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Master of
Geographic Information Systems

Courses

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

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, 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.

Year Two:
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.*

Year Three:
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)

  • 3
    credits

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

  • 3
    credits

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

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 482 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

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

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 483 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

    Systematic approach to requirements acquisition, specification, design, and implementation of geospatial information systems.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 484

  • 3
    credits

    Principles of effective project management applied to the design and implementation of geospatial information systems.

  • 3
    credits

    Choosing and applying analytical methods for geospatial data, including point pattern analysis, interpolation, surface analysis, overlay analysis, and spatial autocorrelation.

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 485 or GEOG 486 or GEOG 487

  • 3
    credits

    Preparation and presentation of a proposal for an individual capstone project.

    • Note

      May be repeated up to 9 credits

  • 3
    credits

    Preparation and delivery of a formal professional presentation of the results of an individual capstone project.

    • Note

      May be repeated up to 9 credits

Option and Elective Courses (10–13 credits)

Geospatial Intelligence Option (12 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Orientation to the geographic foundations of geospatial intelligence and its applications in national security, international relief work, and disaster management.

  • 3
    credits

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

  • 3
    credits

    How geographic information systems facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems faced by the geospatial intelligence professional.

  • 3
    credits

    Prepares current and aspiring geospatial intelligence professionals to apply and interpret results of non-quantitative analysis and modeling techniques.

Geodesign Option (9 credits)

  • 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

    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

    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.)

Electives (3–12 credits)

  • 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 permission of the program

  • 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

    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

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

  • 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. Technologies: JavaScript, QGIS, GDAL, OGR, GeoServer, TileMill, Leaflet, and OpenStreetMap

    • Prerequisite

      GEOG 485

  • 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 484 or permission of the program

  • 3
    credits

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

  • 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

    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.

  • 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 GIS&T (geospatial) field.

  • 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

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

  • 3
    credits

    Analysis of multivariate data; T2-tests; particle correlation; discrimination; MANOVA; cluster analysis; regression; growth curves; factor analysis; principal components; canonical correlations.

Capstone Project

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.

Certification/Partnerships

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.

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.

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