Top 15 Online Schools for Masters in Geographic Information Systems

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A Master’s in Geographic Information Systems allows potential students to immerse themselves in a fast-growing profession that requires a wide array of skills in technology, environmental sciences, and management/administration. GIS professionals are responsible for the design, construction, and implementation of infrastructural plans that have a drastic effect on civilizations and environments world-wide. These individuals are desperately needed in public and private industries, non-profit organizations, government agencies, academic environments, and more. This complex discipline is the source behind the layout of cities, individual properties, and local environments. GIS professionals work to promote health and stability across the globe. This list of the Top 15 Online Schools for Masters in Geographic Information Systems introduces distance education students to the finest programs in the country that provide them with industry-standard, state-of-the-art technologies with which to learn a challenging career path.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the job outlook for GIS professionals at a staggering 29% over the next 10 years, which is exceedingly faster than average! The average annual salary is around $60,000-$100,000/yr.

These schools were chosen for several factors that put them ahead of other online programs—due to the: nature of the coursework, degree of thoroughness and complexity of the curriculum, online availability, sufficient financial aid availability, and an education that gives students more than just classroom experience. In developing this list, OnlineSchoolsCenter.com, chose not to list the schools in an ordered way, but instead highlighted fifteen of the very best programs, all of which have their own unique strengths.

PENN STATE WORLD CAMPUS

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Program Standouts:
Penn State World Campus offers an “award winning” (US News and World Report) online Master in GIS that allows students to customize their curriculum to closely conform to individual career goals. Students also have numerous options as to the pace of their coursework that match well with financial aid opportunities.

Campus Location: University Park, PA

Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $821 per credit hour—tuition
  • $86 per 1-4 credit hours; $189 per 5-8 credit hours; $252 per 9 or more credit hours—technology fee

Types of Aid: Federal and state grants; federal and private loans; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; various payment plans; third-party billing; employer tuition reimbursement and tuition deferment; tuition assistance; military benefits.

Acceptance Rate: 58.1%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and TOEFL scores from students who use English as a second language.

Program Options:

  • Geospatial Intelligence
  • Geodesign

Degree Outcomes:
There are a huge number of elective courses in this program that can be taken inside of either one of the two concentration options. In this way, students can minutely construct their curriculum to be as personalized as possible. Upon exiting the program, students will be able to manage complex GIS infrastructures in fields such as: environmental resource management, urban and regional planning, local government, and more.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PENN STATE WORLD CAMPUS, CLICK HERE!

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

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Program Standouts:
The University of Washington offers an online Master in GIS for Sustainability Management that focuses on leveraging powerful GIS technologies to develop sustainable solutions to a variety of complex problems, such as affordable housing and land use impacts on water quality improvement.

Campus Location: Seattle, WA

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Tuition and Fees:

  • $667 per credit hour—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal and state grants; federal and private loans; institutional, departmental, and outside scholarship opportunities; student employment programs; military and veterans’ benefits.

Acceptance Rate: 53%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a current résumé or CV, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and TOEFL scores from students who use English as a second language.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Coastal GIS
  • International Case Studies of GIS for Sustainability Management
  • Geospatial Data Analysis

Degree Outcomes:
Students in this program complete highly beneficial hands-on projects that further prepare them for their futures in the field of GIS, which heavily involves the understanding of complex  technologies. Among many skills, UW graduates will be able to design databases, efficiently and accurately analyze data, and present sound solutions to global issues.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, CLICK HERE!

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

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Program Standouts:
The online Master of GIS at the University of Arizona is well-suited to students who have either extensive or limited experience within the field. The program integrates GIScience, cutting-edge GISystems, and geospatial technologies, of which having control over is pivotally important in every branch of the discipline.

Campus Location: Tucson, AZ

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $820 per credit hour—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal, state, university, and private loans; federal and state grants; numerous institutional and outside scholarship opportunities.

Acceptance Rate: 74.6%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and TOEFL scores from students who use English as a second language.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • GIST Science
  • Spatial Analysis and Decision-Making
  • Project Planning

Degree Outcomes:
Students exiting this program will have the knowledge and skill to enter into positions in government, corporate, nonprofit, and academic settings. Brilliant faculty members’ expertise and interdisciplinary research contribute to the future success of U of A graduates in areas from physical geography to human geography.

FOR MORE INFORMATION THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA, CLICK HERE!

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

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Program Standouts:
This outstanding online school is continuously listed on top rankings of the best distance education programs in the country. Its online Master in GIS and Technology provides extremely solid coursework in many areas, such as problem solving, data collection, analysis, modeling, and visualization techniques.

Campus Location: Los Angeles, CA

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges;

Tuition and Fees:

  • $90 one time—application fee
  • $1,773 per credit hour—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal and private loans; federal and state grants; institutional fellowships and assistantships; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; student employment programs; tuition refund plans.

Acceptance Rate: 16.5%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and GRE scores.

Program Options:

  • Spatial Data Acquisition and Integration
  • Spatial Application Development
  • Spatial Thinking
  • Spatial Data Analysis Visualizations

Degree Outcomes:
An essential asset in assessing profitability, logistics, and feasibility of any organization/institution, these graduated GIS professionals provide a service that is unparalleled by many other individuals. Alumni at USC have gone on to work with public, private, and nonprofit institutions; police departments; government agencies; and more!

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, CLICK HERE!

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

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Program Standouts:
Online GIS students at the University of Florida major in the highly accredited Master in Urban and Regional Planning – GIS, which is designed to “empower planning professionals with the practical knowledge to make more resourceful and long-term decisions” that effect major infrastructural systems. Coursework utilizes all of the most up-to-date and industry-standard technologies.

Campus Location: Gainesville, FL

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; The Planning Accreditation Board; The Association of American Universities

Tuition and Fees:

  • $448.73 per credit hour—in-state tuition
  • $690.21 per credit hour—out-of-state tuition

Types of Aid: Federal, institutional, and alternative grants; federal and private/alternative loans; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; student employment programs.

Acceptance Rate: 45.6%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a current résumé, three letters of recommendation, a personal goal statement, and GRE scores.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Customizing Planning Information Systems
  • 3D Geospatial Urban Modeling and Visualization
  • Internet Geographic Information Systems

Degree Outcomes:
This “robust curriculum” includes many different hands-on learning opportunities and contextual projects that are based off of real-world issues. Therefore, upon exiting this masters program, students have an in-depth knowledge of current GIS related problems as well as a huge understanding of how to approach solving such problems.

FOR MORE INFORMATION THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, CLICK HERE!

UNIVERSITY OF DENVER

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Program Standouts:
The University of Denver has been perfecting its Master in GIS for the last 20 years, and today offers an extremely competent and thorough online version of the degree program. Students work closely with esteemed instructors who have executed many successful GIS systems and infrastructures, and who impart such bountiful information to their students.

Campus Location: Denver, CO

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $75 one time—application fee
  • $628 per credit hour—tuition
  • $4 per credit hour—technology fee
  • $50 per class—GIS lab fee

Types of Aid: Federal and private/alternative loans; federal and state grants; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; tuition discounts; employer tuition reimbursement; third party payments; student employment programs; military and veterans’ benefits.

Acceptance Rate: 76.5%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and GRE scores.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • GPS for Resource Mapping
  • Urban Applications in GIS
  • Remote Sensing

Degree Outcomes:
This program trains students to: understand the nature of geographic data, recognize appropriate application of GIS technologies, solve spatial and real-world problems, and plan, implement, and initiate GIS projects. UD alumni have gone on to become prominent  Geospatial Analysts, GIS Data Managers, GIS developers and more!

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF DENVER, CLICK HERE!

SALISBURY UNIVERSITY

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Program Standouts:
Salisbury University’s online Master in GIS Management is “the only fully online program in the U.S. focusing on public GIS administration!” The GIS Department at SU works with the School of Management and Technology at the University of Maryland University College to deliver and incredibly cohesive and substantial online master’s program in this complex discipline.

Campus Location: Salisbury, MD

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Tuition and Fees:

  • $650 per credit hour—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal and private/alternative loans; federal, state, and institutional grants; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; student employment programs; tuition waivers.

Acceptance Rate: 54.7%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution, a professional résumé representing relevant work/educational experience in the field, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, GRE scores, and TOEFL scores from students who use English as a second language.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • GIS & Public Administration
  • Coop Experience
  • Leadership in GIS Organizations

Degree Outcomes:
This program has been carefully designed to accommodate students of many backgrounds, which thusly makes for a rich virtual classroom environment. The curriculum is designed to give students all of the understanding and skill necessary to pass any GIS certification examination, and go on to work in fast-growing, high-tech career paths.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SALISBURY UNIVERSITY, CLICK HERE!

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

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Program Standouts:
Johns Hopkins is one of the most well-known and highly respected academic institutions in the world, and offers distance education students a Master in GIS that mirrors the school’s  fantastic reputation. The curriculum focuses on the principal avenues of employment within the next generation of geospatial design, development, and analysis.

Campus Location: Baltimore, MD

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Tuition and Fees:

  • $3,708 per course—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal and private/alternative loans; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; employer tuition benefits; military and veterans’ benefits.

Acceptance Rate: 11.5%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official and unofficial transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution, a statement of purpose, at least one letter of recommendation, a current résumé or CV, and TOEFL scores from students who use English as a second language.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Remote Sensing: Earth Observing Systems and Applications
  • Development and Management of GIS Projects
  • Geospatial Ontologies and Semantics

Degree Outcomes:
As the profession continues to expand and develop new high-tech resources, JHU keeps its GIS coursework up-to-date with current trends within the field. The school provides multiple outlets for students to research and seek out employment positions in: environmental organizations, private companies, local and national government agencies, and the intelligence and national security communities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, CLICK HERE!

UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY

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Program Standouts:
This prominent online school gives distance education students two unique opportunities for  an education in GIS, each of which fully represents the cutting-edge teaching methods of the University of Kentucky. Individuals in either one of these programs are deeply immersed in the art of digital mapping and infrastructural construction.

Campus Location: Lexington, KY

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $639.50 per credit hour—tuition
  • $10 per credit hour—distance education fee

Types of Aid: Federal and alternative loans; federal and state grants; graduate assistantship and fellowships; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities.

Acceptance Rate: 72.2%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, one or more letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and TOEFL scores from students who use English as a second language.

Program Options:

  • Digital Mapping
  • New Maps Plus

Degree Outcomes:
Despite their concentration of choice, graduates from the University of Kentucky have their choice of future career paths in innumerable positions and environments. Students gain a hugely in-depth understanding of the nature of mapping systems, geodata, and spatial visualization tools to assist them throughout their careers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY, CLICK HERE!

NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY

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Program Standouts:
The curriculum in North Carolina State University’s online Master in GIS has a unique focus that leverages NC State’s strengths in computational science, geographic information systems, and natural resources along with professional skills development in project management, group dynamics, and communication.

Campus Location: Raleigh, NC

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $411.88 per credit hour—in-state tuition
  • $1,007.88 per credit hour—out-of-state tuition

Types of Aid: Federal and private/alternative loans; federal, state, and institutional grants; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; graduate assistantship and fellowships; student employment programs.

Acceptance Rate: 43.7%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official transcripts representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher in a relevant area to the field of GIS, a current résumé representing a background in GIS or a CV, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Computer Cartography
  • Geospatial Modeling and Analysis
  • Surface Water Hydrology with GIS

Degree Outcomes:
Having received in-depth training in a combination of geospatial theory, hands-on applications, and client-based instruction, graduates are capable of delivering a wide range of expertise for local, state, national, and international organizations. This nationally recognized program gives students a significant advantage over GIS graduates from other schools.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, CLICK HERE!

NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

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Program Standouts:
Northeastern University is one of the most highly regarded online schools in the country, delivering top-notch programs in a wide range of areas. The online Master in GIS is designed to be “results-oriented” and includes multiple hands-on projects that massively increase students’ technical expertise in areas such as raster-based GIS, geospatial information, and GIS modeling.

Campus Location: Boston, MA

Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges; United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation

Tuition and Fees:

  • $646 per credit hour—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal and supplemental loans; federal and state grants; employer tuition reimbursement; institutional and outside scholarships and awards; various payment plans.

Acceptance Rate: 28%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, a professional résumé, and TOEFL scores from students who use English as a second language.

Program Options:

  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Remote Sensing

Degree Outcomes:
Upon exiting this fine institution and online program, graduates will be able to analyze and implement cartographic principles to design and initiate complex geospatial designs. The program drastically enhances skills in project management, system implementation, and database development.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY, CLICK HERE!

UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL ARKANSAS

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Program Standouts:
This online program is modeled after the University of Arkansas Executive MBA programs, which trains students for competence in GIS positions of leadership. The curriculum is designed for individuals who have experience in the discipline or who are currently working in a GIS position.

Campus Location: Conway, AR

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $1,164 per 3-credit course—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal and private/alternative loans; federal and state grants; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; graduate assistantships and fellowships; student employment programs; veterans’ benefits.

Acceptance Rate: 94.3%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution representing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, GRE scores, and a current résumé or CV representing relevant experience in the field.

Program Options:

  • Thesis Option
  • Non-Thesis Option

Degree Outcomes:
Due to the strong nature of this program (which is highly focused on improving students’ skills in business leadership), graduates have a huge range of employment options upon entering into the career field. Their knowledge of both complex technical systems as well as business management philosophies make them a huge asset in any organization.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL ARKANSAS, CLICK HERE!

NORTHWEST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY

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Program Standouts:
The focus of the online Master of GIS at Northwest Missouri State University is on “applied GIScience as used in the industry and public sector.” The curriculum is designed for individuals working in business or government who wish to expand their education and understanding of GIS technologies for managing geospatial problems.

Campus Location: Maryville, MO

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $422.96 per credit hour—in-state tuition
  • $675.82 per credit hour—out-of-state tuition

Types of Aid: Federal, state, and institutional grants; federal and private/alternative loans; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; student employment programs; veterans’ benefits.

Acceptance Rate: 76.6%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official transcripts representing a GPA of 2.75 or higher, GRE scores, two student recommendations, and a personal essay.

Program Options:

  • Thesis Option
  • Non-Thesis Option

Degree Outcomes:
Graduates of this program will be able to expand their careers to a new and more intensive level. The school encourages the application of business and government professionals with limited background in GIS, so upon graduation they can apply new knowledge, understanding, and skill to current and future positions in relevant areas of employment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT NORTHWEST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY, CLICK HERE!

ELMHURST COLLEGE

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Program Standouts:
At this online school, students undergo a curriculum that was designed in correlation with the Geospatial Technology Competency Model as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Geospatial Technologies Center of Excellence. Undergoing real-world projects that have to do with actual global geospatial issues.

Campus Location: Elmhurst, IL

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $725 per semester hour—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal and alternative loans; federal and institutional grants; institutional, departmental, and outside scholarship opportunities; employer tuition reimbursement; third-party billing; various payment plans; graduate fellowships and assistantships.

Acceptance Rate: 67.7%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a current résumé, and GRE scores.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Remote Sensing and Imagery Interpretation
  • Spatial Analysis and Web Mapping
  • Principles of Geodatabases

Degree Outcomes:
Upon exiting this impressive online program, graduates have accrued a generous array of pertinent skills that are crucial in entering into GIS work environments. Students gain experience working with industry-standard technologies and tools, and Elmhurst is one of the few U.S. liberal arts colleges to offer such benefits.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ELMHURST COLLEGE, CLICK HERE!

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

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Program Standouts:
Coursework at this online school is specifically designed for students who have an understanding/background in GIS, and focuses on training in all of the programming that is  sought after by employers. Students are taught how to fully manipulate and design GIS programs to their satisfaction, rather than relying on previously devised tactics.

Campus Location: Madison, WI

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition and Fees:

  • $85 one time—application fee
  • $800 per credit hour—tuition

Types of Aid: Federal, state, and institutional grants; federal and private/alternative loans; institutional and outside scholarship opportunities; student employment programs; veterans’ benefits.

Acceptance Rate: 49.2%

Admission Requirements:
Applicants must submit a completed online application, the nonrefundable application fee, unofficial transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution, two letters of recommendation, a current résumé representing a background in GIS, and a statement of interest.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • GIS Spatial Analysis
  • Graphic Design in Cartography
  • Interactive Cartography and Visualization

Degree Outcomes:
Upon completing each class, online students earn skill certification that will heavily bolster one’s résumé. UW-Madison gives alumni life-long access to state-of-the-art technologies and labs that are constantly updated with the latest and most elaborate software. Graduates remain in close contact with this highly dedicated university.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON, CLICK HERE!