M.S. in Spatial Informatics

Master of Science in Spatial Informatics

The Master of Science in Spatial Informatics is an all course-work degree program of study that is available only through distance learning. Its goal is to serve place-bound students that desire strong theory, computational, analytical, policy and technical foundations in geographic information science and systems. This graduate degree is the online version of the on-campus MS in Spatial Information Science and Engineering degree and accommodates students from wide ranging undergraduate degree backgrounds. Distance students take the same comprehensive graduate course content with the same high-caliber full-time professors as taken by on-campus graduate students.

Students build on foundations in computer science, mathematics, physics, geography, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, engineering and related fields to study spatio-temporal phenomena and design intelligent spatial information systems. The terms “spatial information science and engineering” and “spatial informatics” may be used interchangeably to describe the field of knowledge that builds from and bridges to domains of geographic information science, computer science, cognitive science and engineering.

The UMaine Spatial Informatics graduate program is designed to meet the growing demand in society for graduates with high-level geospatial technology skills and provide 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.


Students develop knowledge and technical skills in such areas as information system design, human-computer interaction, database systems design and management, systems development, computer networks, and information law and ethics. They gain working familiarity with one or more programming languages if not already acquired, the concepts of managing resources across local and wide area networks including technical and managerial concepts of distributed systems, client-server systems, world-wide-web, digital libraries, and further evolving network-based systems. Relational and object-oriented databases and systems for group decision support are addressed in the context of designing and managing databases. All of these general information systems graduate courses draw on spatial technology examples or contextual environments. The online graduate program specializes in preparing graduates to better utilize location information, geographic information systems, sensors and mobile technologies in accomplishing the day-to-day tasks of businesses and government and to help advance new innovations in these domains. In addition, students have the opportunity to take courses that provide an understanding of business and engineering applications and thus provide further foundations for effective communication with end users.

For more detailed information see the Spatial Informatics website.


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 the pursuit of a project-based course as part of their graduate program if desired.

As required by the University, 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 Informatics.

Degree Requirements

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.

Core Courses

The following courses are required (15 credits):

  • SIE 505: Formal Foundations of Information Systems (3 credits)
  • SIE 507: Information Systems Programming (3 credits)
  • SIE 515: Human-Computer Interaction (3 credits)
  • SIE 525: Information Systems Law (3 credits)
  • SIE 550: Design of Information Systems (3 credits)


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. Courses that are regularly available online include:

  • SIE 508: Object-Oriented Programming (3 credits)
  • SIE 509: Principles of Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)
  • SIE 510: Geographic Information Systems Applications (3 credits)
  • SIE 512: Spatial Analysis (3 credits)
  • SIE 517: Spatial Interaction Design (3 credits)
  • SIE 554: Spatial Reasoning (3 credits)
  • SIE 555: Spatial Database Systems (3 credits)
  • SIE 557: Database System Applications (3 credits)
  • SIE 558: Real-Time Sensor Data Streams (3 credits)
  • SIE 559: Geosensor Networks (3 credits)
  • SIE 580: Ontology Engineering Theory and Principles (3 credits)
  • SIE 590: Information Systems Internship (3 credits)

Students may propose additional elective graduate courses than those listed to be included in their program of study on a case-by-case basis or added to the list. Depending on student interests and background and course availability for distance students, some students may choose to propose one or more courses from the list of UMaine Applied GIS Courses for inclusion in their program of study. Some of the elective graduate courses may require prerequisites in addition to the minimum required for general admission to the MSSI graduate program.

Detailed Requirements

  • Programs of Study are approved for each student by the Steering Committee for the MSSI graduate program. This committee consists of the MSSI Graduate Program Coordinator and two additional graduate faculty members in the department or affiliated with the program.
  • Each student’s Program of Study must include the five required core courses with the remainder of courses to be selected from an approved course list maintained by the department or proposed by the student and assessed for possible approval. The MSSI Steering Committee assesses the reasonableness of such requests and makes the final decision on whether specific additional courses serving the objectives of the MSSI program and the needs of the student may be included. Each student’s Program of Study must be approved in advance by the MSSI Steering Committee. Students should NOT assume that any combination of program courses will be approved by the Steering Committee.
  • At least 15 credits of the 30 required on a student’s program of study must be at the 500 level or above.
  • Up to two courses may be taken at other universities by distance methods or otherwise if contained on the student’s graduate program of study and approved in advance by the MSSI Steering Committee.
  • Up to two graduate courses may be transferred into the student’s graduate program of study if taken prior to admission to the Graduate School, the courses did not count towards the student’s undergraduate degree requirements, and the courses are approved by the MSSI Steering Committee.
  • The MSSI Graduate Coordinator serves as the advisor for each student admitted to the program and the MSSI Steering Committee serves as the graduate committee for each student in the program.
  • All students must complete the entire MS graduate program of study within a six-year period (as established by the Graduate School).


We have rolling admissions so you can apply and be accepted into the program at any time. However, the following dates are recommended:

  • Fall semester: August 1
  • Spring semester: January 1


Admission to the University of Maine Spatial Information Science and Engineering graduate programs is competitive. In its admission process, the graduate faculty considers the potential of applicants to complete the program successfully and achieve positions of leadership in the private or public sectors. We generally seek an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or above. Exceptions are considered on a case-by-case basis.

At a minimum, an applicant must have a four-year US bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or a four-year international equivalent. Within their curriculum, all applicants should have completed a university course in Algebra as a minimum math prerequisite for admission. Previous programming courses or experience are recommended but not required. The review committee considers both the curriculum completed and the institution attended in its assessment.

Application Materials

For formal admission to the graduate program, applicants need to supply:

  • Application
  • Application fee
  • Original transcripts
  • Original TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

We highly encourage all applicants to apply online on the Graduate School website. Please note that you can pay the application fee by credit card but that information must be conveyed by phone call. For a quick consultation with a faculty member on your application or to receive an initial indication of whether you are likely to be admitted, see contact information.

For further admission requirements consult the Graduate Catalog.

When you are ready to apply, please first review the application instructions. Then, complete your online application.

Contact Us

Have questions about earning your M.S. in Spatial Informatics online with UMaine? Contact Richard Roberts, UMaineOnline Advisor, at 207.581.5858 or at umaineonline@maine.edu.

photo of Richard Roberts

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Graduates are both self-employed and employed throughout business and government in a broad range of spatial information management and system development positions. Jobs are numerous, varied and well paid. Many past graduates are involved in advancing spatial technology itself; developing software and systems to enhance the ability of individuals, businesses, government, and industry to better utilize location information, sensors and mobile systems in their daily tasks. Other graduates are involved in more traditional areas of managing land information systems, producing maps and digital databases through the application of geospatial technologies and techniques, or managing, developing, and preserving land. Yet others are involved in managing information about the environment, transportation, and other utility systems. Regardless of choice, careers are rewarding and intellectually stimulating. See also the listing of sample Employers of Past Graduates of our UMaine spatial informatics graduate program at https://spatial.umaine.edu/employers-of-past-graduates/.


While all the faculty members in the School of Computing and Information Science may contribute to teaching and research in any of its academic units, the core Spatial Informatics faculty members include:

For detailed background, research and contact information on other professors in the School, please see Faculty and Staff.

Financial Support Options

For general information on the range of grants, loans and scholarships available from Federal and other sources for graduate students, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid. Note: Those seeking a Graduate Certificate rather than a full graduate degree are ineligible for most grants, loans, and scholarships.

University-wide assistantships and scholarships may be available but only those students who have their complete graduate applications submitted by the end of January are typically placed by the School into the pool of those considered. All full-time students are eligible to apply.

Many students are supported through jobs on campus in various technical and administrative support roles. Openings are regularly posted at student employment.

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