Graduate Programs

For a quick synopsis, see Spatial Informatics Graduate Programs in a Nutshell.

For notes about all the graduate programs, see also below the notes.

Ph.D. Degree

Spatial Information Science and Engineering

The Ph.D. degree is the highest of academic degrees. The Ph.D. in Spatial Information Science and Engineering is awarded to those demonstrating outstanding achievement in Spatial Information Science and Engineering scholarship and primarily for demonstrated ability for independent research in the field. The preparation and defense of a dissertation embodying the results of an original investigation in a specialized area of Spatial Information Science and Engineering are essential features of the program.

All work for a doctoral degree must be completed within eight years. The timing starts with the first semester of registration after admission to the Ph.D. in Spatial Information Science and Engineering. Students must be admitted to candidacy within four years of registration for the first work presented for satisfaction of degree requirements. To be admitted to candidacy, the student must develop a dissertation proposal and orally defend it successfully in front of the student’s graduate advisory committee. The dissertation proposal and its defense must demonstrate the student’s knowledge related to the student’s dissertation topic. The dissertation must be completed within four years of admission to candidacy. A full oral defense of the dissertation is required upon successful completion of the student’s work.

For admission, students normally are expected to hold a Master’s degree with a strong technical and analytical background, typically in engineering, computer science, cognitive science, mathematics, geography, or another area related to their prospective advisor’s research area. Graduate students without a Master’s degree may be considered for direct admission to the Ph.D. program with approval by the graduate program faculty. Any student enrolled in the PhD program who completes the requirements for the MS degree (project option) before the Ph.D. may be awarded the MS.

The degree requirements for the doctor of philosophy (PhD) in Spatial Information Science and Engineering may be found in the Graduate Catalog (select current year catalog > Graduate Programs, Certificates and Specializations > Spatial Information Science and Engineering.  For requirements supplementing the Graduate Catalog, consult the school’s Graduate Student Guide.

Although the online graduate catalog is the authoritative source, the PhD requirements are copied below for convenience.

A minimum of 12 dissertation credits (SIE 699) and 30 graduate course credits (i.e., 400 level or above) on a program of study approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee that includes:

  • Up to 24 transfer credits of graduate course work
  • SIE 507 Information System Programming
  • At least 5 credits in Research Skills, including all of the following:
    o SIE 501 Introduction to Graduate Research (1 credit)
    o SIE 502 Research Methods (1 credit)
    o INT 601 Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit)
    o SIE 693 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
    o SIE 694 Doctoral Seminar (1 credit) once per year starting the year after completion of SIE 693
  • Breadth Requirements: at least one 3-credit graduate course from 4 out of the 5 following breadth areas:
    o Formal Representations of Spatial Phenomena
    o Spatial Cognition and Interaction
    o Database Systems
    o Geographic Information Systems
    o Information Policy
  • Depth Requirement: At least 12 graduate credits (400 level or above) not counted towards the breadth requirement. These credits must be in areas relevant to the student’s dissertation topic as determined by the student’s advisory committee, with at least 6 of those credits from SIE courses.
  • At least 5 graduate faculty on the advisory committee
  • At least 3 must be SIE tenured or tenure-track faculty
  • Dissertation Proposal Defense

A maximum of 24 credit hours of graduate coursework taken prior to enrollment in the Ph.D. program, whether at this university or another, may be counted towards the Ph.D. degree. If the student’s graduate advisory committee formally approves acceptance of a course on the student’s Ph.D. Program of Study, then the credit hours may be transferred toward the doctoral degree.

The University of Maine Graduate School minimum residency requirement for the Ph.D. is automatically met by four semesters of course enrollment in the program beyond the baccalaureate degree, whether by on-campus or online enrollment. Requirements for on-campus presence for research and project work are at the discretion of the student’s first advisor and advisory committee.

See as well the Curriculum Advising Notes below.

Masters Degrees

Master of Science – Spatial Information Science and Engineering

The School of Computing and Information Science offers both a thesis and project option in the Master of Science in Spatial Information Science and Engineering. All work for a master’s degree must be completed within six years. The timing starts with the first semester of registration after admission to the Master of Science in Spatial Information Science and Engineering.

The thesis option is the scientific track, typically requiring a strong engineering, computer science, human-computer interaction, or mathematics undergraduate background. Prospective master’s students with other disciplinary backgrounds are expected to make up the requisite math and engineering courses that would allow them to succeed in an engineering graduate curriculum. The thesis option includes a substantial piece of individual research as a basis for a master’s thesis.

The project option is aimed at students who desire to focus primarily on course work rather than research at the master’s level. The formal coursework is complemented by a one-semester project in which the student must demonstrate that he or she can apply the acquired knowledge for implementing a particular solution.

The degree requirements for the master degrees in Spatial Information Science and Engineering may be found in the Graduate Catalog (select current year catalog > Graduate Programs, Certificates and Specializations > Spatial Information Science and Engineering. For requirements supplementing the Graduate Catalog and for meeting breadth requirements, consult the school’s Graduate Student Guide.

Although the online graduate catalog is the authoritative source, the MS Spatial Information Science and Engineering Requirements for both the thesis and project options are copied below for convenience.

MS Spatial Information Science and Engineering Requirements (Thesis Option)
Minimum of 30 graduate course credits (i.e., 400 level or above) on a program of study approved by advisors that includes:

    • At least 24 graduate course credits
    • At least 6 thesis credits – SIE 699
    • At least 12 graduate course credits at 500 level or above
    • At least 18 graduate course credits in SIE
    • No more than 6 credits of independent study courses (598, 698 or equivalent independent study courses in other graduate programs)
    • SIE 501 Introduction to Graduate Research (1 credit)
    • SIE 502 Research Methods (1 credit)
    • SIE 507 Information System Programming (3 credits)
    • SIE 693 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)
    • INT 601 Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit)
    • Breadth Requirement – at least one 3-credit graduate course from 3 out of the 5 breadth areas:
      o Formal Representations of Spatial Phenomena
      o Spatial Cognition and Interaction
      o Database Systems
      o Geographic Information Systems
      o Information Policy
    • At least 3 graduate faculty on the advisory committee
    • At least 2 must be SIE tenured or tenure-track faculty
    • Master’s Thesis Defense

See as well the Advising Notes below.

MS Spatial Information Science and Engineering Requirements (Project Option)
Minimum of 30 graduate course credits (i.e., 400 level or above) on a program of study approved by advisors that includes:

    • At least 12 graduate course credits at 500 level or above
    • At least 18 graduate course credits in SIE
    • No more than 6 credits of independent study courses (598, 698, or equivalent independent study courses in other graduate programs)
    • SIE 589 Graduate Project (3 credits)
    • SIE 507 Information System Programming (3 credits)
    • INT 601 Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit)
    • Breadth Requirement: at least one 3-credit graduate course from 4 out of the 5 following breadth areas:
      o Formal Representations of Spatial Phenomena
      o Spatial Cognition and Interaction
      o Database Systems
      o Geographic Information Systems
      o Information Policy
    • At least 3 graduate faculty on the advisory committee
    • At least 2 must be SIE tenured or tenure-track faculty

If they qualify, students pursuing the Project Option may complete and submit the GRE Waiver Request Application

See as well the Curriculum Advising Notes below.

Master of Science – Spatial Informatics (online only)

The master-of-science degree in Spatial Informatics (MSSI) provides an “all e-learning” “all coursework” degree for place-bound students that desire strong theory, computational, cognitive, analytical, policy and technical foundations in geographic information science and systems. As a general rule, students may view class videos and accomplish assignments at any time throughout a week in any of the offered program courses and have the weekly opportunity (or requirement) to participate in a one to two hour “live” discussion session at a mutually convenient time for distance class members prior to due dates for weekly assignments. The MS Spatial Informatics graduate degree is an “online only” version of the existing on-campus research-focused or project-focused MS in Spatial Information Science and Engineering degree.

The program focuses on advancing knowledge about spatial information particularly with respect to concepts needed in next-generation information systems. Emphasis is placed on learning and developing novel concepts and methods in the broad fields of spatial and geographic information science for sensing, storing, accessing, analyzing, and managing spatial data as well as modeling, extracting, integrating, visualizing, and communicating spatial information.

Spatial Informatics may be viewed as a field of study merging knowledge drawn from geographic information science, information science, cognitive science, computer science and engineering. Students build on foundations in computer science, mathematics, physics, geography, cognitive science, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, engineering and related fields to study spatio-temporal phenomena, design intelligent spatial information systems and develop human- centered accessible technologies. In addition, the design of spatial information technologies requires a comprehensive understanding of the social, legal, economic, and institutional issues affecting such systems, a commitment to human users and ethical uses of such systems, dedication to the ethics of broad access to information, and commitment to quality of information.

The program is designed to meet the growing demand in society for graduates with high-level geospatial technology skills. This student centered curriculum provides a path for women and men from diverse fields to rapidly transition to information system career paths by providing them with foundation graduate level courses in information systems and geographic information science. Similar to an MBA or Law degree, the spatial informatics graduate program accommodates students from wide ranging undergraduate degree backgrounds.

The Master of Science in Spatial Informatics is available only to distance students. The program consists of the same courses as taken by on-campus graduate students in Spatial Information Science and Engineering taught by the same instructors. Distance students view lectures and class discussions at times of their own choosing while deadlines for electronic delivery of assignments are often the same as for on-campus students. There is no thesis required although students may propose pursuit of a project-based course as part of their graduate program if desired.

The degree requirements for the master degrees in Spatial Informatics may be found in the Graduate Catalog (select current year catalog > Graduate Programs, Certificates and Specializations > Spatial Informatics).

Additionally see, UMaineOnline Spatial Informatics Program Description and Admissions Information

Although the online graduate catalog is the authoritative source, the MS Spatial Informatics Requirements are copied below for convenience.

The Master of Science in Spatial Informatics (MSSI) consists of 30 credits, all earned in course work. The program consists of five three-credit required core courses and a minimum of fifteen additional credits from a list of elective courses approved for the program drawn from a range of disciplines but primarily from distance courses offered by the School of Computing and Information Science. If some required courses are duplicative of courses that may have been taken in the student’s undergraduate degree program or another graduate program, those courses need not be repeated, and the student will select in consultation with the MSSI Graduate Coordinator and MSSI Steering Committee additional approved courses to arrive at the total of 30 credit hours.

Required Courses
The following five courses must be taken and all count towards the graduate degree.

SIE 507 – Information Systems Programming Credits: 3
SIE 515 – Human Computer Interaction Credits: 3
SIE 525 – Information Systems Law Credits: 3
SIE 550 – Design of Information Systems Credits: 3
SIE 505 – Formal Foundations for Information Science Credits: 3

Elective Courses
Students must take at least fifteen additional credits that are approved in advance by the MSSI Steering Committee from the following approved elective course listings in order to arrive at the total required of 30 credits.
Among courses that are regularly available for distance students include:

SIE 508 – Object Oriented Programming Credits: 3
SIE 509 – Principles of Geographic Information Systems Credits: 3
SIE 510 – Geographic Information Systems Applications Credits: 3
SIE 512 – Spatial Analysis Credits: 3
SIE 516 – Virtual Reality: Research and Applications Credits: 3 (on campus only)
SIE 517 – Spatial Interaction Design Credits: 3
SIE 554 – Spatial Reasoning Credits 3
SIE 555 – Spatial Database Systems Credits: 3
SIE 557 – Database System Applications Credits: 3
SIE 558 – Real-Time Sensor Data Streams Credits: 3
SIE 559 – Geosensor Networks Credits: 3
SIE 580 – Ontology Engineering Theory and Practice Credits: 3
SIE 590 – Information Systems Internship Credits: 3
SIE 693 – Graduate Seminar Credits: 1

Students may propose additional elective graduate courses than those listed to be included on their master’s program of study on a case-by-case basis or added to the list. Some of the elective graduate courses may require prerequisites in addition to the minimum required for general admission to the MSSI graduate program.

Assuming they are approved on the Graduate Program of Study by the student’s graduate committee, additional courses approved for inclusion from the University of Maine Machias include:

• GIS 428 Web-Based Maps, Applications & Services
• GIS 500 GIS I
• GIS 600 GIS II

See as well the Curriculum Advising Notes below.

Graduate Certificates

The School of Computing and Information Science supports and manages student applications for graduate certificates in the following areas:

• Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
• Graduate Certificate in Information Systems
• Graduate Certificate in Computing for Educators
• Graduate Certificate in Data Science (undergoing approval process)

Any of these Graduate Certificates may be pursued independently or earned as part of and complementary to the following degrees: MS Spatial Informatics, MS Information Systems, and MS Spatial Information Science and Engineering [Thesis or Project Option]. All certificates are offered both on campus and online. Consult Graduate Certificates for the detailed requirements and how to apply. Formal admission through the graduate school application process is required even if you are enrolled simultaneously in a graduate degree program.

Curriculum Advising Notes

(1) Transfer Courses – For any of the master’s degrees, a maximum of six credit hours of graduate coursework taken prior to enrollment in the master’s program, whether at this university or another, may be counted towards the master’s degree. If the course did not count towards a completed undergraduate or graduate degree and if the student’s graduate advisory committee formally approves acceptance of the courses on the student’s Program of Study, then the credit hours may be transferred to apply toward the master’s degree.

(2) Waived Courses – Waived courses are required courses that need not be taken because the student has already covered the subject matter of the course in previous courses. See the SCIS Course Waiver Form. If a course is waived, another course is taken in its place with approval of the Graduate Coordinator in consultation with the faculty. In some instances, the replacement course is prespecified. For instance if SIE 507 is waived, the replacement course is SIE 508 unless that subject matter as well has already been covered in previous coursework by the student.

(3) Elective Courses Not Contained in the Official UMaine Catalog – All of the elective courses listed above continue to be accepted. Many of these courses at other campuses and in other programs are NOT listed in the official online catalog for pragmatic reasons. However, these elective courses are typically still accepted by the faculty for inclusion on your Program of Study. Other relevant courses may also be petitioned for that are not on the above current list.

(4) Taking Courses from Other Campuses –  If a course listed above is taken from another campus, it must first be approved on your Program of Study (See Master’s POS or Grad Certificate POS). After approval, you must complete the Domestic Study Away Form (DSAF) for each course taken on another campus. Each DSAF should be submitted near the time in which you enroll in any course from away. Sign it, submit it first to the Graduate Coordinator (harlan.onsrud@maine.edu) and then send the form with those two signatures to the UMaine Graduate School (debbi.clements@maine.edu). The graduate school will forward the form to other campus offices that may need it to validate your active student status, particularly if you are receiving any financial aid.

(5) Programs of Study (POS) – If needed for study away courses or for documenting the acceptance of transfer courses, please complete the POS form immediately upon admission.  Otherwise, completing the POS after one or two semesters in the program is fine. (See https://umaine.edu/graduate/ > Students> Forms and Documents> Master’s and CAS Program of Study and/or Certificate Program of Study as appropriate.) In completing the form, you may determine the semester that SIE courses are typically offered by consulting the Graduate Student Guide on pages 11 through 14.

(6) On-Leave Status – If you decide to enroll in no courses for one or more regular academic year semesters, your are required to submit a Request for On-Leave Status. If you fail to submit such a request, you are assumed to have left the program by the Graduate School.

(7) Application for Graduation – As graduation approaches, you should file a Completion of Degree Requirements form with the Graduate School. This often first requires submission of a Change in Program of Study form to ensure that any changes in your POS have been approved by the faculty. (See https://umaine.edu/graduate/students/forms-and-documents/ > Change in Program of Study and/or Completion of Degree Requirements as appropriate.)

Graduate Courses

Consult the SIE course descriptions. In addition to these, courses from numerous additional areas are available to include in your graduate program of study.