Geography BS Geospatial Intelligence

Program Purpose


Geospatial intelligence is a rapidly growing field that uses technology to gather spatial data, then analyze and interpret it to monitor and solve situations that impact our national security. The program therefore focuses on three areas:

This emphasis is ideal for students who want to work in military intelligence (i.e., ROTC), civilian intelligence agencies of the Federal Government, homeland security agencies at all levels of government, and many major contractors providing technical support services. Graduates should be prepared to be employed in classified environments, and therefore expect background checks and security clearances in every phase of their employment.

Curricular Structure

As in all Geography emphases, students in this program apply the geographic perspective and spatial thinking skils to issues in a particular advanced specialty. The course requirements in this emphasis are thus composed of three parts:

BS Geography general information

Catalog Information

Major Academic Plan

Learning Outcomes


The Geography Core learning outcomes are correlated with five of the six essential elements of the 1994 National Geography Standards (NGS).  The specialized outcomes of this emphasis are focused on developing further competency in these six elements, the eighteen specific standardswithin these elements (especially #1, #2, and #3), and the five geographic skills in the standard; the correlated standards are cited in each outcome.

BS Geography Core: Students who successfully complete the core courses in the BS Geography degree should be able to (at a basic level):

Core geographic knowledge and skills

Understand, explain and apply the NGS-related foundational concepts of Human Societies and Spatiality, Physical Environments, Human-Environmental Interaction, Regional Geography, Critical Spatial Thinking, and Effective Communication.

Courses that Contribute: GEOG 441
Linked to BYU Aims: Think soundly, Human knowledge

Emphasis Specialization: Students who successfully complete the Geospatial Intelligence Emphasis should be able to fulfill the core outcomes, and to:

Intelligence and the Intelligence Community

Students will be able to act professionally using fundamental principles of intelligence (e.g., collection, analysis) and describe how intelligence is used in government and private environments. Contributing courses include Geography 441 and 442.

Courses that Contribute: None
Linked to BYU Aims: Competence
Geography and Security

Students will be able to analyze simple security and intelligence problems using a geographic perspective, relating human actions to cultural, political, economic, social,and physical  landscapes.

Courses that Contribute: GEOG 255 GEOG 265 GEOG 441
Linked to BYU Aims: Competence
Case Study Analysis

Students will be able to analyze social science data (case histories) using structured analytical methods peculiar to intelligence analysis as practiced in the US.

Courses that Contribute: GEOG 213 GEOG 322 GEOG 441 GEOG 442
Linked to BYU Aims: Think soundly, Quantitative reasoning
Collaboration and Problem Solving

Students will be able to combine their acquired group research habits with their individual competencies in oral and written information exchange using geographic concepts and investigative techniques.

Courses that Contribute: GEOG 255 GEOG 265 GEOG 322 GEOG 441 GEOG 442
Linked to BYU Aims: Communicate effectively

Evidence of Learning


Direct Measures

  1. Department entrance and exit exam results. The same exam given in Geog. 100 [entrance] and at time of graduation [exit], which exam assesses knowledge in the core areas of geography.
  2. Sample coursework from Geog 120, 211, 212, and 213 as well as regional and physical geography electives.  
  3. Geography content knowledge exam (pre and post tests in 441 and 442)
  4. Sample coursework and specific exams from Geog 441 and 442

Indirect Measures

BYU Senior Survey with departmental addendum, focusing on opinions of BYU education and self-confidence in competency

BYU Alumni Questionnaire with departmental addendum, focusing on opinions of BYU education and self-confidence in competency

FHSS exit survey with departmental addendum, focusing on opinions of BYU education and self-confidence in competency

Anecdotal reports from alumni reflecting on BYU education and success in profession and post-graduate education

Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement


  1. Two standing committees of the department are involved: the Undergraduate Education committee (three members selected by the chair), and the program curriculum committee composed of all faculty focused in Geospatial Intelligence. In both committees, most effort is concentrated during the summer to avoid distraction during the school year.
  2. Throughout the school year, the Undergraduate Education Committee uses university, college, and department tools to gather raw assessment data.
  3. At the end of the school year (late April-early May), this Committee analyzes and discusses the assessment data with respect to the learning outcomes. They identify significant successes, and problems that need to be resolved. They prepare a brief report.
  4. At the final faculty meeting of the year (mid-May), the Undergraduate Education Committee presents their findings to the rest of the faculty. The Undergraduate Education Committee (or another standing or ad hoc committee if appropriate) is charged with developing solutions to department-wide issues. The program curriculum committee is charged with developing solutions to program-specific issues. This should take 1-2 hours.
  5. During the summer, committees meet as needed and develop solutions. Each prepares a brief report outlining specific proposals. This may include program requirement changes, new or deleted courses, course alterations, teacher development, and such.
  6. At the department retreat (late August), each committee presents its proposals. Faculty discuss and vote on proposals. This should take 2-3 hours.
  7. The Undergraduate Education Committee prepares and submits applications for curriculum changes in September for consideration by the University for the following school year.