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 hands-on applied GIS technology and theory, but are not seeking a degree.

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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 Data Intelligence and GeoAnalytics

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

Gainful Employment Information

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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 location, but work/study options are available on the Winona Campus.

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

All students complete 15 credits to earn the Graduate Certificate in GIS.

Required Courses (15 cr.)

DIGA605 Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (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 operating procedures. Topics covered include coordinate systems, data creation, derivation, editing, metadata, proximity and overlay analysis, and cartography. Technical proficiency is a primary objective of the course, reinforced by significant practical exercises utilizing GIS software. Examples of how the geospatial industry provides location intelligence to a variety of disciplines are explored.

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. Demonstrate standard techniques for creating, editing, storing, querying, and analyzing geospatial data.
  3. Uses cartographic design principles for visual storytelling and effective communication.
  4. Implement practices to promote spatial data integrity based on an understanding of sources of error in spatial data.

DIGA610 Relational Database Design and Administration (3 cr.)

This course follows a logical progression from basic data types into normalization and relational geodatabase design.  The course explores the role of various tabular structures, from simple flat files to the relational geodatabase.  The course explores implementing methods to promote spatial and tabular data integrity and facilitate analytical workflows. Standard query language (SQL) for querying, modifying, and managing data is also covered. The course includes enterprise geodatabase topics such as permissions, versioning, replication, and archiving.

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.
  5. Use basic standard query language to manage and query databases.
  6. Plan and implement databases to meet specifications of various stakeholders.

DIGA615 Data Acquisition and Location of Things (3 cr.)

This course introduces methods centered around data collection in a geo-relational context. Data collection topics include applications centered around mobile global positioning systems (GPS), land and parcel data, sensors and drone data acquisition, and data generated within the Internet of Things (IOT). The course discusses concepts in understanding workflow, critical appraisal of data, and applications for various industries.

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

  1. Create data suitable for designing projects.
  2. Utilize approaches for data validation.
  3. Apply best practice for capturing, utilizing, and automating geospatial data.
  4. Evaluate multiple technology options to collect data for projects or research.
  5. Communicate effectively with data, graphics, and technical reports.

DIGA625 Python Programming for Technology Applications (3 cr.)

The course focuses on core programming concepts such as classes and objects, controlling flow, user input, batch processing, and error handling while working in the context of data processing, analysis, and visualization. The course explores a variety of Python packages and integration for project development. Custom workflows and visualizations for both spatial and tabular data are also discussed.

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

  1. Develop custom visualizations that communicate data and results of an analysis.
  2. Respond to specific scripting requirements to address analytical problems and improve workflows.
  3. Apply the concepts and logic of data science principles for object-oriented, event-driven programming.

DIGA630 Advanced GeoSpatial Data and Location Analytics (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 applied to various industries.
  3. Identify benefits and disadvantages to working with diverse data sets.
  4. Use cartographic design principles for visual storytelling and effective communication.
  5. Evaluate imagery and remote sensing techniques for data generation.

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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