Course Descriptions

State-specific Information for Online Programs

Note: Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

  • Core Courses

    430.600 - Web Mapping

    Web Mapping is an important foundation course in which students will become familiar with the current platforms available for delivering Web GIS and sharing geographic content over the web. Professionals in various industries often have to make information readily available and with current developments this has become easier than ever. The class offers a fundamental understanding of creating and designing web mapping applications using various approaches and platforms. Web services enabling different kinds of functionality in a web map, such as editing, geoprocessing, geocoding, image analysis, etc. will be examined. Caching basemaps and working with tiled map services will be covered. Offered twice a year.

    430.601 - Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

    In this introductory course, students become familiar with the concepts and gain the experience necessary to appreciate the utility of Geographic Information Systems in decision-making. Topics covered include the fundamentals of data structures, georeferencing, data classification, querying, cartography, and basic spatial data analysis. The course provides an overview of the capabilities of GIS software and applications of GIS. Class time is divided between lectures and GIS exercises that reinforce critical concepts. Students must complete a term project as part of the course. Offered every semester. Elective option for Govt. Analytics students.

    430.602 - Remote Sensing: Earth Observing Systems and Applications

    This course introduces remote sensing as an important technology to further our understanding of Earth’s land, atmospheric, and oceanic processes. Students study remote sensing science, techniques, and satellite technologies to become familiar with the types of information that can be obtained and how this information can be applied in the natural and social sciences. Applications include assessment of land cover and land use, mapping and analysis of natural resources, weather and climate studies, pollution detection and monitoring, disaster monitoring, and identification of oceanographic features. Offered once a year in Spring.

    430.603 - Geospatial Data Modeling

    This course moves beyond the fundamentals of GIS to explore the constraints surrounding data modeling as well as the methods to model spatial data. Students review current research in the field, learn relevant modeling techniques, and utilize advanced software tools for analysis. The course focuses on various kinds of spatial data, how it is collected, handled, processed, and analyzed through GIS technologies. As the term progresses, students deal extensively with different types of data presentations and the manipulation of those data in GIS models. Students develop a significant GIS project over the course of the semester and present their findings at the end. Offered twice a year.

    430.604 - Spatial Analysis with GIS

    This course introduces students to using various techniques for solving spatial problems. The course teaches a proven process one can utilize to address common geographic inquiries including site suitability analysis, line of sight (visibility) analysis, network analysis, geostatistical analysis, spatial interpolation, etc. Students will also learn to apply the principles of spatial statistics to address the distributional and locational aspects of spatial data within a variety of situations. Examples and assignments are drawn from many GIS applications, such as business, urban planning, public safety, public health, transportation and natural sciences. Offered twice a year. Elective option for Govt. Analytics students.

    430.605 - Development and Management of GIS Projects

    This course introduces students to project, program, and portfolio management standards, which will guide them on how to successfully manage GIS projects. Students will learn how to apply core project management principles and guidelines to real project scenarios. The course will impart knowledge and skills for managing GIS projects throughout their entire lifecycle, while addressing technical, ethical, and institutional problems. Students will explore key issues in organizational management, including earned value management, resource planning, and communications. During the course, students will learn how to determine the return on investment of a GIS project, create a comprehensive schedule and budget, as well as determining risk management, quality control, and contract management skills in support of your GIS project. Offered once a year.

  • Capstone

    430.800 - Capstone for Geographic Information Systems

    The capstone is the culmination of the instruction and training a student receives in the MS in GIS program. In this course, the student selects a mentor, identifies a topic of interest, acquires the relevant data required for the study, develops a data model and/or analysis method, devises the visualization of the data as part of the data interpretation, and summarizes the study in a final report. Students are encouraged to make their presentations at a GIS conference or publish the results of their study in a peer-reviewed GIS publication. Students are responsible for selecting a mentor who may be a JHU faculty member, a qualified and appropriate person from the student’s place of work, or any expert with appropriate credentials. Offered every semester. Prerequisite: core course requirements for MS in GIS, at least 8 courses taken in the program.

  • Elective Courses

    430.606 - Programming in GIS

    In this course students will learn how to automate workflows and develop tools using Python scripts as well as develop web mapping applications using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The course is split in two sections. The first section covers Python as a scripting language which provides an easy way for automating complex GIS tasks and functionality, thus simplifying workflows and increasing efficiency. The second section teaching basic principles of developing web mapping applications utilizing JavaScript APIs. The students will learn how to develop rich, interactive web mapping applications which contain common GIS functionality such as selection, querying, geocoding, routing, editing and geoprocessing. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems

    430.607 - Spatial Databases and Data Interoperability

    A well-designed database is necessary to construct relevant spatial data queries. In this course, students learn the different database designs for stand-alone databases and enterprise database systems. This course examines the requirements for a GIS Decision Support System by focusing on the design of the data schema, identifying the necessary data elements and their formats, and exploring data interoperability as a designed constituent of a database. Data management routines for maintaining the spatial integrity will also be introduced. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems, 430.603 Geospatial Data Modeling

    430.608 - GIS and Spatial Decision Support Systems

    GIS can be a very effective tool to assist in making decisions for a wide range of applications at the local, regional and global scale. This course will examine the use of GIS as a spatial decision support system for systematic policy analysis and scenario modeling. Case-studies will be used from the areas of agriculture, conservation planning, homeland security, land use planning, natural disasters, transportation, urban planning and water resources. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems, 430.604 Spatial Analysis with GIS

    430.609 - Spatial Data Management: Quality and Control

    Spatial data quality is a major concern for any GIS. This course examines the nature of errors in spatial data and various aspects of spatial data quality, including positional and thematic accuracy, resolution, precision, completeness and logical consistency. The impacts of errors on the reliability of GIS-based analysis are explored. Various strategies to improve the quality of spatial data are addressed, including the use of standards for spatial data (FGDC, OGC and ISO) and data management tools. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems, 430.603 Geospatial Data Modeling

    430.611 - Geospatial Ontologies and Semantics

    The Geospatial Semantics and Ontologies course examines the foundations, design, and implementation of effective linked data modeling technologies and approaches for geospatial data. Linked data, based on the node-edge-node triple data model, address challenges associated with the use of variable terms used in GIS applications, and their associations within related enterprises and information exchange over the Internet as the Geospatial Semantic Web. Students will begin their study with a general approach to semantics and ontology, and Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the Geography Markup Language (GML) extension, information interchange formats of the Internet. Coursework next focuses on Open Source data formats and Internet services for linked geospatial data, such as Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Well Known Text (WKT), and SPARQL and GeoSPARQL graph patterns for information networking. The last half of the course introduces Web Ontology Language (OWL) for control of data for semantic inference. OWL is used to build formal (logic) representations called ontologies that govern data interchange. Studentswill design and build a simple ontology pattern to present to the class. These basic sets of skills provide the foundation of advanced geospatial linked data applications, such as those in progress in business, publishing, research, and government. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems

    430.612 - Cartographic Design and Visualization

    The Cartographic Design and Visualization course focuses on the fundamentals of cartography, spatial statistics, thematic mapping techniques, 3D mapping, and web based mapping. Students will gain an inter-disciplinary understanding of cartographic representation and visualization with hands on applications using cutting edge GIS and graphic design software to create purpose tailored maps. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to interpret and appropriately communicate spatial data; will have developed a personalized cartographic style; will have created a professional GIS portfolio for current/potential employers; and most importantly will have developed a keen appreciation for maps and spatial awareness! Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems

    430.613 - Advanced Topics in Remote Sensing

    This course explores the various remote sensing platforms, collection systems, processing methods, and classification approaches to remotely sensed data. Discussion of image adjustment techniques, relative orientation, and geo-referencing methods are compared. Topics include hyperspectral imaging, spectral analysis, and image filtering. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems, 430.602 Remote Sensing: Earth Observing Systems and Applications

    430.615 - Big Data Analytics: Tools and Techniques

    The explosion of data collection methods from a vast array of data sources in volumes previously unimaginable has tested the limits of traditional technology, which are not able to scale to the requirements of massive data. Big Data is the field of data studies where the data is identified by very large volumes, high velocity in data generation, and data format variety. This course explores Big Data technologies while utilizing cloud infrastructures. We will discuss the characteristics and architectural challenges surrounding Big Data, and explore geo-visualization techniques of data processed using Big Data Analytics. Students will work in a cloud computing environment to build Hadoop clusters, NoSQL databases, and work with other open source technologies to process data stores like Census data, and twitter feeds. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430. 600 Web Mapping, 430.601 Geographic Information Systems. Programming experience is highly recommended.

    430.617 - Demographics Modeling

    Demographic data is the most often used data in geospatial studies. Various types of census data and surveys provide information on the demographic composition at scales from individual households all the way through state and national population trends. Census data is analyzed in spreadsheets, SQL databases, and also as data layers that form the basis of many mapping applications. In this course, students will learn how to work with all forms of demographic data both already in a GIS and how to harvest demographic data and prepare it for GIS use. Students will also create custom data layers for domestic and international demographic models in Economics, Housing, and Population Studies. Offered once in two years. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems or permission of the instructor

    430.618 - Advanced Python Scripting for GIS

    This course focuses on advanced uses of Python as a scripting tool to automate workflows in GIS and to create customized applications. This includes the development of script tools, utilizing advanced ArcPy modules, working with third-party modules, implementing Python geoprocessing services, customizing GIS applications and more advanced Python functionality. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.606 Programming in GIS

    430.619 - Advanced Web Application Development

    This course is designed to provide students with advanced experience in web application development. It focuses on uses of Web APIs for developing rich and interactive web mapping applications. HTML, CSS and JavaScript as well as data and functionality from GIS web services will be leveraged to create complex web mapping applications providing end users with geocoding, routing, geoprocessing, editing and other advanced capabilities. Widgets will be examined to quickly develop solutions, but the emphasis will be placed on tasks which provide more control over server-side functionality. Conceptual and technical documentation and samples will be greatly utilized. The course will facilitate heavy engagement in the large and growing community of Web API developers. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.606 Programming in GIS

    430.621 - GIS for Emergency Management

    Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become an integral part of understanding the natural hazards in our world and how emergency management agencies respond to events and mitigate the impact of disasters. Furthermore, the advent of Web GIS has helped agencies overcome many challenges previously associated with GIS in Emergency Management. This course is an opportunity to learn about the use of GIS in studying natural hazards and apply cutting edge GIS technology to help emergency management agencies in the field. In today’s device-driven world, maps need to work on mobile devices so there will be an emphasis on enabling GIS in the field. You will use Web GIS to deploy maps that assist agencies with their incident command functions: Planning, Operations, Logistics, Command, and Public Information. While the industry focus will be on Emergency Management, the knowledge, skills and abilities you develop will be widely applicable in both public and private sector industries. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems or permission of the instructor

    430.623 - Geo Apps

    The Geo Apps course is designed to reflect on current developments in GIS industry. The course will cover various apps available to support common GIS workflows, increase productivity and make information readily available to those who need it. The course will be designed so that the apps are grouped into logical segments – Apps for Volunteer Geographic Information (VGI) and sharing information with the community, Apps for field crew workflows, Apps for office workforce, Configurable apps and builder applications. Various platforms will be used to create the apps, and various methods and devices will be used to utilize the apps and simulate end user workflows. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems