during the year.

For May graduation, students on the Internship Track will need to: 1) have completed their internship(s) successfully 2) have submitted internship reports for each semester 3) have had their internship supervisor complete an evaluation for each semester, and 4) complete a Degree Requirements Complete form by the Graduate School deadline (typically April 1, annually).


Students will pay a one-time program fee of $1,000 in the first semester of graduate study. Due to of the very heavy costs associated with hardware and software licensing in the GIS and Image Processing area, students in the Geography GIS program pay a $500 lab fee in both fall and spring semesters. Students also pay a $20 activity fee in the fall and spring semesters as well as a one-time enrollment fee of $100. Students are responsible for paying for housing, food, books, and other personal items.

Students in the Accelerated Degree Program are allowed one year of non-residency status after the fifth year if there are mitigating circumstances where a student is unable to complete the 5th year at the designated time. A meeting of the student’s committee and the program advisor would be required to determine qualifying for non-residency. Please note there is a $200 fee (per semester) associated with the non-residency status registration.


Program Adviser

Students are required to meet with the designated degree adviser and have them sign the Accelerated Degree Program Adviser Form. The signed form confirms the student and program adviser have discussed the requirements of the program. This form is also available on the Graduate Admissions website. 

The designated program adviser is:
Professor John Rogan
Graduate School of Geography

Any students considering applying to the Accelerated Degree Program should read and understand the Accelerated Degree Program Policies and Procedures  .

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