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Graduate Program in Spatial Analysis

Curriculum and Degree Requirements

This page provides an overview of the program of studies for the MSA degree. For detailed information on degree requirements, see the Graduate Calendar

The MSA is offered to students on either a full-time or part-time basis. Core courses are scheduled at either 4-6pm or 6-8pm when full-time and part-time students may attend as one group. The full-time program is scheduled to be completed in one year (12 months)  or 16-20 months for thesis students, and the part-time program takes two years (24 months). The program is the same for full-time and part-time students, except that the practicum requirement is waived for part-time students in appropriate program-related employment. Students are not normally admitted to the part-time program unless they are in program-related employment.

Full-time option - are you considering to continue your education immediately after a Bachelor's degree, or to take a year off from work?

The typical schedule to complete the MSA program on a full-time basis starting in the Fall (MRP = major research paper)

  • September to December: 4 core courses; develop ideas for MRP
  • January to April: 2 elective courses and practicum; start work on MRP
  • April 30th: MRP proposal due
  • May to August: research and writing of MRP
  • May 31st: literature review due
  • June 30th: analysis completed
  • July 31st: complete MRP draft due to supervisor
  • Mid-August to early September: oral defence of MRP
  • By mid-September: required MRP revisions completed and submitted to the Yeates School of Graduate Studies

Part-time option - are you thinking of upgrading your education while working as a data analyst, GIS or geomatics professional?

The MSA program is set up deliberately to encourage those working in related fields to be able to continue their education while working. Indeed, part-time students with suitable jobs are exempted from the practicum requirement in the program.

The typical schedule to complete the MSA program on a part-time basis starting this Fall (MRP = major research paper):

  • September to December: 2 core courses; develop ideas for MRP
  • January to April: 2 elective courses; develop ideas for MRP
  • April 30th: MRP short proposal due
  • May to August: start work on MRP
  • August 31st: literature review due
  • September to December: 2 core courses (coursework now finished); work on MRP
  • December 31st: methods chapter due
  • January to July: research and writing of MRP
  • April 30th: analysis completed
  • July 31st: complete MRP draft due to supervisor
  • Mid-August to early September: oral defence of MRP
  • By mid-September: required MRP revisions completed and submitted to the Yeates School of Graduate Studies

Thesis option – are you involved in a faculty member’s research project and consider pursuing a doctoral degree or working in a research-intensive environment? The MSA thesis option extends the program by one or two terms, and requires the student to write a thesis instead of an MRP. Unlike other one-year Master’s programs, the MRP in the MSA program consists of original research that is often of publishable quality (see “Publications” page). However, the thesis option allows for longer involvement in academic research and a more in-depth treatment of the student’s research topic.

Time commitment for all options - You should assume that each course will take at least one day per week of your time. In addition, the practicum accounts for two full work days per week, and any funded teaching or research assistantship will require an additional time commitment. The successful completion and defence of the MRP requires your full-time commitment during the period of May to September (full-time students).The vast majority of students complete the MSA degree in the scheduled time. At the last program evaluation (2007), 84% of full-time students and 81% of part-time students had completed the degree on time. The extra time needed by the remainder can usually be attributed to personal circumstances, such as changing jobs (part-time students) or accepting a job offer prior to graduation (fulltime students), moving, becoming a parent, or falling ill - circumstances through which the program director will counsel the student to successfully continue/return and complete the program.


Spatial Analysis:
Program Details
Program-Related News

16 June 2017 - Congratulations to Daniel Liadsky (MSA 2015) and Dr. Brian Ceh who recently published a paper entitled “The interaction between individual, social and environmental factors and their influence on dietary intake among adults in Torontoin the journal Transactions in GIS.

09 May 2017 - This is the 4th story based on the CAP project following the reports by the Toronto Star, Ryerson Today, the City Building Bulletin (April issue) by Ryerson City Building Institute.

Upcoming Event: The annual MSA Poster Day event will be held on Thursday, May 4th, 2017. Please see poster for additional information.

18 April 2017 - Congratulations to Joseph Ariwi, Gabby Lee, Ela Lichtblau, Gary Moloney for their work from the GIS Project Management course in Fall 2016 profiled on Ryerson Today on Apr 13th, 2017, in a story entitled “Students and police work together- Ryerson geography students develop mental health app with Toronto Police Service”! In this project, the group applied their skills in data handling, spatial analytics, web GIS, statistical modeling and critical social analysis, to develop the Community Asset Portal (CAP), which is a partnership between Ryerson, TPS, the City of Toronto, and Find Help/211 that seeks to create an efficient, map-based system for practical front-line use. The project continued after the course through placement for Gabby and a part time summer position for Joseph.  

21 February 2017 - Congratulations to Joseph Ariwi's success with two 2nd prizes at YSGS's "Why Ryerson?" and "My Voice, Our Future" contests!

The first contest was for a 20-word statement explaining why the student chose Ryerson for their graduate education: 2nd Place: Joseph Ariwi, Spatial Analysis MSA "I chose Ryerson for my graduate education because of the depth of expertise and diversity of culture found on campus."

The second contest was for a 1-minute video on who they are and where they are headed after Ryerson: 2nd Place: Joseph Ariwi, Spatial Analysis MSA.

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 (

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