Board approves new Master’s degree in Geography Information Systems

Students have a lot to look forward to with the approval of a brand new master’s degree program at Sam.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents gave the thumbs up to the proposal of a new master’s degree in applied Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which was then sent to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for their approval.

“It has been approved and we are hoping to start it in fall of ’09,” Dr. Marcus Gillespie of the geography department said.

Gillespie suggested the creation of the new Master’s degree in applied Geographic Information Systems.

“I came to the university department from a university that had previously had the program. I suggested it to the department. They supported it, so I wrote the proposal and sent it to the curriculum committee on campus,” Gillespie said.

According to a press release from SHSU public relations, “the proposed master’s degree is for individuals who want to work in the geospatial technology career field, especially as it pertains to Geographic Information Systems.”

“It is a computer data base that combines layers electronically. You can ask questions and it can process it back to you. All factors combined, GIS helps make decisions,” Gillespie said.

Criminal investigation, business development, emergency services, urban planning, military applications and environmental analyses are all activities associated with this program.

GIS can be beneficial to anybody.

“Everybody can use it,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said paramedics, farmers and even Starbucks are a few examples of people who can use GIS to their advantage.

“You name it, they use it, but GIS is like when computers first came out. No one knows what to do with it at first, but then the say ‘Oh yea, now we get it,'”Gillespie said.

Because the university is located near Houston’s oil companies, gas companies, and NASA are part of the reason for why SHSU was able to get the program. Gillespie says there are few universities in Texas that offer the program.

To be approved, there has to be enough demand for the program, but a shortage in demand does not mean there is a shortage of requests for the skill.

The proposal consists of forms explaining the demand for the program, job market indicators, cost, course sequences and who is going to teach it.

It is then sent to the Academic Affairs Council, the Texas State University System Board of Regents, the university president and finally the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for approval.

“It is a multi-step process from start to finish. It took about a year and a half. I started writing on it a year ago,” Gillespie said.

For general information contact Dr. Gillespie for specific information about the program contact Dr. Mark Leipnik or Dr. Gang Gong, who will be teaching the new Master’s degree program .

They are still hoping for the money to have a third teacher.

“It takes millions of dollars to something like this. It is a fairly rigorous and viable program,” Gillespie said. “We were very fortunate for the demand.”

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