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Certificate in Geographic Information Systems

The certificate in Geographic Information Systems offers students an intensive, interdisciplinary course of study in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Candidates must take four required classes and choose three additional classes from a list of options for a total of 24-30 credits. All students study a core of computer mapping and spatial analysis basics and then focus on their own application area (e.g. wildlife biology, wetlands, programming, cartographic design). An internship or similar participation in a ‘real world' GIS project is a required component of the certificate program. This certificate program is open to all majors and post-degree students. In order to qualify for admission to the GIS Certificate Program, full-time EWU students must hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher and be entering or past their junior year, or obtain special permission from the certificate program advisor. Post-degree continuing education students who did not graduate from their previous school with at least a 3.0 will be admitted on a probationary basis. A 3.0 grade or higher must be earned in each course for it to count toward the certificate.


What is the certificate in GIS?

The certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) offers students an intensive, interdisciplinary course of study in the fields of computer mapping, spatial analysis and spatial information technologies using ESRI software such as ArcGIS.

How long does it take to finish?

Candidates must take four required courses and three electives for a total of 24 to 30 credits. Courses are sequenced so that the full-time certificate student can finish in one year; most full-time EWU students, however, spread the certificate coursework out over two years.

What kinds of things do you study?

The certificate program is designed to blend together GIS theory and practical hands-on experience. Students learn about the "art and science" of GIS in classes that focus on spatial representation, projections and coordinate systems, data collection and manipulation, analytic techniques, spatial modelling, cartographic technique and thematic map design. Advanced students may also study computer programming and operating system administration as it applies to GIS. We consider a wide range of application areas, from environmental science to social justice. All classroom learning is reinforced by substantial computer work - first, in the lab, and then in a (required) internship that places the student in a real-life GIS work situation.

Who can apply for the GIS Certificate Program?

Full-time or part-time Eastern Washington University students of all majors, and anyone who already holds an undergraduate degree from any university can apply. Our requirements are that candidates must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better or obtain special permission from the GIS certificate program advisor.

How do I apply for the GIS Certificate Program?

Contact Dr. Stacy Warren, GIS certificate program advisor at 509.359.7962, or

Career Opportunities

See what industry leader ESRI has to say about GIS careers at the GIS Employment Opportunities website.

What will I study?

Formal certificate requirements as printed in the catalog can be found here.

To help you navigate possible ways to achieve these requirements, keep reading.

Of the seven courses total, four are required.  Everyone takes these (17 credits):
GEOG 426 Geographic Information Systems I (5)
GEOG 428 Geographic Information Systems II (5)
GEOG 429 Geographic Information Systems III (5)
GEOG 493 GIS Portfolio (2)

You now have three electives to satisfy.

(1) Choose a GIS Specialty course from available options  (3-5 credits).  Check back frequently as new courses are added.

         GEOG321 GIS for Social Sciences (3)
         GEOG427 Desktop Mapping (3)
         GEOG449 Spatial Analysis (5)
         GEOG470 GIS Programming (5)
                or GEOG499 Directed Study (3-5)

(2) Choose a GIS Interdisciplinary course (1-5 credits)
         GEOG 323 GIS Environmental Science (3) 
                 or PLAN 496 Experimental GIS Course (1-5 credits) can be substituted for the Interdisciplinary requirement on approval of the GIS Certificate Program advisor.

(3) Choose an Application Area course in consultation with the GIS Certificate advisor (3-5 credits)
           Student selects appropriate (non-GIS) course with approval of certificate advisor, to complement chosen application area focus, e.g. soils, wetlands, geology, global issues.  

Emphases / Concentrations:

  • demonstrate mastery of foundational concepts of geographic information science;
  • demonstrate mastery of foundational concepts of social context of geographic information;
  • have the ability to critically evaluate quality and accuracy of spatial data;
  • show demonstrated proficiency with GIS software;
  • have the ability to communicate geographic information through well-designed maps;
  • have the ability to work in teams.
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