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Geographic Information Pathway

Geographic Information Sciences Pathway

Geographic information (GI) generally consists of facts, data and/or evidence pertaining to events, activities and things located on (or near) the surface of the earth (Bishop & Grubesic, 2016). The process by which humans organize, access and use this information is fundamental to science, industry and our everyday lives.

Individuals working with GI must navigate the world of both print and digital cartographic resources as well as oversee all aspects of related services, resources, and geospatial technologies. The Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that employment in fields that use GIS are expected to increase at a rate 14% faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations between 2016 and 2026 (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2016). A Google-funded market assessment puts the global revenue for geoservices at $270 billion per year and jobs in many types of information agencies exist (Oxera, 2012). Careers in GI have the potential to attract a wide range of students from different fields to fill information professional roles.

Geographic Information: Position Titles in Information Sciences

These are but a few of the many positions geographic information professionals hold:

  • Geospatial/GIS Librarian
  • Map Librarian
  • Spatial Data Analyst
  • Data Visualization Librarian
  • Earth Sciences Librarian
  • Map Cataloger
  • Archivist/Records Manager
  • Surveying and Mapping Technician
  • Geology Librarian

Preparing to Enter the Professional World of Geographic Information:

Professional Development:


    • Map & Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT)
    • Geoscience Information Society 
    • Western Association of Map Libraries (WAML)
    • North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS)


    • ALA Midwinter and Annual Conferences
    • Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting
    • Esri User Conference
    • Tennessee Geographic Information Council (TNGIC) Conference

Publications of Note:

    • Journal of Map & Geography Libraries
    • International Journal of Geographical Information Science

Recommended Courses:

In addition to completing the courses required for the MSIS degree, students with an interest in Geographic Information might consider enrolling in some of these courses (please note that this listing is not a substitute for consulting with the MSIS Program Advisor). 

    • 516 Geospatial Technologies 
    • 543 Spatial Data Management 
    • 532 Sources and Services for Science & Engineering 
    • 533 Humanities and Social Sciences Sources, Services, and Scholarship 
    • 534 Government Information Sources 
    • 545 Scientific and Technical Communications 
    • 552 Academic Libraries  
    • 584 Database Management Systems 
    • 592 Introduction to Data Analytics and Visualization 
    • 599 Practicum 

Other GI-related courses at UTK:

(please note—students typically must secure permission from the course instructor prior to registering for courses offered outside CCIThese courses also may be offered on campus only): 

Biosystems Engineering (BSE) 

    • 555 GIS and GPS Applications in Biosystems 

Civil & Environmental Engineering (CE) 

    • 210 Geomatics (UG) 

Geography (GEOG)

    • 409 GIS for Environmental and Socio-economic Applications 
    • 411 Intermediate Geographic Information Science 
    • 413 Remote Sensing of the Environment 
    • 414 Spatial  Data Management for Socioeconomic and Environmental Applications 
    • 415 Quantitative Methods in Geography 
    • 416 GIS Project Management 
    • 420 GIS in the Community 
    • 454 GIS for Terrain Analysis 
    • 517 Geographic Information Management and Processing 
    • 518 GIS Project Management 
    • 611 Seminar in Geographic Information Science 

Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Science (FWF) 

    • 530 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Natural Resources 
    • 546 Advanced Habitat Analysis 

Real-World Experience:

Potential Practicum Settings:

    • UTK Map Collection
    • University of Memphis Library – Government Publications
    • ETSU Library, Tennessee State Library and Archives
    • Vanderbilt University

Recent Placements of UTK-SIS Alumni:

    • United States Geological Survey
    • University of Chicago
    • ERT, Inc. (a contractor for NOAA and other government agencies)


Bishop, B. W., & Grubesic, T. H. (2016). Geographic Information: Organization, Access, and Use. New York: Springer.  ISBN 978-3-319-22789-4 

Oxera Consulting Ltd, 2013, January, What is the Economic Impact of Geo Services? Available: 

U.S. Department of Labor. (2016). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Geoscientists: Summary. Published January 11, 2018. Available: