Credits and costs
Online graduate education in Geodesign at Penn State
Prepare to take leadership roles in addressing complex environmental design problems in settings ranging from urban design to conservation planning, with the 35-credit Master of Professional Studies in Geodesign from Penn State World Campus. As a student in our geodesign program, you can learn to capitalize on the power of spatial knowledge and evolving technologies, identify opportunities that emerge to better inform the design, understand your relevance to particular situations, and assist communities in designing alternative futures based on a unique process that brings all this information into focus.
Geodesign at Penn State
The World Campus graduate geodesign program is offered in partnership with Penn State's College of Arts and Architecture and in cooperation with Penn State's Department of Geography. The program is taught by expert faculty practicing at Penn State and in the field and features in-depth study in geodesign and geography courses to provide you with a comprehensive knowledge of the field that can prove highly attractive to potential employers.
Geodesign Program Flexibility
Geodesign (GEODZ) courses operate on 8-week terms. Our geography (GEOG) courses operate on 10-week terms. With two course terms offered in the fall and spring and one in the summer, some courses may overlap. However, this term structure provides you with the greatest flexibility possible in completing your master's 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 overall objective of the 35-credit online MPS in Geodesign program is to help you gain the knowledge and skills to:
- lead the design of sites, developments, and regions to achieve ecological sustainability, economic viability, and social relevancy, by applying appropriate geodesign processes
- develop successful geoprocessing workflows to analyze and assess building and development impacts on the natural and cultural environment
- recognize the combined power of design- and science-based analysis and solution synthesis to ascertain opportunities for managing resources successfully, anticipating change, and imagining alternative futures
- achieve the advanced collaboration skills needed for creating multidisciplinary teams to develop geospatial models for development and conservation
All geodesign (GEODZ) courses operate on 8-week terms except for our studio courses. The studio courses will run for the full 14-week semester. Our geography (GEOG) courses operate on 10-week terms. Two course terms will be offered in the fall and spring and one in the summer. With two sessions being offered in fall and spring, and one session in the summer, some courses may overlap. However, this term structure provides you 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.
Required Courses (21 credits)
Geography Elective Courses
You are required to take at least 8 credits of geography courses at the 400 level or higher. Based on your experience in geographic information systems, you and your academic adviser will determine which GEOG electives will best meet your needs and interests. GEOG 482 and 483 are recommended for those individuals without GIS experience. View all GEOG electives available through World Campus.
Culminating Capstone Experience (6 credits)
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.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,017 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,203 per semester|
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,027 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,325 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
Admissions decisions are based on the quality of the applicant's credentials. A portfolio will be developed for an assessment of each applicant to the program. Your application will not be reviewed until all of your portfolio items have been submitted.
The application deadlines for this program are:
- Summer Deadline: Apply by April 1 to start May 6
- Fall Deadline: Apply by July 10 to start August 12
- Spring Deadline: Apply by October 10, 2024, to start January 13, 2025
The above start dates reflect the earliest possible date that a course may begin for that semester. Most Geodesign courses are 8 weeks in length, allowing students to schedule more than one course per semester. Geodesign course start dates vary.
If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
GPA and Test Scores —GRE or GMAT scores are NOT required for admission.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
References (3) — you will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of three references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
Résumé — Upload your résumé to the online application.
Statement of Purpose — Your personal statement should not exceed three single-spaced pages. It should describe your specific career goals and objectives, prior experience relevant to the decision to pursue an advanced degree, and other information that may be useful to the admissions committee. The statement should also include an overview of a possible topic for the individual capstone project.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
- Choose Enrollment Type: "Degree Admission"
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the technical requirements for this degree program.
Start or Advance Your Career
Start or Advance Your Career
You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.
To learn more about the Master of Professional Studies in Geodesign, offered in partnership with the College of Arts and Architecture, please contact:
World Campus Admissions Counselors
Online Geodesign Program Contact:
David Goldberg, Associate Clinical Professor and Program Director
Geodesign Program Office
College of Arts and Architecture
121 Stuckeman Family Building
University Park, PA 16802-6500
To learn more about the program, visit the program website within Penn State's College of Arts and Architecture.
Janet Silbernagel Balster
DegreePh.D., Forest Science, Michigan Technological University
DegreeM.S., Forest Science, Michigan Technological University
DegreeB.L.A., Landscape Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Janet Silbernagel Balster is an adjunct lecturer teaching GEODZ 826: Representation and Change. Janet brings a wealth of practical knowledge and expertise, having worked as a landscape ecologist and landscape architect with the U.S. Forest Service before beginning an academic career that spans more than 25 years. Janet is an emeritus professor of landscape architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Janet founded Silvernail Studio for Geodesign, LLC. The private practice offers multifaceted services that span professional geographic information system (GIS) map products to landscape conservation strategies and sustainable landscape architectural design.
DegreeM.L.A., Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, University of Massachusetts
DegreeB.S.L.A., Landscape Architecture, Penn State
Kelleann Foster is an active emeritus professor of landscape architecture. She is a proven design leader and invited speaker at many national and international design planning and technology-focused conferences. She is a registered landscape architect whose work is rooted in interdisciplinary and forward-thinking outreach in many respects. Her work advances technologies to communicate alternative scenarios to citizens. She is the author of the Wiley book Becoming a Landscape Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design.
DegreeM.L.A., Landscape Architecture, Penn State
DegreeB.S.L.A., Landscape Architecture, Penn State
David Goldberg is the director of online geodesign programs and associate clinical professor of landscape architecture. David teaches courses in design implementation, building information modeling, site design, and geodesign. His research intentionally sways between tool-centric and topic-centric inquiries, allowing him to be pragmatic in professional practice and aspirational in teaching. He negotiates the role of applied design computing between the academy and the industry. This includes optimizing the physical and virtual environments where teams interact, enhancing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations, and developing strategies for virtual learning environments for studio design courses. Topically, he focuses on how landscape architecture incorporates building information modeling and how leveraging big data and near-real-time data creates "digital twins" for landscape architecture — the results of which will be impactful to the practice and discourse of geodesign.
Devin LavigneDegreeB.A.A., Urban and Regional Planning, Ryerson Polytechnic University
Devin Lavigne is an adjunct lecturer teaching GEODZ 852: Urban/District-Scale Challenges. Devin is a nationally recognized urban planning professional with more than 20 years of experience in urban planning, geodesign, and geographic information systems (GIS). Lavigne is a co-founder of Houseal Lavigne Associates, an award-winning planning and design firm based in Chicago. The firm specializes in community planning, urban design, and economic development, and uses creativity and collaboration to deliver quality solutions.
DegreeM.L.A., Landscape Architecture, Iowa State University
DegreeB.L.A., Landscape Architecture, University of Kentucky
James Sipes is an award-winning environmental planner, landscape architect, and writer with more than 30 years of experience encompassing a wide range of design and planning projects. His work includes environmental planning and design, land use planning, watershed management, low-impact development, urban design, cultural resource management, and community-based design. He has received national recognition, having written more than 350 articles for a variety of publications and several books on environmental issues, green infrastructure, and water resources.
DegreeMPS, Community Planning, University of Cincinnati
DegreeB.A., Spanish, Colorado State University
Robert Stauder is an adjunct lecturer teaching GEODZ 511: Geodesign History, Theory, and Principles. Robert is a geographic information systems (GIS) professional with more than 25 years of experience in geodesign, GIS analysis, and planning. Robert is the GIS analyst/developer for Houseal Lavigne, an award-winning planning and design firm based in Chicago. Prior to joining Houseal Lavigne, Robert was a project manager for Esri, where he worked on and supported projects in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Robert has experience in using GIS for public engagement, planning, conservation, public safety, and workflow optimization.