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Geographic Information Systems at St. Thomas: hands-on experience and professional opportunities.

What are recent graduates doing now?

Alex Boie, Class of 2012 - Alex is working with the City of St. Paul. "The GIS skills I learned allowed me to analyze patterns of the world and how they are interwoven. These skills were not just theoretical, they are real and very applicable."

John Westman, Class of 2010 - John was recently hired by the US Army Corps of Engineers in St. Paul, MN, as a GIS consultant. John came to our program as a freshman knowing he wanted to major in GIS and availed himself of every opportunity to gain GIS experience. An internship with the Corps in his senior year led to a full-time position upon graduation.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Because geography is such a universal subject, virtually every college or university around the world has extensive offerings in our discipline. It is usually the case that our students abroad can satisfy some of their major or core university requirements. Geography is more than just maps; it is concerned with the spatial aspects of human existence - how people and their activity are distributed in space, how they use and perceive space and how they create and sustain the places that make up the earth's surface. Study abroad opportunities serve to deepen this understanding and many of our students take advantage of this program.

Research and Internship Opportunities

Virtually any student studying geography who wants an internship or research experience can have one. We have some long-term contacts that provide internships for our students almost every semester (Target, Best Buy, The Nature Conservancy) and others who periodically contact us with work to be done. We also hire students to work as research assistants in our GIS lab to tackle the many, varied projects that make their way to our door.

Faculty Involvement

Our faculty are fully engaged in their discipline and student participation is the norm.

Dr. Robert Werner is spending his time traveling to reservations in Minnesota and North Dakota in preparation for writing a book on Native Americans in Minnesota.

Dr. Paul Lorah recently completed an eight-year term on the Board of the Minnesota Nature Conservancy. During his time outside of the classroom, he is conducting research with students on site location analysis for solar power facilities, modeling fragmentation in Minnesota’s forests, estimating the economic value of Minnesota ecosystem services and studying potential sites for prairie preserves.

Dr. David Kelley conducts research on landscape changes that result in impacts on watersheds in the upper Midwest. He has incorporated stream monitoring of the Minnehaha Creek into his Landscapes: Physical Systems course.

Ms. Catherine Hansen is our GIS lab manager and spends considerable time working with students on research projects internally for UST programs and externally for Twin Cities clients.

What jobs are possible with a Geographic Information Systems major?

Due to an increasing focus on environmental and sustainable practices, geographers are increasingly needed to understand human impacts on the environment. Geographic analysis is used to inform developers and policy makers of sustainable business practices and ensure adherence to increased regulations. Typical careers include:Business and marketing geography

  • Regional development and location studies
  • Global trade and transportation
  • Economics of resource use and land use
  • Real estate valuation and location analysis
  • Political economy of the developing world
  • Urban economic studies
  • Population growth and migration
  • Development history, theory and practice
  • Urbanization processes
  • Economic development and global interdependencies
  • Resources, hunger, health and poverty
  • Urban geography and urban processes


  • Political geography
  • Social and population geography
  • Medical geography
  • GIS analysis
  • Urban transportation GIS analysis
  • Natural resource and environmental analysis
  • Remote sensing
  • Resource geography
  • Cultural and political ecology
  • Health and environment
  • GIS and resource analysis
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