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Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a combination of hardware, software, data, people, and protocols, and is primarily used for the acquisition, maintenance, and analysis of geospatial data and information. GIS was founded in the art and science of geography, and more specifically was born from forestry and its associated applications (i.e., natural resources). Its main purpose is to serve as a tool for analyzing geospatial phenomena, via various data overlay operations, to provide information in the form of visualizations (i.e., maps), which ultimately provide greater insight into such phenomena from the perspective of geospatial patterns and real-world feature relationships. The end goal of a GIS is to provide meaningful analysis results to better understand real-world situations and help end-users of such information make better decisions regarding how best to handle geospatial phenomena. Many pathways can be realized for students who complete the GIS Certificate, which is designed to prepare students for employment following graduation or for transfer to a four-year institution of higher learning.

Curriculum covers the foundation of three core components of GIS:

  • Desktop GIS- history of GIS, the foundation of what a GIS is and how it works, geospatial data (i.e., structures, models, acquisition, creation, editing, storage, and retrieval), basic geospatial data overlay analyses, and data and information display (i.e., maps, figures, charts, graphs, tables).
  • Online GIS- like Desktop GIS and will cover the foundation of disseminating GIS through a web-based environment.
  • Mobile GIS-involves a basic understanding of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and field data collection using concepts surrounding latest trends in mobile GIS applications, via hardware, software, and protocol perspectives.

Career Options:

  • GIS Technician for private entity or government agency
  • Private-based GIS practice consulting
  • Supplemental GIS education to add to existing or future education in another field, which will help to strengthen overall knowledge from a technical standpoint

Program Highlights:

  • GIS Certificate as an entirely online program of study. No physical classroom involvement is required.
  • GIS Certificate can be completed in just two semesters; fall, and then spring semesters.
  • GIS Certificate provides individuals with the education necessary to enter the workforce as an entry-level GIS Technician, or add to an existing or future bachelor's degree education. For example, a combination of a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology and a certificate in GIS can be a very valuable and powerful combination to potential employers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that geospatial-based occupations are expected to grow faster than average for all occupations over the coming years, with the need for geographic information being a main source for such growth.

Requirements of Program:

In order to participate in and successfully complete the Certificate of Achievement in GIS, students will need basic computer skills, such as familiarity with Windows operating systems, Windows File Explorer, and basic word processing and spreadsheet software applications; a strong and reliable high-speed Internet connection; and a Windows PC-based personal computer (i.e., desktop or laptop) that is sufficient for installing and running required GIS software associated with this educational program.  An Apple (Mac OS) personal computer may be used in lieu of a Windows-based system, but students who choose to do this will need to prepare their Apple system in such a way that allows the Windows OS to install and run on the Mac-based system, to allow for installation of the required GIS software. Additional information regarding specific computer requirements can be found here:  In addition, students will need a modern and functional Apple- or Android-based smartphone or tablet to complete one of the courses in the course series.

​GIS Flyer

Contact Information

Office Phone: 530.251.8842
FAX: 530.251.8885