SWT approved for GIScience Ph.D. program

Date of release: 04/23/02

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS Southwest Texas State University’s Department of Geography received approval this month from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to begin offering a Ph.D. in geographic information science (GIScience). SWT currently offers a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geographic information systems (GIS).

The GIScience Ph.D. program, which will begin in fall 2002, will include GIS, remote sensing, cartography, visualization and spatial modeling.

From health research and criminal justice to real estate and environmental science, the demand for GIScience professionals has been increasing rapidly. SWT’s Geography Department has been trying to meet that demand with its undergraduate and master’s program. The Ph.D. program was a natural progression.

“We have positioned ourselves well,” said Lawrence Estaville, chair of the SWT Geography Department. “The marketplace for GIScience professionals is really hot. People are realizing that spatial data are important to business and government agencies.”

SWT has the largest and one of the finest faculty in GIScience in the nation, Estaville said. The Geography Department is expected to have 11 faculty members with a specialization in one of the five areas of GIScience by the fall.

In addition to the growing demand for GIScience professionals, a strong recommendation from an academic review team in 2000 prompted the department to prepare a proposal for development of the Ph.D. program and eventually receive approval.

This will be the Department’s third Ph.D. program, which includes a program in environmental geography and geographic education. It will be SWT’s fifth Ph.D. program, which includes two in education that began this spring.