Concord’ vineyards along the shore of Lake Erie overlaid with spatial sensor canopy data. In this case, blue areas show vines with strong growth and high production and red areas show problem areas of poor growth and production.

MPS Geospatial Applications

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Program Overview

The CALS MPS program specialization in Geospatial Applications features coursework designed to equip students with knowledge and tools to collect and analyze geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing data.

The skills developed can be applied to numerous emerging applications and careers, in fields such as:

  • Digital agriculture, crop production and yield analysis
  • Environmental management, drought and flood plain analysis
  • Land use, energy and resource management
  • Wildlife conservation
  • City and regional planning
  • Government and law enforcement
  • Climate change monitoring and analysis
  • Transportation planning and logistics
  • Surveying and digital cartography
  • Image processing and analysis

There is growing demand for students with advanced geospatial modeling and analysis skills to manage and interpret vast quantities of information. Graduates seek employment in a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, government agencies, consulting, public health organizations, financial institutions, private industry and not-for-profit entities, providing location intelligence for decision-making.

Cornell student uses research tools for field experiment.

Geospatial Applications is the use of modern tools to geographically map and analyze the Earth and human societies. This specialization provides education in geospatial applications, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to develop data management and decision-making skills for a wide range of geographical data. Geospatial applications have many relevant and useful applications, such as:

  • Effective collection of data – such as soil data and seasonality of topography – can  help take the guess work out of agricultural planning
  • Mapping of areas, especially areas that are vulnerable to natural disasters, can help protect food supplies
  • Urban and regional planning

At Cornell, students have used geospatial applications to study a wide breadth of topics, such as:

  • Vegetation responses to drought conditions
  • Analyzing the influence of landscape context on the efficacy of sustainable agricultural practices in Kenya
  • Flood exposure due to poor infrastructure, and its relation to social vulnerability in Kolkata
  • Understanding bike sharing activity patterns of NYC Citi Bike

The MPS is an accredited, one-year, course-based master’s degree program that prepares individuals for the 21st-century workplace through knowledge development and career skillset refinement. The specialized, course-based instruction led by world-class faculty broadens expertise and expands versatility.

The CALS MPS degree program in has two main components:

  1. Coursework: The suggested curriculum includes a balance of courses to build both professional and disciplinary competencies. Students work with a faculty advisor to customize their course of study based on their area(s) of interest.  While the majority of the courses (20 of the required 30 credits) will be in CALS, students have the flexibility to take electives across Cornell.
  2. Capstone project: With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students work on solving a real-world problem, building project management and team leadership skills sought by employers.

MPS students are part of a cohort of CALS professional master’s students specializing in diverse fields of study. The program is fast-paced and rigorous. Professional master’s students have a dedicated support organization, offering career guidance and professional skill development.

Geospatial Applications Sample Curriculum



Course Title
PLSCS 4110 Applied Remote Sensing and GIS for Environmental Resource Inventory and Analysis
PLSCS 4290 Remote Sensing and Modeling for Ecosystems
PLSCS 6600 Remote Sensing Fundamentals
BTRY 6010 Statistical Methods
ALS 5211 Career Readiness for CALS Professional Master's Students
PLSCI 5900 MPS Project


Course Title
PLSCS 4200 Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Concepts and Applications
PLSCS 6200 Spatial Modeling and Analysis
PLSCS 4650 Global Navigation Satellite Systems
CEE 6150 Digital Image Processing
LEAD 5100 Leadership Skills for Graduate Students
COMM 4660 Public Communication of Science and Technology                                                               
PLSCI 5900 MPS Project

Faculty Spotlight

Assistant Professor Ying Sun

Ying Sun is an Assistant Professor of geospatial sciences whose research focuses on understanding fundamental processes governing interactions between agroecosystems and climate at various scales. Ying is working with a team of researchers using NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to more accurately measure photosynthesis – with implications for creating more reliable estimation of crop productivity and global carbon uptake in the face of increasing climate change.

“Our global population and demand for food production are both increasing, but we only have limited resources of land and water, my goal is to provide sustainable solutions to increase food productivity while reducing negative impacts on the environment. Using this novel data set and state-of-the-art modeling tools, I feel confident about being able to help solve these systemic agricultural problems.”

Admissions Requirements

The ideal candidate will demonstrate a passion for the importance gathering and analyzing data to make strategic decisions, competency in undergraduate science coursework, and interest in applying knowledge gained in a professional career. Admission requirements include:

  • Common undergraduate courses taken: Biology, Physics, Math, Chemistry, Ecology, Environmental Sciences
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are not required but may be submitted to strengthen candidacy
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL for non-native English speakers

Connect with us to discuss the admissions process.

Learn more about the Geospatial Applications MPS and other Masters of Professional Studies specializations offered in the School of Integrative Plant Science