Leveraging Technology and Data to Drive Decisions

The application of Geographic Information Science (GIS) technologies has evolved significantly over the course of time and has a far-reaching impact across industries—everything from emergency response to marketing.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science is an ideal fit for students who are looking for a thorough background in GIS theory and use, but are not seeking a degree.

Program Outcomes

In addition to broad exposure to the principles and applications of GIS, the curriculum provides students with practical exposure to GIS technology systems that analyze spatial data and equips them to confidently draw conclusions from data in mapped and tabular formats.

Successful completion of Saint Mary’s GIS certificate program will help students earn professional GIS certification through the GIS Certification Institute.

The Next Step: An M.S. in Geographic Information Science

While earning your Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science, you can make plans to earn additional credentials and advance your career as a leader in GIS by completing the M.S. in Geographic Information Science degree from Saint Mary’s. All credits taken in the certificate program can be applied to the GIS master’s degree.

Gainful Employment Information

Effective July 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Education requires institutions with nondegree programs defined as “Gainful Employment programs” to disclose certain information about these programs. Read our report.

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From Start to Finish

  • You can earn your Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science in less than one year.
  • Evening classes and blended/online learning formats fit a variety of schedules.
  • Cohorts have flexible start times in fall, spring, or summer.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. Completed application form with the nonrefundable application fee (fee not required for alumni or students seeking readmission or veterans and active military personnel), and
  2. An official transcript issued to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota from the institution posting the applicant’s completed bachelor degree and other relevant transcripts documenting program prerequisites and potential transfer credits.(An official transcript is one that is sent to the university by the credit-granting institution. Transcripts from countries other than the U.S. must be evaluated by a university accepted evaluation source, such as World Education Services, Educational Credential Evaluators, Educational Perspectives, or One Earth International Credential Evaluators and be deemed equivalent to accredited U.S. university standards).
  3. A reflective essay which includes the following:
    • brief description of the applicant’s background, training, and experience; and
    • statement indicating the career goals of the applicant and his or her reasons for seeking admission to the program; and
    • description of the areas the applicant considers to be his or her strengths and areas in which the applicant wishes to develop greater strengths and abilities; and
    • personal information the applicant wishes to share.
  4. Two letters of recommendation that verify professional and/or volunteer experience and academic ability; and
  5. A current résumé listing educational background and work experience.
  6. Applicants with international transcripts may require an English language proficiency exam (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE or MELAB accepted.)

Please Note: Application materials should be sent to the attention of the Office of Admission on the Twin Cities campus.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Office of Admission
2500 Park Avenue
Minneapolis, MN  55404


This program is offered at our Twin Cities and Winona locations.

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

All students complete 18 credits to earn the Graduate Certificate in GIS.

Required Courses (18 cr.)

GIS605 GIS Methods (3 cr.)

This course introduces the concepts of spatial data creation, editing, and analysis using GIS software. Emphasis is placed on spatial concepts and understanding and utilizing standard operation procedures. Topics covered include coordinate systems, topological editing, metadata, overlay analysis, and cartography. Technical proficiency is a primary objective of the course reinforced by significant practical exercises utilizing GIS software.

Upon completion of this course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Apply knowledge of principles, theories, and concepts of spatial data analysis.
  2. Use basic and advanced GIS analysis techniques.
  3. Create effective maps and figures.
  4. Implement practices to promote spatial data integrity.

GIS608 Internet Mapping (3 cr.)

This course introduces students to effective use of the internet as a medium to publish map data. It examines the basic implementation details associated with serving spatial data and GIS capabilities over the Internet. Students are introduced to Internet mapping software as well as the particulars of designing and operating an effective map publishing/customization environment.

Upon completion of this course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Develop custom web applications and functional user interfaces.
  2. Use the internet as a vehicle to acquire and disseminate spatial data and solutions.
  3. Apply the concepts and logic of internet mapping technologies.
  4. Implement strategies for improving performance of GIS services and applications.

GIS632 Programming Principles (3 cr.)

This course on foundational programming skills addresses variables, loops, conditions, functions, arrays, objects, methods, forms, event handling, and web-based programming.

Upon completion of this course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Develop custom applications and interfaces.
  2. Demonstrate the concepts and logic of structured computer programming.
  3. Apply the concepts and logic of object-oriented, event-driven programming with Visual Basic in application development.
  4. Develop applications that offer a functional and sophisticated interface to the user.

GIS642 Database Design and Administration (3 cr.)

This course follows a logical progression through basic data and database concepts into design theories, creation, and implementation of an enterprise spatial database. The course explores the role of various tabular structures, from simple flat files to the relational geodatabase. 

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of database terminology, design techniques, and data issues.
  2. Collect, format, manage, and implement both spatial and tabular data within a GIS.
  3. Design and develop geodatabases that promote data integrity and usability.
  4. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of relational database management systems such as SQL Server and ArcSDE.
  5. Use basic standard query language to manage and query databases.

GIS656 Spatial Data Collection (3 cr.)

This field and laboratory course introduces methods basic to the collection of data in a manner suitable for spatial analysis. Topics include basic orienteering, land navigation, total station and topographic surveying, use of global positioning systems (GPS) and mobile GPS, and preparation of data for conversion to a digital format.  

Upon completion of the course students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Create and effectively utilize maps and figures.
  2. Appreciate the importance of reference frameworks.
  3. Apply best practice for capturing, utilizing, and automating field data.
  4. Utilize instruments such as GPS and total station surveying technology to effectively capture spatial data in the field and import it into a GIS.
  5. Recognize multiple technology options to collect data. 

GIS670 Advanced GIS and Imagery Analysis (3 cr.)

This course promotes exploration and utilization of advanced functionality of GIS technology. Substantial effort is directed toward developing proficiency in understanding data at complex levels with an emphasis on advanced raster and spatial analysis. The course covers advanced GIS analysis, image analysis techniques, and geospatial topic-specific areas of study.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:  

  1. Analyze geospatial data through principles, theories, and concepts.
  2. Understand basic and advanced GIS analysis techniques.
  3. Identify benefits and disadvantages to working with diverse data sets.
  4. Create and utilize maps and figures.
  5. Develop conceptual designs for problem solving.

Connect With Us

Nicole Coppersmith, M.A.

SGPP Admission - Senior Enrollment and Transfer Counselor

Oakdale Center, OC

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 238-4561


Nicole Coppersmith M.A.
Carlie Derouin

SGPP Admission - Enrollment Counselor, Graduate School of Business and Technology

LaSalle Hall-TC Campus, LSH112

Campus Box: # 28

(612) 728-5198


Carlie Derouin
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