Geographic Information Systems

UCA offers a Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS), a graduate certificate program in Geographic Information Systems, and an additional graduate course in Geography. Most courses are available online. All course offerings meet the UCA Principles of Electronically Offered Courses.

[1] Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS)

[1.1] Program Description

The Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) degree is modeled after the online Executive MBA programs which are popular and successful across the country. Both a thesis and a non-thesis option are available. Students who enroll in the Degree will ideally have had previous GIS coursework (having taken at least one GIS course at the undergraduate level) or be currently employed in a position which requires the use of GIS or GIS-based information services (i.e., either a GIS professional seeking greater training or someone who must manage GIS workers or who needs information from a GIS to perform his/her job).

[1.2] Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to graduate study at UCA, applicants to the Master of GIS degree must meet the following requirements for admission: (1) have achieved an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.00 on a scale of 4.00, (2) have earned a combined Verbal and Quantitative score of at least 290 on the GRE, and (3) have successfully completed at least one college-level GIS course or be currently employed in an agency/business where GIS is frequently used by the applicant. In consultation with the Chair of the Department of Geography, exceptions to item 3 may be considered.

[1.3] Course Requirements – Thesis Option

The 30-hour, Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) degree (thesis option) is configured as outlined below:

Required Courses (27 credit hours)

GEOG 5310 Geographic Information Systems
GEOG 5315 Mapping Fundamentals for GIS
GEOG 5345 Digital Image Processing for GIS
GEOG 6320 Technical Issues in GIS
GEOG 6328 Spatial Analysis and Modeling
GEOG 6V60 Directed Readings and Research in GIS (3 credit hours total)
GEOG 6380 GIS Research Methodology
GEOG 6V90 Thesis (6 credit hours total)

Elective Courses (3 credit hours)

GEOG 5312 Health Applications of GIS
GEOG 5340 Fundamentals of Database Design and Development
GEOG 6330 Environmental Applications of GIS
GEOG 6333 GIS for Planning and Public Administration

[1.4] Course Requirements – Non-Thesis Option

Requirements for the non-thesis option have been changed effective spring 2017, replacing the GIS Graduate Project with a Graduate Portfolio, adding GEOG 5340 to the required course list, and moving GEOG 6V60 to the elective list.


The 30-hour, Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) degree (non-thesis option) is configured as outlined below:

Required Courses (21 credit hours)

GEOG 5310 Geographic Information Systems
GEOG 5315 Mapping Fundamentals for GIS
GEOG 5340 Fundamentals of Database Design and Development
GEOG 5345 Digital Image Processing for GIS
GEOG 6320 Technical Issues in GIS
GEOG 6328 Spatial Analysis and Modeling
GEOG 6380 GIS Research Methodology

Elective Courses (9 credit hours)

GEOG 5312 Health Applications of GIS
GEOG 6330 Environmental Applications of GIS
GEOG 6333 GIS for Planning and Public Administration
GEOG 6V60 Directed Readings and Research in GIS (3 credit hours total)

Graduate Portfolio

Upon completion of their coursework, students must submit to their academic adviser a portfolio of sample work from their MGIS courses. The Graduate Portfolio shall consist of work from the following courses:

GEOG 5315 Mapping Fundamentals for GIS
GEOG 5340 Fundamentals of Database Design and Development
GEOG 6328: Spatial Analysis and Modeling
plus sample work from two elective courses

The portfolio will be reviewed by a committee of all faculty within the MGIS program who will determine whether the portfolio passes or fails.

[1.5] Transfer Credit

Students may transfer up to two courses from other departments into the degree as long as they represent a coherent sequence and/or are relevant to the student’s professional interest in GIS. To be accepted into the student’s degree program, the courses cannot have been applied toward a previous UCA degree. All transfer courses must be approved by the Chair of the Department.

[2] Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems

 → Gainful Employment Information – Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems: 2014-15 | 2013-14 

[2.1] Objectives

The graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems is designed to provide working professionals with improved knowledge and skills and to enable them to more fully understand and use geographic information systems (GIS) in their workplace. Completion of the certificate program will give students the ability to use GIS more fully in their fields of interest, enhance their existing job performance, and increase employability.

[2.2] Program Description

The GIS certificate program focuses on spatial analysis, GIS-related applications, and the applied needs of employers. This applied focus, coupled with distance learning, is practical rather than theoretical. The certificate program attracts persons from a wide variety of educational and employment backgrounds and furnishes them with enhanced GIS knowledge, more sophisticated skills, and the ability to apply those skills to situations found at their work place.

GIS is one of the many requisite skills working professionals need to better serve their communities. GIS applications are used in transportation and communication network planning; highway and road construction and repair management; and urban land use inventories and development. Other areas include improvement and water district planning, public utility resource planning and management, residential housing stock inventory and distribution analysis, water quality and resource management and flood control, and crime analysis and prevention. A variety of other applications will also be stressed in the certificate program curriculum, although course projects will be designed to meet the individual needs of each participant.

A GIS certificate curriculum teaches participants how to become better decision-makers and how to collect, organize, and analyze data more efficiently and effectively. This training will result in participants being able to make more informed decisions. Also, GIS knowledge and newly acquired skills will permit the participants to display data in more creative and accurate ways.

[2.3] Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to graduate study at UCA, applicants to the Master of GIS degree must meet the following requirements for admission: (1) have achieved an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.00 on a scale of 4.00, (2) have earned a combined Verbal and Quantitative score of at least 290 on the GRE, and (3) have successfully completed at least one college-level GIS course or be currently employed in an agency/business where GIS is frequently used by the applicant.

[2.4] Certificate Requirements (15 hours)

The GIS certificate program requires completion of five courses (15 hours).

GEOG 5310 Geographic Information Systems (to be taken first)
GEOG 5315 Mapping Fundamentals for Geographic Information Systems (may be taken concurrently with 5310)

And nine hours selected from the following courses. Selection of courses should be made in consultation with the student’s advisor. Each course is project-based with applications specific to the needs of each participant.

GEOG 5340 Fundamentals of Database Design and Development
GEOG 5345 Digital Image Processing for GIS
GEOG 6320 Technical Issues in Geographic Information Systems
GEOG 6328 Spatial Analysis and Modeling
GEOG 6330 Environmental Applications of GIS
GEOG 6333 GIS for Planning and Public Administration
GEOG 6380 GIS Research Methodology
GEOG 6V60 Directed Readings and Research in GIS (variable credit: 1-3 credit hours)

[3] Graduate Courses in Geography and GIS (GEOG)

Follow this link for GEOG course descriptions: course link.