The Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) degree is a 36-credit program of study that can help you become a leader in your industry while providing you with convenience and flexibility. Courses are designed to be highly practical while engaging you with cutting-edge advances in GIS tools and spatial analysis methods. The curriculum, including challenging projects, teaches crucial skills that you can apply to your 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 takes place via discussion forums, email, and office hours. Weekly lessons can include project assignments submitted for evaluation as well as 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 Penn State World Campus reserve the right to alter this schedule.
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. For experienced GIS professionals, we work with you to develop a customized curriculum that fits your goals and ensures you do not have to repeat classes in areas where you are already proficient.
The second-year courses can prepare you to design, specify, and manage complex geographic information infrastructures for your organization.
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 present to a professional audience.
The MGIS program operates 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 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.
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 their professional work. Capstone projects are supervised by a member of the graduate faculty who will work one-on-one to advise the development and completion of the project. For most students, the project culminates in a formal public presentation attended by their adviser, which takes place at an appropriate conference, such as annual conferences of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), the Association of American Geographers (AAG), or the Esri User Conference. 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.
This program can help you prepare for the GIS Professional (GISP) Certification offered by the GIS Certification Institute. In addition, courses in our program can help you acquire the points you need to obtain recertification if you already have the GISP.
Act 48 compliant — The GIS courses meet Pennsylvania Act 48 requirements for continuing teacher education, which parallel similar education requirements of other states.