Graduate Certificate Program in Geospatial Information Science

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The GIS graduate certificate is not a separate degree but is awarded in addition to a student’s major field of study.  This certificate program is open to graduate students enrolled in and working towards completion of any of Rutgers University’s graduate Master’s or PhD programs.

The Certificate program is designed to introduce students to these three strands of research:

1. One strand of research addresses the fundamental questions of the human conceptualization of space and how geospatial information is generated, located, recorded, modeled, manipulated and /or communicated through computer technology.

2. A second strand of research addresses how geospatial information science and technology can be applied to real world problems across a variety of physical, environmental, and social science disciplines.

3. A third strand of research investigates the societal implications of GIS technology on social interactions on a variety of levels, e.g., people to the environment, people to people, and people to government.


Individual students should discuss their academic preparation with the Certificate Coordinator to determine whether the prerequisites have been fulfilled or to determine an appropriate suite of classes to fill any gaps.

 Proficiency in computer programming, introductory cartography, geographic information systems, remote sensing and basic statistics. If this proficiency is lacking, we recommend the appropriate undergraduate courses be taken:

01:198:111 Introduction to Computer Science (3)
01:450:355 Principles of Cartography (3)
34:970:591 Introduction to GIS for Planning (3)
01:450:321 Geographic Information Systems (3) or 11:372:362 Intermediate Environmental Geomatics (3)
01:960:401 Basic Statistics for Research (or equivalent) (3)

As an alternative, the ESRI Virtual Campus ( has a host of online courses that may potentially be used to fulfill some prerequisites. Some of these courses are free and some have fees. Use of these online courses to fulfill a prerequisite must be pre-approved by the Certificate Coordinator.

Basic Topics in Geospatial Information Science (6 cr.)
One course each in geographic information systems and remote sensing as prerequisite for the Certificate seminar:

34:970:592 Topics in Geographic Information Science (Bloustein) (3)

Remote Sensing/Digital Image Processing:
16:450:615 Seminar in Remote Sensing (3)
11:216:371 Introduction to Remote Sensing (3)

Certificate Seminar
16:455:501 Seminar in Geospatial Information Science (3)

This seminar will address the three foci that define research in geospatial information science: 1) human conceptualization of space as it relates geospatial information; 2) applications of geospatial information science and technology; and 3) societal implications of GIS technology.

Advanced Topics in Geospatial Information Science (3 cr.)
One course from the list below:
16:194:601   Information and Communication Processes (3)
16:198:535   Pattern Recognition and Theory (3)
16:198:541   Database Systems (3)
16:215:520   Landscape Ecology (3)
16:332:484/560   Introduction to Computer Graphics (3)
16:375:551   Remote Sensing of the Ocean and Atmosphere (3)
16:450:605  Seminar in Land Use Change (3)
16:450:617   Seminar in Remote Sensing of the Biosphere (3)
16:712:615   Geophysical Data Analysis (3)
17:610:557   Database Design & Management (3)
22:198:603   Database Systems (3)
34:970:650 Planning Support Systems (3)
34:971:314 Graphic Communication for Planning (3)

Alternative courses can be substituted with permission of the Certificate Coordinator. 
As an alternative, a pre-approved independent or directed study may be substituted.  An independent study could be coupled with an online course or courses taught through the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education ( For example, the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science periodically offers instructor-led online courses on special topics that may satisfy this requirement. In addition, the ESRI Virtual Campus ( has a host of online courses that cover specific advanced topics.  Use of these online/continuing professional education courses to fulfill an advanced topic requirement must be pre-approved by the Certificate Coordinator.



Prospective Students: How to Apply
Students interested in geospatial information science and applying to Rutgers University for graduate study should contact the graduate program that most closely aligns with their education/career goals. Prospective students are also encouraged to contact individual faculty members for more specific information on their research programs.

General information on Rutgers University for prospective graduate students, as well as more specific information on admissions, can be found at  Rutgers University Graduate Study.

For information on specific graduate programs, visit the following programs by academic department:
Ecology and Evolution
Environmental Science
Urban Planning and Policy Development

Present Students: How to Enroll
Graduate students interested in completing the Graduate Certificate Program need to officially enroll in the program. For more information or to enroll in the graduate certificate program, contact Professor Richard Lathrop (contact info at top of page).



Page last updated, December 2021.