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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. Knowledge of GI also may assist information professionals analyzing and managing physical access for users of information agencies using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Individuals working with GI must manage all forms of cartographic resources and the geospatial data behind them as well as oversee all aspects of related services, resources, and geospatial technologies to facilitate use. Careers in GI have the potential to attract a wide range of students from different fields to fill information professional roles. In addition, many data managers may perform an array of duties, including research outreach, technology administration, data acquisition and institutional training related to geographic information specifically.

Geographic Information: Position Titles in Information Sciences

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

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

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 
    • 524 Metadata
    • 531 Sources and Services for the Social Sciences 
    • 532 Sources and Services for Science & Engineering 
    • 534 Government Information Sources 
    • 543 Spatial Data Management 
    • 552 Academic Libraries  
    • 563 Data Management
    • 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): 

Geography (GEOG)

    • 411 Intermediate Geographic Information Science 
    • 413 Remote Sensing of the Environment 
    • 414 Spatial Databases and Data Management 
    • 415 Quantitative Methods in Geography 
    • 517 Geographic Information Management and Processing 
    • 518 GIS Project Management 
    • 611 Seminar in Geographic Information Science 

Real-World Experience:

Potential Practicum Settings:

    • UTK Map Collection
    • United States Geological Survey
    • Tennessee State Library and Archives
    • Vanderbilt University

Recent Placements of UTK-SIS Alumni:

    • USGS Community for Data Intergration
    • Sandia National Laboratories
    • Library of Congress


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