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Spatial Data Science & Technology Major

During the COVID-19 outbreak and campus shutdown, the Undergraduate Advisor Leslie McLees will be available via email at If you would like the opportunity to have a video conference you can set up a time via email. 

Requirements for the B.S. in Spatial Data Science & Technology

The Spatial Data Science & Technology major (SDS) requires a minimum of 48 credits in Geography and Computer Science. At least 9 courses must be taken for a letter grade. A grade of C- or better is required for any course applied towards the major, and a GPA of 2.25 is required in courses used for the major. There is no option for a minor with this program.

All Geography majors seeking a B.S. degree will be required to complete any math sequence that satisfies the University’s math requirement for a B.S. degree.  Math classes must be passed with a grade of at least C- or P. For students in the SDS major, we recommend a computer programming sequence. You can double dip courses between the SDS major and the requirements for a Bachelor’s of Science.

A major checksheet summarizes the requirements.

See our Preliminary Course Offerings 2020-2021 

Below is a four-year plan roadmap for SDS majors (click to enlarge). It includes not just courses, but other ways of gaining experience to ready you for your post-graduate plans, no matter if or how they change. (pdf available here)

1. Compulsory Courses (4 courses, 16 credits)

These courses will provide foundational skills, concepts, and critical thinking abilities. Some of the introductory courses, such as GEOG 481, are pre-requisites for more advanced courses. Students are not required to complete these before moving to elective courses (except where pre-requisites are required).

  • GEOG 181: Our Digital Earth
  • GEOG 281: The World & Big Data
  • CIS 122: Introduction to Programming
  • GEOG 481: GIScience I

2. Elective courses (8 courses, 32 credits)

Rather than adopting a series of specializations, the electives component will remain flexible. Students should meet with the Undergraduate Advisor upon declaring the SDS major to work out a series of courses that best fit student needs and employment aspirations. 

  • GEOG 482: GIScience II
  • GEOG 485: Remote Sensing I
  • GEOG 486: Remote Sensing II
  • GEOG 490: Special Topics in GIScience*
  • GEOG 491: Advanced GIS & Python
  • GEOG 493: Advanced Cartography
  • GEOG 494: Spatial Analysis
  • GEOG 495: Geographic Data Analysis
  • GEOG 496: Location-Aware Systems
  • GEOG 498: Geospatial Project Design
  • CIS 210: Computer Science I
  • CIS 211: Computer Science II
  • GEOG XX: 300 or 400-level course not listed above**
  • CIS XX: 400-level course not listed above**

* Special Topics includes courses that will be offered less frequently but will also qualify for credit when offered under the course number GEOG 490. This includes Web Mapping, Server GIS, Qualitative Spatial Reasoning, and Spatial Simulation.

** GEOG courses below 481 are NOT automatically counted for this major. In some cases, we may allow them if they are a field you wish to specialize in. In addition, while some CIS electives may count for this major, not all are appropriate. You MUST consult the SDS advisor to see if courses not on this list can count as an SDS elective.

The SDS faculty have created sample elective pathways to help guide students to choose elective courses that best suit their goals. These samples are based on the courses that alumni have taken and the jobs they achieved after graduation. These include a Cartographic Editor for National Geographic, a GIS Specialist for Apple, Inc., a Masters of Science Student at UCLA, and a Scientist for the Bureau of Reclamation. A blank map will allow you to brainstorm your career goals and make your own map, with the help of an advisor.

To add or drop the SDS major:

Double Majoring with SDS

Spatial Data Science and Technology is well-suited to be combined with another major. At only 48 credits it can be completed within about two years along with other coursework. For example, you could double major in SDS and Geography for a total of 78 credits. However, SDS would also complement other interests and majors that you may have, including Computer Science, Planning and Public Policy Management, Environmental Studies, Earth Science, Journalism, Business, Anthropology, Biology, Sociology, Economics, and much more. Spatial Data Science and Technology major provides theoretical depth in spatial concepts and analysis in addition to the application of technology. Once you begin to understand the power of spatial data analysis, you will be able to combine that perspective to anything you want!

For questions about how to fit SDS in with your academic and post-graduate goals, please contact Dr. Leslie McLees at