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Graduate Program in Spatial Analysis

About the Program

The Master of Spatial Analysis with its unique MSA degree designation is an academically rigorous yet professionally oriented, 12-month graduate program with a 16 to 20-month thesis option. Through project-based lectures and labs, a work placement, and a major research paper or thesis, MSA students are prepared to think geographically and master geographic information systems (GIS) to support operational and strategic decision-making in government and industry.

Spatial analysts work for major banks, retailers, and real-estate developers to delineate market areas, estimate sales potentials, and recommend facility locations. Other career fields include environmental analysis and consulting, crime analysis, epidemiology, telecommunications, and natural resource management, to name just a few. Through the effective use of GIS-based analysis, mapping, and reporting, our graduates are shaping the economic and social wellbeing of cities, the settlement and conservation policies of regions, and the health and connectivity of people across the globe. MSA students are also increasingly involved in faculty research and scientific publication, and decide to pursue doctoral studies after graduation.

The following tagcloud provides an illustration of the MSA graduates’ first and current job titles that are known to the program.

The MSA program has its academic home in the Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts, at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto, Canada’s economic engine and one of the most progressive, multi-cultural, and vibrant cities in North America. Ryerson’s Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity (CSCA) was a founding partner of the MSA program, and remains a key contributor to the business geomatics field of study.

The MSA degree can be completed in 12 months (three semesters) by fulltime students and 24 months (six semesters) by parttime students. The degree requirements include four core and two elective courses, a practicum placement (waived for most parttime students), and a major research paper or thesis. Although much of the curriculum is in common for all students, and many of the spatial analysis skills are transferable, three fields of study are recognized: physical/environmental geography and landscape analysis; business/commercial applications; and social and community information analysis. Students participate in one of the fields by selecting electives, the practicum host, and their research topic according to their interests.



Spatial Analysis:
Program Details
Program-Related News

16 November 2016 - We had a successful 15-year MSA Reunion that took place concurrently with the EA user conference reception and a GIS Day-themed display of geovisualization projects from the MSA cartography course on Nov 16, 2016! Many thanks for the enormous support provided by Environics Analytics! Environics Analytics founder and president, @statslady Jan Kestle, is quoted with identifying "Geography as the secret sauce" that integrates data for advanced analytics. The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Ryerson University received shout-outs and accolades for training the next generation of data analysts through its BA in Geographic Analysis and MSA in Spatial Analysis programs. See an event report from Dr. Claus Rinner (

15 October 2015 - Congratulations to Daniel Liadsky (MSA class 2014-2015) who was awarded the Ryerson Gold Medal, University's highest honour, at the Fall Convocation Ceremony on Oct 15, 2015. This award is presented to one student from each Faculty. Daniel was the only student from the Faculty of Arts who was selected for this highly competitive award. The award recognizes Daniel’s outstanding academic achievement and research in food geography using geographic and statistical methods, combined with his outstanding community and professional involvement with the Canadian Urban Institute and other community and non-profit organizations using GIS, geo-visualization and geo-computation approaches.

1 September 2015 – Welcome to 21 new MSA students, coming to us from Carleton, Cornell, Lakehead, Laurentian, McGill, Queen’s, Toronto, Victoria, and of course Ryerson undergraduate (and graduate) degrees!

26 August 2015 – Project proposals by MSA faculty members Dr. Claire Oswald, Dr. Richard Shaker, and Dr. Andrew Millward were funded by “RECODE at Ryerson University”, showcasing our Department’s leadership in social innovation. See the RECODE initiative’s blog post for details.

1 June 2015 – Five MSA students participate in the Canadian Association of Geographers’ conference in Vancouver starting today: Christine Valancius, Alexis Robinson, Vadim Sabetski, Shannon Strelioff, and Kaylin Chin. See Dr. Forsythe’s blog post for details.

21 April 2015 – MSA students Daniel Liadsky, Vadim Sabetski, and Heather Hart present at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago this week, along with numerous MSA faculty members and several MSA alumni. See Dr. Rinner’s blog post for details.

15 March 2015 – Alumni news: Adam McKay (MSA ’13) is volunteering on a URISA GISCorps mission. From March to May, he teaches GIS & Remote Sensing at Kabale University in south western Uganda.

6 February 2015 – We are in the process of updating the MSA publication list. This includes three peer-reviewed, international journal articles by Travis Tormala (MSA ‘10), Andrew Chung-Da Lee (MSA ‘11), and Brad Carter (MSA ‘12) with their respective supervisors, spanning topics from geospatial access to health care to neighbourhood change and development of novel decision support techniques in GIS.

12 January 2015 – This week, 23 MSA students have their first day on their practicum. The hosts for these valuable work placements include different units within the cities of Toronto and Vaughan, three provincial ministries, two conservation authorities, a major bank, a GIS developer and a geospatial data vendor, a real-estate developer, an engineering consultancy, two hospitals, two business analytics firms, two police services, a research institute, and a non-profit community group,

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