Courses - Master of Geographic Information Systems

The Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) degree is a 35-credit program of study. It aims to help you become a leader in your industry while providing you with convenience and flexibility. Its courses, including Geospatial System Design and Analysis and Geospatial Technology Project Management, are designed to be highly practical. The curriculum, including challenging projects, will give you cutting-edge GIS tools and methods that you can apply to your real-time professional work.

Penn State's MGIS program is intended for persons who are able to study only on a part-time basis and at a distance. All courses, including electives, are GIS-related. The curriculum is delivered one instructor-led online course at a time.

Communication with fellow students and instructors occurs primarily through email discussion groups. Weekly lessons can include project assignments submitted for evaluation and online quizzes that provide you with immediate feedback.

To earn this degree, you must successfully complete 23 to 26 required course credits and 9 or more elective credits. The MGIS program runs five terms per academic year allowing you to complete your courses when it is most convenient for you.*

*The Pennsylvania State University and the World Campus reserve the right to alter this schedule.

Year One:
The first-year courses are designed to help you develop the information literacy and technical competencies you need to become a more knowledgeable and skillful GIS user. Upon successfully completing the first year of the MGIS curriculum, you will receive a postbaccalaureate certificate in GIS provided that you also apply to that program. The Graduate School requires that students apply for and be accepted into every program for which they wish to earn a credential.

Year Two:
The second-year courses can prepare you to design, specify, and manage complex geographic information infrastructures for your organization.

Year Three:
During the third year you will complete electives and an independent study project through which you will make a substantive contribution to your organization that you will describe to a professional audience.

Program Flexibility

The MGIS program operates on five 10-week terms. With two sessions that partially overlap in fall and spring, and one session in the summer, you are provided with the greatest flexibility possible in completing your degree at your preferred pace. You can choose to schedule your courses without any overlap, or take as many courses as possible to finish sooner.

Geospatial Intelligence Flexible Term Schedule

Capstone Project

The capstone project demonstrates the MGIS student's ability to apply advanced knowledge and skills related to geographic information systems in a way that makes a substantial contribution to his or her professional work. For most students, the project culminates in a formal public presentation attended by a member of the graduate faculty associated with the MGIS program, which takes place at an appropriate conference, such as annual conferences of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, or ESRI. Alternative arrangements are made for students with special needs or constraints. For example, students who submit written reports of project aims and outcomes for publication in adviser-approved, peer-reviewed journals are exempt from the public presentation requirement.

Exceptional Student Support

As a Penn State World Campus student, you will have access to an outstanding team of student support and advising personnel — throughout the entire period of your studies. From researching financial aid options, to choosing the right courses to meet your goals, to overcoming technical difficulties, our staff is dedicated to helping you get the most out of your education — every step of the way.


The World Campus master of GIS degree is offered in cooperation with the ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.).

This program counts toward the educational achievement requirements of the proposed professional certification standards of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association.

Act 48 compliant — The GIS courses meet Pennsylvania Act 48 requirements for continuing teacher education, which parallel similar education requirements of other states.