Online Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

West Chester University now offers an online option for students wishing to earn a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through distance education. The online GIS Certificate offers the same curriculum and is taught by the same faculty who teach our in-class courses. The Online GIS Certificate is recognized as high-value, and it is one of the most affordable programs offered by any university in the U.S.

Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies have become prominent workplace tools used widely in public and private sectors. This online certificate program will provide graduate-level instruction on their use.

Program Requirements

The Online GIS Certificate follows the same general structure and requirements as our in-class program. The online certificate follows the same curriculum and is taught by the same faculty who teach the classroom-based courses. The only difference is that courses are taken online instead of in the classroom. For students who wish to combine online with in-class courses, that option is also available. Students are required to complete a total of 12 credits, or four courses, to receive the Certificate.

Required core courses: 9 credits

  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GEO534)
  • Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GEO584)
  • Geodatabases (GEO577)

One elective courses chosen from the following current offerings: 3 credits

  • Internet Mapping (GEO507)
  • Environmental Modeling with GIS (GEO538)
  • Introduction to Business GIS (GEO556)
  • Geography Field Methods (GEO585)
  • GIS-related Internship (GEO615)
  • Water Quality & Health (ENV533)
  • Emergency Preparedness (ENV570)

Advising sheets are available online .  Advising sheets are subject to change; students should check with their advisor before registering for classes.


The Online GIS Certificate is a tremendous value for both Pennsylvania residents and for those who reside out-of-state. The Graduate Catalog lists the current tuition and fees.


A student who wishes to enroll in the online certificate program needs to hold a bachelor's degree (in any subject area) from an accredited institution, and needs to have an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.8 or greater. Occasionally students with a lower GPA are accepted if there are other strengths in their application.

Students can take up to three GIS courses before they must apply to the program. However, students who have not yet applied and been admitted to the Online GIS Certificate program are limited to taking one GIS course per term.

If a certificate student subsequently or simultaneously applies for and is accepted into one of the masters degree programs in geography, the geography courses (GEO) listed above can be counted towards the degree.

Course Delivery

West Chester University's Online GIS Certificate courses are primarily taught asynchronously with students required to meet certain learning, assess and other requirements in a stated time period. Online courses do not meet in a classroom, but students have an option to enroll in classroom-based courses if desired.

WCU delivers its Online GIS Certificate through Desire2Learn (D2L) online learning platform. Using D2L, professors teaching online courses have many options for delivering course material including video, voiceover presentations and readings, and many options for assignments including discussion forums, blog postings, file uploads, and online testing.

While most of the course requirements can be completed in your own time, in some cases professors may assign assignments or activities that may require students to be available at certain times.

To Apply

A student who wishes to apply to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certificate program should download the Graduate Studies Application, and follow the instructions for the self-managed application process.

For the Graduate Studies application, the plan number for the Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is C233. For more information, contact Dr. Gary Coutu, Graduate Coordinator for the certificate program.