Geographic Information Science (Graduate Certificate)

Under the auspices of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, this transdisciplinary certificate program in geographic information science is administered by an executive committee. The objective of this program is to enable ASU graduate students from all disciplines and geographical information system professionals to learn how to apply GIS concepts and technology for the purpose of spatial analysis.

GIS Certificate Requirements:

A minimum of 15 graduate level credit hours are required to complete the GIS Certificate.

A maximum of two 400 level courses may be applied toward the certificate. If you are also in a graduate degree program, different rules may apply, and you should consult your own school or department.

  • One Core course (3 credit hours)
  • Two Other Requirement courses (6 credit hours)
  • Two Elective courses (6 credit hours)

See the Courses tab above for a list of courses that meet Core, Other, and Elective  requirements.

More information:

After reviewing these pages, if you have questions about the program, please email

The program is designed for students enrolled in a graduate degree program at ASU. Students interested in a one-year nonthesis graduate degree program in GIS should consider the Master of Advanced Study in GIS. Students qualify for admission to the certificate program by maintaining good standing in a cooperating school or department and completing the GIS certificate application available through Graduate College.

PLEASE NOTE - Graduate College policy restricts the number of pre-admission courses you may apply towards the certificate to 40%. This means that only 6 credit hours that you have already taken or are currently taking may be applied towards the certificate requirements. So please apply early.

Note: A maximum of two 400-level courses may count towards the certificate. The remainder should be 500-level or higher.

CORE COURSES - Choose one

PAF 571Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Analysis
An introductory course in GIS and analysis. GIS is used as a tool for analyzing spatial-related issues, research questions, and policy problems in a variety of sciences and fields of study.


PUP 576GIS Workshop for Planners
GIS as a tool to address large, multifaceted planning problems.



ABS 485GIS in Natural Resources
Principles of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) utilized in natural resource management. Use of computers for spatial analysis of natural resources. Prerequisite: ABS 350, STP 420, EGR 280 or PSY 230


GIS 571Spatial Statistics for Geography and Planning
Basics of spatial data analysis. Topics include point pattern analysis, spatial autocorrelation, spatial regression, and kriging.


GIS 521GIS Programming
In-depth look at programming within GIS. Focuses on programming and methodology, utilizing specific software, and basic scientific computing.


GIS 561Fundamentals of Spatial Optimization
Covers the fundamentals of optimization for spatial analysis. Reviews elements of calculus, matrices and basic linear algebra. Introduces linear programming, integer programming and branch and bound, and heuristics. Provides the basics for use and application of GIScience and spatial analysis methods.


GIS 562Location Analysis and Modeling
Provides a technical overview of location theory in the context of GIScience, focusing on analysis and modeling issues. Relies upon applications associated with emergency service planning, natural resource management, retail site selection, among others to make connections among models, spatial information and interpretation of findings. Explores utilization and implementation considerations using GIS.


GIS 591Seminar: Data Mining and Data Driven Geography
This course will form a seminar to discuss the state-of-the-art in data mining and data-driven geography. A set of new data mining and machine learning techniques will be discussed in the course. Scikit-learn machine learning library (in python) will be used to practice various data mining approaches. The course will also discuss various geographical applications (i.e. smart cities, climate change) under this new data analysis paradigm.


GIS 563Local Statistical Modeling Understands the processes that generate the data we observe in the real world. If these processes vary over space, we term this spatial non-stationarity and traditional global models are no longer applicable. A set of local spatial models has been developed to examine spatial non-stationarity and one of the most widely used of these is Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) and its variants. Investigates GWR and the wider context of spatial non-stationarity.


APPROVED ELECTIVES - Electives courses can be selected from the list below or selected from the Level Two list above that were not used as part of the Other requirement.
ABS 560Ecological Modeling
Mathematical modeling of animal populations, food-web structural and ecological processes in space and time. May use modeling tools on computer clusters..
CSE 412Database Management
Introduces DBMS concepts. Data models and languages. Relational database theory. Database security/integrity and concurrency.
Prerequisite:  Computer Systems Engineering BSE, Computer Science BS student, or Biomedical Informatics student; CSE 310 with C or better. Credit is allowed for only ACO 220 or ACO 320 or CSE 412 or CST 433
GCU 542Geographical Analysis of Transportation
Examines the geographical aspects of transportation systems. Looks at the geography of networks; transport costs and rates; different modes of transport, trade, economic development, and technology. Studies the movement of freight and passengers at the individual, urban, national, and international scales.
GPH 569Digital Analysis of Remotely Sensed Data
This course covers the basic knowledge and techniques of remote sensing including the characteristics of remotely sensed data, classification methods, and accuracy assessment.
GIS 584Internship
Structured practical experience following a contract or plan, supervised by faculty and practitioners
GIS 598Geodesign and Urban Planning
This course will provide students with the skills and knowledge to design and implement a geodesign workshop. The principles of geodesign and planning feature a bottom up approach to planning by engaging key stakeholders and citizens with the technical opportunities of computer mapping, geographic information systems, and remote sensing. The methods students learn are transferrable to applications from disaster relief, economic growth and development, and smart and sustainable city planning.
GPH 598Advanced Digital Analysis
GIS 598GIS for Climate Change Science

Completing the GIS Certificate Program

  • Once you are registered for 50% of the total credit hours required for completion of the certificate, you must complete a Plan of Study (iPOS). It will be reviewed and approved by the School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning as well as the Office of Graduate College.
  • Before the end of your final semester of certificate coursework, you may apply for graduation using the MyASU website. You must be enrolled in the semester that you graduate. Please see for graduation deadlines and procedures.

Overview of questions

  • What is the Geographical Information Science Certificate Program at Arizona State University?
  • How do I get admitted into the program?
  • Is it available for all students?
  • How do I earn the certificate?
  • I have noticed that not all courses are offered each and every semester as listed on the Curricula page. What is going on?
  • I am a new graduate student enrolled at ASU and want to get into the program. What is the first step?
  • I am a graduate student enrolled at ASU and have taken enough of the courses to earn the certificate, am I eligible for the certificate?

What is the Geographical Information Science Certificate Program at Arizona State University?

It is a program offered through the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Students take GIS coursework currently being taught at Arizona State University (ASU). Students who earn the Certificate will exit the program with standardized skill sets based on "Learning Outcomes" associated with each required course. This program will provide its students with the training and experience necessary to compete and work in the GIS arena in both the public and private sectors. Note: the Geographical Information Science Certificate Program at Arizona State University is not one course but a series of courses.

How do I get admitted into the program?

Graduate students at ASU will qualify for admission to the certificate program by maintaining good standing in a cooperating department and completing an application specific to the GIS Certificate.

Is the program available for all students?

No, only graduate students.

How do I earn the certificate?

A minimum of 15 credit hours consisting of one core, two required and two elective courses (three credit hours each) is required to complete the GIS Certificate. Courses that will comprise the Certificate curriculum, associated Learning Outcomes, and approved electives are listed here

I have noticed that not all courses are offered each and every semester as listed on the Curricula page. What is going on?

Just like the list of courses in the graduate catalog, the list of courses that we have on the Curricula page are potential courses and may or may no be offered every semester for a variety of reasons. For detailed information on the availability of courses, it is best to contact the individual department associated with each course.

I am a new graduate student enrolled at ASU and want to get into the program. What is the best first step?

We encourage all interested student to take one of the level one required courses. After taking the course and deciding on a research topic, if you and your committee believe that GIS is a vital part of your research, we would encourage you to pursue the GIS certificate program in addition to your degree.

I am a graduate student enrolled at ASU and have taken enough of the courses to earn the certificate, am I eligible for the certificate?

Decisions on this will be made case by case. But if a student has taken all the courses, they may be able to enter the program and earn the certificate in a relatively short amount of time.



Degree Offered

Geographic Information Science (Graduate Certificate)
Liberal Arts and Sciences, The College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study