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Geospatial data science education is meeting market demand

Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts developed the United States’ first professional science master’s degree in GDS. Here's why tech career changers should consider it.

Temple's GIS Studio. (Courtesy photo)

This is a sponsored guest post written on behalf of Temple University College of Liberal Arts's Geospatial Data Science program. It was reviewed before publication.

Whether the “COVID economy” has been good, bad or indifferent for your career, you’d probably jump at the opportunity to do better than you’re doing right now.

If so, developing a data science skill set might be your best path forward. Data science is a burgeoning field with median salaries of $90,000. That professional demand is matched by an academic one: In 2018, the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science called for integrating the geospatial perspective into the growing number of data science degree programs and encouraged departments to think about ways to train students in geospatial data science.

After hearing this mandate and meeting with an advisory board of Philadelphia-area GIS practitioners who identified a vital need for professionals with specialized geospatial data science training, Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts developed the United States’ first professional science master’s (PSM) in geospatial data science (GDS). Temple’s internationally renowned faculty conduct research on timely issues such as COVID-19 and environmental protection using innovative spatial analysis techniques. And the program exposes students to industry-standard tools such as SQL, R, Python and other emerging technologies with an emphasis on open source tools.

“Some students may already have stats training or have a programming background, maybe even an extensive programming background. They may be working in industries that regularly work with spatial data, but where special methods for spatial data handling aren’t widely known,” says Dr. Lee Hachadoorian, assistant director of the PSM programs. “Someone in a marketing department might realize, ‘Oh, we’ve got all this Twitter sentiment data. It’s geotagged, and we want to analyze this big, high-velocity data that has a spatial location. How do we do that?’

“There aren’t a whole lot of places to get that kind of knowledge and experience,” he said. “From their first class, students will be able to take the skills from the classroom into their workplace and continue to grow it from there.”

The PSM in GDS is just one way Temple has remained on the forefront of geospatial graduate education. The university also offers a PSM in geographic information systems.

These graduate programs combine advanced training in data science and GIS core skills with professional development and ethics to prepare students to enter the workforce. The curriculum introduces students to statistical and computer programming and spatial analysis technology skills through a critical social science lens.

The PSM in geospatial data science distinguishes itself through a specific emphasis on big data handling, data mining and machine learning. Compared to the GIS program, the geospatial data science program focuses on advanced statistical knowledge and computer programming. PSM degrees are designed in partnership with employers, and graduates are trained to work outside the realm of traditional GIS jobs, including in corporate environments.

And all courses are held after 5:30 p.m., so it’s easy for professionals to complete their graduate education while working.

In addition to these degrees, Temple also offers graduate certificates in GIS and GDS. The certificates can be completed as a standalone program or as a gateway into the masters. These four-course certificates give a thorough introduction to geospatial technologies and electives allow students to tailor the certificate to their professional goals.

Courses offered include:

  • Big Geospatial Data
  • Health Data Analysis
  • Geovisualization
  • Urban GIS
  • Machine Learning
  • Advanced Statistics

To start growing your geospatial data science skills, request more info about Temple’s professional science master’s or graduate certificate today.

Companies: Temple University Geography and Urban Studies / Temple University

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