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:

Eligibility and Admission

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.


  • Students wishing to obtain the CERTIFICATE must declare their intention by applying to the PROGRAM OFFICE OR DIRECTOR.
  • All graduate certificate applicants—even those already enrolled in a UWM graduate program—must apply to the Graduate School through the UW System application.
    1. At the Reason for Applying screen, check Graduate Non-Degree.
    2. In the Additional Statements section, indicate the semester you will or did take your first course of certificate requirements.
  • Graduate degree and previously admitted graduate non-degree students who decide to pursue a certificate program must submit the System application before completing 6 credits in the certificate sequence.
  • Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree and have a minimum 2.75 cumulative undergraduate grade point average to be admitted in to a certificate program.

Certificate Requirements

Credits and Courses

A minimum of 6 semester-long courses and 18 credits to receive the certificate. A minimum of 6 credits each in Urban Planning and Geography courses is requirede.

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 692, Transportation Policy and Planning
  • Urban Planning 791, Introduction to Urban Geographic Information Systems for Planning (if not selected above)
  • Urban Planning 792, Using Urban Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Planning (if not selected above)
  • Urban Planning 793, Applied Projects in Urban Geographic Information Systems (if not selected above)
  • Urban Planning 794 Internet Geographic Information Systems (if not selected above)
  • 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 625 Intermediate Geographic Information Science (if not selected above)
  • Geography 698, GIS/Cartography Internship
  • Geography 703, Advanced Remote Sensing
  • Geography 725 Advanced Geographic Information Science: Geographic Modeling (if not selected above)
  • Geography 734 GIS and Society (if not selected above)
  • Geography 750, Remote Sensing and Urban Analysis
  • Geography 960 Seminar; Geographic Techniques (if not selected above)
  • Geography 999 Independent Work (with appropriate topic)
  • 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
  • Anthropology 562, Techniques and Problems in Archaeology (if not selected above)
  • 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

No more than 20% of the required credits may be taken at an institution other than UWM. To be eligible for transfer, the course must have been completed within the last 2 years. These courses are subject to Graduate School transfer policy and must be approved by the director of the certificate program.

Articulation with Degree Programs

  1. Credits and courses required for a certificate may double count toward meeting UWM graduate degree requirements subject to the following restrictions:
    • Degree programs must approve the courses from certificates that can double count toward the degree.
    • All credits taken in completion of certificate requirements may count towards a UWM graduate degree as long as they do not contribute more than 90% of the total credits needed to obtain the degree. (Note: Students in Ph.D. programs must still complete the minimum residency requirements)
    • Certificate courses used toward meeting degree requirements must be completed within the time limit for transfer credit.
  2. Courses completed for a degree may be counted toward a subsequent certificate, subject to all certificate policy requirements.
  3. A course may count toward no more than one certificate and one degree.
  4. Students may not earn a certificate subsequent to a concentration in the same area.

Time Limit

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

Certificate Completion

For certificate completion, students must submit an application to the Graduate School using their PAWS account, and pay any required completion application fees.

For qualifying students, the certificate program director will verify for the Graduate School the course number and title, grade and semester of enrolment for all courses that meet certificate program requirements. Certificate completion will be posted on a student’s official transcript in line with UWM’s official conferral dates, and an official paper certificate will be sent to the student from the Graduate School.

Criteria for Awarding a Certificate

Graduate certificates are awarded to students who:

  • Meet the certificate requirements within the allotted time limit
  • Have a minimum 3.00 overall grade point average (without rounding)
  • Have a minimum 3.00 grade point average in certificate courses (without rounding)