GIS Distance Learning – Certificate and Degree Programs


Don’t have a school near you offering GIS? If you don’t live near a college or university offering GIS coursework, distance learning can be a valuable way to learn GIS skills and software programs online. Find schools offering GIS distance learning coursework via internet-based classes in the field for certificate and degree-based programs.

The program descriptions listed here have been supplied by the colleges and universities.

GIS Distance Learning Programs

Delta State University
Delta State University offers a Master degree program, Master of Applied Science in Geospatial Information Technologies (MAS-GIT). The MAS-GIT is a 16 month fully online master degree program. The program  offers education and practice in GIS, advanced geospatial analysis, remote sensing, digital image processing and information extraction, photogrammetry, computer programing and innovative research etc.

Elmhurst College
The Online Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Certificate Program at Elmhurst College will prepare you to succeed in the exciting geospatial technologies industry. Designed for working professionals, the program is offered entirely online through the Elmhurst College Online Center. You’ll work closely with faculty who are experienced educators and active professionals, and you’ll complete hands-on projects and electronic portfolios. The Online GIS program aligns with the core guidelines of the National Center for Geographic Information Analysis (NCGIA), the proposed standards of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) and the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) for professional GIS certification. Most students complete the Online GIS program in less than a year. There are no prerequisites for introductory courses, and you may be able to apply previous college coursework toward your certificate.

Esri Virtual Campus
Esri provides free introductory courses and, for a fee, more advanced courses in GIS and using their software.

Distance Learning courses from Birkbeck College, London. Students on the course access the Internet to read the course materials, access course discussion groups and submit coursework. Students will need access to a personal computer running an approved desktop GIS package.

Itasca Community College – GIS
The Geography & GIS Program at Itasca Community College (ICC) is 100% online dedicated to developing students’ knowledge of geospatial technologies and how they can be utilized to explore dynamic interrelationships between humans and their environment.  Coursework taken at ICC prepares students for entry level professional work settings and creates a foundation of geographic skill and knowledge for further study. Individuals of all backgrounds and disciplines and expertise are welcome.

Johns Hopkins University – Online Certificate in GIS
The Certificate Program in GIS is a graduate program providing a strong foundational education that delves into the principles and real-world applications of GIS. This is 5 course certificate offered completely online, with rolling admissions, applications are accepted year-round.

MGI at City University
The MGI at City University is an online Masters Degree in Geographic Information available through face to face study in London or by distance learning. Access the managed learning environment to find out more about the various resources and means of communication that support learning.

North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University and the Center for Geospatial Analytics offers several online options for both students new to geospatial science and current professionals looking to enhance their credentials.  Our GIS programs consistently have over 300 students actively enrolled.  NC State was the first university to develop an online Masters program accredited as a Professional Science Master’s degree in GIS.  Our completely online (or on-campus) Master of Geospatial Information Science & Technology degree prepares dynamic geospatial professionals through a rigorous semester-based curriculum consisting of theory, application, experiential learning and professional skills development.  We also offer an online Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Science focusing on building and enhancing current GIS skillsets for both introductory learning and professional enhancement.

North Dakota – Geographic Information Science Graduate Certificate
University of North Dakota – Online GISc Graduate Certificate Earn your GISc Graduate Certificate. The 1-year online program begins every summer.

Northwest Missouri – Online GIS Masters
The Department of Geology/Geography at Northwest Missouri offers a thesis-based online M.S. in Geographic Information Science. Students may also elect to take a 4-5 course graduate certificate in GIScience. This fully online program began in 2003 with 23 graduate students. The department reviews applicants in November and April.

Penn State
The Department of Geography at Penn State offers multiple Online Geospatial Education options for the experienced or aspiring Geospatial professional. Certificate programs in GIS and Geospatial Intelligence are available, as well as a Master of GIS degree program. Students may also opt to take individual courses for professional development purposes. Penn State offers over 30 courses across a wide range of cutting-edge GIS Application, Geospatial Intelligence, Remote Sensing, and Spatial Analysis topics. Penn State’s award-winning online programs are completely asynchronous, taught by world-leading faculty from both research and professional domains, and have served over 4000 students online since 1999. Penn State was one of the first institutions to offer GIS via Distance Learning.

Salisbury University
The MS in GIS Management degree was designed as a Professional Science Master’s degree, with an equal amount of management and GIS technical courses.  Its goal is to enhance the GIS proficiency of professionals working in business, government, and non-profit organizations, as well as teach GIS professionals the political and leadership skills of management. With such proficiency, graduates are well-equipped to integrate and apply enterprise GIS solutions in their respective fields. We know that some government agencies and many businesses have been slow to embrace fully the power of GIS. This is due in large measure to the fact that either technically-adept GIS professionals don’t have the management skills necessary to push the technology to a higher profile or management professionals don’t know enough about the technical capabilities to leverage the potential of spatial analysis to improve their organization’s competitiveness.  The MS in GIS Management degree at Salisbury University seeks to bridge the gap and create spatially-enabled managers, ready to take GIS to the next level.  The program is 80% online, with only one month of initial in-person courses and can be completed in 13 months.

UNIGIS International
UNIGIS is a worldwide network of educational institutions which offers distance learning courses in GIS.

University of Kentucky
The Geography Department at the University of Kentucky is offering a new online graduate program in GIS and mapping focused on open source technologies for mapping and spatial analysis, cartographic design and UI/UX. We are offering both a graduate certificate (11 credits) and a Master’s of Science (30 credits).  All the details are at the program’s webpage including the full listing of courses and some samples of student work.  Updates to the program including samples of courses and other tutorials are shared via Facebook and Twitter.

University of Southern California
The University of Southern California has a comprehensive curriculum for studies in geographic informations systems. The university offers a distance learning Graduate Certificate Program in GIS as well as a Master of Science degree in GIS.

University of Toronto
Distance learning program from the Centre for Environment.  The objective of the Certificate in GIS for Environmental Management program is to build a foundation for understanding the GIS and Remote Sensing theory and techniques.  Students develop GIS software skills to solve practical tasks related to environmental management.

University of Twente – Faculty ITC
Do you have a specific request for up-to-date education in (applications of) geo-information science and earth observation? We offer a number of short (6-9 weeks) distance courses at affordable prices (less than EUR 1,600). Our courses combine self-study with online support by ITC staff. The general approach is task-based learning that blends theory and practice. If you decide to follow a full postgraduate or master programme at our Faculty, you will be exempted from the modules you followed successfully as a distance course.

University of Washington
The Professional Master’s Program in Geographic Information Systems (PMPGIS) teaches students how to design a sustainable world with GIS. Learn how to model complex land, transportation and resource problems using geospatial technologies and sustainability management workflows. This unique program teaches students advanced spatial thinking skills and GIS techniques, and is the only program of its kind to offer a concentration in sustainability management.

University of West Florida
GIS Online at the University of West Florida is an accredited, quality online Geographic Information Science education for students at all levels. Offerings include a GIS Training Academy which qualifies for Continuing Education Units, a GIS Certificate offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level and a Master’s of Science in Administration with Specialization in GIS Degree. UWF has been providing a mix of hands-on software training with conceptual instruction from highly qualified GIS professionals since 2006. We strive to meet the growing demands of the industry by offering our students access to the latest geospatial technology, experienced instructors, and relevant spatial applications.

Vancouver Island University (Canada) – Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications
Completely online Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications over a 16 month period (part-time).  Program begins each January. Learn to use GIS as a spatial information and problem-solving tool in addressing real-world issues or problems. Training involves course work with a number of GIS project assignments using ESRI’s Virtual Campus.

To have your school’s program listed please send an email with a brief (less than 200 words) description of your program, the URL, and school name to [email protected]


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