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College of Arts and Sciences

Geographic Information Science

Earn Your Master’s in GISc From Anywhere

Build your career in a high-potential applied science role with the affordable, flexible online Master of Geographic Information Science from Kent State University.

Course Delivery
100% online
Total Credits
30
Approximate Tuition Cost
$695 in state
$705 out of state
Time to Completion
Graduate in as few as 2 years
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Chart a Brighter Future with an Online GIS Master’s from Kent State

Prepare to lead analysis and response to large scale environmental, social and business challenges with your online Master of Geographic Information Science (MGISc) from Kent State University.

Geographical, informational and socio-political disciplines combine to create insights in Geographic Information Science, or GISc. GISc professionals design and use geographic information systems (GIS) to gather, store and analyze information for various applications.

These highly specialized tools combine geospatial information from sources including remote sensing technology, global positioning systems (GPS) and internet mapping technologies with other data inputs and software to manage and display the information in useful ways.

We Offer More Than a Master’s in GIS

Our 100% online MGISc program helps you advance your career through a combination of essential theory and applied skills, including technology, analysis and programming.

Rise above candidates from GIS graduate programs that focus narrowly on the technology with help from our program designed for busy working professionals and students seeking graduate education.

Learn from Leading Scientists

Award-winning scientists lead the online master’s in GIS program and model engaged science, using their expertise to address many of our most pressing challenges.

Kent State faculty members have won research grants from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA. Professor and department chair Scott Sheridan was recently named to help lead a people, culture, and belonging initiative at the American Geophysical Union. The honor exemplifies the engaged scholarship of our GIS graduate programs.

As a student in our online Master’s in GISc, you will have the opportunity to learn from thought leaders in such diverse areas as applied climatology, agriculture, conservation, economic geography, public health, urban growth and sustainability, crime, disaster relief and spatial privacy.

We invite you to move forward with us, breaking down barriers and creating a brighter future.

Top-Ranked Military Friendly® University

Kent State ranks among the best in our category for our service to members of the extended military community, including active service members, spouses, and veterans. The Military Friendly® designation considers job placement, graduation and retention rates viewed through a mix of public and proprietary data and personal opinion surveys of veterans.

Military Friendly School '22-23 Gold

Online GIS Master’s Careers Snapshot

Your master’s in GIS gives you an advantage in a growing career field that offers a high degree of personal satisfaction and work-life balance along with good salaries. Post-graduation salaries average from $68,900 to $104,100 depending on the job title and sector.2

Geographer
$85,2203
#10 Best Science Job4
Cartographer
$68,9001
#8 Best Engineering Job5
#31 Best STEM Job5

GIS master’s degree graduates work in many sectors. Your online MGISc from Kent State can help you land an excellent job in a federal, state or local government agency, an educational setting, or a variety of professional, scientific and technical service organizations.

As a GISc professional, you can provide important insights on work ranging in scale from local to global. Kent State’s affordable tuition, the high caliber of our faculty, and the potential for personal and professional fulfillment create a bright outlook for your future with a master of geographic information science.

Move Forward with Kent State

Earn your MGISc in as little as two years, creating the potential for career-long impact, enhanced earnings and job security. Our admissions process is simple, and we have waived the GRE requirement in favor of a holistic evaluation of your background and achievements.

Whatever your life situation or background, our 100% online MGISc program has been designed to offer flexibility and the individualized attention you need to help you progress toward your professional goals while handling your other life commitments. Schedule a call with an Admissions Outreach Advisor to learn more.

A Degree Program That Fits Your Life

Our online GIS master’s program includes:

  • Four core courses that cover essential topics
  • Four electives to shape the program to your interests
  • A practicum where you can apply and demonstrate your skills

Once you enroll, your Admissions Outreach Advisor will help you craft your personalized degree plan, creating a clear course sequence and path to graduation.

The program is intentionally designed to create focused study and encourage collaboration. Each course is 7 weeks long, and you can take two courses sequentially each semester, focusing on each subject individually. Classes are small so that you can get to know and work with your classmates and professors.

What is Geographic Information Science?

GIS professionals design and use geographic information systems (GIS) to gather, store, and analyze information for various applications. These highly specialized tools combine geospatial information from sources, including remote sensing technology, global positioning systems (GPS), and internet mapping technologies, with other data inputs and software to manage and display the information in useful ways. For example, an emergency-response GIS professional might use a drone to gather GPS data on which areas in a disaster zone are inaccessible and then create a map for responders. A GIS professional working in health policy might use hospital data to map which areas of a city have abnormally high rates of heart disease to pinpoint where managers should concentrate their outreach efforts.

What skills do I need to succeed in this program?

Students in the GIS MA program and GIS General certificate program do not need prior experience with GIS tools. Students in the environmental GIS certificate program must have some prior experience with GIS tools. All students should be data literate, able to learn new computer applications, and have strong analytical skills.

My undergraduate degree did not include geography. Is that ok?

Yes! Students in the GIS MA program and GIS General certificate program do not need prior experience with GIS tools. Students in the environmental GIS certificate program must have some prior experience with GIS tools.

Who is the GIS program for?

Professionals who already use GIS tools in their work and want to increase their skill level and career starters or changers who want to work primarily in a GIS role when they graduate from the Program.

What can I do with a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Science?

Geographic information scientists work in almost all fields where real-world data needs to be captured, analyzed, and visualized. Some of the larger sectors include climatology, agriculture, conservation, economic geography, public health, urban growth and sustainability, crime, disaster relief, and spatial privacy.

What will I learn in Kent State Online’s Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Science?

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  1. Collect, edit, integrate, manage, and analyze geospatial data.
  2. Demonstrate skills and working knowledge of commercial and open-source GIS application suites and utilities.
  3. Identify, explain, and analyze spatial patterns, relationships, and processes.
  4. Apply cartographic principles and techniques to create quality maps.
  5. Apply critical and spatial thinking to solve geospatial problems with respect to theories, principles, and practices of geographic information science and fields in the degree concentration areas.
  6. Demonstrate good communication skills and ability to work in a team environment.

What online GIS certificates are offered?

Geographic Information Science (GISc) is a growing field with a wide range of career options. A GIS master’s degree can help you find satisfying employment in a variety of industries, including government, environmental science, urban planning, and marketing. As industries increasingly rely on data and technology, GIS professionals will play an essential role in helping organizations make better decisions, opening up more opportunities for you.

With training from our online master’s in GIS, you can find your ideal career in a wide variety of industries. The affordable total cost of our program—a fraction of the annual salary for many roles you will be qualified for—means that you can quickly recoup your educational investment.

Secure Your Future and Achieve Your Goals with an Online GIS Master’s

GIS professionals are in high demand, and salaries reflect that. Many people enter the field with the goal of making a difference in the world. With the right experience and qualifications, you can earn a lucrative salary that will provide financial security and allow you to achieve your life goals. GIS is a growing field with good job security. Our online master’s in GIS program can help you develop the skills and professional connections to thrive for many years to come.

You’re tech-savvy and fascinated by geography, but is there a career in that? Consider this, from the geographic information system company Esri:
kent state university gate

Build Your Skills with Recognized Experts

Expert faculty in our online MGISc program will help you master the various technical skills and professional knowledge crucial for thriving in this rapidly evolving field. Customize your expertise with electives and your practicum after building a solid foundation with core courses. Some of the skills you can develop include:
  • Advanced theories and techniques for handling geographic information systems
  • Principles of map design and the art of map construction
  • Algorithms and tools used in computer science
  • Emerging media and technology industries; basic programming concepts
  • Urban and economic applications and analyses of spatial data
  • The use of GISc in hazard research and management
  • Essential spatiotemporal thinking and technical skills
  • The geospatial methods and approaches used to understand and combat disease
  • Essential concepts and skills needed to create and develop a geodatabase
  • The basic principles of environmental remote sensing

Online GIS Master’s Tuition and Financial Aid

Ohio ResidentsOut of State
Per Credit Hour$695$705
Approximate Program Cost $20,850$21,150

An additional distance learning fee for all students enrolled in a distance learning course is $15 per credit hour. Program tuition and costs are estimated and subject to change. For a complete listing of tuition rates for approved online programs, please contact Kent State’s Financial, Billing & Enrollment Center at 330-672-6000 or via our website Contact Us link.

We recognize that pursuing a graduate degree is a significant investment. Your Admissions Outreach Advisor can answer your questions on program costs, discuss how a Kent State degree compares to others and connect you with financial aid representatives when you are ready to discuss your financial options.

Please contact an Admissions Outreach Advisor for more information on tuition and fees by email at online@kent.edu.

Online GIS Master’s Courses

The Master of Geographic Information Science degree is comprised of three major components:

  • Four core courses (12 credits each)
  • Four elective courses (minimum 12 credits)
  • One practicum (6 credits)

Online GIS Master’s Core Courses and Practicum

GEOG 59071 Fundamentals of GIS 1 (3 Credits)

Introduction to fundamental concepts and methods for geographic data analysis, including data capture and input, data storage and management, and data analysis and display. Emphasis is on applications of GIS software to real world issues.

GEOG 59081 Fundamentals of GIS 2 (3 Credits)

Prerequisite: GEOG 59071

Advanced theories and techniques for handling and analyzing geographic data, analytical functions and modeling approaches. Topics covered include: two- and three-dimension processing of geographic information, detection of geographic patterns through spatial analysis and spatial statistics, network analysis, modeling of geographic processes and an overview of GIS programming tools.

GEOG 69164 Cartographic Design (3 Credits)

Introduces students to the principles of map design and the art of map construction. Students will become familiar with the cartographic process, especially as they apply basic mapping concepts such as scale, projections, typography, generalization, symbols, color scheme and classification to the design and production of thematic maps. Students will also learn how to describe and manipulate spatial data and how to select an appropriate map type for a given task and data set. This course builds on students’ experiences with GIS to focus on the design needed to disseminate information beyond users of the software and produce effective print and web maps. Class exercises will provide hands-on experience in using GIS and graphic software packages. Principles and experiences learned in class will equip students with the fundamental skills necessary to effectively communicate graphic information through maps.

GEOG 69231 Environmental Remote Sensing (3 Credits)

Introduction to the basic principles of environmental remote sensing, including the electromagnetic spectrum, spectral properties of Earth objects, aerial photograph analysis and interpretation, and satellite image analysis and interpretation. Special focus will be on environmental applications, especially as they pertain to understanding vegetation, water and land use mapping and impacts.

GEOG 69392 Practicum in Geographic Information Science (6 Credits)

Prerequisites: GEOG 59070, GEOG 59080, GEOG 69164 and two additional graduate-level GEOG courses.

Culminating experience for students in the MGISc program. It will be taken in place of two carousel specialist courses on the schedule for the student’s final semester. It is designed to provide practical experience in the application of MGISc course content in real-world professional settings. Students will select a professional project in consultation with their employers and program faculty and then will design, implement and report on their activities in a culminating professional paper.

Online GIS Master’s Elective Courses

Additional course options may be available at the department’s discretion.

GEOG 59072 GIS and Health (3 Credits)

Geographic theory and methods serve as the connection among disparate disciplines focused on how and why “health” varies between regions, cities and neighborhoods. Students examine how geospatial technologies, especially GIS, have become an important health analysis tool.

GEOG 59075 GIS Applications for Social Problems (3 Credits)

Prerequisites: GEOG 49070

Urban and economic applications and analyses of spatial data, especially theoretical and conceptual issues, including the possibilities and concerns associated with GIS, ethical considerations, and the various forms of data collection, visualization, analysis and dissemination.

GEOG 59076 Spatial Programming (3 Credits)

Prerequisite: GEOG 59070

Examination of the design, development and use of geographic information technologies with computer programming to model, process and visualize geographic phenomena.

GEOG 59078 Geographic Information Science and Environmental Hazards (3 Credits)

The study and management of natural hazards are inherently reliant on both physical and human processes and spatial patterns. Given the many variables involved and the variety of scales at which they operate, use of geographic information science (GIS) has become standard practice in research on hazards and in their management by government agencies at all levels. Students are exposed to a wide array of spatial data that is used in these activities, as well as standard mapping and spatial analysis procedures and forms of data dissemination.

GEOG 69004 Quantitative Methods in Geography (3 Credits)

Explores the methods and applications of some of the most common statistics found in geographic work. It explores probability theory, spatial statistics, estimation procedures, hypothesis testing, spatial sampling, methods of areal association, correlation and regression analysis, and principal components analysis. Theory and execution of these methods are equally emphasized, and applications to geographic problems are examined within each theme.

GEOG 69007 Spatiotemporal Analytics (3 Credits)

Prerequisite: GEOG 59070

Equips students with essential spatiotemporal thinking and technical skills in mapping, analyzing, visualizing, communicating and simulating the spatiotemporal data. ArcGIS and free packages in R and Netlogo will be used in the instruction.

GEOG 69073 Geographic Information Science: Global Health (3 Credits)

Emerging and re-emerging diseases in non-developed countries pose one of the greatest health challenges of current times. Geospatial approaches often provide one of the only information sources in data poor and challenging environments. This course will expose students to these health issues and disease environments through varied case studies, while simultaneously highlighting the geospatial methods and approaches used to understand and combat disease.

GEOG 69074 Geographic Information Science: Spatial Analysis for Health Geography (3 Credits)

Prerequisites: GEOG 59070 or GEOG 59072

Spatial analysis is used to verify patterns and associations in health data maps. These results can then be used to further hone the scientific question or help design an intervention strategy. This course will introduce spatial analytical approaches used by health researchers and practitioners in the exploratory investigation of health data. Students will also be exposed to new mobile technologies that can be used to enrich more traditional spatial data sources.

GEOG 69079 Environmental Geographic Information Science (3 Credits)

Prerequisite: GEOG 59070

GPS and environmental spatial data are commonly used in a variety of management and assessment plans in fields related to environmental science to achieve effective decision-making and environmental resource management. This course will focus on techniques used to process, manage, visualize and analyze environmental data using GIS. Students will learn how to collect and process GPS and online sources of geospatial data and how to employ techniques such as suitability modeling, measuring distributions and calculating landscape metrics.

GEOG 69082 CyberGis (3 Credits)

Prerequisite: GEOG 49070, GEOG 59070 or GEOG 59071

(Slashed with GEGO 79082) Explores cyberinfrastructure-enabled geographic information systems (i.e. cyberGIS) and related technologies including a broad introduction to the use, design, and development of cyberinfrastructure, spatial data infrastructures, geographic information services, and web-enabled mapping technologies. Situates CyberGIS in the broader context of geographic information science focusing on the how synthesizing computational thinking and spatial thinking influence methodological approaches.

GEOG 69083 Geodatabases (3 Credits)

Prerequisite: GEOG 59070

Essential concepts and skills needed to efficiently create a geodatabase, add data to it and realistically model the real-world spatial relationships inherent to the data. Students will learn about geodatabase features that help ensure data integrity over time and about storing and managing geographic data.

CS 61002 Algorithms and Programming I (4 Credits)

An introduction to the algorithms and tools used in computer science; includes programming in a high-level language.

CS 61003 Algorithms and Programming II (4 Credits)

Further exploration into the tools used in computer science.

EMAT 64210 Data Science (3 Credits)

Through this course students will explore the emerging media and technology industries, receive an introduction to basic programming concepts, and develop their own emerging media project plan. Additionally, students will learn about the impact of emerging media and technology on culture and society. Topics include an introduction to ethical technology design, emerging media and globalization, and how technology relates to relationship and identity formation and maintenance.

Online GIS Master’s Admissions Requirements

The master’s and graduate certificate programs have the same straightforward requirements:

  • Completed online application
  • Complete bachelor’s degree, with a GPA of 2.75 or higher (on a 4.0 scale), from an accredited university
  • Two letters of recommendation from professors and/or employers
  • Application fee: $45
  • Official transcripts
  • Goal statement
  • Resume/CV
  • No GRE required for admission
Important Dates
Dec
1
Application Deadline
Spring 2024 Term
Jan
16
First Day of Classes
Spring 2024 Term
May
1
Application Deadline
Summer 2024 Term

The online GIS program application process is simple and we’re here to guide you through it.

Our Admissions Outreach Advisors are available to answer your questions regarding admissions requirements for the program. If you have questions, please email us at online@kent.edu or call us at +1 330-672-8671.

Application FAQs

Create an account in the online application system to save your work and track the progress of materials submitted via the application system.

I am a U.S. citizen. Where should I send my application materials?

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident, all required application materials should be sent to the Division of Graduate Studies at gradapps@kent.edu or by mail to:

Division of Graduate Studies
Kent State University
Cartwright Hall
P.O. Box 5190
Kent, OH 44242

Please be sure to include your full name and Kent State ID (9-digit number starting with 8) on all submitted documents. For questions, contact Graduate Admissions at +1 330-672-2661 or gradapps@kent.edu.

I am not a U.S. citizen. Where should I send my application materials?

If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident, all required documents should be submitted to the Office of Global Education at intladm@kent.edu or by mail to:

Office of Global Education
Kent State University
106 Van Campen Hall
625 Loop Rd.
Kent, OH 44242
USA

For questions, contact International Admissions at +1 330-672-7970 or intladm@kent.edu.

Technology Requirements

Courses are delivered through our course management system, Canvas. Course content consists of text, narrated PowerPoint presentations, video and audio, live chats, discussion groups, and other learning enhancements.

Course requires access to GIS software to complete coursework. Ensure that your computer meets ArcGIS Pro requirements.

To participate in this online program, you will need a computer and broadband Internet connection. Your program may have further requirements that include the ability to record video and audio. If you have questions regarding technology requirements for the program, please contact your Admissions Outreach Advisor at online@kent.edu or at +1 330-672-8671.

Other Programs You Might Like
Kent State University’s Department of Geography offers you two online GIS certificate programs to choose from: the Environmental GISc Graduate Certificate and the General GISc Graduate Certificate. Learn essential technical skills in this lucrative, rapidly changing field with targeted professional skills development courses. Gain the foundational knowledge you need to stay current with instruction on core concepts and principles.
Kent State University’s online Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice helps you harness your analytical skills and professional drive for an impactful career in public service. Shape the justice system from the inside as a skilled criminologist or criminal law professional with the theoretical and practical insights gained in the interdisciplinary master’s in criminal justice.
Kent State’s online Master of Public Administration (MPA) is one of only a select number of online MPA programs in the United States that is accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). NASPAA accreditation assures employers that your degree meets the standards of the public service education field, helping you move forward in your public leadership career.

Related Geographic Information Science Reading from the Kent State Online Blog

Check out one of our featured blog posts below
In today’s digital age, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become an indispensable tool across various industries, from urban planning and homeland security to environmental management and beyond.
Careers in GIS are in demand more than ever. Equipped with data visualization and spatial analysis skills, GIS professionals qualify for occupations in countless fields.1

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