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Graduate Certificate Program in Geographical Information Systems

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) allow us to capture, manage, query, analyze and model geospatially referenced data. GIS ties the idea of location to information, allowing us to visualize it in map form. Using geospatial techniques we can combine and overlay data to visualize complex scenarios from a geographic perspective. GIS also allows us to integrate data from diverse sources, helping identify relationships, trends and patterns of distribution.

The goal of our certificate program is to provide students with a solid grounding in geospatial theory and techniques, combined with the practical skills to apply these techniques to real world problems. Students will be exposed to a combination of industry standard software and open source software in classes that encourage an extensive hands-on approach. We feature service learning components in our courses that increasingly incorporate the growing field of open source GIS.

The demand for geospatial science skills is significant in today’s job market, and GIS is increasingly popular in many different disciplines and industries, including: scientific investigation, resource management, marketing, archeology, environmental research, urban planning, demography, development, policy, public health, emergency management and logistics.

Certificate Requirements

Graduate of the GIS Graduate Certificate Program complete a selection of core and elective courses that provide the knowledge and skills needed by to become a professional in the field.

The certificate requires the completion of 12 graduate credit hours (typical).  Students will take two required courses: GEOG 6304 (GIS 1), GEOG 6305 (Geospatial Statistics), and two elective class.

All students are expected to complete the program in two years (4 semesters); although it will be possible to do so in one year once the program has been fully established.

GEOG 6304: GIS I (Fall, Spring, Summer)
GEOG 6305: Spatial Statistics (Fall, Spring)
GEOG 6306: GIS 2 (Advanced Geospatial Analysis) (Spring) (Prerequisite: GEOG 6304)
GEOG 6307: Digital Image Processing (Spring) (Prerequisite: GEOG 6304 & GEOG 6305)
GEOG 6308: Programming for Geographic Applications (Fall) (Prerequisite: GEOG 6304 & GEOG 6305)
GEOG 6309: GIS for Emergency Management (Fall) (Prerequisite: GEOG 6304)
GEOG 6310: Geo-visualization & Cartography (Fall) (Prerequisite: GEOG 6304)
GEOG 6311: Open Source GIS (Spring) (Prerequisite: GEOG 6304)
Additional electives are being planned as special topics classes, and will receive a formal number once they have been offered multiple times, these planned electives are: Web Mapping (Spring 2017), and Remote Sensing (Fall 2016)
If you wish to visit the department or speak to the program advisor, please contact:
Ryan Engstrom, PhD
Director of the GIS Certificate
[email protected]


A Map of the World: GIS Certificate Offers Cutting-Edge Skills

From environmental scientists to bridge builders, from disease trackers to fire departments, more and more professionals rely on geographic information systems (GIS). The mapping technology has become a critical tool in addressing crises from inner-city poverty to global warming. Read more. 

GIS Spatial Analysis Lab

Access to Exciting Technologies

Our state-of-the-art Spatial Analysis Lab is available for student research and our faculty members have expertise in GIS, remote sensing and spatial analysis.


Flexible and Interdisciplinary Approach

Certificate students have an opportunity to pick from a broad range of electives that match their interests. Our electives aim to capture the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary geospatial analysis

Capitol Hill

The Washington Advantage

The University’s location in downtown Washington provides numerous opportunities for graduate students. Our location in the nation’s capital provides close proximity to government entities, NGOs and think tanks where students gain valuable experience as geospatial volunteers & interns.