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Spatial Data Science & Technology Major

For advising, you can make an appointment with Dr. Leslie McLees through the online scheduler or attend drop-in hours, which change each term an are noted on the scheduler. You can also contact her at for a response generally within one business day.

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

The Spatial Data Science & Technology major (SDST) 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 SDST major, we recommend a computer programming sequence. You can double dip courses between the SDST major and the requirements for a Bachelor’s of Science.

A major checksheet summarizes the requirements.

See our Preliminary Course Offerings for SDST in 2018-2019 on the  Yellow Sheet

Below is a four-year plan roadmapmap for SDST 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 SDST 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.

** Occasionally a course will be offered under the number 410, which denotes an experimental course. In the event that this course does count towards this major, it will be indicated as such on the course offerings sheet the term it is offered. Please confirm with the Undergraduate Advisor that an elective course will count towards your major requirements  before registering.

The SDST faculty have created sample elective pathways to help guide students to chose elective courses that best suited 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 SDST major:

  • Fill out this interactive form.
    • To email it, don’t save the form, but print it as a pdf and email an unsigned form to the geography undergraduate advisor ( with subject line “SDST change” from your email address (which acts as a signature to verify you want this change).
    • The subject line must read exactly as stated above to ensure accurate receipt.
    • You may also print out a signed paper copy and bring it to the Geography office in Condon 107.
  • New majors are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the Geography and SDST advisor, Dr. Leslie McLees, through this online scheduler or through email at

Double Majoring with SDST

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 SDST and Geography for a total of 78 credits. However, SDST 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 inn spatial concepts and analysis in addition the to 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 SDST in with your academic and post-graduate goals, please contact Dr. Leslie McLees at