The 5 Best Master’s Geographic Information Systems Online

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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
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Featured Online Schools

 
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 5 online masters in geographic information systems programs.
For more general information regarding distance learning, visit our ranking of the top online colleges.

  • #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

  • #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

  • #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

  • #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

  • #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

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