Master of Science in Spatial Data Science

Online Master's Degree in Spatial Data Science

As the use of location data becomes more pervasive and complicated, we need experts who can leverage spatial data to create develop insights and improve decision-making. The Penn State Master of Science in Spatial Data Science (SDS) will prepare you to work at the forefront of the geospatial industry, where Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis intersect with the principles of data science and programming.

Students in this graduate degree program will learn to:

  • Articulate how spatial data is unique to other forms of data
  • Leverage the science of spatial analysis and modeling to develop new workflows to solve problems that impact people and our planet
  • Architect and implement solutions that blend computational and visual approaches
  • Research, critique, and communicate about data quality and the results of spatial analyses

This degree focuses on developing the creators who will push the boundaries of industry and geospatial science by redefining the power of location-based data. In this program, you can strengthen your programming knowledge and higher-order thinking skills, learning how to solve complex problems that require more than off-the-shelf solutions.


The Master of Science in Spatial Data Science is a customizable 33-36 credit program that gives you the flexibility to earn a Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Programming and Web Map Development, a Postbaccalaureate Certificate in GIS, or other certificates we offer in Remote Sensing and Geospatial Intelligence while pursuing your master’s degree online. The program is structured into four distinct areas of study:

Required courses (15 credits)

Course Number Title Credits
GEOG 485 GIS Programming and Software Development 3
GEOG 486 Cartography and Visualization 3
GEOG 560 Seminar in Geographic Information Science 3
GEOG 583 Geospatial System Analysis and Design 3
GEOG 586 Geographical Information Analysis 3

Spatial data science methods electives (choose 9 credits)

Course Number Title Credits
GEOG 480 Exploring Imagery and Elevation Data in GIS Applications 3
GEOG 481 Topographic Mapping with Lidar 3
GEOG 482 Making Maps that Matter with GIS 3
GEOG 483 Problem Solving with GIS 3
GEOG 484 GIS Database Development 3
GEOG 489 Advanced Python Programming for GIS 3
GEOG 585 Open Web Mapping 3
GEOG 589 Emerging Trends in Remote Sensing 3
GEOG 861 The Earth is Round and Maps are Flat: Working with Spatial Reference Systems in GIS 3
GEOG 863 Web Application Development for the Geospatial Professional 3
GEOG 865 Cloud and Server GIS 3
GEOG 883 Remote Sensing Image Analysis and Applications 3
GEOG 884 GIS for the Geospatial Intelligence Professional 3
GEOG 885 Advanced Analytical Methods in Geospatial Intelligence 3
GOEG 892 Geospatial Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) 3
DAAN 862 Analytics Programming in Python 3
DAAN 871 Data Visualization 3
IE 575 Foundations of Predictive Analytics 3
STAT 500 Applied Statistics 3
STAT 508 Applied Data Mining and Statistical Learning 3

Spatial data science application electives (choose 6 credits)

Course Number Title Credits
GEOG 487 Environmental Applications of GIS 3
GEOG 571 Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security 3
GEOG 587 Conservation GIS 3
GEOG 591 GIS for Health Analysis 3
GEOG 850 Location Intelligence for Business 3
GEOG 858 Spatial Data Science for Emergency Management 3
GEOG 864 Professionalism and Ethics in Geographic Information Science and Technology 3
GEOG 871 Geospatial Technology Project Management 3
GEOG 882 Foundations of Geospatial Intelligence 3
APPDEM 802 Data, GIS, and Applied Demography 3
SOC 579 Spatial Demography 3
GEODZ 511 Geodesign History, Theory, Principles 3
GEODZ 822 Geodesign Models I: Decision and Evaluation  3
METEO 810 Weather and Climate Datasets 3
MKTG 811 Driving Business Success with Marketing Analytics 3

Scholarly paper or research thesis (3 or 6 credits)

Course Number Title Credits
GEOG 596 Individual Studies (Scholarly Paper) 3
GEOG 600 Thesis Research 6

How to apply

Admissions & Application Process for the M.S. in Spatial Data Science

Applications for this new program are now open for our first group of students who will begin in Spring, 2021.