The objectives of the certificate in GIS are

  • to provide participants with a concentrated geography background focusing on geospatial analysis
  • to prepare participants with technical skills in using GIS
  • to qualify participants for applications of GIS in various areas

A certificate will be awarded to the participants who successfully complete the required coursework.

high-resolution near-infrared imageAbout GIS

A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer-based information system that is capable of storing and analyzing spatial data. GIS integrates various map layers and non-spatial data and produces new spatial information for the decision making process. GIS includes common database operations, spatial statistical analysis, computer graphics and visualization, and geographic analysis. Current satellite remote sensors provide GIS with the latest information about the earth environment.

Today, GIS is not only taught and studied in colleges and universities, but also applied in many areas ranging from emergency planning to landfill site selection, and from mapping wildlife habitat to land use/land cover change detection. GIS has become a multi-billion-dollar industry employing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Career Opportunities

GIS jobs can be found at public (federal/state/local) and private agencies and organizations. The following are examples of the possible fields:

  • City and regional planning
  • Emergency management
  • Transportation planning
  • Conservation and wildlife management
  • Forest inventory and management
  • Environmental planning and protection
  • Coastal water quality management
  • Real estate assessment
  • Commercial marketing
  • Site selection and analysis
  • Landcover mapping and land-use planning
  • Business logistics

Graduates of the GIS certificate program have found employment with state agencies, such as the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and Alabama Department of Environmental Management; city, county, and metropolitan planning organizations; and private engineering companies and environmental consulting firms.


The requirement for the graduate-level GIS certificate is a bachelor’s degree in a field that deals with geographic information, such as geography, natural resources and land-use management, environmental analysis, regional and environmental planning, civil engineering, or business applications.


Sagy Cohen, Ph.D., New Castle, 2010. Assistant Professor: GIS and remote sensing.

Kevin M. Curtin, Ph.D., University of California – Santa Barbara, 2002. Professor: GIS, Location Science, Transportation.

Matthew LaFevor, Ph.D., Texas, 2014. Assistant Professor: GIS.

Hongxing Liu, Ph.D., Ohio State, 1999. Professor: Remote Sensing, GIS sensor networks, modeling, hydrology, cryosphere.

W. Craig Remington, M.S., Florida State, 1981. Adjunct Professor and Director of the Cartographic Research Lab: Cartography and GIS.

Joe Weber, Ph.D., GISP, Ohio State 2001. Professor: GIS.

Dr. Caroline McClure, Ph.D., Texas State University 2018. Manager. Instructor: Introduction to GIS.

Support Facilities and Technology

The Geography Department is a member of the University Consortium for GIS (UCGIS), USGS/NGA Center of Excellence in Geospatial Sciences, and the UN Global Geospatial Information Management Academic Network of Americas.

Laboratory for Location Science

The Laboratory of Location Science is dedicated to interdisciplinary research that addresses applied and theoretical problems with a fundamental focus on spatial relationships and efficiently solving problems with a location component. The Laboratory supports a broad range of scientific approaches and technologies and serves a wide community of scholars. The Laboratory provides research, education, training, and outreach opportunities for students, faculty, and our community of stakeholders.

GIS and Remote Sensing Lab

The GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory maintain a state-of-the-art facility with all major GIS and remote sensing software packages, such as ArcGIS and ERDAS Imagine. The lab serves students and faculty in both their coursework and research.

Cartographic Research Lab

The Cartographic Research Laboratory was established in 1982. It is a self-supporting, non-profit facility, receiving funding through the sale of publications and through the completion of cartographic and GIS projects for a broad clientele.

Map Library

The map library is a regional depository for the U.S. government maps and includes over 250,000 maps and 70,000 aerial photographs. The Map Library also holds an extensive collection of ancient maps as well as materials related to toponymics.

Surface Dynamics Modeling Lab

The SDML was established in 2012 as a research unit within the Department of Geography. SDML strives to improve scientific understanding of planetary surface processes and dynamics through design and utilization of state-of-the-art numerical models coupled with field and laboratory research methods.

Course Requirements

Required Courses (12 hours) Electives (8 hours)

GY 330 Computer Mapping and Graphics (4 hours)
GY 420/520 Remote Sensing I (4 hours)
GY 430/530 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (4 hours)

Electives (8 hours)

GY 432/532 GIS Programming (4 hours)
GY 433/576 GIS Practicum (4 hours)
GY 435/535 Remote Sensing II (4 hours)
GY 436/536 Advanced GIS (4 hours)
GY 437/537 GIS for Transportation (4 hours)
GY 438/538 Applications of GIS (4 hours)
GY 443/543 Location Science (3 hours)
GY 470/516: Introduction to Geostatistics using R (3 hours)
GY 488/588: Digital Terrain and Watershed (4 hours)
*Prerequisites or permission to register may apply.

More Information

Download the GIS brochure Fall 2019.

For specific information about course requirements contact, Dr. Caroline McClure. If you have completed the requirements for the GIS certificate, please fill out and email the GIS Certificate completion form to Dr. McClure.