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Postbaccalaureate Certificate in
Geographic Information Systems

Courses

The 12-credit GIS certificate program's courses compose the first year of Penn State's Master of Geographic Information Systems online degree program. Students who successfully complete the certificate may apply to the online master's degree program and, upon acceptance, immediately begin the second year of study. Alternatively, students who complete at least 3 certificate courses may pursue accelerated admissions to any Penn State geospatial-related graduate degree program available through World Campus.

In order to determine the first day you are able to register for classes, enter your semester, campus location, and student level into the Registrar's Registration Timetable. Note: Certificate students are considered 'nondegree' as the student level.

Required Courses (9 credits)

Novice Track: For students with little to no experience in GIS, required courses for the certificate are GEOG 482, GEOG 483, and GEOG 484.

Experienced Professionals Track: With approval from the program and instructor, experienced professionals can substitute GEOG 864 for GEOG 482 and complete additional electives instead of GEOG 483 and GEOG 484 if they already possess the required skills.

    • 3
      credits

      Case studies, student investigations, and projects reveal the scope, impact, and character of the Geospatial Revolution.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Prepares current and aspiring professionals to recognize, analyze, and address ethical problems in the geographic information science and technology field.

      • Experienced Professionals Track

        With program and instructor approval, students may substitute GEOG 864 for GEOG 482.

      • Note

        GEOG 864 is only offered in the summer term.

  • 3
    credits

    How geographic information systems facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems.

    • Experienced Professionals Track

      With program and instructor approval, students who already have experience in this area may substitute an elective for this required course. To determine if you possess this skill set, visit the GEOG 483 final project page.

  • 3
    credits

    Database design, creation, maintenance, and data integration using desktop GIS software.

    • Experienced Professionals Track

      With program and instructor approval, students who already have experience in this area may substitute an elective for this required course. To determine if you possess this skill set, visit the GEOG 484 final project page.

Elective Courses (at least 3 credits)

Students must complete 12 total credits to earn the certificate. You will need 3 credits of electives if you complete all required courses. If you follow the track for experienced professionals, select 3–9 credits of electives based on the number of required courses you opt out of.

Prerequisites as listed may be waived by the course instructor if you can demonstrate the required level of competency.

  • 3
    credits

    Examines the nexus of geospatial intelligence analysis with cyberspace, the geopolitics of cyber threats, the politics of censorship and hacking, public safety, disaster response, and humanitarian relief; students will utilize a range of cyber data, systems, and spatial sciences to examine human social networks of the internet.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 160 or GEOG 482 or permission of program

  • 3
    credits

    Using imagery and terrain data in typical application scenarios faced by the geospatial professional.

  • 3
    credits

    Understanding lidar systems; design, operation, data processing techniques, and product generation to address typical application scenarios faced by the geospatial professional.

  • 3
    credits

    Customizing GIS software to extend its built-in functionality and to automate repetitive tasks.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 484 or equivalent experience

  • 3
    credits

    Theory and practice of cartographic design, emphasizing effective visual thinking and visual communication with geographic information systems. Technologies: ArcGIS Pro, Mapbox Studio, QGIS

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 484 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Real-world applications of GIS and spatial analysis to investigate a variety of current environmental issues.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 484 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Learn advanced applications of Python for developing and customizing GIS software, designing user interfaces, and solving complex geoprocessing tasks using both proprietary and open source platforms. Technologies: ArcGIS Pro, ArcPy, Jupyter Notebooks, ArcGIS API for Python, QGIS, GDAL/OGR.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 485 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Introduces students to emerging topics at the interface of concepts and tools that capture/sense environmental information (e.g., LiDAR) and concepts/tools that allow for immersive access to geospatial information (e.g., HTC Vive).

  • 3
    credits

    The application of cultural geography in the intelligence analysis and synthesis process by identifying prominent threats to civil security.

  • 3
    credits

    Design, development, and implementation of web mapping applications using OGC standards and open source software.

  • 3
    credits

    Advanced topics in remote sensing and image processing, including new sensors, applications, and decision-making.

  • 3
    credits

    The role of geographic information systems in understanding disease, including relevant spatial analysis and cartographic visualization techniques.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 482, GEOG 483, and GEOG 484, or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Understanding location technology and geospatial analysis to support an efficient and effective pathway to better business decisions.

  • 3
    credits

    This course examines the use of GIS principles, data, and applications that have been developed for the field of transportation.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 483 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Requirements analysis and proposal writing to plan and implement GIS solutions supporting emergency management activities of government agencies and contractors.

    • Recommended Preparation

      GEOG 483

  • 3
    credits

    Explores three important topics related to georeferenced data: datums, map projections, and grid systems.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 483 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Cultivates a working knowledge of current and future capabilities of GPS and the emerging Global Navigation Satellite System.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 484 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Focuses on how geospatial professionals can create applications using industry-related geospatial APIs. Students will build applications using the core web technologies of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Technologies: JavaScript, ArcGIS API for JavaScript, ArcGIS Online, CSS

  • 3
    credits

    Prepares current and aspiring professionals to recognize, analyze, and address ethical problems in the geographic information science and technology field.

    • Prerequisite

      Submission of application to the master of GIS program or certificate program in GIS and instructor approval

  • 3
    credits

    Theory and practical applications of using cloud computing and server resources to solve geospatial problems. Technologies: ArcGIS Server, Portal for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Online, GeoServer, CARTO, Amazon Web Services, Mapbox, Google Fusion Tables Theory.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 484 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Advanced topics in the storage, management, and retrieval of geospatial data using common proprietary and open-source relational database technologies. Technologies: SQL, PostGIS, ArcSDE/Multiuser Geodatabases, QGISAdvanced.

  • 3
    credits

    Understanding remote sensing systems' operation, data products, and processing techniques to address typical problem scenarios faced by the GEOINT professional.

  • 3
    credits

    Common platforms, analytical strategies, and policy dimensions of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in public, private, defense, and humanitarian applications.

  • 3
    credits

    Addresses cutting-edge geospatial intelligence topics that impact the global academic and professional community.

Online Learning Experience

The certificate program consists of instructor-led courses in which you will complete weekly assignments using your own computer. You have the flexibility to complete weekly assignments at times and places that best suit your busy schedule. Project assignments involve reports that you will learn to publish in an online portfolio. Weekly lessons include online quizzes that provide immediate feedback. You will communicate with fellow students and instructors primarily through email discussion groups.

Program Flexibility

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

Description of fall, spring and summer semesters

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Penn State World Campus Student

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