Feb 24, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geographic Information Science Graduate Certificate

Contact: J.M. Shawn Hutchinson
E-mail: shutch@ksu.edu

Geographic information systems (GIS) are an organized collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data, and people designed and organized to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information. Effective use of geographic information systems (GIS) has evolved into a requisite skill in most academic research, as well as for agencies in both the public and private sectors. Graduate students from such varied disciplines as agronomy, biological sciences, economics, engineering, geography, landscape architecture, and sociology benefit from applying GIS and related technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing, geostatistics, and computer programming to input, analyze, model, and display (map) location-based data.

Offered through the Geography   graduate program, the Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science (GIScience) is designed to provide graduate students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the rapidly expanding field of GIScience or apply GIScience concepts in their own field of study. Three components comprise the program curriculum: A set of prerequisites to gain entry into the program, core geospatial courses focusing on geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite remote sensing, and a set of elective courses that allow for the exploration of advanced themes in GIScience and/or the application of GIScience in geography or related disciplines. The Graduate Certificate in GIScience may be awarded as a “stand-alone” certificate or in conjunction with the completion of graduate degree requirements in one of the academic units at Kansas State University. The certificate program is administered by the Department of Geography and is supervised by a multidisciplinary group of instructors and researchers from across the K-State campus. 

Certification requirements:

The course requirements for the Graduate Certificate in GIScience are shown below. A minimum of 15 graduate credit hours is required to earn the certificate. A maximum of two geospatial core courses may be waived and replaced with approved electives in cases where students have completed prior coursework for undergraduate credit. A minimum of 12 hours at the 600-level or higher is required. Students must earn a minimum GPA of 3.33 in the geospatial core to earn the certificate.


  • Competence in cartography, thematic mapping, or geodesy, or geomatics (e.g., GEOG 302)
  • Competence in basic statistics (e.g., STAT 320, STAT 330, STAT 350)
  • Competence in object-oriented computer programming (e.g., Python)

Elective Courses - Select Two (minimum of 6 credit hours):

In addition to the Geospatial Core courses, students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate on GIScience program must tale a minimum of 6 additional credit hours of electives consisting of courses in intermediate/advanced GIScience or application courses with a major emphasis on the use of geospatial technologies. Elective requirements may be satisfied from the following course list or, in some instances, be met through special topics or independent study courses with significant geospatial content (must be approved by the certificate coordinator).

Additional certification criteria

The Graduate Certificate in GIScience may be awarded as a “stand-alone” certificate or in conjunction with the completion of advanced graduate degree requirements in one of the academic units at Kansas State University.  To be awarded a graduate certificate in GIScience, the student:

  1. Must not be on probation,
  2. Must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on graduate coursework (if applicable), and
  3. Must be enrolled during the semester in which the certificate requirements are completed.

In order to ensure that certificate recipients display a strong command of GIScience, the certificate is granted only to those graduate students who earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.33 in the Geospatial Core courses that comprise the Graduate Certificate in GIScience program.  The GPA for certificate purposes will be computed in accordance with Kansas State University policy.

Courses may be waived in consultation with the certificate coordinator and academic advisor if the student can demonstrate satisfactory completion of similar coursework or significant professional experience in the area. If transfer courses are to be used to meet program requirements, the student must furnish the program director with a certified university transcript and, in some instances, a copy of the class syllabus.  A maximum of 6 transfer credit hours may be used to meet program requirements

Upon approval by the certificate coordinator, course credits earned before the student entered the certificate program may be applied to the Graduate Certificate in GIScience.  Graduate students, and post-baccalaureate students returning to acquire the certificate, may be asked to repeat any of the prerequisite, geospatial core, and/or elective courses completed more than five years prior to the semester in which the certificate requirements are finished.


The Graduate Certificate in GIScience is coordinated by J.M. Shawn Hutchinson (Department of Geography) with administrative support provided by the Department of Geography. Post-baccalaureate students and graduate students working towards advanced degrees are required to submit a list of courses to be used in meeting certification requirements to the certificate coordinator. Where these courses are included in a program of study for an advanced degree, they should be approved by the student’s supervisory committee. Should courses for the certification program not be included in the advanced degree program of study, a supplementary course list should be approved by the student’s major professor and the certificate coordinator.

GIScience faculty

The supervisory graduate faculty for the Graduate Certificate of GIScience represent a multidisciplinary group of instructors and researchers from across the K-State campus. Other interested faculty are encouraged to participate in the certificate and can contact the certificate coordinator if they are interested in having their name included.

Financial support

A limited number of graduate research and/or teaching assistantships may be available to qualified students through participating departments. In addition, corporate- and industry-sponsored scholarhips may be available to exceptional applicants. Contact the certifiate coordinator for further details.