Geographic Information Systems Major Basics

If you’re interested in geography, mapping, or technology, you might want to consider a GIS major. However, before making this decision, it’s important to be aware of some basics when it comes to the major. GIS is a fast-growing, competitive area of study whose global importance keeps growing every day. To make the most of a degree in GIS, always keep these few things in mind:

Basic Premise

The main conceit of GIS is that it allows us to map out different input–parts of land, trends, or population breakdown–in a way that’s automatic, and easy to layer. With GIS, you’re able to create maps that give you a whole cross-section of culture and society, using geographic location knowledge and advanced technology to assess and predict social and geographic on a global or local scale. As a fast-growing field of interest for students, GIS has become an extremely popular major in many colleges. Whether you earn a masters in GIS from USC, from UC San Diego, or any school you choose, the skills you learn will help you in a variety of different fields and careers.


For a GIS major, having a good understanding of math is helpful, but not imperative. As a GIS major, you’ll be working with mapping software to create visuals using different input and coordinates. You’ll also be asked to make conclusions based on the data the maps create. According to NASA, a huge proponent of GIS, the system is “…an integrated system of computer hardware, software, and trained personnel linking topographic, demographic, utility, facility, image and other resource data that is geographically referenced.” As a GIS major, you’ll be using geographical data to make sense of the larger world, its history, and its enduring patterns.


GIS is a tremendously important field when it comes to medicine, anthropology, and other sciences. However, its application doesn’t stop there. GIS is used in a diverse number of projects from the prediction of natural disasters to dating apps that use location-based technology. Learning the core basics of GIS opens you up to a huge variety of different careers, from medicine to business to the tech sector. Companies use GIS to target a certain market, while agriculturists use it to predict and preempt the damage caused to crops by pollution or sudden changes in weather. Even dentists use GIS to find cavities. In short, the technology is everywhere.


As GIS technology gets more sophisticated, its range of application widens. From location-based apps to livestock monitoring, GIS technology’s uses can be boiled down to one essential requirement: Workers need to know where things are at all times. Whether it’s a customer base, a pandemic migration pattern, or a severe storm, people’s jobs depend on knowing where something is coming from and where it’s going. The importance of GIS is in developing the technology into something that can almost flawlessly predict movement and patterns to stop harmful things from spreading.