Geographic Information Science Concentration

Alaska coast

The Geographic Information Science (GIS) concentration involves the creation and analysis of unique geographic information to examine economic, environmental, physical, and social phenomena. GIS students gather in-depth knowledge of GIS principles, and gain expertise with contemporary software packages to prepare for work in the GIS industry.

There is a growing demand for professionals with knowledge of Earth’s systems, and how geographic information systems are used to enhance business, protect the environment, and manage the massive amounts of spatial data that are becoming widely available. The University of Illinois is also home to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), a powerful computer system used to simulate and analyze large sets of geographic, and other scientific data.

Degree Requirements for the GIS Concentration

Selected Courses

Career Opportunities

  • Digital Cartographer
  • Geointelligence Specialist
  • Logistics Analyst


Geography Interns with Geological Survey (GIGS) is a program for undergraduate geography majors to work as paid interns with the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). This offers an opportunity for students to apply classroom knowledge derived from GIS courses to real-world problems being studied by a major Illinois state agency. ISGS is located on the Illinois campus, so students can participate in the internship program while still attending classes. Students work between 10 - 20 hours per week during the academic year, and full-time during the summer.


The Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science has two computer labs available for students in the GIS option: a 30-computer classroom for formal instruction, and a second lab with 2 additional software-equipped computers for students to complete class assignments. Some examples of software used by GIS students are ArcGISErdas ImagineENVI and Stella. ArcGIS, available at no cost to Illinois students, is used to manage geographic information about places at scales from local communities to global ecosystems. Erdas Imagine software is used to inventory and monitor the earth’s environment with images collected by earth-orbiting satellites.