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Concentration in the Mapping Sciences

The Mapping Sciences integrates a variety of techniques such as

  • Cartography
  • Geographic Information Science (GIS)
  • Geographic Visualization (GVis)
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
  • Remote Sensing (RS)

These techniques, largely aided by computer technology, are utilized by geographers and other researchers to investigate patterns and visualize relationships in various kinds of geospatial data. The ultimate goal of their investigations involves understanding trends and patterns in geospatial data, making sense of what is going on, and predicting future occurrences. Today, using these techniques, geographers and other scientists are able to investigate data more completely and efficiently then ever before.

Student Projects








Sample Student Projects

Make a selection below for more information on the Mapping Science Concentratioin.


Student  Project













Student project

Students collect data, prepare maps and then prepare poster presentation.


Description of the Mapping Science Concentration

The Mapping Science concentration has two primary objectives:

  1. Facilitate student understanding of the various techniques available to researchers
  2.  Knowledgeable on how to apply each technique is applicable to a specific problem

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography can choose a concentration in the mapping Sciences which integrates techniques such as:

Cartography is a 2000-year-old tradition of representing the spherical Earth and all that inhabits its surface onto flat map. Cartography has seen considerable change in the production and distribution of maps. Desktop map production is now commonplace where a cartographer produces maps on computers after which the maps are disseminated over the World Wide Web where the map can be accessed world-wide.

Geographic Visualization: GVis
Computer technology has fostered new ways for examining data. Geographic Visualization is a process involving utilization of computer technology to understand trends and patterns in large complex data sets. For example, scientists use animation techniques to map changes in sea-level temperature over time to help understand and predict the impacts of El-Niño

Geographic Information Science: GIS
GIS are computer-based methods for the capture, manipulation, analysis and display on a computer screen of data which are spatially referenced to the Earth. GIS operates to input data into a digital database upon which various spatial analysis processes can take place. For example, GIS can be used to find the best location for a new fire department. The resultant GIS output, whether produced as hard-copy map or displayed on-screen, enables the visualization of spatial relationships and processes to be better understood.

GIS poster





USGS GIS poster

Visit United State Geologic Survey Web page for detailed copy of the poster.


Remote Sensing: RS
Remote sensing is the science of acquiring digital information about the Earth's surface without actually being in contact with it. This is done by sensing and recording reflected or emitted terrestial energy through specially designed satellites such as Landsat and Ikonos. Once collected the data is processed and analyzed for specific applications. For example, satellite imagery is often used to detect stressors to vegetation in time to prevent widespread damage.

Landsat image of DC








District of Columbia Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper from NASA


Global Positioning Systems: GPS
GPS' primary function is data collection. Using portable devices, GPS receivers key into satellite signals that relay continuous geographic positions and elevations to the user. This technology is critical for accurate data collection and is heavily utilized by surveyors, environmental engineers, military applications, and transportation systems.

Student project







Student Project



Students enrolled in the Mapping Science Concentration will develop a breadth of technological competency as well as critical geospatial data handling and analysis skills. Mapping Science students will become knowledgeable on how to effectively gather, manipulate, and store geospatial data. Furthermore, students will be able to effectively use various technologies to analyze geospatial data to uncover patterns, trends, or relationships in the data. Familiarization with the variety of specialized computer-based applications and hardware that is commonly used in mapping projects is also a focal point of the concentration as students typically spend many hours in the computer labs working on various projects.

Internships and Student Employment

Students in the Mapping Sciences Concentration are encouraged to participate in the Geography Department's internship program. Students are placed with cooperating agencies that provide students with real-world work experience which is a valuable help in building their resume. By applying concepts learned in the classroom to real-world problems, students are better able to grasp the relationship between various geographic techniques and how they are applied. Most internships open up employment opportunities with the agency with which the student was interning. Recent Mapping Science student interns have been placed with the National Geographic Society, U.S. Geological Survey,, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, City of Frostburg, Maryland, Carroll County Planning Office, and Allegany County Planning Office.

Students in Classroom





Students in the computer lab.


Department Facilities

The Mapping Science Concentration is based in Gunter Hall which includes three PC-based computer labs equipped with computer software applications used in mapping, science courses. Software include ESRI suite of software including ArcGIS 9.2, ENVI 4.2, Freehand, Flash, Surfer, AutoCad, and others. The Department of Geography also has specialized surveying equipment (7 Total Stations with data collectors). The computer labs are also equipped with large format plotters, color laser printers, and large format scanners.

Career Opportunities

Matt Harman and Dr. Fritz Kessler


Matt Harman, FSU graduate, and Dr. Fritz Kessler at Career Day.

Matt works as a Research Analyst at ERSI.


Graduates within the Mapping Sciences Concentration can expect exciting career opportunities with government agencies such as the National Geospatial Agency (NGA), U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Aeronautical Space Agency (NASA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). State and local government agencies (e.g., planning and transportation offices) also offer rewarding career paths for graduates in the Mapping Science Concentration. There are also many private commercial organizations that employ graduates in the Mapping Sciences.

Positions of recent Mapping Science Concentration graduates include:

  • Research Analyst: ESRI
  • GIS Technician: Dewberry
  • Cartographer:
  • Photogrammatic Technician: VARGIS
  • GeoSpatial Technical Analyst: U.S. 4th Army
  • Senior GIS Specialist: Greenhorne & O'Mara
  • Geospatial Analyst: National Geospatial Agency
  • GIS Analyst: U.S. Army Military Academy, West Point
  • GIS Analyst: State of Utah, Automated Geographic Reference Center
  • Physical Scientist: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Topographic Engineering Center

Graduate schools recent alumni attended:

  • University of Kansas
  • Penn State
  • Towson State University

Browse the Department of Geography Alumni page for more information and descriptions of Geography careers.


Departmental Activities