Strong Tradition

The University of Montana has led the mountain west in GIS education for over three decades. Faculty are not only recognized nationally for their innovative approaches to teaching technology, they are also experts on the cutting edge of geo-spatial research. Students learn in state of the art labs with the latest software and are fostered by close working relationships with professors. Classroom theory is put to practice with laboratory projects. Students are encouraged to gain real-world experience through service learning assignments and internships in the local community.


The University of Montana has a long history in geo-spatial education. Starting in 1957, Dr. Jacquelyn Beyer taught as the first cartographer in the newly founded Geography department. Dr. Paul Wilson taught traditional hand drafted cartography through the sixties, seventies and into the eighties. By the early 90’s, the digital workflows in cartography were replacing analog methods. Again, Dr. Wilson managed the conversion to GIS, leading the charge until his retirement in 2010. During his tenure, several GIS faculty were added to the department, creating a diverse program for students. Simultaneously, the College of Forestry and Conservation was building a GIS program for forestry. In 2007, the two colleges combined forces to create the Certificate in GIS Science & Technologies. In 2011, the University hired the first intra-college lecturer to coordinate the certificate program, as well as teach GIS and cartography classes. With the addition of another GIS faculty position in 2013, the program continues to grow and meet increasing demand.

Computer Labs

Students taking GIS courses at UM have several geo-spatial computer labs to work in. All have state-of-the-art software and the fastest hardware. The University strives to keep all labs current with the latest software versions so students are familiar with the actual programs they are likely to use in their careers.

Geography's Geospatial Research and Teaching (GReaT) Laboratories opened for use in fall 2008. The GReaT Labs are comprised of a 24-seat teaching classroom (Stone Hall 218) and a 15-seat student-use lab (Stone Hall 219). A comprehensive selection of GIS software is available, including ArcGIS, ENVI, Erdas, Idrisi, PCIGeomatica, TransCAD, Feature Analyst, LiDAR Analyst, MapViewer, Surfer, Grapher, Trimble products, and more. They also feature Adobe Creative Cloud software for cartography classes. Please see a faculty member for information on what packages are available in which labs. Additional resources such as servers and printers are also available within the labs.

The Forestry department operates two labs (Stone Hall 106 & 107) with a full suite of GIS and statistics programs. The Social Science Research Laboratory (SSRL) in the Social Science Building includes GIS Software and other resources. Finally, the Cobell Institute for Land and Culture has a new (2014) GIS lab in the Payne Family Native American Center. Check with the individual departments for lab access.