Here you can explore all the available on-campus GIS degree programs by academic level, including associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, as well as certificate and PhD programs. Each page will inform you with everything you need to know before embarking on your academic journey, from tuition costs and coursework schedules to post-graduation career prospects.
GIS Associate’s Degree Programs
Obtaining an associate’s degree in GIS usually requires approximately two years of academic coursework at a community college. More economical than bachelor’s or master’s degrees, these programs focus on the basic requirements of GIS education, including spatial analysis and software usage.
Because this coursework overlaps with the education you’d receive in the first two years of a bachelor’s program, students can usually apply these credits if they choose to pursue another degree down the line.
An associate’s degree may be right for you if you’re a recent high school graduate looking to get in the door of the GIS industry. GIS technician roles don’t always require a degree, so building a solid baseline of accredited geospatial education will set you apart from the competition.
Bachelor’s in GIS Programs
Bachelor’s degrees are a well-recognized standard for higher-level education in GIS. These four-year programs are offered by most universities and will equip you with foundational geographic education, analytic skills, and proficiency with geospatial software. Some programs even offer specialization in remote sensing, web programming and automation, or geospatial intelligence. The coursework is robust and challenging, preparing you for real-world applications of the technology. Potential employers will look favorably at your having a BS in GIS.
Master’s in GIS Programs
Many professionals choose to pursue a master’s degree in GIS to enhance their technical proficiencies and research expertise, even if they didn’t study GIS as an undergrad. In these programs, which are offered by universities and usually require one to three years of coursework, you’ll use your compounding technical knowledge to develop more specified and complex spatial models, automate workflows and analytic processes, and get advanced hands-on learning with experienced professors and industry professionals.
As with many graduate-level degrees, a master’s in GIS will likely increase your earnings and expand your potential for growth or even leadership in your career.
GIS Certificate Programs
Certificate programs are becoming increasingly popular because they strip away the more advanced and specialized coursework (as well as tuition costs) to focus on the curriculum’s key components. GIS certificates are now offered by many colleges and universities, with coursework taking a year or less to complete.
Specifically, working professionals opt to pursue certificates because the courses are often offered in the evenings to allow for busy schedules, and the assignments can directly correlate with their chosen field of work.
PhD in GIS Programs
As with most fields of study, a PhD in GIS is the highest level of formal education you can receive. Doctorate programs are offered by universities and can take up to six years to complete, depending on the student’s level of involvement, course load, and other commitments to the university.
Although there tend to be many ways to supplement the tuition cost of an advanced degree (e.g., working as a research or teaching assistant at the university), these programs are highly advanced and extremely challenging. In addition to successfully completing upper-level coursework, obtaining a doctorate degree involves developing cutting-edge models, conducting extremely in-depth research for publication, and contributing to the field (and the institution) in major ways.