It is possible to earn a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in GIS; certificate programs are also available. Students can find relevant educational offerings at two-year colleges and four-year universities.
Schools with GIS Programs
The table below provides a list of a few of the schools that offer GIS programs. Tuition is averaged across all undergraduate or graduate programs except where noted:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition*|
|Arizona State University||Tempe, AZ||4-year, Public||Undergrad Certificate, Bachelor's, Graduate Certificate & Master's||$10,158 (in-state, undergraduate), $28,524 (in-state, GIS master's)|
|Ohio State University - Main Campus||Columbus, OH||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's & Doctoral||$10,037 (in-state, undergraduate), $11,560 (in-state, graduate)|
|University of Florida||Gainesville, FL||4-year, Public||Master's & Doctoral||$10,770 (in-state, graduate)|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Minneapolis, MN||4-year, Public||Master's||6-14 credits: $8,457 (2016-17, in-state, GIS master's), < 6 or >14 credits: $1410 per credit (in-state, GIS master's)|
|The University of Texas at Austin||Austin, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$9,806 (in-state, undergraduate)|
|Houston Community College||Houston, TX||2-year, Public||Undergrad Certificate||$1,632 (in-district), $3,360 (in-state)|
|Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi||Corpus Christi, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's & Post-Baccalaureate Certificate||$7,976 (in-state, undergraduate), $3,568 (in-state, graduate)|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$13,560 (in-state, undergraduate)|
|University of South Florida - Main Campus||Tampa, FL||4-year, Public||Graduate Certificate||$8,350 (in-state, graduate)|
|Pennsylvania State University - World Campus||University Park, PA||4-year, Public||Post-Baccalaureate Certificate & Master's||$821 per credit (2016-17, in-state, GIS master's)|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics, school websites
School Selection Criteria
Consider the following also when looking for GIS schools:
- Because GIS programs combine geographic and mapping knowledge with computer skills, it can be helpful to find out about the school's computer lab facilities in order to ensure that students have access to the latest spatial analysis technologies and software programs.
- Degrees in GIS can prepare students for a wide range of careers, so in programs that include internships, it can be helpful for students to find out if positions are available in the setting in which they would like to work in the future.
- Prospective graduate students who are considering research-focused programs should make sure that there are faculty members at the school with whom they share research interest, as they may act as thesis or dissertation advisors.
- Working professionals with scheduling commitments may want to look for programs that are available in online or part-time study formats.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Bachelor's degree programs in GIS are highly interdisciplinary, combining introductory coursework in information technology, geography, social science and environmental studies. In some programs, students can declare a concentration in a particular interest area, such as environmental systems or urban systems. They may also be required to complete an internship prior to graduation. General education courses are also included in the curriculum.
Master's Degree Programs
At the master's-degree level, students can choose between professional degree programs and research-focused programs. Professional programs provide a series of advanced courses in topics such as public health, environmental sustainability, climate monitoring and food security. They are designed specifically to prepare students to start working immediately after graduation; graduates may find jobs in urban planning, environmental protection, community development and meteorology, among other possible careers. Alternatively, students who are interested in academic research in the field can enroll in a program that involves advanced geography and information systems courses and research leading to a final master's thesis.
Doctoral Degree Programs
Another research-focused degree option is a PhD program. Depending on the school, students may be able to choose GIS as a concentration within a broader computer science/engineering or earth systems program. These programs give students the chance to conduct interdisciplinary research in a topic of interest within the field, leading to a publishable dissertation. Students also gain teaching experience. Upon graduation, they may pursue careers as university professors or enter into industry.
Certificate in GIS programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate certificate programs introduce students to the fundamentals of spatial analysis and computation. These certificates may be pursued in standalone formats or in conjunction with bachelor's degree in different subjects. Graduate certificate programs are intended for working professionals who want to boost their careers through advanced studies in GIS. Prior to enrollment, students are expected to have taken basic cartography and mathematics courses.
Geographic information science is a good fit for students with interests in geography, technology and social science. Prospective students may want to consider school facilities and research/internship opportunities when choosing between programs.