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Graduate Studies at the GSCE

Message to Prospective Students (revised 07SEP06)

Thank you for your interest in graduate study at the Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence! The GIScCE is a joint venture linking South Dakota State University (SDSU) with the United States Geological Survey's Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS). The purpose of the GIScCE is to enable South Dakota State University faculty and students and EROS scientists to carry out collaborative research, seek professional development, and implement educational programs in the applications of geographic information science.

Faculty members at the GIScCE primarily advise students who are pursuing a PhD degree in Geospatial Science and Engineering (GSE). The main goal of this program is to prepare students for successful careers in scientific research. Applicants are expected to have a strong background in the geospatial sciences or a closely-related field. Although completion of coursework and examinations is required to earn a PhD, the main focus of the degree is an independent research project that demonstrates substantial innovation and makes a marked contribution to the student's field of study. Because of this substantial research requirement, the program of study is expected to take three years at a minimum for full-time students, and may take longer depending on the student's level of preparation and the type of research undertaken. Specific requirements for completing the PhD program are provided in the GSE Program Handbook.

All prospective students must meet the basic requirements for admission to the SDSU graduate school, as detailed in the South Dakota State University Graduate Catalog. However, the critical criterion for admission into the PhD program is that a GSE faculty member must agree to serve as the student's advisor. The scope of the geospatial sciences is extremely broad, and individual faculty members will typically only advise students within their particular area of specialization. Therefore, prospective students should examine the list of GIScCE faculty members and identify one or more potential advisors with expertise in the student's area of interest.

Because of the time required to complete the PhD and the need to undertake independent research, most students will require a source of funding in order to complete the program. Individual faculty members may have funds available to support students through research grants and other sources. Students can also bring their own funding, which could be obtained through a fellowship program or through the support of their employer. Because of the large investment of time and funds required to support a PhD student, each faculty member will typically only have a small number of advisees at any given time. Thus, the application process is highly competitive, and meeting the minimum standards does not guarantee admission. Each faculty member is individually responsible for making decisions about whom they will accept as graduate students and support financially.

When making initial inquiries about possible graduate study, you should provide information about the specific type of research you are interested in doing, and on your educational and employment histories. Faculty members may then request additional information from you if they are accepting new students. Once a potential faculty advisor has been identified, prospective students must apply to the GSE program and be accepted by the Graduate School of South Dakota State University. The prospective student is responsible for making sure all requirements have been met, all necessary materials have been submitted, and for paying the required application fee.

For more information, see the SDSU GSE Program Webpage