GIS Certificate | MSU onGEO


The Online Geography (onGEO) group at Michigan State University offers several (7-week) professional-development courses, which can be taken individually or in combination to earn a Professional GIS Certificate.

View Our Professional Courses

Map of Professional Students

Register Now

Professional GIS Certificate Overview

The Online Geography (onGEO) group at Michigan State University offers several (7-week) professional-development courses, which can be taken individually or in combination to earn a Professional GIS Certificate. The video below provides a brief overview.



GIS Certificate Coursework

The online GIS Certificate aims to advance the geospatial tools & technology skill-set of professionals currently working in fields that use geospatial technologies. It is also an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to revamp their current career, earn continuing-education or teaching credits, or simply learn new and marketable skills.

The online GIS Certificate consists of four (core) fully online courses that are each delivered in 7-week sessions. This means that a GIS certificate can easily be earned in two semesters (if courses are taken one at a time) or faster (if courses are taken concurrently).

  1. Introduction to Geospatial Technology (IGT),
  2. Geographic Information Systems (GIS),
  3. Remote Sensing (RS), and
  4. Cartography (CART)

These core courses cover topics ranging from map design and ethics of geographic information to land-use/land-cover classification and geospatial analysis, and much more. In addition to content-based modules, each course features a series of online labs designed to give students hands-on experience using geographic information systems (GIS) and related technologies and improve technical competency.

Who are our courses for?

These courses and associated GIS Certificate are ideal for: (1) professionals currently working in fields that use geospatial technologies and pursuing training opportunities, (2) professionals and recent graduates looking to advance or revamp their current career path, (3) graduate students looking to enhance their research and develop marketable skills, (4) teachers pursuing continuing education hours, (5) international students seeking an educational experience and certification from an American university, and (6) anyone looking to expand their knowledge in this field. You do not need to be an MSU student or alumnus to take our professional courses. In fact, our professional students are located around the world.

Want to learn more about the GIS Certificate and specialization courses?

Check out the course descriptions. In addition to the four core courses you can take to earn the GIS Certificate, we also have specialization courses which can be taken individually or in addition to your certificate course-load. We currently offer these specialization courses:

  1. Criminal Justice Applications in GIS (CJ)
  2. Digital Image Processing (DIP)
  3. Drones in the Field (DITF)
  4. FAA Part 107 Drone Test Prep & Beyond (FAA)
  5. Geovisualization: Temporal and Interactive Mapping (GTIM)
What are our students saying?

The video below provides some testimonals of our Professional students.



Want to talk to someone about the courses or GIS Certificate?

Email us at We can talk to you via email or give you a call. Alternatively, you can text or call us at (517.258.7991). We are happy to help you plan your entire certificate course sequence, choose the best class for you to start with, or answer any other questions.

When are the courses offered?

There are convenient entry points for our certificate courses (or program), with sessions beginning six times a year. The session start dates are:

  1. 9 January to 24 February 2023
    (123—first session of 2023) IGT, GIS, RS, CJ, DIP, DITF, FAA, and GTIM are offered.

  2. 6 March to 21 April 2023
    (223—second session) IGT, GIS, CART, CJ, DITF, and FAA are offered.

  3. 1 May to 16 June 2023
    (323—third session) IGT, GIS, RS, DIP, DITF, FAA, and GTIM are offered.

  4. 26 June to 11 August 2023
    (423—fourth session) IGT, GIS, CART, CJ, DITF, and FAA are offered.

  5. 28 August to 13 October 2023
    (523—fifth session) IGT, GIS, RS, DIP, and GTIM are offered.

  6. 23 October to 15 December 2023
    (623—sixth session) IGT, GIS, CART, and CJ are offered.

Want to register for the courses?

Getting registered for our professional-certificate courses is as easy as 1-2-3. Classes begin every seven weeks throughout the year, so:

  1. pick a start date from those listed above,
  2. select a course that is being offered with that start date*,
  3. follow these instructions (provided as an MSU GoogleDoc).

The secure registration process using the MSU Payment system takes only a few minutes.

*If you would like to register for a session that is not currently listed, please email us ( and we will create the listing for you. ** While you do not need to be a MSU student or alumnus to register and you do not need an MSU Net ID to register, you will need to create an MSU Guest Account (formerly Community ID) prior to beginning the registration process. Please read the instructions linked in step 3 to accomplish this.

Register Now

What is the cost?

Each core course costs $875. Core courses are the four, seven-week courses required for the Professional GIS Certificate.

7-week specialization courses costs $500. 14-week specialization courses cost $1,000.

Are discounts available?

Yes! All discounts must be requested prior to the first day of class -- no discounts will be retroactively given.

1.  Refer-a-friend Discount -- Refer-a-friend and earn $100 on each qualifying referral! There is no limit on the number of students you can refer. Save money on your next course by referring your friends to take an onGEO course. The student you refer is considered eligible if they have never previously taken an onGEO course.

How does Refer-a-friend Work?

a) Find a friend, family member, or co-worker who would like to take one of our courses

b) Email with your name and provide the name(s), email(s), and phone number(s) of the student(s) you are referring

c) Once the referred student enrolls, send us an email and we will make sure you receive the discount

2.  Multiple-person Discount -- If you are interested in taking courses or earning a Certificate as a group (four or more students), please contact us to discuss our group discount options.

3.  Current Military or Veteran Discount -- If you are a current member of the military or a veteran, please contact us to discuss your discount options.

4.  MSU GEO Alum -- If you are an alum of the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University, please contact us to discuss your discount options.

GISP (GIS Professional) Certification

If you are pursuing GISP certification, or looking to renew your certification, our certificate courses are eligible for continuing education credits. Courses require about 10 to 20 hours per week (to read the online lessons and complete the associated lab assignments). At that time commitment, by completing a seven-week course you could earn 1.75 education points for a new GISP certification, and 11.7 points for a renewing certification. You should verify the point allocation with the GIS Certification Institute as part of your certification application or renewal process.

Want to earn academic credit?

No problem. All four online GIS Certificate (non-credit) courses are also offered as online undergraduate courses (GEO221v, GEO324v, GEO325v, and GEO326v) at various times during the University's academic year. Let us know if you would like to take these courses for credit—we will help you figure out when the course is offered and guide you through the process of enrolling in MSU's Lifelong Education program. The courses are also eligible for State Continuing Education Clock Hours (with approval).

Do you have AmeriCorps education award funding to use?

Log into your "myAmeriCorps" account and use your education award to pay for onGEO certificate courses. The Michigan State University Department of Geography is a vendor in the AmeriCorps system (#46404). Make arrangements with the instructor to register for a course, then order a payment in the AmeriCorps system. Let us know when you have done that, and we will take it from there.