Geographic Information Systems

Affiliation: Sociology

GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is a field of study that combines spatial theory, GIS technology and software, geographic data and analysis (including GPS and field work), and cartographic design principles for the purpose of exploring and understanding the world around us from a spatial perspective.

Employers in the most competitive industries continue to seek applicants whose resumes include additional computational skills beyond the Microsoft Office Suite, and having a GIS Minor would give students an "edge" in the workforce. According to the most recent edition of the Harvard Business Review, one of the most valuable jobs emerging in the 21st century is that of the "data scientist," which includes skills such as knowing how to find, manipulate and interpret different types of data. Being able to work with and visualize spatial data using GIS technology will be an invaluable tool for any student in a variety of majors and concentrations.

Geographic Information Systems Minor

A GIS Minor is particularly valuable when paired with the following fields of study: Sociology, Business Administration, Biology and the STEM Sciences, though it is not confined to these disciplines. For instance, someone pursuing a career in urban planning, law enforcement, environmental science, forensics, health care and health policy, epidemiology, marketing, etc., could benefit greatly with a background in GIS, as nearly every company or governmental agency uses GIS within their organization.

GIS Minor

A minimum of six courses, two of which must include:




GIS 10/110

Introduction to Spatial Thinking


GIS 20/120

Fundamentals of GIS


GIS elective



GIS elective



GIS elective



GIS elective



Total units:


GIS elective courses:

SOC 175

Urban Sociology


SOC 180

Social Stratification


SOC 194

Community Health


CRI 119

Urban Crisis Response & Mngmt


BUS 185

Principles of Management


BIO 111



BIO 67

Environmental Science





Additional GIS courses (Not Required):

GIS 150

Remote Sensing


GIS 160

Intro to Data Management


GIS 170

Advanced Spatial Modeling





Geographic Information Systems Courses

GIS 10/110 Introduction to Spatial Thinking (3)

This course examines concepts related to the study of geographic information at an introductory level. Using a variety of materials and online tools, students will explore how spatial reasoning can be applied to real world issues.

GIS 20/120 Fundamentals of GIS (3)

This course introduces students to GIS software and applications. Throughout the course, students will learn the essential skills needed to perform basic level spatial analysis, cartographic design and map production.

GIS 130 Advanced GIS (3)

This is an advanced-level GIS course. Students conduct real-world GIS projects for community-based organizations (CBO) in the Los Angeles area. Topics include data capture, data manipulation, database design, data quality, and spatial analysis. Students will complete projects following the best practices of GIS project management. Instruction is accomplished through lectures and hands-on computer lab exercises using ArcGIS.

GIS 140 Spatial Analysis (3)

This course exposes students to more advanced analysis techniques using GIS software, with an emphasis on using spatial data to examine real world issues and case studies.

GIS 150 Remote Sensing (3)

This course explores how imagery is used in GIS to examine, analyze and classify environmental phenomena using aerial, satellite, LIDAR, and Landsat imagery. Students will also explore how these forms of remote sensing can be used to investigate changes in environmental and human populations over time.

GIS 160 Introduction to Data Management (3)

This course provides an introduction to GIS database structure, design and implementation. Students will use GIS software and database management tools to create and work with their own geodatabases. The course also covers concepts such as metadata, database integrity, naming conventions and data exportation.

GIS 170 Advanced Spatial Modeling (3)

This course exposes students to advanced geospatial analysis techniques and workflows. Students will gain in depth knowledge of geoprocessing tools and functions, and will use ArcGIS ModelBuilder to replicate, build and create data models.

GIS 182 Demography (3)

This course focuses on demography, the study of populations. We will examine the causes and consequences of population change, both on a national and global scale. By exploring fertility, mortality, and migration rates, we will analyze how these factors impact health, distribution, composition, and labor markets in societies. The course is comprised of lectures and class discussions, with a focus on current and potential policy. As well, students will be introduced to demographic databases and use mapping technology to develop practical skill sets. Cross-listed with SOC 182.

GIS 197 Applied Internship (3)

Students will complete one semester's worth of applied internship in their field of interest, through the supervision and guidance of a faculty member. Internship site is to be selected and mutually agreed upon by student and professor. May be retaken for credit (3-6 units)