The Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) degree is a 36-credit graduate program that delivers the depth of knowledge and hands-on expertise to help you become a leader in your industry. Online 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.
Convenience of Online Learning
This 100% online GIS master's degree is intended for persons who are able to study only on a part-time basis and at a distance. The curriculum is delivered one instructor-led 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.
Stackable and Progressive Curriculum
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, you will receive a Postbaccalaureate Certificate in GIS*, provided that you also apply to that program. 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. This stackable curriculum allows you to earn a respected certificate while you continue to work toward your master's degree.
The second-year courses can prepare you to design, specify, and manage complex geographic information infrastructures for your organization. Depending upon your course selection, you may have the opportunity to earn a second GIS–related graduate certificate.*
During the third year, you will complete any remaining electives and an independent study capstone project through which you will make a substantive contribution to your organization.
Depending on course availability, you can complete the MGIS degree in as little as two and a half years or spread out the courses to suit your personal responsibilities and work commitments. We make it easy to pause and restart your studies at any time.
*A separate application and program acceptance are required for each credential. Please speak with the program office for more details.
Students earn the MGIS degree by successfully completing 36 credits of course work, including a supervised independent capstone project. Course requirements include a minimum of 18 credits at the 500 or 800 level, with at least 6 credits at the 500 level. Courses within the Geospatial Intelligence Option and the Geodesign Option may be taken as elective courses.
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)
Option and Elective Courses (10–13 credits)
Geospatial Intelligence Option (12 credits)
Geodesign Option (9 credits)
Electives (3–12 credits)
The capstone project (GEOG 596 A/B) 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.
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.
Flexible Course Scheduling
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.
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