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* GIS Education Home

Distance Education in GIS, LBS, and Geo-Spatial Sciences

Distance Learning is typically thought of as being an Internet-Based Learning and/or training program. Numerous educational institutions, often in conjunction with corporate sponsors, partners, and clients are now offering Web-based educational courses and programs in virtually any field. The GeoCommunity receives numerous requests from individuals for information about distance education programs in GIS. We've responded to this demand by providing a comprehensive summary of a number of programs around the world which have been brought to our attention. If you've taken a distance learning course in GIS, GPS, or another geo-spatial discipline and we haven't listed details of the program here, please feel free to share some information about your experience with us. Send your GIS/LBS Distance Ed. suggestion to -- Printer Friendly Version Here. Note: Keep checking back as this piece will be periodically updated with new submissions.

University of Washington Master of GIS for Sustainability Management Program - The Master of Geographic Information Systems: Sustainability Management online program at the University of Washington teaches you how to design a more sustainable world using GIS

University of Toronto Certificate in GIS for Environmental Management - The objectives of the Certificate in GIS for Environmental Management program are to build a foundation for understanding the GIS and Remote Sensing theory and techniques. Students will develop GIS software skills to solve practical tasks related to environmental management.

American Sentinel University Our Geographic Information Systems degree (GIS) teaches students to use and develop databases containing spatial data. With an American Sentinel online GIS degree, students will learn about interpreting and visualizing spatial data for the purpose of uncovering relationships, patterns and trends.

Vancouver Island University (Canada) - Take our completely online Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications over a 16 month period (part-time). You don’t have to relocate or quit your current job to get educated in GIS Skills using the industry-standard ESRI ArcGIS. Program begins each January. Learn to use GIS as a spatial information and problem-solving tool in addressing real-world issues or problems. Training involves course work with a number of GIS project assignments. A select number of course modules, available through ESRI’s Virtual Campus, are incorporated into the delivery of specific courses, helping you to keep pace with changes in the world’s most popular GIS package – ArcGIS.

Contact: email: (Coordinator); Toll-free: 1-888-920-2221, local 2624 (North America); Phone (Nanaimo): 250.753.3245, local 262

Johns Hopkins University - The Johns Hopkins University Certificate Program in GIS is a graduate program providing a strong foundational education that delves into the principles and real-world applications of GIS. Students explore the principle tenets of GIS by completing five (5) subject area courses that build their credentials and capitalize on a marketplace hungry for skilled employees. GIS knowledge and skills are an increasingly vital part of natural resources management, environmental planning, homeland security, defense and intelligence, marketing, telecommunications, economic development, transportation, law enforcement, and public health.

The entire program is ONLINE. There are no residency requirements for students wishing to obtain a strong foundation in GIS from one of the premier academic research institutions in the country.

Contact: Regina Ryan

College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University Northeastern University College of Professional Studies Master’s in Geographic Information Technology (GIT) program is newly-USGIF accredited. Students who take a select combination of classes within the program will also receive USGIF’s Geospatial Intelligence Certificate. The newly accredited program provides an online alternative for working professionals in the GEOINT Community who want to cultivate skills. This program has particular strengths in remote sensing and instructors with real GEOINT experience. Currently offering 3 online programs:

University of North Dakota, Division of Continuing Education - Earn your GISc Graduate Certificate ONLINE without leaving your job or family! With the University of North Dakota’s online GISc program, you will receive the GIS education and technical training you need for career advancement.

The Vespucci Initiative - Summer School on Geographic Information Science - The School is open to post-graduate researchers in the academic, public, and private sectors selected on a competitive basis through an open call for expression of interest.

28 July to 8 August 2003 (two, one-week sessions)
Villa Demidoff, Pratolino (Florence), Italy. (Added April, 2003)

SUU Geographic Information Systems As an interdisciplinary program, the GIS Program serves a variety of departments, degrees and affiliated entities throughout the SUU campus and surrounding communities. Central to the interdisciplinary nature of this program is providing access to spatial technologies accompanied with knowledge, theory, and hands on experience in order to foster a diversity of geographic research.

MSC in GIS from Birckbeck Colege, London - MSc in Geographic Information Science from Birkbeck College London – For the past four years the School of Geography, Birkbeck College, University of London, has offered GIScOnline an advanced and flexible Masters degree for professionals and researchers working with geographic data. The course is entirely delivered over the World Wide Web, so that no attendance is required at any stage (although facilities for study are available to those who can). The course consists of 4 units, each of which is a semester long and can be taken in ‘full time’ (one year) or ‘part time’ (two years) modes. To graduate all students must complete a supervised research dissertation. Reasonably full details can be seen at
Pre-requisite: Applicants should have a second class Honours degree from a UK University or its international equivalent.

Timing: the course runs from early October through to September in each of its years.

Contact: Tel: +44(0)20 7631 6490/6475, FAX +44(0) 20 7631 6498, School of Geography, Birkbeck College, 7-15 Gresse Street, London W1P 2LL, UK

Curtin University, Australia - Geographic Information System manages spatial (location) data. Typically, layers of spatial data are combined in computer software that allows for complex spatial and temporal displays, queries and analysis. Each layer has closely related data, such as roads or rainfall or cities

Kingston University The Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing teaches this course. The Faculty's wide selection of undergraduate and postgraduate courses covers a diverse range of subject areas, from aerospace to geography; from maths and computing to biotechnology; and many more. Our collaborative set-up provides new opportunities for our students, and we design our courses with industry professionals to ensure you stay up to date with the latest developments

Department of Geoinformatics, College of Surveying and Land Management, The University of West Hungary - Postgraduate Diploma Course and Master of Science in GIS in English -- The Postgraduate Diploma in Geographical Information Systems is aimed at professional development by in-service training and as such is focused on the practical knowledge and skills required to design and implement GIS in real situations. The part-time UNIGIS distance-learning Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Science (M.Sc.) programme in GIS of UNIGIS Hungary provides opportunities for professionals to acquire knowledge and skills in the field of GIS, within their existing organisation as well as to increase job mobility.

H-8000 Székesfehérvár, Pirosalma u. 1-3. Tel: 22 348 271 Fax: 22 327 697 Email:

Louisiana Tech - The Louisiana Tech GIS Distance Learning Program is a series of four GIS courses delivered over the internet leading to a GIS certificate of accomplishment. YOU DO NOT EARN COLLEGE CREDIT OR GRADES FOR THESE COURSES, so you do not have to be accepted into the university and pay university fees.

Oregon State University - GIScience includes questions of data structures, analysis, accuracy, meaning, cognition, visualization, and many more.

Earth Observing System (EOS) Education Project at The University of Montana - The EOS Education Project disseminates Earth imagery, develops interdisciplinary programs, and deploys advanced technologies to the global K-16 education community. The EOS Education Project combines Web-based technologies and educator workshops for the interpretation, utilization and relevancy of geospatial information. According to Charlotte Lauerman, the K-12 Online Curriculum Instructor for the Earth Observing System (EOS),"...we investigate how geoinformation enhances our exploration and understanding of the diverse and changing landscapes of the world."

Online courses include; ArcView GIS: GEOG 495.3 Introduction to ArcView GIS, GEOG 495.2 Intermediate ArcView GIS, and GEOG 495.4 Advanced ArcView GIS. These courses are available for three undergraduate or graduate credits, and they are ten weeks in length. The courses are online and instructor led, thus are not self-paced. They are written and taught in a somewhat non-technical fashion, as they are geared towards K-12 school teachers, and hopefully someday school children. These courses are perfect for the person with no GIS or technical background.

Be sure to check out the following white papers:
- Geospatial and Internet Technology Integration
- EOS Technology Strategy

UNIGIS - A worldwide network of educational institutions offering distance learning courses in GIS. According to their website, institutions within the UNIGIS network offer internationally recognised qualifications for GIS professionals and those seeking to enter the field. Members of the UNIGIS network offer postgraduate Certificate, Diploma and Masters courses in Geographical Information Systems by open and distance learning. Additional information from member schools are provided within this document.

  • Austria -
  • Canada -
  • Czech Republic -
  • Ecuador -
  • Hungary -
  • Italy -
  • Netherlands -
  • Portugal -
  • Romania -
  • Russia -
  • South Africa-Pretoria
  • South Africa-Port Elizabeth
  • Spain -
  • Sweden -
  • UK -
  • USA - Tel: 0161 247 1581
    Fax: 0161 247 6344

    USC Dornsife's Graduate Programs in Geographic Information Science and Technology - USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences provides state-of-the-art knowledge and skills in geospatial technologies through an advanced, convenient online format. Learn core science with real-world geographic information systems (GIS) applications from leading research faculty and educators.

    Master of Engineering degrees are a great tool for students to develop a thorough knowledge in a specific area of an engineering field. The master of engineering (MEng) degree is intended for students with an undergraduate degree that is not in engineering and is structured to give basic knowledge in engineering in an interdisciplinary manner.

    Penn State Online Geospatial Education - In collaboration with the Dutton e-Education Institute and the World Campus, Penn State's Department of Geography has offered instructor-led online education for current and aspiring geographic information systems professionals since 1999. Three programs are now available
    Postbaccalaureate Certificate in GIS(CPGIS - 11 credits)
    Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence(GeoIntel - 13 credits)
    Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS - 35 credits)

    Western Michigan University - This is a liberal arts major that combines well with other College of Arts and Sciences majors and minors. By making choices about the course they take, students may pursue a specialized study plan, prepare for careers related to geography, or plan for further study after graduation.

    UC Riverside - UCR Extension's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certificate program provides you with the most innovative and practical GIS education available, whether you are involved in building and implementing information systems or seeking the skills to launch a career in the GIS field.

    University of Leeds School of Geography - The School is one of the top research-based Geography Departments in the UK, gaining a '5' Rating in the Research Assessment Exercise in 1996. They offer a MA/Dip/PgCert in GIS for Business and Service Planning.


    ESRI's virtual campus - thousands of ESRI users around the world have taken training from ESRI's virtual campus. Select from Introduction to ArcView GIS, Map Projections, What's New in ArcInfo 8 and much more. Be sure to check out the Free course section for dozens of free training modules. Credit from some courses can be applied to the Penn State certificate program in GIS.

    Non-credit courses and online Tutorials

    GIS Self Learning Tool - University of Melbourne - This suite of learning tools is designed for use by students currently undertaking one or more Geographic Information Systems (GIS) courses at The University of Melbourne. Some general knowledge regarding GIS is assumed by each of the modules. Please consult your GIS lecturer if you are unsure about any of the content.

    ArcView Tutorial - Geographic Information Systems and the GLOBE Program

    NCGIA - The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis is an independent research consortium dedicated to basic research and education in geographic information science and its related technologies, including geographic information systems

    University of Alberta Environmental Studies Program - Environmental Resource Management Certificate Program, Applied Land Use Planning Certificate Program, Geographic Information Systems, Natural Resources

    Trimble GPS Analyst extension™ - Trimble GPS Analyst Extension Getting Started Guide

    The Remote Sensing Tutorial - for those of you looking to get some experience with GPS, Trimble offers this online tutorial designed to introduce you to the fundamentals. Start off with how GPS works, then delve into differential GPS, navigation, and GPS mapping.

    Other Training Options & Resources

    Online course in Physical Geography through the University of Regina
    Geography 221 is an introduction to the physical basis of geography. This course provides a basic understanding of the atmospheric, hydrological, biological and geological processes which account for the earth's landscapes and their geographic variability. The interaction of human and physical processes, in terms of physical constraints and opportunities for land use and human impacts on the physical environment, is also considered. The lab exercises provide an introduction to the quantitative and practical aspects of physical geography. Students must receive permission from the head of the Department of Geography at the University of Regina to take this course. Please contact the Geography office at (306) 585-4222, or send an e-mail to Dr. Randy Widdis, Acting Head ( Listing Added (08.07.01)

    NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS
    This is a resource for educators, however, anyone looking for material to familiarize themselves with GIS should look no further. No credits or certificats to be had here, however, you will find some excellent material for self-learning and teachers can pick and choose some fine material to incorporate into the classroom.

    From the NCGIA "...In keeping with the spirit and success of the original Core Curriculum and to meet the same specific need in the GIS education materials market, the new Core Curriculum will concentrate solely on providing fundamental course content assistance for educators - formally as lecture materials, but adaptable for whatever instructional mode each course instructor wishes to use. Thus, as before, we are not interested in compiling a comprehensive textbook for students, but rather, lecture note outlines similar in structure and content to those used originally. As a "core" curriculum, it is not intended to impose any specific structure or educational objectives. Nor does it imply any required content for GIS courses. Instructors will be encouraged to pick and choose amongst the materials on offer in order to develop courses suited specifically for their own students. Course design remains the responsibility of individual instructors."

    Material Includes:
  • Fundamental Geographic Concepts for GIScience
  • Implementing Geographic Concepts in GISystems
  • Geographic Information Technology in Society
  • Application areas and case studies

    If you would like to contribute to this project, please send a brief email message describing your proposed contribution to

    OhioView - OhioView is a consortium of state universities, the USGS EROS Data Center, the NASA Glenn Research Center, OhioLINK, The Ohio Supercomputer Center, OARnet, and NREN whose mission is to promote the low-cost distribution of US Government civilian satellite data for public use. OhioView boasts a number of educational and government partner agencies.

    Individuals looking for training material will find several remote sensing courses referenced from the website. Courses include: Getting Started with ER Mapper, Use of Color Composites in Landsat TM Data, Using MultiSpec to create a 3-band composite. There are also a number of K-12 targeted tutorials listed.

    PTEX - The Petroluem Extension Service at the University of Texas at Austin is not strictly a geospatial educational resource, but definitely a related vertical sector. Founded in 1944, PETEX specializes in training field-level personnel, administrative staff at oil and gas companies, and the professionals who support and offer services to the industry. PETEX courses and materials cover topics such as drilling, offshore, pipelines, production, well service and workover, compliance and regulatory, skills training, and others.

    If you've developed online GIS courses or taken part in distance learning from any of the institutions listed above, please send us your comments. We'd like to keep building on this section and provide pointers and comments from course participants. Please send e-mail to

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