The Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) degree is a 36-credit program of study. It aims to help you become a leader in your industry while providing you with convenience and flexibility. Courses 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 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.

Description of fall, spring and summer semesters

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.

Certification/Partnerships

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.

Course List - Master of Geographic Information Systems - GIS

Students in the MGIS program must take 6 credits at the 500 level and a minimum of 12 additional credits at the 500 level or above.

Courses within the Geospatial Intelligence Option and the Geodesign Option may be taken as elective courses. Most courses within the MGIS program are also available as individual courses for those looking to fulfill continuing professional development requirements.

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 (23-26 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Making Maps That Matter With GIS GEOG 482 Case studies, student investigations, and projects reveal the scope, impact, and character of the Geospatial Revolution 3 credits
Problem Solving with GIS GEOG 483 How geographic information systems facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 482 or permission of the program
3 credits
GIS Database Development GEOG 484 Database design, creation, and maintenance, and data integration using desktop GIS software.

Prerequisite: GEOG 483 or permission of the program
3 credits
Geospatial System Analysis and Design GEOG 583 Systematic approach to requirements acquisition, specification, design and implementation of geospatial information systems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484
3 credits
Geospatial Technology Project Management GEOG 871 Principles of effective project management applied to the design and implementation of geospatial information systems. 3 credits
Geographical Information Analysis GEOG 586 Choosing and applying analytical methods for geospatial data, including point pattern analysis, interpolation, surface analysis, overlay analysis, and spatial autocorrelation.

Prerequisite: GEOG 485, GEOG 486, or GEOG 487
3 credits
Individual Studies — Peer Review GEOG 596A Preparation and presentation of a proposal for an individual capstone project. 3 credits (may be repeated up to 9 credits)
Individual Studies — Capstone Project GEOG 596B Preparation and delivery of a formal professional presentation of the results of an individual capstone project. 3 credits (may be repeated up to 9 credits)

 

Geospatial Intelligence Option (12 credits)

Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Geographic Foundations of Geospatial Intelligence GEOG 882 Orientation to the geographic foundations of geospatial intelligence and its applications in national security, international relief work, and disaster management. 3 credits
Remote Sensing Image Analysis and Applications GEOG 883 Understanding remote sensing systems' operation, data products, and processing techniques to address typical problem scenarios faced by the GEOINT professional. 3 credits
Geographic Information Systems for the Geospatial Intelligence Professional GEOG 884 How geographic information systems facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems faced by the geospatial intelligence professional. 3 credits
Advanced Analytic Methods in Geospatial Intelligence GEOG 885 Prepares current and aspiring geospatial intelligence professionals to apply and interpret results of non-quantitative analysis and modeling techniques. 3 credits
Geodesign Option (9 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Environmental Applications of GIS GEOG 487 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
Cloud and Server GIS GEOG 865

Theory and practical applications of using cloud computing and server resources to solve geospatial problems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484 or permission of the program

3 credits
Geodesign History, Theory, Principles GEODZ 511 Students study the theory and principles of geospatially-based design by investigating the methods and collaborative nature of the geodesign process.

Prerequisite: GEOG 482 (Please contact the program to discuss waiving this requirement.)
3 credits
Electives (3–12 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Cyber-Geography in Geospatial Intelligence GEOG 479 Geospatial intelligence analysis of the geographic aspects of cyber data and observables, products for decision making, and impact of change.

Prerequisite: GEOG 160, GEOG 482 or permission of program
3 credits
Exploring Imagery and Elevation Data in GIS Applications GEOG 480 An introductory-level course focusing on the use of remotely sensed imagery and elevation data in GIS applications. 3 credits
Topographic Mapping with Lidar GEOG 481 Understanding lidar systems' design, operation, data processing techniques, and product generation to address typical application scenarios faced by the geospatial professional. 3 credits
GIS Programming and Software Development GEOG 485 Customizing GIS software to extend its built-in functionality and to automate repetitive tasks.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484 or permission of the program
3 credits
Cartography and Visualization GEOG 486 Theory and practice of cartographic design, emphasizing effective visual thinking and visual communication with geographic information systems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 484 or permission of the program
3 credits
Advanced Python Programming for GIS GEOG 489 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.

Prerequisite: GEOG 485 or permission of the program
3 credits
Location Intelligence for Business GEOG 497B Understanding location technology and geospatial analysis to support an efficient and effective pathway to better business decisions. 3 credits
Critical Geospatial Thinking: The Fundamentals GEOG 497I Students learn how geographers think about the world and how they analyze human activities using social- and behavioral-based science models. 1 credit
Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security GEOG 571 The application of cultural geography in the intelligence analysis and synthesis process by identifying prominent threats to civil security. 3 credits
Open Web Mapping GEOG 585

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

Prerequisite: GEOG 485

3 credits
Planning GIS for Emergency Management GEOG 588 Requirements analysis and proposal writing to plan and implement GIS solutions supporting emergency management activities of government agencies and contractors.

Prerequisites: GEOG 583, GEOG 584; GEOG 488 recommended; or permission of the program
3 credits
Emerging Trends in Remote Sensing GEOG 589 Advanced topics in remote sensing and image processing, including new sensors, applications, and decision making. 3 credits
GIS for Health Analysis GEOG 591 The role of geographic information systems in understanding disease, including relevant spatial analysis and cartographic visualization techniques.

Prerequisites: GEOG 484 or permission of the program
3 credits
Spatial Data Analytics for Transportation GEOG 855 This course examines the use of GIS principles, data, and applications that have been developed for the field of transportation. 3 credits
Geographic Dimensions of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) GEOG 892 Common platforms, analytical strategies, and policy dimensions of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in public, private, defense, and humanitarian applications. 3 credits
Special Topics in Geospatial Intelligence Futures GEOG 597I Addresses cutting edge Geospatial Intelligence topics that impact the global academic and professional community. 3 credits
The Earth is Round and Maps are Flat: Working with Spatial Reference Systems in GIS GEOG 861 Explores three important topics related to georeferenced data: datums, map projections, and grid systems.

Prerequisite: GEOG 483 or permission of the program
3 credit
GPS and GNSS for Geospatial Professionals GEOG 862 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
Web Application Development for the Geospatial Professional GEOG 863 Focuses on how geospatial professionals can create applications using industry-relevant geospatial APIs. Students will build applications using the core web technologies of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 3 credits
Professionalism and Ethics in Geographic Information Science and Technology GEOG 864 Prepares current and aspiring professionals to recognize, analyze, and address legal and ethical issues in the GIS&T (geospatial) field. 3 credits
Spatial Database Management for the Geospatial Professional GEOG 868 Advanced topics in the storage, management and retrieval of geospatial data using common proprietary and open-source relational database technologies. 3 credits
Geospatial Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) GEOG 892 Common platforms, analytical strategies, and policy dimensions of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in public, private, defense, and humanitarian applications. 3 credits
Applied Multivariate Statistical Analysis STAT 505 Analysis of multivariate data; T-squared tests; partial correlation; discrimination; MANOVA; cluster analysis; regression; growth curves; factor analysis; principal components; canonical correlations.

Prerequisites: STAT 500 and 501; matrix algebra
3 credits

 

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.