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Master's Degree Programs - Going For An Online Graduate Degree GIS Program

written by: Sonal Panse•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 1/24/2010

An online graduate degree GIS program can help you get started in geographic research career. Graduates may work as cartographers, surveyors, analysts, consultants, planners, teachers, etc. in various public and private sectors. Good communication and computer skills help.

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    Geographic Information Systems

    Geographic information systems are used to carry out geographical research. GIS professionals manage research projects, and collect and analyze information derived from different sources like satellite and aerial cameras, compiled surveys, digital maps and so on. This data is used to implement various land and resources planning, development, conservation, management and service provider projects in private, public and governmental sectors. Read about GIS use in 'Application of GIS in Geological Mapping'.

    People interested in a GIS career, but unable to attend full-time school, can go for an online graduate degree GIS program. A master's degree course will cover some of the following -

    • Existing and current GIS issues.
    • Research and research project management.
    • Geospatial system design and analysis.
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    Some Tips for Getting an Online Master's Degree in GIS

    • It is a good idea to research schools online and check their accreditation.
    • Find out about eligibility requirements; most master's degree programs usually require a bachelor's degree from a reputed institution and an English language proficiency certificate may be necessary for international students who do not have English as their first language.
    • Find about how the onlines courses will be conducted and about the study materials and software that will be required. It may be necessary to purchase special GIS software for this course.
    • Find out about the assignments, projects and credits required to qualify for the master's degree.
    • Find out about tuition fees and payment methods.
    • Find out if the school will help with career placements.
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    Schools offering an Online Master's Degree in GIS

    University of Ulster

    M.Sc. Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

    Accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences.

    Eligibility -

    • Honors undergraduate degree in geography, environmental science, computer science, or other relevant subjects.

    Courses covered -

    • Data models and data structures
    • Acquisition and management of data
    • Spatial analysis and modeling
    • Remote sensing
    • GIS design and implementation issues
    • GIS programming and customization
    • Database technology.
    • One optional - Application of GIS to environmental management / Application of GIS to health and health care issues / Further GIS programming

    Students are awarded the M.Sc. degree after the successful completion of eight modules and an independent research thesis.

    Tuition fee for EU students is £3780, and it is £9144 for non-EU students.


    Penn State World Campus

    Master of geographic information systems (MGIS) degree

    This is a 35 credit program that runs four quarter annually and requires the completion of 23-26 compulsory course credits and at least nine elective course credits. Courses included in this program are -

    • Lidar Technology and Applications
    • Conservation GIS
    • Planning GID for Emergency Management
    • GIS for Analysis of Health
    • Comparative GIS
    • Map Projections for Geospatial Professionals
    • GPS and GNSS for Geospatial Professionals
    • Mashups for Geospatial Professionals
    • Professionalism in Geographic Information Science and Technology

    An undergraduate degree is essential for admission and students should include the following in their admission application -

    • A statement of professional experience and goals
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Undergraduate degree credentials
    • GRE score
    • TOEFL score
    • Completed graduate school application

    Tuition fee is $644 per credit.

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    GIS Career Prospects

    GIS graduates may work in various urban and regional planning sectors. There is currently a good demand for qualified GIS people in land registries, ordnance service departments, geological survey departments, forest and roads services, fishery departments, public transportation systems, community developmental agencies, schools and colleges, software companies, technical sales departments, etc. After completing an online graduate degree GIS program, you can work as -

    • A researcher
    • An analyst
    • A surveyor
    • A cartographer
    • A photogrammetrist
    • A developer
    • A surveying and mapping technician
    • An educator
    • A consultant
    • A GIS software developer

    This profession requires strong analytical, communication and computer skills, and a good amount of travel and outdoor work. Salaries vary by region, sector, company, professional level and experience. Here are some salary figures from May 2008, compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor -

    • Cartographers and Photogrammetrists: less than $31,440 - more than $87,620
    • Surveyors: less than $29,600 - more than $85,620
    • Surveying and Mapping Technicians: less than $21,680 - more than $58,030
    • Urban and Regional Planners: less than $37,960 - more than $91,520
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    U.S. Bureau of Labor -

    University of Ulster


    Penn State World Campus


    Find out how to 'Earn Your Bachelor Degree In Geography Online'.