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    Best 14 Masters in GIS Programs in 2021

    March 19, 2021 | Staff Writers

    Masters in GIS
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    A GIS system – a Geographic Information System is a computer system that captures, organizes, stores, and displays relevant information related to positions across the earth’s surface. GIS data, for example, can reveal the placement of buildings, vegetation, and buildings on a solitary map – which then allows trained professionals to identify and understand the relationship patterns that exist among the data if any. 

    GIS technology can utilize locational information, which can be expressed in several ways, like a ZIP code, a street address, or the intersection of a longitude and latitude reading. The use of GIS technology is an integral part of the nation’s spatial data infrastructure – a set of policies and standards related to the processes involved in obtaining, using, and distributing relevant spatial data.

    Top 5 Masters in GIS Programs

    RankSchoolLocation
    1Northwest Missouri State UniversityMaryville, Missouri
    2The University of North AlabamaFlorence, Alabama
    3The University of Central ArkansasConway, Arkansas
    4The University of Washington (Tacoma)Tacoma, Washington
    5Unity CollegeUnity, Maine

    A Masters in GIS degree is designed for recent baccalaureate graduates or professionals who want to expand their knowledge of the many ways to analyze, manage and disseminate geographic information.  Earning a Masters in GIS degree is a great way to enhance a professional’s scientific legitimacy, ultimately facilitating finding the right job even in a competitive market. 

    Best 14 Masters in GIS Programs

    1

    Northwest Missouri State University

    • Maryville, Missouri

    Northwest Missouri State University (NWMS) offers a Masters in GIS (Geographic Information Science) that is both affordable and portable. Degree candidates enrolled in NWMS’ GIS graduate degree program can finish in less than two years, taking only one class each seven-week term. Students may transfer up to nine eligible credits.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $10,500 -3,500 per term for three terms
    Credit Units Required: 30 credit units.
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 7,104
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1
    Visit School Website
    2

    The University of North Alabama

    • Florence, Alabama

    As the state of Alabama’s oldest higher learning institution, the University of North Alabama (UNA) offers one of Alabama’s best Masters in GIS degree programs, which requires degree candidates to complete independent research to solve complex real-world problems, plus a host of STEM-related courses.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $11,550 – $2,887.50 per semester for four semesters
    Credit Units Required: 33 credit units.
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 7,702
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1
    Visit School Website
    3

    The University of Central Arkansas

    • Conway, Arkansas

    The University of Central Arkansas offers a Masters in GIS degree that is modeled from the UCA’s online Master of Business Administration program for executives. Students can opt for a thesis option or a portfolio option to complete this degree. Upon approval from UCA’s department faculty, students may transfer up to six credits towards this GIS degree.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $325/hr
    Credit Units Required: 30 credit units.
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 10,869
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1
    Visit School Website
    4

    The University of Washington (Tacoma)

    • Tacoma, Washington

    The University of Washington’s School of Urban Studies offers a Master of Science in Geospatial Technologies that permits students to complete the degree in only twelve months, without a thesis requirement. Classes for UW’s GIS degree include an intro to geospatial technology, mobile geospatial applications, cartography & data visualization, and environmental planning applications, plus two practicums, among others.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $15,864 – $3,966 (Resident) for four-quarter terms or one year
    Credit Units Required: 40 quarter units.
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 17,465
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1
    Visit School Website
    5

    Unity College

    • Unity, Maine

    Unity College, located in Maine, offers one of New England’s best Masters in GIS degree programs with its Master of Professional Science (MPS) degree in Environmental Geographic Information Science. The core curriculum for Unity College’s MS in GIS degree includes remote sensing, environmental research methods, and creating graphics of ecosystem change, to name a few. They offer 5 terms a year, so students can finish in one year if they take two classes per 8-week term.

    • Total Tuition Fees – $19,500 – $6,500 per semester ($5,850 for military/veterans)

    School Overview

    Credit Units Required: 30 credit units.
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 931
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 14 to 1 (Online classes are 10 to 1)
    Visit School Website
    6

    Salisbury University (SU)

    • Salisbury, Maryland

    Salisbury University (SU) offers one of the finest online Masters in GIS Management degree programs that provides students with sufficient credits to be certified as a GISP – a Geographic Information Systems Professional. Up to thirteen credits may be transferred if deemed eligible towards this MS in Geographic Information Systems Management. Students can complete the program in about a year with a full-time course load.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $22,610 – $11,305 per semester for two semesters.
    Credit Units Required: 34 credit units
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 8,617
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1
    Visit School Website
    7

    Georgia Institute of Technology

    • Atlanta, Georgia

    Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Design offers one of the state’s best Masters in GIS with its MS in Geographic Information Science and Technology program. Students enrolled in Georgia Tech’s graduate GIS degree program can be completed in one year if studying full-time. Core curriculum classes include GIS professionalization, visualization for planners, intro to remote sensing, and a capstone research project.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $23,970 – $11,985 per semester for two semesters
    Credit Units Required: 34 credit units.
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 25,302
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 19 to 1
    Visit School Website
    8

    Elmhurst University

    • Elmhurst, Illinois

    Located in suburban Illinois, Elmhurst University’s Department of Geography & GIS offers a Master of Science degree (MS) in Geographic Information Systems recognized among Illinois’ best Masters in GIS degree programs. Degree candidates can complete Elmhurst’s graduate GIS degree program in two years. Coursework for Elmhurst University’s GIS degree includes an introduction to spatial analysis, research methods in geography and earth systems, plus an internship and capstone project.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $24,300 – $6,075 per semester for four semesters
    Credit Units Required: 30 credit units.
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 3,453
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 13 to 1
    Visit School Website
    9

    Arizona State University

    • Tempe, Arizona

    Arizona State University‘s School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning offers a Master of Advanced Study in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that is considered among the best Masters in GIS programs that can be completed in one year, including a capstone project and a related internship. Students study spatial statistics and GIS project presentations, among others.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $32,580 – $16,290 (Resident) per semester for two semesters
    Credit Units Required: 30 credit units
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 89,888
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 25 to 1 (6 to 1 for the GIS program)
    Visit School Website
    10

    The University of Denver

    • Denver, Colorado

    The University of Denver’s University College/Department of Geography & the Environment offers a Masters in GIS degree program (GISc) dedicated to building a student’s knowledge of GIS plus the necessary managerial skills for the next generation’s leaders. Students graduate from the University of Denver’s GIS degree program and enter the workforce as GIS Data Managers, Systems Architects, or Geospatial Analysts.

    • Total Tuition Fees – $32,850 – $10,950 for three terms – 2 semesters and a summer session as a full-time student

    School Overview

    Credit Units Required: 48 credits
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 12,931
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 12 to 1
    Visit School Website
    11

    Penn State World Campus

    • University Park, Pennsylvania

    Penn State World Campus (PS World Campus) offers an online Master of Geographic Information Systems that is also an award-winning program that offers an accelerated admission process that requires no experience or GRE test score. Penn State World Campus’ Masters in GIS degree is a customizable program that offers two academic specialties in GEIDZ (Geo Design) or GEOINT (Geospatial Intelligence).

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $33,279 – $11,093 per semester for 12 or more credits for three terms
    Credit Units Required: 36 Credit Units
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 14,687
    Visit School Website
    12

    Florida State University

    • Tallahassee, Florida

    Located in the Sunshine State’s capital of Tallahassee, Florida State University’s (FSU) Department of Geography offers one of Florida’s best Masters in GIS degree programs with a Masters in GIS studies. Students enrolled in Florida State’s GIS graduate degree can complete the program in only twelve months studying full-time, or longer if studying on a part-time basis.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $33,321 – $11,107 for three terms – 2 semesters and a summer term
    Credit Units Required: 30 Credit Units
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 42,450
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1
    Visit School Website
    13

    The University of Redlands

    • Redlands, California

    Located in Southern California, the University of Redlands offers two GIS masters degrees. The MS GIS requires the completion of a Major Individual Project and can be completed in one or two years, whereas the MGIS requires 2 semesters of coursework and a 400-hour internship. The department has strong ties with Esri, also located in Redlands, with the program coursework including several Esri training classes, and several technology courses being taught by Adjunct Faculty from Esri.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $45,900 – $15,300 per semester for three semesters or one year, full-time
    Credit Units Required: 38 credit units.
    Available Online: No
    Student Enrollment: 4,931
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 12 to 1
    Visit School Website
    14

    Johns Hopkins University

    • Baltimore, Maryland

    Johns Hopkins University’s Krieger Arts & Sciences School/Advanced Academic Programs offers one of the nation’s best Masters in GIS degree programs with its USGIF-accredited Master of Science in Geospatial Intelligence program. This graduate GIS degree from a top ten nationally ranked higher learning institution is typically completed in 16 months to two years, depending on a student’s course load.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $68,412 – $17,306 per semester for four semesters
    Credit Units Required: 40 credit units.
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 27,979
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 6 to 1
    Visit School Website
    15

    Clark University

    • Worcester, Massachusetts

    Located in Central Massachusetts, Clark University’s Graduate School of Geography/International Development & Environment Department offers a twelve-course Masters in GIS degree program. The most used GIS system worldwide was developed at Clark University and helps with geospatial problem-solving. Clark University’s graduate GIS degree offers four academic concentrations – Global & Community Health Applications, GIS for Development & Environment, Remote Sensing, and Conservation Applications. Each degree candidate can opt for an internship track or a research track.

    School Overview

    Total Tuition Fees: $72,420 – $18,105 per semester, for four semesters
    Credit Units Required: 36 Credit Units
    Available Online: Yes
    Student Enrollment: 3,498
    Student to Faculty Ratio: 11 to 1
    Visit School Website

    Ranking Methodology

    The Masters in GIS programs noted above are a sampling of some of the finest programs available in the marketplace.  The various schools are ranked according the programs total tuition costs, with the most affordable programs listed first.

    Tuition used to rank these Masters in GIS programs was extracted from the school’s most current disclosed tuition amount. These tuition expenses generally represent the tuition costs for the school year of 2020/2021.  

    Each of the GIS graduate degree programs includes relevant school information that prospective students may use to make better-educated decisions. This data includes –

    • Tuition fees noted are for one semester – typically at 12 credits; however, some schools allow for up to 18 credit units at no extra charge. If this is a feature of the school, it will be explicitly noted.
    • Credit Units Required details the depth of the academic work required.
    • The college or university’s student enrollment data indicates to potential students the relative size of the school.

    The  Student to Faculty Ratio is provided to help students better understand the size of the classes. All other school information pulled to analyze these schools was found on each college/university’s website or on the website managed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

    Check out our other online master’s degrees.

    Do You Have Concerns About Your Ranking?

    Have you noticed an error in the information used to analyze the above list? Please contact us if you want to update the data detailed in the list of Masters in GIS degree programs.

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