University of Texas at Dallas
School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences
800 W. Campbell Road
Richardson, Tx 75080-3021
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in
Geospatial Information Sciences
A research degree focused on advancing our understanding of spatially-referenced information, and on developing new technologies
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The mission of the Doctor of Philosophy in Geospatial Information Sciences is to cultivate innovative researchers capable of advancing the frontiers of knowledge in the geospatial information sciences through improved theories, new technologies, innovative methodologies, sophisticated quantitative analyses, and integrative applications.
The Ph.D. degree is jointly offered by the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (specifically in the Department of Geosciences) and the Eric Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. This unique structure reflects geospatial information science’s origins at the confluence of work in multiple disciplines including geography, computer science, engineering, geology, and various social, policy and applied sciences.
Unlike programs at other schools in which geospatial information sciences is offered as a concentration within traditional geography, geology, environmental science or engineering programs, the degree at UTD is devoted solely to GI Science, focusing on advancement of the technology, its associated theory, and the enhancement of its application in a variety of substantive areas. As such, it provides a unique option for students wishing to concentrate in this inherently cross-disciplinary area.
Students will find employment in the burgeoning geospatial technology industry, in research departments of public and private organizations, and in major academic institutions because of their ability to build bridges to other areas.
It is anticipated that many students will enter the program with a bachelor’s or master’s degree (and/or work experience) in an application area (such as public administration, geology, or economics) or in a technical specialization (such as engineering, computer science, or statistics) with the intent of advancing existing practice with geospatial information sciences in that application area or expanding the technological or theoretical base for geospatial information sciences
The program requires a minimum of 90 hours of graduate work beyond the Bachelor’s degree in courses numbered 5xxx or above at UT-Dallas or their equivalent elsewhere, of which 42 hours are in formal, organized classes. No more than 36 hours of this work may be transferred from another institution. In the process of completing the Ph.D. from the baccalaureate level at UTD, a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems, a Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing and a Master of Science in Geospatial Information Sciences or a Master of Science in Computer Science or a Master of Science in Geoscience may also be obtained.
To receive the PhD in Geospatial Information Sciences, students must complete the Geospatial Science Core (15 SCH) to achieve a mastery of GI Science technologies and theory, have a Geospatial Specialization Area (15 SCH), have a Specific Application area or Technical field (12 SCH), evidence research skills through successful completion and defense of a Ph. D. dissertation, and take related electives as necessary for a total of 90 semester credit hours. In addition, students must satisfy a set of exams and qualifiers. Other courses may be substituted for those listed below with the written permission in advance of the Director of the GIS Doctoral program.
Geospatial Science Core (15 credit hours)
Geospatial Specialization Area (select from one, with a minimum of 15 credit hours)
Application Area or Technical Field (12 SCH)
Twelve semester-credit hours of specialized course work in an application area or technical field relevant to GIScience. Normally, these will derive from the student’s masters degree. These hours may be transferred from another institution, or taken at UTD in an existing master’s program area and may be applied toward a master’s in that area.
Research and Dissertation (24-48 credit hours which could include)
Other Related Electives (0-24 credit hours)
Students may choose up to 24 SCHs in related electives with consent of the GIS Program Director.
* May not be used in conjunction with certain other courses. Consult GIS Program Director
GISC: Geospatial Information Sciences
Exams and Qualifiers
All doctoral students must register for and complete GISC 7389 GISciences PhD Research Project Qualifier. This requires completion, according to uniform guidelines established by the GIS program, of a GIS Research draft proposal and its evaluation by a committee of at least three GIS faculty, two of whom are chosen by the student with approval of the Director of the GIS Doctoral Program, and the third is appointed by the Director of the GIS Program and represents the program. The committee will judge the quality of the project as it exemplifies the student’s potential to conduct original research (including their ability to define their research objective, survey literature, develop an appropriate design, etc.) and the strength of the student’s course record to date, and make a determination of the student’s suitability to continue toward the PhD degree. The student must receive a PASS. If a FAIL is recorded, the course may be repeated one time only in the immediate following semester, including Summer. This course will normally be taken after the student has completed between 15 and 30 hours. A student must register for GISC 7389 in the semester immediately following the one in which he/she first accumulates 42 or more hours. GISC 7389 GIScience Research Project Qualifier can substitute for GISC 6389 GIScience Master’s Project, but not the reverse unless a special petition is presented and granted.
Students must normally have a GPA of at least 3.25 and preferably 3.5 in courses taken at UT-Dallas at the time they register for GISC 7389 Ph.D. Qualifier. Students may petition the GIS faculty for an exemption for extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control.
At a point in time after meeting the Research Project Qualifier, the student must demonstrate through a general examination his/her competency in the area chosen for their dissertation. Normally, this examination will be written and based upon the GIS Research draft proposal prepared as a part of the GISC 7389 GISciences PhD Research Project Qualifier course and conducted by the same committee. The general examination will test the student’s (i) mastery of basic principles in geospatial information science, (ii) mastery of the technology(ies) and methodologies to be used in the dissertation, and (iii) thorough knowledge of the application area for the proposed research. Following the successful completion of the Qualifying exam the student must successfully present in public and defend a dissertation proposal through an oral examination. The proposal defense will evaluate the viability of the proposed research and its contribution to knowledge. Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination and the proposal defense, the student is officially “advanced to candidacy” for the Ph.D. degree and a dissertation committee of at least four faculty is formally constituted to oversee the research.
A dissertation must be prepared and defended successfully following the procedures established by the Dean of Graduate Studies.
General information, including an on-line application (Texas Common
Application), is available
Applicants for the Ph.D. in GISci are advised to pay particular attention to the
Narrative/Personal Statement and follow the guidelines here.
The PhD program in GISci seeks applications from students with a baccalaureate,
Master of Arts, Master of Science or professional masters-level degree in any
field relevant to geospatial information science including, but not limited to,
geography and the social sciences, geology, computer science, management
information systems, statistics, economics, marketing, city and regional
planning, or natural resource management. A grade point average of at least 3.25 in
undergraduate and master’s work, and a combined verbal and quantitative score of
1150 or more on the GRE are desirable. Decisions cannot be made on PhD
applications until a GRE score is available. Ph.D. students normally begin their
program in the Fall. Applications should be received by July 1 (US
residents) or May 1 (international). If you are seeking financial support, to
maximize your chances, all application materials should be received at UT-Dallas
by February 15th
The following pre-requisites/co-requisites will also be required for admission to the PhD program: (i) college mathematics through calculus, (ii) competence in at least one modern programming language equivalent to GISC 5317 Computer Programming for GIS, or CS 5303 and CS 5330 Computer Science I & II or MIS 5321 Computer Programming or MIS 6322 Visual Basic or MIS 6323 Java, or their equivalents, and (iii) at least one course in inferential statistics through to regression analysis equivalent to POEC 5313 Descriptive and Inferential Statistics or GEOS 5306 Data Analysis for Geoscientists. Graduate courses taken at UTD to meet these pre-requisites may be counted as electives toward the 90 credit hours for students entering the Ph.D. program directly from a B.A. or B.S. degree, but they shall not be considered substitutes for any of the other specified courses below.
Information and Program Administration
For further information, send e-mail to the director of GI Science programs, Dr Ronald Briggs [email protected], or contact the School of Economic, Political and Policy sciences (which has administrative responsibility for the program) as follows: