Derick de Souza
Written By - Derick de Souza

Check MarkEdited By Darryl S.

Check MarkReview & Contribution By Dr. Samuel Watts

GIS, short for Geographic Information Systems, is a computerized framework for collecting, managing, and evaluating data. It combines excellent mapping and visualization with a strong data integration, analysis, and modeling framework, all built on the science of geography. Based on science and built on the foundation of maps and data, GIS integrates various data types, providing unbiased, authoritative perspectives on multiple issues. It organizes information into layers of geographic visualizations like maps, using spatial location. Problems are modeled geographically, evaluated, and explored via spatial analysis. GIS provides deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations, allowing users to make more informed decisions when tackling complex problems. The master’s in GIS will enable students to immerse themselves in a rapidly growing field involving diverse technological, environmental sciences, and management abilities. Graduates become specialists in charge of designing, constructing, and implementing infrastructure plans that have a significant impact on civilizations and environments around the world. GIS master’s programs also provide the skills required in various sectors, such as environmental planning, urban and regional planning, forestry, emergency response, epidemiology, and ecology.

Online GIS Masters

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Online GIS Master’s Programs

The best online GIS master’s programs should be supported by great and experienced teachers, a well-recognized and approved institution, excellent infrastructure, state-of-the-art computer laboratories, and GIS equipment, and provide good value for money. The program’s format, structure, curriculum, and specialization options are also important considerations. Here is a list of the best master’s in GIS programs available online, based on these and other factors:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of the Potomac, VA Campus
7799 LEESBURG PIKE, FALLS CHURCH, Virginia 22043
North Carolina State University, Raleigh
2101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695
University of Washington, Seattle Campus
1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington 98195
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
University of Denver
2199 S. University Blvd, Denver, Colorado 80208
Salisbury University
1101 Camden Ave, Salisbury, Maryland 21801
Kent State University, Kent
Executive Office, 2nd Floor Library, Kent, Ohio 44242
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Rd, Administration Bldg., Room 339, Boca Raton, Florida 33431
Northern Arizona University
1900 S Knoles Dr, Babbitt Administrative Center, Room 200, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011
Northwest Missouri State University
800 University Drive, Maryville, Missouri 64468
The University of West Florida
11000 University Parkway, Pensacola, Florida 32514
University of Central Arkansas
201 Donaghey Ave, Conway, Arkansas 72035
University of Colorado
1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400, Denver, Colorado 80217
Delta State University
1003 W Sunflower Road, Cleveland, Mississippi 38733
Texas A & M University, Corpus Christi
6300 Ocean Dr., Corpus Christi, Texas 78412
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Blvd, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
Pennsylvania State University, World Campus
128 Outreach Building, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Online GIS Master’s Programs

An online master’s in GIS degree program provides accurate knowledge and the skills required to be creative and solve today’s complex environmental and geographical issues. GIS is a complicated discipline encompassing various topics, from Cartography, Remote Sensing, and Road Planning to Global Positioning Systems in GIS, Natural Resources, and Emergency Management. Students also learn about Landscape Modeling, Water Conservation, Internet Mapping, Data Collection and Digital Imaging Processing, and the functions of Geographic Information Systems, among others. Theory, Statistics, and Research are at the core of any GIS program.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master’s in GIS Programs

The coursework in an online master of GIS generally includes highly technical and scientific subjects. Along with standard courses, students are also required to take electives of their choice and sometimes complete a capstone project or thesis. Some examples of this course include:

Geospatial Data Analysis 

This course provides an in-depth exploration of geospatial data analysis techniques and methodologies. One will learn to manipulate, analyze, and interpret spatial data using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. Topics covered include spatial data types, geoprocessing, spatial statistics, spatial querying, and spatial modeling. Practical exercises and real-world case studies will reinforce concepts and develop their analytical skills in handling geospatial data effectively.

3D Geospatial Urban Modeling and Visualization

This course focuses on advanced techniques for creating and visualizing 3D models of urban environments using geospatial data. Students will learn to integrate various data sources, such as LiDAR, photogrammetry, and GIS data, to generate accurate 3D representations of cities and urban landscapes. Topics include 3D data acquisition, point cloud processing, terrain modeling, building reconstruction, texture mapping, and immersive visualization techniques. Through hands-on projects, they will gain practical experience creating detailed 3D models and visualizations for urban planning, design, and analysis.

GPS for Resource Mapping

This course explores using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology for mapping and monitoring natural resources and environmental phenomena. Students will learn about the principles of GPS, including satellite navigation, positioning techniques, and accuracy considerations. Topics include GPS data collection methods, field surveying techniques, data integration with GIS, and applications in resource management, such as forestry, agriculture, water resources, and biodiversity conservation. Practical exercises will enable them to apply GPS technology to map and assess various natural resources in real-world contexts.

Urban Applications in GIS

This course examines the diverse applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in urban planning, management, and decision-making processes. Students will explore how GIS technology can analyze spatial patterns, assess urban infrastructure, model urban growth, and support sustainable development initiatives. Topics include land use planning, transportation planning, environmental impact assessment, demographic analysis, and emergency management. Case studies and projects will illustrate the practical use of GIS tools and techniques in addressing urban challenges and improving the quality of life in cities.

Remote Sensing

This course introduces remote sensing techniques and applications for environmental monitoring, natural resource management, and land use analysis. Students will learn about remote sensing principles, including sensor types, image acquisition, and spectral analysis. Topics include image interpretation, classification algorithms, change detection, and image processing techniques using remote sensing software. Through hands-on exercises and projects, they will gain practical experience analyzing satellite and aerial imagery to extract valuable information about the Earth’s surface and dynamic processes.

Here is an additional list of some of the courses one can expect:

  • Coastal GIS
  • International Case Studies of GIS for Sustainability Management
  • GIST Science
  • Spatial Analysis and Decision-Making
  • Project Planning
  • Customizing Planning Information Systems
  • Internet Geographic Information Systems
  • GIS & Public Administration
  • Coop Experience
  • Leadership in GIS Organizations
  • Remote Sensing: Earth Observing Systems and Applications
  • Development and Management of GIS Projects
  • Geospatial Ontologies and Semantics
  • Computer Cartography
  • Geospatial Modeling and Analysis
  • Surface Water Hydrology with GIS
  • Remote Sensing and Imagery Interpretation
  • Spatial Analysis and Web Mapping
  • Principles of Geodatabases
  • Geographic Information Science
  • GIS Spatial Analysis
  • Graphic Design in Cartography
  • Interactive Cartography and Visualization
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Advanced Vector GIS
  • GIS and Map Comparison
  • Advanced Remote Sensing Remotely Sensed Data
  • Python Programming

Upon graduating from the program, GIS students would have developed a host of skills, such as the ability to:

  • design databases, efficiently and accurately analyze data, and present sound solutions to global issues;
  • understand the nature of geographic data and recognize the appropriate application of GIS technologies;
  • solve spatial and real-world problems and plan, implement, and initiate GIS projects;
  • understand the nature of mapping systems, geodata, and spatial visualization;
  • combine and use geospatial theory, hands-on applications, and client-based instruction to deliver a wide range of expertise to local, state, national, and international organizations;
  • analyze and implement cartographic principles to design and initiate complex geospatial designs, and
  • demonstrate skills in project management, system implementation, and database development.

Master’s in GIS Degree Types

There are two distinct degree types to pursue graduate-level GIS studies. One is the Master of Arts or MA in GIS, and the other is the Master of Science or MS in GIS.


The Master of Arts or MA in GIS takes a multi-disciplinary approach to GIS studies, often including subjects such as history, anthropology, environment & energy, etc. This degree is better suited for those who wish to take up a Ph.D. or teach in postsecondary settings.


The Master of Science or MS in GIS approaches GIS from a more technical and scientific viewpoint, often combining other subjects within the scope and sphere of science, such as physics, chemistry, geoscience, etc. This degree is better suited for those who want to advance their GIS careers or enhance their skill and knowledge for more responsible roles.

Specializations in Master’s in GIS Programs

In an ever-evolving field as vast as GIS, concentrations and specializations give students an added advantage when carving out a good career path. The study of GIS can be broken down into specialized areas, some of which include but are not limited to:

SpecializationSpecialization DescriptionCareers
GIS & Remote SensingThis specialization integrates Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing technologies for spatial data analysis, mapping, and monitoring. One learns about satellite imagery, aerial photography, and GIS software for environmental assessment, urban planning, and natural resource management.GIS Analyst, Remote Sensing Specialist, Environmental Scientist, Urban Planner, and more.
Environmental GISThis specialization focuses on applying GIS technology to address environmental issues such as land use change, biodiversity conservation, pollution monitoring, and ecological modeling. One learns about spatial analysis techniques and environmental science principles for informed decision-making.Environmental Planner, Conservation Scientist, Environmental Consultant, Natural Resource Manager, and more.
Geospatial TechnologyThis specialization explores advanced geospatial technologies for data acquisition, analysis, and visualization, including LiDAR, GPS, and UAVs. One emphasizes developing and implementing cutting-edge tools and techniques in various domains such as agriculture, transportation, and disaster management.Geospatial Engineer, Geospatial Analyst, UAV Pilot, Geospatial Software Developer, and more.
Geospatial IntelligenceThis specialization explores geospatial analysis and data visualization techniques to support intelligence gathering, national security, and defense operations. It involves interpreting spatial data to identify patterns, threats, and trends for strategic decision-making and situational awareness.Geospatial Intelligence Analyst, Intelligence Officer, Military Geospatial Specialist, Defense Analyst, and more.
GeodesignThis specialization integrates design, geography, and technology principles to address complex spatial problems in urban planning, landscape architecture, and environmental design. It utilizes GIS, CAD, and 3D modeling tools to explore, analyze, and visualize alternative design scenarios.Geodesigner, Urban Designer, Landscape Architect, GIS Planner, and more.
Spatial Data Acquisition and IntegrationThis specialization focuses on data collection methods, including GPS, surveying, and sensor technologies, and integrating diverse spatial datasets from multiple sources. It emphasizes data quality, accuracy assessment, and metadata management for effective decision-making and analysis.Geospatial Data Technician, Surveyor, Field GIS Specialist, Data Integration Analyst, and more.
Spatial Application DevelopmentThis specialization involves the development of custom GIS applications, web-based mapping tools, and geospatial software solutions. It covers programming languages (e.g., Python, JavaScript), APIs, and frameworks for building interactive mapping interfaces and geospatial data processing workflows.GIS Developer, Geospatial Software Engineer, Web GIS Developer, Spatial Data Scientist, and more.
Spatial ThinkingThis specialization develops spatial reasoning skills and analytical thinking abilities essential for interpreting and understanding spatial relationships and patterns. One learns about applying concepts from geography, mathematics, and cognitive science to solve spatial problems and make informed decisions.Spatial Analyst, Geographic Information Scientist, Spatial Cognitive Researcher, GIS Educator, and more.
Spatial Data Analysis VisualizationsThis specialization explores techniques for analyzing and visualizing spatial data to extract meaningful insights and communicate findings effectively. It covers methods such as spatial statistics, visualization, and cartographic design for creating informative and visually compelling maps and graphics.Data Visualization Specialist, Cartographer, GIS Data Analyst, Spatial Analyst, and more.
Digital MappingThis specialization focuses on creating, manipulating, and analyzing digital maps using GIS software and online platforms. It covers topics of cartographic principles, map design, and spatial data visualization techniques for producing accurate, informative, and visually appealing maps for various purposes.Digital Cartographer, GIS Mapper, Mapping Technician, Spatial Data Visualization Specialist, and more.

Timeline for Graduating from Online GIS Master’s Programs

The general duration of an online master’s in GIS is approximately two years. However, depending on whether the study is part-time or full-time, entirely online or hybrid (offline and online), and the chosen concentration and coursework, the duration to complete the degree can range from 16 months to about 36 months. A part-time degree extends the timeline to more than two years. Alternatively, students can opt for an accelerated format, completing the program in less than two years. Here is an overview of the timelines for completing an online master’s degree in GIS:

  • Full-time program: Approximately two years to complete the GIS program.
  • Part-time program: Requires two to four years to complete the GIS program.
  • Accelerated program: Completion in less than two years for those opting for an accelerated pace.

Accelerated Online GIS Master’s Programs

Accelerated master’s programs in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) offer an efficient pathway for students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a shortened timeframe. These programs typically integrate undergraduate and graduate coursework, allowing them to complete their studies more quickly than traditional programs. Here are a few examples of accelerated graduate GIS programs:

Admission Requirements for Online GIS Master’s Programs

The admission requirements for online master’s programs in GIS typically align with those of traditional master’s programs. Generally, colleges and universities seek applicants who meet the following criteria:

  • Completed Application Form and Fee
    Prospective students must submit a completed application form and the necessary fee. This step initiates the admission process and ensures that applicants are formally considered for enrolment;
  • Official Academic Transcripts
    Applicants must provide official transcripts from all previous academic institutions attended. Most programs require a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA), often set at 3.0 or higher, although specific requirements may vary among institutions;
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    A current Résumé or CV detailing relevant work experience, educational background, and any other pertinent achievements or qualifications in the field of GIS is usually required. This document helps admissions committees evaluate applicants’ preparedness and suitability for the program;
  • Letters of Recommendation
    Applicants typically need to submit three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their academic or professional abilities. These letters provide insights into applicants’ character, skills, and potential for success in graduate studies;
  • Personal Statement
    A Personal Statement or statement of purpose is often required, allowing applicants to articulate their academic and career goals, explain their interest in GIS, and discuss how the program aligns with their aspirations. This essay provides an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate their motivation and passion for the field;
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
    While not universally required, some programs may ask applicants to submit Graduate Record Examination scores as part of their application. The GRE assesses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills and is a standardized measure of academic readiness for graduate-level studies.

Accreditation for Master’s in GIS Programs

Accreditation plays a crucial role in determining the quality of a master’s program. It symbolizes reliability, trustworthiness, and superiority and signifies that a program has met or exceeded preset and defined standards. Accreditation also ensures that the master’s degree is recognized industry-wide and for college transfers. 

While no specific accrediting body is dedicated solely to GIS programs, some programs may be accredited by discipline-specific organizations or bodies. The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) [3] offers accreditation for GIS programs that meet specific criteria related to curriculum, faculty qualifications, and resources.

Institutional accreditation is conferred by regional accrediting agencies, such as:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) [4]
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS) [5]
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC) [6]
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) [7]
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) [8]
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) [9]

Graduates in GIS should always look for programs or online schools accredited by at least one accrediting body. More information on accreditation can be found in the Accreditation Guide.

No GRE for Master’s in GIS Programs

Many master’s programs in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) do not require applicants to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as part of the admissions process. Other application materials, such as academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a résumé or curriculum vitae, may still be required to assess applicants’ qualifications and suitability for the program. Examples of universities providing a no GRE master’s in GIS degree are: 

Free Online GIS Master’s Courses

Although a GIS master’s program cannot be done for free, some learning portals offer individual courses, specializations, and certificate programs without any fee. However, it is essential to note that many such free offerings do not lead to a certificate and certainly come nowhere close to an entire master’s degree. Still, these online lessons are an excellent way for students further to enhance their knowledge of GIS or areas within GIS. Examples of a few free GIS courses are:

CourseGeographic Information Systems (GIS) [12]
Provided byCoursera
DescriptionIn a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course, students delve into the theory, principles, and practical applications of GIS technology. Beginning with foundational concepts, such as spatial data types and coordinate systems, they progress to explore methods for acquiring, managing, and visualizing spatial data effectively. They learn various spatial analysis techniques, including spatial statistics and modeling, to extract meaningful insights from geospatial data and simulate real-world processes.
CourseGeographic Information Systems (GIS): Free Online GIS Training [13]
Provided byUniversity at Buffalo: The State University of New York
DescriptionBeginning with foundational concepts, participants understand spatial data types, coordinate systems, and GIS technology principles. Through interactive modules and practical exercises, they learn how to acquire, manage, and analyze spatial data effectively using GIS software tools.
CourseGetting Started with GIS [14]
Provided byESRI
DescriptionThroughout the course, participants learn essential skills such as understanding spatial data types, coordinate systems, and basic GIS functionalities. They gain hands-on experience with popular GIS software tools, learning to navigate interfaces, manipulate spatial data, and create simple maps. Additionally, students explore various data acquisition methods, including GPS, remote sensing, and digitization, and learn to integrate different spatial data types for analysis.

How to Pay for Online GIS Master’s Programs

It is no secret that graduate-level education costs a lot. And with each passing year, the cost of higher online education seems only to increase. Fortunately, there are several ways by which prospective graduate students can fund their advanced education. Here are a few popular options to explore:


Scholarships are available to deserving students who can use them to reduce or eliminate their education expenses. Before choosing a scholarship recipient, the university considers the history and background, including letters of recommendation, work experience, and, most importantly, academic records.


Grants are funds awarded by the federal, state, or private sectors that can be used to pay for tuition and additional student expenditures such as books, transportation, and equipment. Most grants are given out based on financial need rather than academic achievement.

Graduate Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships – offer a fee waiver or a stipend in exchange for university services. Working as a professor’s assistant, assisting them with instructional restrictions, helping in a lab or workshop, and teaching and demonstrating for undergraduates are all possibilities.

Research Assistantships – allow students to help professors with their research while lessening their workload with a fee waiver or a stipend.

Student Loans

Applicants may be eligible for federal, bank, or private lender loans, all involving interest payments. It’s also worth noting that missing or delaying payments will almost certainly increase graduate debt.


The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, can be used to evaluate whether or not a graduate is eligible for financial aid.

To understand and know more about various ways of funding graduate-level education, read the best Financial Guide.

Careers and Salary Outlook For Online GIS Master’s Graduates

On completing a master’s in GIS, graduates will be able to manage complex GIS infrastructures in urban and regional planning, environmental resource management, etc., and work with anything related to geolocation.

Students interested in geolocation information systems and associated fields will find numerous opportunities in the GIS sector. Many graduates have worked as Geospatial Analysts, GIS Data Managers, GIS Developers, and other positions. Although private businesses use GIS workers (for example, Google Maps), Government bodies, such as city, state, and federal agencies, employ most GIS professionals. Some of the most common master’s in GIS jobs are:

  • App Developer
  • Climate Scientist
  • Computer Programmer
  • Conservationist
  • Consultant
  • Educator/Trainer
  • Forester
  • GIS Analyst
  • GIS Business Development Executive/Manager
  • GIS Coordinator
  • GIS Manager
  • GIS Programmer
  • GIS Specialist
  • GIS Technician
  • Health Geographer

Some occupations GIS master students can pursue include:

OccupationGeoscientists [16]
Skills RequiredCommunication, critical thinking, outdoor, physical stamina, and problem-solving skills.
Median Annual Salary$87,480
Job Growth (up to 2032)5 % (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionGeoscientists systematically present their findings in field studies, sample collection, surveys, and scientific report preparation. They utilize various tools, from essential hammers and chisels to advanced ground-penetrating radar equipment. Geoscientists typically investigate the physical aspects of the Earth, including its structure, processes, and compositions, to gather information about its present, future, and past.
OccupationAtmospheric scientists, including meteorologists [17]
Skills RequiredAnalytical, communication, critical thinking, and math skills
Median Annual Salary$83,780
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionAtmospheric scientists and meteorologists possess analytical, communication, critical thinking, and mathematical skills. Using computer models to analyze atmospheric data, they measure various atmospheric parameters such as humidity, temperature, wind speed, and atmospheric pressure. Their work involves understanding and predicting weather patterns and phenomena.
OccupationGeological and Hydrologic Technicians [18]
Skills RequiredAnalytical, communication, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills
Median Annual Salary$49,590
Job Growth (up to 2032)2% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionGeological and hydrologic technicians gather field samples and prepare them for laboratory analysis. They conduct scientific tests on samples, recording data compiled from databases and reports. These technicians are crucial in assisting geoscientists and hydrologists in their research and investigative work.
OccupationEnvironmental Engineers [19]
Skills RequiredImagination, interpersonal, problem-solving, reading, and writing skills. 
Median Annual Salary$96,530
Job Growth (up to 2032)6% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionEnvironmental engineers require imagination, interpersonal, problem-solving, reading, and writing skills. They review, update, and prepare ecological investigation reports, design projects to protect the environment, and develop systems for air pollution control and water reclamation. Environmental engineers are vital in addressing environmental challenges and promoting sustainable practices.
OccupationHydrologists [20]
Skills RequiredAnalytical, interpersonal, critical-thinking, communication, and physical stamina. 
Median Annual Salary$85,990
Job Growth (up to 2032)1% (little or no change)
Job DescriptionHydrologists possess analytical, interpersonal, critical-thinking, communication, and physical stamina skills. They measure water properties, collect soil and water samples for testing, and prepare reports and presentations of their findings. Hydrologists study water distribution, movement, and quality, contributing to water resource management and environmental conservation efforts.
OccupationNatural Sciences Managers [21]
Skills RequiredInterpersonal, problem-solving, time-management, and leadership skills.
Median Annual Salary$144,440
Job Growth (up to 2032)5% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionNatural sciences managers exhibit interpersonal, problem-solving, time-management, and leadership skills. They oversee scientific research activities, coordinate product and developmental projects, and communicate research findings and proposals. Natural sciences managers are crucial in guiding scientific endeavors and fostering innovation.

Certifications and Licensure For Online GIS Master’s Graduates

Master’s students in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) often pursue certifications to complement their academic studies and enhance their professional credentials. Here are some certifications commonly sought by GIS master’s students:

Certified GIS Professional Certification [22]
The examination to gain this certification measures a breadth of geospatial information across different areas specified, although not a depth of knowledge in a single domain. It measures their proficiency in specific geospatial competencies rather than their ability in the professional roles they have carried before. 

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Certification [23]
ASPR identifies and recognizes those individuals whom experts in this domain carefully appraise and, after passing a written examination, are selected to gain the certification. It provides a foundation for weighing the validity of allegations and challenges involving practicing mapping scientists and photogrammetrists and taking appropriate action. 

Esri Technical Certifications [24]
Esri, a leading provider of GIS software, offers a range of technical certifications that validate proficiency in using Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Master’s students can pursue certifications such as ArcGIS Desktop Professional, ArcGIS Enterprise Administration Associate, or ArcGIS Developer Associate to demonstrate their expertise in Esri’s software suite.

Additional Resources For Online GIS Master’s Students

With technological advancements, computers, software, and satellites, GIS has become a complex yet crucial part of our world. The scope of GIS is ever-increasing, giving rise to newer and more significant challenges that need to be addressed. Networking with peers and connecting with people from around the world can help in the endeavor to solve some of today’s complex problems in cartography, ecology, geography, the environment, and much more. Here are a few resources for students to explore and learn how GIS is being used today, the latest developments, and communities that bring ideas together:

GISGeography [25]
GISGeography has a compilation of resources for GIS graduates and professionals, divided into categories such as analysis, careers, cartography, datasets, mapping, sensors, software, and more.

GIS Resources [26]
GIS Resources is a global platform for geospatial technology’s latest and high-quality information sources. It presents the latest insights into the research & developments in the geospatial industry and academics.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [27]
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a dedicated GIS and Public Health resources section. One can explore map making, geospatial data, GIS software & tools, GIS blogs & forums, and GIS training.

GRASS GIS provides a free and open-source copy of the software, provides manuals and tutorials, and accepts contributions to open-source GeoSpatial through GRASS GIS development. – GIS & Planning [29]
The Landscape Partnership portal is an interactive platform that allows landowners and professionals from any agency, organization, or industry to share technical information, host GIS mapping products and a variety of decision-support tools, view and download online learning materials, learn about partnership activities and newly funded projects, and find technical experts who can help. To that end, the GIS & Planning section of the website offers several tools and resources.

FAQs About Online GIS Master’s Programs

What is the difference between Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial?

GIS is a system that stores geographic information in layers and integrates it with geographic software programs through which spatial data can be created, saved, edited, analyzed, and visualized. On the other hand, geospatial is a broader term encompassing GIS and other technologies and data associated with geographic or locational components, including remote sensing, GPS, and spatial analysis tools.

Can I do a GIS master’s online?

Is a master’s in GIS worth it?

How to become a GIS professional?

What career opportunities are available with a master’s in GIS?

Can I pursue a master’s in GIS if my undergraduate degree is not in a related field?

How does earning a master’s in GIS differ from obtaining GIS certifications?


University of Wisconsin System

Michigan Technological University

University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS)

New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

Higher Learning Commission

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission

Kent State University

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-Coursera

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Free Online GIS Training-University at Buffalo: The State University of New York

Getting Started with GIS-ESRI


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Geoscientists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Atmospheric scientists including meteorologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Geological and Hydrologic Technicians

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Environmental Engineers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Hydrologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Natural Sciences Managers

Certified GIS Professional Certification

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Certification

Esri Technical Certifications


GIS Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

GRASSGIS – GIS & Planning