Curricula & Training in Geographic Information Science at Oregon State

GIS | Cartography | Remote Sensing | Surveying/Field Methods |
Quantitative Analysis

Oregon State offers basic-, intermediate-, AND advanced-level coursework in geographic information science (particularly GIS, cartography, remote sensing, and surveying). The basic courses have been structured so that students may enroll in each after fulfilling a minimum number of prerequisites. These basic courses in turn, are the major prerequisites for the intermediate- and advanced-level courses that follow. Most courses can be combined into an interdisciplinary undergraduate or graduate CERTIFICATE in Geographic Information Science. The breadth of these courses and the cooperation among departments and colleges provide interested students with a unique opportunity for personal enrichment.

GIS Courses
UCGIS GIS&T Body of Knowledge Topics in Geosciences Courses (pdf)
     More on the Body of Knowledge

Forestry GIS & GPS Workshops: Contact Michael Wing

Free ESRI Virtual Campus GIS Technology Web Course Registrations

Basic Level (undergrad and grad)

CE 202. Civil Engineering III: Geospatial Information and GIS (3). Offered every winter by the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Department. Introductory design principles presented with the use of GIS (ArcGIS) and geospatial information (remote sensing, GPS, surveying, and aerial photography) for civil engineering problem solving.

FE 357. GIS and Forest Engineering Applications (3). An introduction to the appropriate use and potential applications of GIS (ArcView) in forest resource management. Participants will be instructed in the skills necessary to use a GIS for research purposes. Students will be presented with lectures and exercises that cover a wide range of GIS and GIS related issues.

FW 303. Survey of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources (3). Offered via distance ed. only by the Department Fisheries and Wildlife as part of OSU Extended Campus. This excellent course provides an overview of GIS, GPS, and remote sensing with regard to the study and management of natural resources. There is also an excellent metadata training exercise. The featured GIS is ESRI ArcView, GPS by Trimble, and remote sensing via the Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing.

GEO 365. Introduction to GIS (4). Formerly GEO 265, GIS Practicuum, and offered by the Geosciences Department face-to-face, and via distance education as part of OSU Extended Campus. Introduction to the principles of geographic information systems (GIS) and experience using a widely popular geographic information system for spatial data input, analysis, and display. GEO 301 (Map & Image Interpretation) or GEO 360 (Cartography) are strongly recommended. [Fall, Spring on campus]

SOC 499/599. Rural Communities and Demography (4). Offered Fall 2007 by Roger Hammer in the Sociology Department. The course will be divided into a reading and discussion seminar on Tuesdays and a GIS mapping and spatial analysis workshop on Thursdays. The course will explore the conceptual and quantitative dimensions of rurality in America, focusing on the contemporary demographic, cultural, economic, ecological, and social-psychological dimensions on which rural policy has been conceived and evaluated. For the reading/discussion portion of the course, the students and instructor will collectively select topics for each week that focus on the interaction of rural, urban, and suburban contexts. The GIS spatial analysis laboratory portion of the course will build basic skills in computerized mapping and spatial analysis focusing primarily on demographic information.

Intermediate Level

GEO 465/565. Geographic Information Systems and Science (4). Introduction to modern spatial data processing, development, implementation, and functions of geographic information systems; data models and structures, and analytical procedures; applications of GIS to a variety of environmental issues. Offered every Winter quarter by the Geosciences Department. This course focuses on the basic mapping/ database/information science concepts fundamental to the working of any GIS package, and includes project work for graduate students. Lab exercises give students a brief introduction to ArcGIS 9. This course is also offered distance ed. with ArcGIS 9 labs as part of OSU Extended Campus. PREREQ: GEO 360 for OSU undergrads and for OSU grads doing the Geographic Information Science certificate; prereq waived for all other grads and for distance ed. students.

CSS 468/568. Soil Landscape Analysis (4). Principles of soil geomorphology, soil stratigraphy, and surficial processes as applied to understanding the soil system at landscape scales. Emphasis on field observations of soils, geomorphic surfaces, and environment. Field project entails design of soil survey map units, field mapping and GIS cartographic techniques. PREREQ: CSS 466.

GEO 567. Responsible GIS Practice: Ethics for Future Geospatial Professionals (3). This course is ONLY offered via distance ed. as part of OSU Extended Campus. This is a graduate seminar course that prepares current and aspiring professionals to recognize, analyze and address ethical issues in geographic information science and technology. Students first review some general ethical theories and processes of moral reasoning. Concurrently, they briefly investigate the nature of professions in general and the characteristics of a GIS profession in particular. They hone moral reasoning skills through methodical analyses of case studies in relation to the GISCI Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct. They also learn to unveil the "moral ecologies" of a profession through actual interviews of real practitioners in the field. Assignments include readings, class discussions, practitioner interviews, and preparations of original case studies. PREREQ: None, but the course is intended as a capstone course for students in our online graduate certificate program in GIScience.

Advanced Level

CE 505. Digital Terrain Modeling (3). Offered by Michael Olsen. Understanding of algorithms and workflows used to model terrain from data acquired using remote sensing techniques. More specifically, LIDAR data collection, processing, and analysis will be performed. The course will focus on optimizing triangulations (Delaunay, etc.) and grids (i.e. Spline, IDW, etc) using such data. Discussion on errors and quality control for DTMs. Applicable to many disciplines such as Civil/Construction Engr, Geosciences/Geology, Coastal Science, GIScience, Computer Science, Forestry, and many more.

CE 413/513. GIS in Water Resources (3). Offered by Tracy Arras. Presents GIS technology for developing solutions to water resource problems: water quality, availability, flooding, the natural environment, and management of water resources. Typical GIS data models for hydrologic information are presented, including ArcHydro. Synthesis of geospatial and temporal water resources to support hydrologic analysis and modeling are covered. PREREQ: An introductory course in GIS. Offered every year, in the spring.

FE 422/FE 522. Forest Geomatics (4). NEW IN 2012. Offered by Michael Wing. Forest Geomatics presents techniques in geospatial data manipulation and analysis within a natural resource environment. Topics include digital techniques for geospatial database creation, computer programming techniques for database manipulation and analysis, and applications of geospatial data for natural resource measurement and analysis. Class meetings include lectures and applied spatial analysis laboratory assignments. A final term project must be designed, conducted, and presented.

FOR 421/521. Spatial Analysis of Forested Landscapes (3). GIS literature review, seminars, and project work involving forest resources, wildlife habitat, and landscape ecology using remotely- sense data, digital elevation models, and other digitized data. PREREQ: FE 357, GEO 365, GEO 465/565 or the equivalent. Offered even-numbered years, in the fall.

GEO 580. Advanced GIS Applications in the Geosciences (4). Offered every Spring quarter by the Geosciences Department (graduate level only). This course is also offered via distance ed. in the winter and spring as part of OSU Extended Campus. GEO 580 broadens the base of GIS theory established in 465/565, while fostering an appreciation of GIS as an effective analytical tool for understanding complex processes. Includes the student's choice of an 8-week long analytical project or a series of rigorous exercises in ArcGIS 9. PREREQ: GEO 465/565 or equivalent intermediate theory course in GIS.

GEO 599. GIS Programming with Python (3). NEW IN 2011-'12

More on GIS education and training, including free ESRI Virtual Campus GIS Technology short course registrations


Cartography Courses


GEO 301. Map and Image Interpretation (4). How to READ maps. Offered every fall and spring by the Geosciences Department, both face-to-face and via distance education as part of OSU Extended Campus. Reading, analysis, and interpretation of maps and images. Characteristics and historical evolution of topographic maps, satellite images, aerial photography, navigational charts, statistical maps, and other kinds geoscientific output.

GEO 360. Cartography (4). How to MAKE maps. Basic cartographic principles. Design, compilation, and construction of maps.


GEO 445/545. Computer-Assisted Cartography (3). Concepts and techniques underlying the production of maps by computer. Practical experience with a variety of computer mapping packages. PREREQ: GEO 360, MTH 112.

GEO 460/560. Multimedia Cartography (4). NOT OFFERED UNTIL UNIVERSITY AUTHORIZES A NEW HIRE IN CARTOGRAPHY. Perceptual principles of map design. Laboratory experience with photomechanical map production techniques. PREREQ: GEO 360.


Remote Sensing Courses


FOR 220. Aerial Photo Interpretation and Forest Measurements (3). Emphasis on field applications of forest measurements, scaling, cruising, and photointerpretation, with a minimum of theory; successful completion of FOR 220 should help students compete for summer jobs requiring measurement skills. PREREQ: MTH 105, FOR 111.

HORT 414/514. Information Systems in Agriculture (4). Offered by Tim Righetti in the Horticulture Department. Introduction to precision farming tools (GIS, image processing, GPS, and computer-linked agricultural equipment). Students enrolling in 4 credits also complete a class project, make an educational video, and present results in a computer presentation. Standard classroom, video, and distance versions of the course are available. Also offered in four 1-credit modules covering: a) Geographic Information System (GIS), b) Image Processing, c) Global Positioning System (GPS), and d) computer presentations.

CE 466/566. Photo Interpretation (3). Air photo interpretation and application to engineering problems; factors responsible for the formation and developments of artificial features and geological land forms. PREREQ: CE 361 or CEM 263.


CE 461/561. Photogrammetry (3). Geometry of terrestrial and vertical photographs, flightline planning, stereoscopy and parallax, stereoscopic plotting instruments, analytical photogrammetry, orthophotography, introduction to photo interpretation, and aerial cameras. PREREQ: CE 361 or CEM 263.

GEO 444/544. Remote Sensing of the Environment (4). Physical principles; theory and operation of remote sensing systems; imagery interpretation and applications. Introduction to satellite remote sensing and digital image processing. Measurement and interpretation techniques with an emphasis on applications of aerial photography to mapping, resource evaluation and field research. Covers photographic theory, flight planning, basic photogrammetry, applications. PREREQ: MTH 112.


FOR 420/520. Advanced Aerial Photos and Remote Sensing (3). Image processing and aerial photography lectures and project work for forestry and natural resrouce applications using state-of-the-art techniques and equipment. PREREQ: a photo interpretation course; GEO 444/544 or equivalent; a course in forestry; or instructor consent. Offered even-numbered years.

GEO 466/566. Digital Image Processing (3). Digital analysis of remote sensing data. Image display enhancement, classification, and rectification principles. Practical experience with an image processing system. PREREQ: GEO 444/544. [Winter, Offered alternate even years.]

ECE 468. Digital Image Processing (3). Introduction to digital image processing including fundamental concepts of visual perception, image sampling and quantization, image enhancement in spatial and frequency domains (through 2D Fourier transform), image restoration, and color image processing. Implementation of algorithms using Matlab Image Processing Toolbox. PREREQ: ECE 351 and ECE 352. [Fall]

GEO 585. Advanced Techniques in Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing (3). An end-to-end approach to learning advanced techniques in remote sensing and digital processing from field measurements to global scale observations. Topics covered will include field methods, field spectroscopy, spectral mixture analysis, scaling, atmospheric characterization and correction, calibration/validation, change detection, cloud masking, global observations, and new missions. Weekly labs will involve digital image processing and field data collection and analysis. Lec/lab. ENFORCED PREREQS: GEO 544 and GEO 566 and ST 511 [Spring, alternate, odd years]

OCN 678. Satellite Oceanography (3). Theory and applications of satellite remote sensing observations of the ocean with emphasis on strengths and limitations in the measurements. Topics include review of electircity and magnetism, absorption and scattering in the atmosphere (radiative transfer), satellite orbital mechanics, measurements of ocean color, infrared remote sensing, microwave radiometry, scatterometry, and satellite altimetry. PREREQ: MTH 252, PH 212 or equivalent. Offered even-numbered years.

FS 691-V. Use of Remote Sensing in Landscape Ecology (2). Use of remotely-sensed data to address landscape level questions in ecology.


Surveying and Other Field Method Courses


FE 308. Introduction to Forest Surveying (3). Fundamentals of forest surveying as applied to forestry problems including concepts of plane surveying, differential leveling, U.S. Public Land Survey System, measurement theory, and datums and projections. Emphasis is on concepts of forest surveying as related to mapping, and GIS. PREREQ: FOR 111 and MTH 112 and MTH 241.

CEM 263. Plane Surveying (3). Use and adjustment of surveying equipment; surveying methods applied to construction; geometry of highway location including circular and vertical curves; terrain analysis using aerial photographs; and earthwork quantities and distribution. PREREQ: ENGR 211 or ENGR 211H and sophomore standing in engineering.


FE 310. Forest Route Surveying (5). Route surveying and site surveying applied to forestry problems. Use of surveying equipment, traversing; computations; stadia; leveling; horizontal, vertical, compound, reverse, and spiral curves; earthwork; construction staking; and "as-built" surveys. PREREQ: FE 210.

FE 311. Advanced Forest Surveying (4). Advanced forest techniques for forest surveying. Directional instruments; electronic distance measurements; field astronomy; State Plane Coordinate Systems; horizontal control, specifications, triangulation and trilateration; U.S. Public Land Survey System; introduction to survey law. PREREQ: FE 310.

CE 361. Surveying Theory (4). Use of surveying equipment, Caussian error theory applied to measurements, calculations of position on spherical and plane surfaces, state plane coordinate systesm, introduction to global positioning systems.

CE 365. Highway Location and Design (3). Curve problems in highway design, including circular, vertical compound curves and spirals; earth distribution analysis; preliminary office studies; paper location procedures and field layout problems. PREREQ: CE 361 or CEM 263.

GEO 462/562. Geosciences Field Methods (4). Field data gathering techniques for geographers AND geologists; focus on field reconnaissance problems. Organization for field work from instrumentation to data collection and analysis to report writing. PREREQ: GEO 360.


CE 463/563. Control Surveying (4). Control specifications, methods, and problem in obtaining large area precise measurement; precise leveling; triangulation and trilateration figure adjustments; introduction to least-square techniques. Global positioning systems. PREREQ: CE 361 or CEM 263.

CE 465/565. Oregon Land Survey Law (3). Oregon U.S. public land survey; state statutes, common law decisions, and administrative rules dealing with boundary law; case studies; unwritten land transfers; original and resurvey platting laws; guarantees of title; deed descriptions. PREREQ: CE 361 or CEM 263.

CE 469/569. Property Survey (3). U.S. public land survey, restoration of corners, subdivision of sections; maps, subdivision plats, and resurvey plats; subdivision design; introduction to LIS/GIS; field astronomy. PREREQ: CE 361 or CEM 263.


Quantitative Analysis Courses


GEO 541. Spatial Variation in Ecology and Earth Science (3). Objectives and techniques of spatial analysis in earth sciences and ecology. Moving windows, geostatistics, and related techniques. PREREQ: ST 411/511. Fall term.

GEO 546. Advanced Landscape Ecology (3). Pattern-process interactions in large scale ecological and physical systems. Hypothesis testing, field techniques, spatial models/statistics, GIS/remote sensing. PREREQ: 9 graduate science credts. Winter term, alternate, odd years.

FS 523. Natural Resource Data Analysis (4). Hands-on experience in applied statistical data analysis and research data management. Students are encouraged to use data sets from their own reearch for final projects. Widely-used, commercially-available statistical software packages, e.g., SAS, are used. Emphasis is placed on micro- and mini-computers in the practical application and actual implementation of statistical analysis techniques. PREREQ: ST 412/512, and concurrent registration in ST 415/515.

FS 599, Special Topics: Wildlife Landscape Ecology (3). Explores the interaction between spatial pattern and ecological processes with particular emphasis on biodiversity in forests (‘wildlife’ should be interpreted in its broadest sense). This course will provide students with: (1) the historical context of modern landscape ecology, (2) an understanding of key theoretical concepts such as matrix, connectivity and scale, (3) an overview of landscape influences on ecological processes such as demography, pollination, seed dispersal, (4) experience with measuring landscape pattern using GIS and landscape indices, (5) experience developing statistical models for species distributions, (6) experience with designing and implementing mensurative landscapescale experiments (7) exposure to the application of landscape ecological principles in forest management and reserve design. To accomplish these objectives, the course will be a blend of lectures, discussions, computer-based lab exercises and field work. [F] [alternate, even years].

ST 565. Time Series and Spatial Statistics (3). Analysis of serially correlated data in both time and frequency domains. Autocorrelation and partial autocorrelation functions, autoregressive integrated moving average models, model building, forecasting; filtering, smoothing, spectral analysis, frequency response studies, spatial statistics, kriging. PREREQ: ST 412/ST 512, ST 422/ST 522. Offered alternate even years.