The 15 Best Master’s Geographic Information Systems Online for 2019

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Geographic information systems is a relatively new field that has transformed the cartography and surveying industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that these industries will grow faster than average in the coming years, providing a wealth of job opportunities for those interested in mapping technologies. Online master’s in  geographic information systems degree programs like the ones examined in this ranking provide flexible pathways for career advancements in the field of GIS.

Rating and Ranking Methodology
Tuition Points:

  • Under $30,000—1 point
  • Under $25,000—2 points
  • Under $20,000—3 points
  • Under $15,000—4 points
  • Under $10,000—5 points
  • Under $5,000—6 points

Customization Options

  • Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
  • Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)

Wow Factor

  • 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us

Ranking the Top Online Master’s Degrees in Geographic Information Systems

In order to identify the top online MS in geographic information systems programs, our editors weighed program quality with affordability. In applying the rating and ranking methodology above, we consulted College Navigator for tuition data as well as each program’s website for information about formatting and content customizations. The results of our research are outlined in the following ranking of the top 15 online masters in geographic information systems programs.
For more general information regarding distance learning, visit our ranking of the top online colleges.

#15 –University of Denver

Online MS in Geographic Information Systems

Website
Points: 3
The University of Denver offers a comprehensive, 48-credit hour geographic information systems MS onlineprogram through the school’s Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Department of Geography and the Environment. This online offering mirrors the university’s on-campus program and includes core courses such as Advanced Geographic Statistics, Database Design, Geographic Information Analysis, and Remote Sensing. Students also take 20 credit hours of elective classes, giving them ample opportunity to customize their own degree plan. Students must also complete a course in research methods and a capstone project to earn their online master’s degrees in geographic information systems.
In-State Tuition: $45,288

#14 –Unity College

Online Master of Science in Professional Science in Environmental Geographic Information Science

Website
Points: 3
The MS in geographic information systems online program from Unity College is an accelerated option designed to be completed in just 12 months. Enrolled students will complete an Environmental GIS Core, consisting of classes such as Creating Maps and Graphics of Ecosystem Change, GIS and Remote Sensing for Environmental Solutions, Environmental Research Methods, and Modeling Our Changing World. Prospective graduates will also complete a capstone project. Those who complete their MS degrees in geographic information systems online are prepared for advanced work as research geologists, GIS specialists, cartographers, remote sensing scientists and technicians, GIS data managers, and more.
In-State Tuition: $25,500

#13 –University of Southern California

Online Masters in Geographic Information Science and Technology

Website
Points: 5
The University of Southern California offers a top masters in geographic information systems online program through its USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute. The program features four distinct tracks: Spatial Data Acquisition and Integration, Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization, Spatial Application Development, and Spatial Thinking. All students will complete a required 16-unit core, which includes courses such as Concepts for Spatial Thinking, Spatial Databases, and Spatial Data Acquisition. Depending on the track they pursue, students may also take elective classes like Web GIS, Cartography and Visualization, and Geospatial Technology Project Management. Prospective graduates are also required to write a master’s thesis in order to earn their geographic information systems master’s programs online.
In-State Tuition: $41,592

#12 –University of Washington

Online MS in Geographic Information Systems for Sustainability Management

Website
Points: 5
The master’s in geographic information systems online program from the University of Washington is a project-based, non-thesis offering that consists of eight courses. The program is designed to be completed on a part-time basis over a period of two years. The curriculum for the program, which is informed by the United States Department of Labor’s Geospatial Technology Competency Model, consists of core courses such as Principles of GIS Mapping, GIS and Decision Support, Geospatial Data Analysis, and GIS Data Management. A capstone project is also required for completion of this master’s in geographic information systems online program.
In-State Tuition: $15,207

#11 –University of Maryland- College Park

Online Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Information Sciences

Website
Points: 5
The master’s in geographic information systems online degree program from the University of Maryland- College Park is a Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Information Sciences. Offered through the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and the Department of Geographical Sciences, this 31-credit hour offering consists of core courses such as Spatial Statistics, Programming and Scripting for GIS, and Digital Image Processing and Analysis, for instance. Elective classes include titles like Fundamentals of Geospatial Intelligence, Advanced Remote Sensing Using Lidar, Big Data Analytics, and GIS and Spatial Modeling. A professional project is also required as a capstone. This online master’s in geographic information systems program is delivered synchronously, with lectures broadcast online in the evenings.
In-State Tuition: $11,718

#10 –Northeastern University

Online MS in Geographic Information Systems: Geographic Information Technology

Website
Points: 6
Northeastern University offers a 45-quarter hour online master’s in geographic systems program through its College of Professional Studies. The program is technically a MPS in Geographic Information Technology with concentrations in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing. Required courses include Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, Fundamentals of GIS Analysis, Advanced Spatial Analysis, and Fundamentals of Remote Sensing. Coursework can be taken on a part-time or full-time basis, and the degree can be completed in 2-3 years depending on the pace. Northeastern’s master’s in geographic information systems online program is accredited by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF).
In-State Tuition: $22,633

#9 –Pennsylvania State University- World Campus

Online Master’s in Geographic Information Systems

Website
Points: 6
Penn State- World Campus flexible, 36-credit hour online MS degrees in geographic information systems with specializations in Geospatial Intelligence and Geodesign. The curriculum, which is continually updated to reflect the latest industry standards, include required courses such as GIS Database Development, Problem Solving with GIS, Geospatial Technology Project Management. A capstone project is also required for graduation. Once they earn their online master’s degrees in geographic information systems, students will go on to advance in fields such as urban and regional planning, facilities management, environmental resource management, and surveying and cartography, for instance.
In-State Tuition: $19,712

#8 –University of Arizona

Online MS in Geographic Information Systems Technology

Website
Points: 6
The University of Arizona offers accelerated online master’s degrees in geographic information systems through its College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the School of Geography and Development that can be completed within 18 months. Required courses for this graduate GIS offering include Remote Sensing Science, Raster Spatial Analysis, Geographic Information Systems Programming and Automation, and Applied GIS. A master’s project in GIS is also required. Graduates of the program are qualified for advanced positions in public administration, IT engineering, defense, natural and cultural resources, and related fields. This top online masters in geographic information systems online program is aligned with the standards of the GIST Body of Knowledge compiles by the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science.
In-State Tuition: $11,372

#7 –University of West Florida

Online Master of Geographic Information Science Administration

Website
Points: 6
The online masters in geographic information systems program from the University of West Florida is an interdisciplinary Master of Geographic Information Science Administration. The program combines business courses with courses in GIS such as Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing, GIS Programming, Database Systems, and Special Topics in Geographic Information Sciences. Graduates of top masters in geographic information systems programs online are well-prepared for careers in emergency response management, environmental resource management, and urban and regional planning among related fields.
In-State Tuition: $7,088

#6 –North Carolina State University

Online Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology

Website
Points: 7
North Carolina State University offers a 31-credit hour customizable online master of geographic information systems. The core curriculum consists of course titles such as Geospatial Modeling, Spatial Data Foundations, Geospatial Data Structures and Web Services, and Fundamentals of Geospatial Information Science and Technology. A variety of elective classes are available, allowing students to customize their degree plan. These electives include classes like Surface Water Hydrology with GIS, Cartographic Design, and Introduction to Geovisualization Technologies, for example. Students may also elect to pursue an optional certificate in Professional Communications and Managerial Skills. It is important to note that two campus visits are required in order for students to earn their geographic information systems online master’s degrees.
In-State Tuition: $8,088

#5 –University of Colorado- Denver

Online Master of Engineering: Geographic Information Systems

Website
Points: 7
The top masters in geographic information systems program online from the University of Colorado-Denver is a unique Master of Engineering with a specialty in GIS. Though it is offered from the College of Engineering, the program is multidisciplinary. Required courses for the 30-credit hour offering include GIS Spatial Database Development, Interactive Web Mapping GIS, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and Introduction to Geomatics. Students must also complete an advanced application project to fulfill the requirements for their MS programs in geographic information systems online. A graduate certificate in GIS is also available.
In-State Tuition: $6,714

#4 –University of Central Arkansas

Online Master of Geographic Information Systems

Website
Points: 7
Online master’s in geographic information systems students at the University of Central Arkansas can choose between thesis and non-thesis options. Required courses for the 30-credit hour program include Digital Image Processing for GIS, Technical Issues in GIS, Spatial Analysis and Modeling, and Mapping Fundamentals for GIS. In addition to this core curriculum, students will also choose from electives such as GIS for Planning and Public Administration, Environmental Applications of GIS, and Fundamentals of Database Design and Development. A comprehensive graduate portfolio is also required in order for students to complete their geographic information systems online master’s degrees.
In-State Tuition: $4,594

#3 –Northwest Missouri State University

Online Master of Science in Geographic Information Science

Website
Points: 7
Northwest Missouri State University offers online master’s degrees in geographic systems with both thesis and non-thesis options. This program is offered completely online with no campus visits required. Featured course titles include Applications of Remotely Sensed Data, Raster-Based GIS & Modeling, Geoprocessing with Python, and Trends in Geographic Information Systems. Students can take classes on a part-time or full-time basis, and course delivery is primarily asynchronous with minimal, if any, required log-on times, making this one of the best geographic information systems master’s degrees online for flexibility.
In-State Tuition: $4,551

#2 –Northern Arizona University

Online Master of Geographic Information Science Administration

Website
Points: 8
Northern Arizona University offers a customizable MS programs in geographic information systems online featuring areas of emphasis in Planning, & Recreation and Geospatial Technologies. Alternatively, students have the option of customizing their own focus with elective classes relevant to their interests and career goals. Featured course titles include Geographic Thought and Method, Programming for GIS, and Enterprise Geodatabases. A professional practicum experience is also required. Graduates of NAU’s online master of geographic information systems program go on to fill advanced positions in regional and urban planning, environmental systems, land management, and community development among related fields.
In-State Tuition: $8,956

#1 –Salisbury University

Online Master of Geographic Information Science Administration

Website
Points: 8
Salisbury University offers a 34-credit hour master’s in geographic information systems online program that can be completed in as few as 13 months, though a part-time option is also available. Courses comprising the curriculum for this program include GIS & Public Administration, Database Processing and Management, Managerial Finance, and GIS Leadership. This curriculum also includes training in the latest GIS software and equipment and prepares students for professional certification. Graduates of this online master’s in geographic information systems program are prepared for careers in GIS sub-fields, including site selection and logistics, social service, and transportation and logistics, for example.
In-State Tuition: $7,088

This concludes our ranking of the top online master’s in geographic information systems. Thanks for checking it out!

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