Complete Guide to an Online GIS Degree

Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Bachelor's, Master's, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $25,470
Avg Salary: $81,508

Online geographic information systems (GIS) degrees are available at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Geographic information systems (GIS) is the science of capturing, storing, manipulating, analyzing, and managing different types of geographical or spacial data. People study GIS because it aids in solving a number of spatial problems such as creating maps, locating geographic data, measuring physical characteristics of the earth, and extracting information from structured sets of geographic data.

Aspiring GIS professionals should seek regionally accredited programs to ensure the quality of their educations. Accreditation maintains the relevancy of programs and holds them to high standards that will give future employers the confidence that the potential employee has gained the necessary skills and knowledge needed to be an asset to their organization. Students who may need to transfer credits in their future will also find that accreditation will make the process much faster and smoother as many organizations will not accept prior credits if they are not from an accredited institution. 

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Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Geographic Information Systems Degrees ( 59)

Partner School
Partner School
Full List Accreditation Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
Full List (59)
American Public University System HLC $6,880 72% (138 reviews)
417 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate in Regional and Community Planning
  • Graduate Certificate in Environmental Planning and Design
Arizona State University HLC $15,691 - $27,372 71% (78 reviews)
195 Programs, 3 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • BA in Geography
  • BS in Geographic Information Science
  • BS in Geography
Auburn University at Montgomery SACS COC $17,140 Add Review
24 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Geographic Information Systems Certificate (graduate and undergraduate)
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
California State University-Fullerton WASC WSCUC $18,730 100% (2 reviews)
40 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College HLC $7,393 Add Review
24 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Advanced Surveying - Certificate
Coastal Carolina University SACS COC $25,872 Add Review
14 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate in Geospatial Technologies
Delta State University SACS COC $6,859 0% (2 reviews)
32 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Master of Applied Science in Geospatial Information Technologies
Eastern Illinois University HLC $13,868 Add Review
28 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Master of Business Administration - Geographic Information Systems Option
Elmhurst College HLC $36,370 0% (1 review)
22 Programs, 5 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • BS in Information Technology - Geographic Information Systems (Degree Completion)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
  • MBA - Geography and GIS
  • MS in Geographic Information Systems
Emporia State University HLC $19,918 Add Review
85 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate in Geospatial Analysis
Ferris State University HLC $18,588 Add Review
33 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Geographic Information Systems Certificate
Florida Atlantic University SACS COC $17,276 100% (4 reviews)
36 Programs, 3 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Geoscience
  • Geographic Information Systems Certificate
  • Master of Science in Geoscience with focus in Geographic Information Systems
George Mason University SACS COC $34,370 Add Review
57 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence
Humboldt State University WASC WSCUC $19,373 Add Review
10 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate in Geospatial
Jacksonville State University SACS COC $15,582 Add Review
49 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
  • Master of Public Administration - Geographical Information Systems
Johns Hopkins University MSCHE $52,170 Add Review
360 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • MS in Geographic Information Systems
  • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
Johns Hopkins University - Advanced Academics Programs MSCHE $52,170 Add Review
36 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • MS in Geographic Information Systems
  • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
Kennesaw State University SACS COC $8,066 - $17,329 75% (4 reviews)
93 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Geography
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science
Kent State University at Kent HLC $18,544 100% (1 review)
99 Programs, 7 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Cyber Geographic Information Science Graduate Certificate
  • Environmental Geographic Information Science Graduate Certificate
  • Geographic Information Science Graduate Certificate
  • Master of Geographic Information Science
Marshall University HLC $17,856 Add Review
37 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Geography
  • Bachelor of Science in Geography
Michigan State University HLC $39,406 100% (3 reviews)
109 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Proessional Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Michigan Technological University HLC $32,318 100% (1 review)
14 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Master of Science in Integrated Geospatial Technology
North Carolina A&T State University SACS COC $19,416 100% (1 review)
59 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Bachelor of Science in Geomatics
North Carolina State University SACS COC $27,406 67% (3 reviews)
91 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Science
  • Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology
North Dakota State University - Main Campus HLC $20,692 Add Review
31 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • M.S. in Transportation & Urban Systems
Northeastern State University HLC $14,022 100% (1 review)
23 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
Northeastern University NECHE $49,497 100% (9 reviews)
239 Programs, 8 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
  • Master of Arts in Homeland Security - Geospatial Services
  • Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Services
  • Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Services - Geographic Information Systems
Northern Arizona University HLC $24,841 72% (18 reviews)
159 Programs, 6 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Geographic Information Systems (Certificate)
  • Master of Science in Applied Geospatial Sciences - Custom Geography, Planning and Recreation
  • Master of Science in Applied Geospatial Sciences - Geospatial Technologies
  • Master of Science in Applied Geospatial Sciences - Geospatial Technologies, Professional Science Masters
Northern Illinois University HLC $23,816 Add Review
39 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate of Graduate Study in Geographic Information Analysis
  • Certificate of Undergraduate Study in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Northwest Missouri State University HLC $12,908 Add Review
18 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science
  • Master of Science in Geographic Information Science
Oregon State University NWCCU $29,457 50% (6 reviews)
109 Programs, 3 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science
  • Master of Natural Resources - Geographic Information Science
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus MSCHE $13,988 67% (3 reviews)
210 Programs, 7 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geodesign
  • Graduate Certificate in GeoSpatial Intelligence Analytics
  • Master of Geographic Information Systems
  • Master of Professional Studies in Geodesign
Southern New Hampshire University Online NECHE $11,520 63% (293 reviews)
285 Programs, 4 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • BA Anthropology - Geospatial Technologies
  • BS Geosciences
  • BS Geosciences - Geospatial Technology
  • BS Information Technologies - Geographic Information Systems
Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi SACS COC $18,925 50% (2 reviews)
23 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • MS in Geospatial Surveying Engineering
Texas A&M University-College Station SACS COC $36,606 67% (3 reviews)
129 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Master of Geoscience
University of Arizona HLC $11,800 100% (2 reviews)
100 Programs, 3 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Geographic Information Systems Technology (BS)
  • MS in Geographic Information System Technology
  • Professional Geographic Information System Technology Certificate
University of Arizona - Engineering HLC $35,307 Add Review
14 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Master of Engineering in Mining, Geological and Geophysical Engineering
University of Arkansas HLC $24,308 100% (2 reviews)
77 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate of Proficiency Geospatial Technologies
  • Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Technologies
University of California - Los Angeles WASC WSCUC $41,275 100% (1 review)
136 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate in GIS and Geospatial Technology
University of Central Arkansas HLC $15,047 Add Review
28 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate GIS Certificate
  • Master of Geographic Information Systems
University of Central Missouri HLC $14,150 100% (2 reviews)
58 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
University of Colorado Denver HLC $25,259 100% (2 reviews)
101 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Master of Engineering - Geographic Information Systems
University of Connecticut NECHE $36,948 100% (1 review)
26 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
University of Denver HLC $48,669 Add Review
128 Programs, 4 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
  • Master of Science in Geographic Information Sciences (GISc)
  • Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems
  • Master of Science in Information and Communications Technology - Geographic Information Systems
University of Florida SACS COC $28,659 60% (5 reviews)
239 Programs, 6 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • BA in Business Administration - Geology
  • BA in Geography
  • BS in Environmental Management
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
University of Idaho NWCCU $23,812 100% (2 reviews)
60 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Geographic Information Systems Certificate
University of Illinois at Springfield HLC $20,938 100% (3 reviews)
58 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
University of Kentucky SACS COC $28,046 100% (4 reviews)
32 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Digital Mapping
  • Master of Science in Digital Mapping
University of Louisville SACS COC $26,286 Add Review
52 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Certificate in Applied Geospatial Technologies
University of Maine NECHE $30,282 Add Review
38 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
University of North Dakota HLC $20,047 67% (3 reviews)
74 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science
University of Southern California WASC WSCUC $54,259 60% (10 reviews)
119 Programs, 4 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science & Technology
  • Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence
  • Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Leadership
  • Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology
University of Washington - Seattle NWCCU $35,538 100% (2 reviews)
71 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Master of Geographic Information Systems: Sustainability Management
The University of West Florida SACS COC $19,241 100% (3 reviews)
95 Programs, 5 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Online Geographic Information Science - Traditional Track
  • Graduate Certificate in Online Geographic Information Science- Archaeology Track
  • MS in Geographic Information Science Administration
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Online Geographic Information Science (GIS) - Archaeology Track
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point HLC $16,476 100% (1 review)
28 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Master of Science in Geodesign and GIS Techniques
Utah State University NWCCU $21,520 100% (12 reviews)
31 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Geographic Information Science Certificate
Walden University HLC Not Provided 49% (479 reviews)
636 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) - Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • PhD in Public Policy and Administration - Geographic Information Systems
West Virginia University HLC $23,616 100% (1 review)
65 Programs, 1 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis
Western Kentucky University SACS COC $25,512 Add Review
140 Programs, 2 in Geographic Information Systems (view all)
  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems

Online Geographic Information Systems Degree Overview & Career Information

Many positions within the field will require a bachelor's degree, which will take fours years to complete comprising of 120-credit hours of coursework. Online master's degree programs are also available to prepare professionals to take on senior roles in more specialized areas. Students can receive their graduate diplomas in two years depending on their choice of full-time or part-time study. Professionals who are looking to advance their careers but don't want to commit to a full graduate degree program can participate in a post bachelor's online certificate program, which can be completed in a year or less.  

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Online Bachelor's Degrees in Geographic Information Systems

By participating in an online bachelor's degree program in geographic information systems students will learn the mapping and programing skills needed to be successful in the industry. Key courses within a geographic information systems curriculum include website design, data base design and management, cyber law and ethics, geospatial programing, information technology communications, computer platforms technology, and information technology portfolio planning. A typical online bachelor's degree program is comprised of 120 total credit hours and will take students four years to finish. Many graduates go on to work as geospatial scientists, remote sensing technologists, user interface developers, and geographic information systems analysts. Applicants who wish to participate in an online bachelor's degree program will need to submit their high school diploma or GED certificate along with transcripts. Applicants will also be required to submit transcripts from each post-secondary they attended. an admissions essay may also be required. 

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Online Master's in Geographic Information Systems

Professionals who hold an undergraduate degree may find that going back to school to earn their online master's degree will aide in career advancement. An online graduate program will take participants two years to complete the required 36 to 46-credit hours. Students will develop advanced technical competencies through classes such as advanced spatial analysis, managing organizational culture, business applications of geographic information systems, crisis mapping for humanitarian action, geospatial analysis of crime, problem solving with GIS, spatial databases, and applied multivariate statistical analysis. In some cases it may be a program requirement for students to complete a thesis prior to graduation. Admission requirements will include an undergraduate degree with a GPA or 3.0 or higher, a statement of purpose outlining the applicants educational and professional goals, a resume, and two or three letters of recommendation. Some schools also require an applicant to submit their GRE scores. Upon completion of an online graduate program, graduates will be equipped to take on designing and management roles in the areas of local government, transportation planning, and environmental resource management. Online master degree programs in geographic information systems can be pursued at the university level. 

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Online Doctoral Degrees in Geographic Information Systems

While not common, there are online doctoral programs available that focus on Geographic Information Systems. These programs typically have GIS as a specialization of the main degree, as opposed to being the focus of the degree. For instance, Walden University offers an online Doctor of Public Administration with a Geographic Information Systems concentration. Students enrolled in this type of program will take courses such as Fundamentals of Mapping and Geographic Information Systems, GIS Research Methodology, Public Policy and Finance, and Spatial Analysis and Modeling. Research and a dissertation will also be required. Students will learn the skills needed to use GIS technology to do things like come up with evacuation plans in the event of a natural disaster, create systems of transportation, study the way diseases spread across locations, and other activities that help the public. This program will require close to 90 quarter hours of work and will likely take three or more years to complete.

Upon graduating, these professionals may find work in such positions as policy analyst, consultant, and in senior management or executive positions. Individuals who have earned a PhD can also find jobs teaching at the university level and conducting research. This type of online program can be found at the university level, and admission requires a master's degree. Other typical requirements include a resume, letters of recommendation, test scores, and a writing sample.

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Online Certificates in Geographic Information Systems

Online post baccalaureate certificate programs are available at a variety of colleges and universities and can be completed in as little as a year. Participating in an online certificate program can help graduates and professionals advance their careers as architects, engineers, environmental scientists, surveyors, and mapping technicians. The courses that will aide in preparing students for such career advancements include problem solving with GIS, professionalism in GIS&T, cartography and visualization, and remote sensing techniques. Programs lengths vary and may range from 11 to 24 credit hours. Time to completion is generally less than a year. In order to qualify for a post baccalaureate certificate degree program the applicant must possess a bachelor's degree in geographic information systems or a related discipline. 

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The Importance of an Accredited Online Geographic Information Systems Degree 

Regional accreditation is the process in which an outside, non-profit organizations conducts a quality review on a a specific program or school. This is something that should be taken into consideration before making a final commitment to a school. These quality reviews ensure that the program is taking all of the necessary steps to provide the best education for the students involved. Reviews are conducted on things like curriculum, facilities, teaching material, student resources, and faculty. Students who may be in need of financial aid will want to apply for accredited programs because federal financial aide is only available through accreditation. Many employers in the professional world will not recognize a degree unless it has been received through an accredited program. For this reason accreditation can make the job search upon graduation a much easier process. Lastly, many institutions will only accept transfer credits that have been accredited. If a student feels that they may need to transfer institutions anytime in their future this must be considered. 

Careers in Geographic Information Systems

In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on various new technologies, there are many career options available to those that earn an online degree in geographic information systems. Graduates might find work in such fields as environmental resource management, urban planning, or cartography. Those who go to work in the field of cartography using geographic information systems will likely work under the title of geographic information specialist. These specialists will use GIS to create and update maps that digitally present spatial information. These maps will be used in a variety of settings, like planning the use of land, marketing, geology, and environmental studies.

Another notable option for online GIS graduates is to find work as a geographer. These professionals can work for the federal government or private organizations, and their job involves creating maps based on a variety of geographic data. These maps are not always just maps of land features or cities; they may also include visual representation of things like cultural structures or political features. Geographers will look at geographic data and combine it with information relating to things like economics, health, or the environment, and then create a map that accurately represents this information. This information is used for a variety of purposes, from planning the layout of roads to determining the best way to respond to a disaster. Geographers usually need a bachelor's degree to find work within the federal government or in entry-level jobs. A master's will help them to advance in their career.

References

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