Recognizing geospatial information and remote sensing as rapidly expanding tech fields, the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved a new Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Science (GIS).
Labor market experts predict geospatial information scientists, technologists and remote sensing scientists will be in high demand to fill new jobs in the coming decade, according to Dr. John Kraemer, Southeast professor of biology and environmental science. He says federal and state governmental programs and private companies are developing or have developed new employment opportunities for graduates from this major, and the new program will address regional and state needs as well.
The program, which is pending approval from the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, is expected to begin at Southeast in fall 2017. Southeast will be the only public university in Missouri offering this degree.
Dr. Karl Kunkel, Southeast provost, said initial enrollment in the program is anticipated to be about 15 students, growing to nearly 60 by the fifth year.
Kraemer says students graduating from the program will be well positioned for high-paying jobs – with a median starting salary of $83,000-$91,000 — at private companies such as Google, ESRI, GPS navigation software and development companies, or with the local, state and federal government. Other private sector job opportunities will likely include positions with software development companies designing desktop systems and implementing Web and mobile applications, and developing workflow systems.
The public sector also offers job opportunities in this field, he said, involving customizing spatial models and systems for agencies such as the military or U.S. government, including web or mobile applications, customized desktop systems and project management.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, he says, predicts jobs in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – using GIS are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs in other fields.
The interdisciplinary, interdepartmental program will be located in Southeast’s Environmental Science Program. The College of Science, Technology and Agriculture will offer most of the courses for the program.
Kraemer said the program will expand the use of the Center for Environmental Analysis, which has performed GIS training for public employees over the past decade and will provide experiential learning opportunities for students in the program.
The new degree program will serve not only the general student population but also may be particularly appealing to computer science students, he said. The program will offer students the opportunity to work on code development while directly applying it to their work on applied science projects.
Kunkel said the program will provide graduates in this region capable of explaining environmental impacts from human and natural sources through detailed mapping and spatial analysis.