GIS Certificate Program Information

The Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems is designed for those individuals seeking careers as GIS specialists, providing geographic data management, spatial analysis, and GIS system management support to professionals in a broad range of disciplines, such as criminal justice, health services, city and regional planning, civil and environmental engineering, transportation, and marketing. Certificate holders will seek employment in positions such as "GIS Specialist," "GIS Analyst," or "GIS Coordinator."

The School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and the College of Letters and Science jointly offer the certificate. The core courses (12 credits) focus on the structure of geographic data, components for managing geographic information systems, spatial analysis, and delivery of geographic information through maps and displays. Students select the remaining 6 credits for the certificate from electives, which may include an internship, in areas such as remote sensing, map-making, and data management systems.

Upon completion of the certificate courses, a student is awarded the certificate which qualifies for 5 credential points in the GIS Certification Institute's standards for professional certification in GIS.

This certificate is a Title IV eligible program. More:

Application and Admission to the Certificate Program

Students interested in the GIS Certificate should contact the Department of Urban Planning or the Department of Geography and submit an Admission to GIS Certificate Form, a graduate non-degree candidate (NDC) application form and an official undergraduate transcript to the Graduate School. Applications should be completed and received in the Graduate School at least one month prior to the intended start date. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or a graduate degree to be accepted into the certificate program.

For international applicants, whose first language is not English, a score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of at least 600 (250 on the computer-based version) or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 7.0 must also be submitted.

Credits and Courses

A minimum of 6 credits each in Urban Planning and Geography courses are required for completion of the certificate. To earn the Certificate, one must complete six semester-long courses (with a minimum of 18 credits), satisfy graduate school criteria for successful completion and maintain at least a B (3.00) average among the following courses:

Required Courses (12 cr):

  • Tier 1 (select one course)
  • Urban Planning 791, Introduction to Urban Geographic Information Systems for Planning
  • Geography 525, Geographic Information Science
  • Tier 2 (select one course)
  • Urban Planning 792, Using Urban Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Planning
  • Geography 625, Intermediate Geographic Information Science
  • Tier 3 (select two courses)
  • Urban Planning 793, Applied Projects in Urban Geographic Information Systems
  • Urban Planning 794, Internet Geographic Information Systems
  • Geography 725, Advanced Geographic Information Science: Geographic Modeling
  • Geography 734, GIS and Society
  • Geography 960, Geographic Techniques
  • Anthropology 562, Techniques and Problems in Anthropology: Advanced Digital Mapping

Elective Courses (6 cr) - Select two of the following courses:

  • Urban Planning 771, Transportation Policy and Planning**
    will not qualify if taken after 2011-12
  • Urban Planning 991, Legislative! Administrative Agency Internship
  • Urban Planning 999, Independent Study
  • Business 749, Data Management Systems
  • Geography 403, Remote Sensing: Environmental and Land Use Analysis
  • Geography 405, Cartography
  • Geography 515, Watershed Analysis and Modeling
  • Geography 547, Spatial Analysis
  • Geography 698, GIS/Cartography Internship
  • Geography 703, Advanced Remote Sensing
  • Geography 750, Remote Sensing and Urban Analysis
  • Information Studies 465, Legal Aspects of Information Products and Services
  • Information Studies 691, Economics of Information
  • Information Studies 714, Metadata (prerequisites strictly enforced)
  • Anthropology 380, Anthropology Applications in GIS (offered as Anthro 641, Spring 2008)
  • Anthropology 768, Topics in Advanced Research Design in Anthropology
  • Other courses as approved by the GIS Certificate Subcommittee

Students will be advised by the Geography and Urban Planning faculty who teach GIS courses.

Grade Point Average Requirement

To continue in the program, a student must maintain a minimum cumulative 3.00 grade point average in certificate courses taken at UWM.

Transfer Credits

Up to 3 credits of graduate coursework in GIS and related courses may be considered for transfer to the certificate program. To be eligible for transfer, the course must have been completed within the last 2 years, the student must have received a grade of B or better, and the GIS Certificate Coordinator must approve the course for transfer.

Up to 9 credits of GIS Certificate coursework may also be applied toward a UWM graduate degree program.

Time Limit

Students must complete all courses for the certificate within 3 years from the date of initial enrollment in the certificate program.

Verification of GIS Certificate Completion

After completing the program requirements, a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems will be awarded.

Students completing the GIS Certificate should submit a Verfication of GIS Certificate Completion Form.