Anyone who has used GoogleEarth or MapQuest or a GPS-based navigation system or GIS software understands the power and potential of spatial analysis. A recent U.S. Department of Labor study identified geospatial analysis as one of twelve fastest growing knowledge-based professional fields. Spatial analysts are undertaking public health investigations, helping retailers and service providers find store and facility locations, working with transit providers to provide real-time vehicle information, developing strategies for community policing, identifying natural and cultural features for conservation, helping city planners promote infill development and combat urban sprawl, and working with professionals in many disciplines to explore the likely impacts of global climate change.
The MUSA (Master of Urban Spatial Analytics) degree is a 12-month masters program coupling spatial analysis skills-most notably Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-with substantive knowledge in an urban content area of the student's choosing. These include: criminology, design, economic and community development, education, local and state government, public health, real estate, urban land use planning, social welfare, transportation, and urban demography. While there are many university and college programs offering certificates in GIS, Penn is only U.S. university to integrate spatial analysis with multiple disciplines.
Students come into the MUSA program from diverse backgrounds and interests, some having recently completed a bachelor's degree, others with a professional background. The MUSA program pulls together coursework and advisors from across the Penn campus, including faculty in City and Regional Planning, Landscape Architecture, Engineering, the Wharton Business School, Public Health, Social Policy, Environmental Studies, and Criminology. Students who complete the MUSA program go to work in industry, government, consulting, and the non-profit sector. Some also go on for advanced degrees.
MUSA students typically take five graduate courses in GIS and spatial analysis, two graduate courses in a designated urban content area, an outside elective, and complete a capstone project. Full-time MUSA students can complete their degree in 12 months or less; part-time students can take up to two years.
MUSA is administered by the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design (PennDesign) in cooperation with the Penn Institute for Urban Research. Application information can be found at www.design.upenn.edu/admissions. Students applying to the MUSA program must hold a bachelors degree and have a strong academic record (GPA of 3.0 or higher). Some knowledge of basic statistics and GIS is helpful but not essential. MUSA students lacking such knowledge can complete a three-week summer institute prior to the beginning of their fall semester. Limited financial aid is available.