SAN MARCOS (September 3, 2014) –  Through a unique collaboration between Palomar College and Marshall University, based in West Virginia, Palomar students will now be able to move seamlessly toward a bachelor’s degree (B.S. or B.A.)  in geography after receiving a certificate of achievement in geographic information systems (GIS) at Palomar.

Wing Cheung, Associate Professor of geography at Palomar, said that GIS is comprised of hardware  and software that make it possible “to map and identify trends and patterns in data.” Just a few of the many industries that depend on GIS data are: crime prevention, public health, conservation, engineering, education, government, utilities, marketing/development, transportation, insurance, emergency planning, archaeology, anthropology, and urban planning. Cheung worked with the Chair of the geography department at Marshall to develop this opportunity for Palomar students. Cheung said, “This is an unprecedented, exciting opportunity for our GIS students who wish to get a bachelor’s degree in geography with an emphasis in GIS.”

He went on to explain that students in the program will complete the requirements for the certificate of achievement in GIS at Palomar the first two years, then take online courses through Marshall University (a public research university) to finish their bachelor’s degree in years three and four. “All of the required Marshall University courses can be done online,” Cheung said, “so there is no need to move to West Virginia.”

Cheung stated the “many advantages” of this educational opportunity:

  • Nearly all GIS and general education courses completed by Palomar students will apply toward their Geography degree at Marshall.
  • A bachelor’s degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field such as GIS will enhance students’ competitiveness in the job market.
  • All of Marshall University’s courses can be completed online, so there is no need to relocate.
  • The cost of getting a bachelor’s degree through this arrangement is comparable to the tuition costs of public universities in the San Diego region.


On the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, Geographer is listed as an occupation that is experiencing “much faster than average” growth, with a median salary of $74,760 per year. Similarly, on the  U.S. Department of Labor website,  the Geospatial Industry is listed as one of its 13 “high growth industries”.

Dan Sourbeer, Palomar’s Dean of the Natural and Health Sciences said, “GIS is a growing and important field. We are very pleased to be able to help Palomar’s GIS students get their bachelor degrees and then move on to rewarding careers.” For more information, please



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Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2365

Laura Gropen, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150 ext. 2152