Professional Certificate in GIS, Georgia State University

Information for this profile was provided by Chris Atchison, Georgia State University. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


Geographic Information Science (GIS) is a rapidly growing discipline, with applications in many fields. A strong demand exists for proficient users of geospatial technology. The undergraduate-level Certificate Program in GIS is designed to facilitate the learning of GIS by students working toward undergraduate degrees in Geosciences and in many other disciplines. The Certificate Program consists of four courses with a total of 15 credit hours. Please contact the Department of Geosciences for more information.

Strengths of this program
This certificate program provides a strong endorsement on the undergraduate degree of our students, making them more marketable in the geoscience workforce.

Types of students served
All students benefit from this certificate program.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:
Enhance employment opportunities for our graduates in the workforce that requires an understanding of geospatial technologies and skills.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:
The Department of Geosciences and the GSU Geospatial Laboratories have strong connections with local and regional GIS professionals. In these conversations, these entities have mentioned the need for GSU students to be engaged in applied real-world studies of GIS and geospatial technologies. These entities wish to hire GSU students in the booming field of GIS and geospatial technologies.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently identified GIS and geospatial technology careers as a "high growth industry". By encouraging more students to take courses in this highly fundable and in-demand field, GSU can become a local and regional leader in this research and teaching field, provide state of the art undergraduate training in the area, and help our students compete for cutting edge careers after graduation. Thus, the new GIS Certificate Program will not only expand the GSU undergraduate research profile, but it should also enhance retention, progression and graduation rates at GSU as students complete their coursework.

Role played in the development of the proposed program by external advisory groups or prospective employers of program graduates.

GIS has now evolved to the point where it is a necessary skill for all geoscience professionals to acquire. It is also a necessary skill for many disciplines in the social sciences, business, policy and other fields. Several companies hiring Department of Geosciences alumni comment that they like our program in that they have training in theory, field, and various skills such as GIS.

R.F. Weston was consulted and they add: "As a private environmental consulting firm with numerous Federal Contracts (EPA/DoD/DoE), we use GIS as a decision making tool to evaluate environmental risks associated with impaired properties. In addition, our Federal and private industry clients are now typically requesting or requiring that environmental data be submitted in a GIS format for incorporation into their geodatabases."

How program goals are assessed
This program is brand new, and no formal assessment has been instituted. Informally, the number of graduates being offered positions in geoscience careers that require more than a basic understanding of geospatial technologies inform the value of this program.

Design features that allow goals to be met:
The Department of Geosciences maintains strong connections with its alumni graduates (e.g., our annual newsletter). We will ask students completing this certificate program to apprise us of their accomplishments after completion.

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate
Nearly one-half of our current geoscience majors ~60 students, are participating in this certificate program at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Careers pursued by our alumni
Our recent graduate alumni have been successful obtaining employment with our graduate certificate program. The certificate program has been instrumental in setting them above most other candidates as a result of their specialization in geospatial technologies.

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements

Entry into the degree
All geoscience majors can enter into the certificate program after completing the undergraduate introductory program requirements.

Core Courses
Required Courses (12 hours). The student must take the following courses:
oGeog 4518 Digital Cartography (4)
oGeog 4532 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (4)
oGeog 4534 Advanced Geographic Information Systems (4)

Elective courses and Requirements
Elective Course (3 hours). The student must complete one of the following courses:

oGeog 4520 Quantitative Spatial Analysis (4)
oGeog 4530 Introduction to Remote Sensing (4)
oGeog 4538 Urban Health GIS (4)
oGeog 4834 Applied Research in GIS (4)
oGeol 4123 Geoinformatics (4)
oCSC 1310 Introduction to Computer Programming (non-majors) (3)

No capstone requirement for the certificate program. Capstone requirement is in place for the undergraduate degree program.

Supporting Science and Math Courses
All courses relevant to the undergraduate BS in Geosciences program.

Other key features of this program:

Key features include potential project work with Atlanta area geoscience agencies and companies.

Supporting Materials