University of Montana Catalog 2023-2024

Geography M.S. - Cartography and GIS

Master of Science - Geography; Cartography and GIS Concentration


Required Core Courses (≥10)10
Required Research Design Course
Required Methods Course
Required Option Courses7
Option Elective Courses (≥9)9
Electives (≥4)4
Total Hours30

Degree Specific Credits:

34 credits are required for the thesis and professional paper tracks.

40 credits are required for the non-thesis (portfolio) track. 

Required Cumulative GPA: 3.0


  • For the M.S. Geography degree, students may select among the general degree option or an option in Cartography & GIS or in Community and Environmental Planning.
  • The M.S. degree in Geography with an Option in Cartography and GIS is appropriate for those whose work is focused on spatial mapping and analysis.  Beyond the core requirements specified for the General MS (≥10 credits), an additional 16 credits are required for the option (19 if the Methods course is not a GIS class), and electives as needed to complete the 34 to 40 credits for the degree.
  • Choices in the core and elective credits will be selected in consultation with the graduate committee to support the research program and student's professional goals.  Coursework must be approved by the committee no later than the second semester in residence, but earlier if possible.  Per Graduate School policy, at least 20 of the total credits must be taken within the major discipline; at least 20 of the total credits must be in coursework and at least half of the coursework credits (minimum 10 credits) must be at the 500 level or above; courses below the 400 level do not count towards the M.S. course requirements; and up to 10 of the 34 or 40 credits may be taken as thesis (GPHY 599).

Degree Tracks

For the M.S. degree, with or without option, students are required to complete one of the following tracks: 

  • Thesis track: Successfully complete and defend a thesis or one or more papers (i.e., articles) of publishable quality before an examining committee. 
  • Professional Paper track: Successfully complete and defend a professional paper or one or more papers (i.e., articles) of publishable quality before an examining committee. The difference between a thesis and a professional paper is that while the thesis is directed toward advances in the discipline, the professional paper may be directed toward advances in the profession. A professional paper may also consist of one or more papers of publishable quality intended for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. 
  • Non-thesis (Portfolio) track: Requires the successful completion of a portfolio and written and oral comprehensive examinations described in the addendum of the "PDF of Graduate Degree Requirements" downloadable through the link above. 
  • There is no minimum number of thesis credits that must be taken for any of the tracks.


Required Core Course
Complete all of the following courses:
FORS 594Graduate Seminar (1 cr. per semester)2
Complete one of the following:3
Advanced Physical Geography
Seminar in Planning
Seminar GIS & Cartography
Or approved alternative
Complete one of the following research design courses:3-4
Research Design in the Geographical Sciences I
and Research Design in Geographical Sciences II
Conservation and Social Science Methods
Fundamentals of Academic Research
Research Design
and Research Design Lab
Complete one methods course3
Quantitative methods 1
Qualitative methods 1
Historical or survey methods 1
Advanced GIS or computer methods 1
Complete the following required option courses:
GPHY 487Remote Sensing/Raster GIS3
GPHY 488Applications of GIS3
GPHY 489Cartography/GIS Laboratory1
Complete 9 credits from the following option elective courses:9
Community & Regional Analysis
Planning & Analysis Laboratory
and Community & Regional Analysis
Advanced Cartographic Design
Internet GIS
Cartography/GIS Laboratory
and Internet GIS
Image Analysis & Modeling
Cartography/GIS Laboratory
and Image Analysis & Modeling
Spatial Analysis and Modeling
Cartography/GIS Laboratory
and Spatial Analysis and Modeling
Sampling Methods
Digital Image Processing
Wildlife Habitat Modeling
Total Hours31-32

See the Geography Advising Guide for a list of suggested courses

Minimum Required Grade: C