GISci Graduate Certificate

Expand your geospatial technology skills with small class sizes and independent projects by collaborating with community partners, and interacting with the exceptional faculty at the University of Northern Colorado!

Our program provides a cost effective way, delivered in a mixed format, to develop and improve your technical skills and proficiency in geospatial technology.

diggs gis class

This is a 15 credit certificate that will provide advanced training in Geographic Information Science and immediately prepare students for the workplace. The GISci Graduate Certificate aims to attract individuals with previous education and/or experience in GIS who are driven to improve their skills. We will deliver course work with advanced technical skills necessary to succeed in the geospatial technology field. All courses will focus on applying the skills to independent projects and implementing best practices in geospatial technology.

The Geospatial Technology field is considered a high growth industry by the United States Department of Labor. The Department of Labor’s High Growth Profile report states the market for geospatial technology is “growing at an annual rate of almost 35 percent, with the commercial subsection expanding at the rate of 100 percent each year.” This has produced a dramatically growing demand for GISci specialists. The ever expanding sophistication required for GISci positions has encouraged both graduating undergraduates and working professionals to seek out advanced geospatial training.

The faculty in the GISci Graduate Certificate program surveyed industry leaders and identified the need for high-level training in very specific sub-areas of GISci.

The GISci program assures that students have experience and advanced knowledge in four core subsectors of the GISci industry:

  • Advanced geospatial analysis techniques;
  • Basic and advanced geospatial programming skills;
  • The ability to develop and manage Web GIS projects; and
  • The development and management of large geospatial databases in a secure environment. 

Our curriculum was designed to provide practical courses with relevant skills. Students will take four required courses and one elective.

Required Courses (12 credits)

GEOG 507 - Geographic Information Science (3)

Today there is a strong demand for GIS in agriculture, marketing, civil engineering, geology, biology, planning, criminal justice and numerous other fields.  The supply of competent GIS trained geographers cannot meet the current demand. GIS is more than making “pretty maps”, in practice this usually means the application of sophisticated software to solve geographic problems.  This course will enhance you existing skills in conducting spatial analysis.

GEOG 514 - Web GIS Development and Management (3)

You already know that Web GIS related skills (server management, web app development, and app development using JavaScript) are in great demand in the marketplace. In fact the skills are quickly becoming a precondition for many entry level GIS jobs. The overall objective of this course is to assure that the student has the suite of skills necessary to develop and manage Web GIS portals and applications. This course will cover a range of interrelated topics which includes: 1) Web server (IIS) setup and configuration; 2) Web GIS development and management using ArcGIS Online; 3) Web GIS using Portal for ArcGIS and associated development and management skills; 4) Configuring web mapping applications at ArcGIS Online and in Portal for ArcGIS; and 5) Web application development using the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to make you TRULY proficient in the previous mentioned topics.

GEOG 527 - GIS Programing and Automation (3)

This course builds upon fundamental skills for geospatial programming. Topics include calling geographic processing tools, batch processing, performing file input and output in an external computing language and building graphical user interfaces and displays. To support these tasks, students build upon basic programming concepts, such as pseudocode, flow-control, code re-use, and debugging. In the final project, students streamline GIS work-flow and customize GIS user interfaces.

GEOG 580 - Enterprise Database Development and Management for GIS (3)

This course covers the principles, structure, development, and application of enterprise geodatabases. It provides hands-on training in the design, development, and operation of geodatabases. This course focuses on the design and management of spatial databases. Relational database management systems (RDMS) underlie most modern databases. Increasingly there is a need to store, analyze, and display geographic data in these databases. The course will initially cover database theory and use, including SQL (Structured Query Language), which underlies most RDBMSes. The course will cover spatial data types, spatial indexing, and spatial querying. The course will use PostGIS, a spatial extension to the open source PostgreSQL RDBMS, SQL and the SQL Spatial extension.

Electives (3 credits)

GEOG 515 - Geospatial Statistics (3)

This course develops an understanding of techniques of data and statistical analysis, combined with the ability to apply these techniques to geographic problems. The applied aspect of the course will enable students to use spatial information in solving geographical problems, and will provide practical experience in the use of computer-based statistical and GIS software packages. Examples will be drawn from temporal and spatial relationships from both physical and human geography.  

GEOG 622 - Independent Study (1-3)

Individualized investigation under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Do you have a topic in mind that you’d like to explore using Geospatial Technology? Speak with one of our faculty members about a direct study. (Minimum of 37.5 clock hours required per credit hour.) Repeatable, maximum concurrent enrollment is two times.

Other electives with permission.

Fall 2017

  • GEOG 507
  • GEOG 515 (online)

Spring 2018

  • GEOG 514
  • GEOG 527
  • GEOG 580


Admissions to the Geographic Information Science Graduate Certificate program is based on performance as an undergraduate in a related discipline and potential for success in graduate level GIS courses. To be admitted into the program, at a minimum students must have:

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university or a comparable degree from a foreign institution is required for graduate admission.
  • A grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale on the most recent 60 credit hours completed is required.
  • Interest and/or experience in GIS and its applications

See below for a description of the application process and necessary materials that must be submitted with your application.

How to Apply

The Application Process and Admission Requirements

Applicants must apply to the University of Northern Colorado Graduate School before the program area reviews the applicant’s request for admission. To apply, follow the instructions below. Failure to submit all required materials will delay the evaluation and screening of your application.

  • Apply to the UNC Graduate School
      • Complete the online application and pay the application fee (you will pay the fee after you complete all application questions and submit the application)
          • Domestic: $50 non-refundable application fee
          • International: $60 non-refundable application fee
      • Request one official transcript from every accredited college or universities attended or from which you earned credit, except UNC. Official transcripts may be sent via mail in an unopened sealed envelope or through an electronically secure digital program directly from the issuing institution. Electronic transcripts should be sent to Emailed, scanned, or PDF transcripts directly from the student are not accepted. Mailed transcripts should be sent to:

        UNC Graduate School & International Admissions
        501 20th Street, Campus Box 135
        Greeley, CO  80639
  • One you have completed your graduate school application, you will then click on "myUNC" (or log back in later) to submit the following in the online application system once you have completed your graduate school application:
      • Submit two letters of recommendation – the system will help you initiate a request to be sent to your recommenders
      • Submit cover letter/personal essay

International applicants who do not speak English as a first language must meet UNC’s requirements for English proficiency

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Graduate School
Phone: 970-351-2831