Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers

We talk to hundreds of prospective professional students each year. Here are answers to the questions we frequently receive.

Question: Can I combine courses at other colleges/universities I have taken in the past with one or two of your professional courses to earn a professional certificate?
Answer: Maybe. If you have taken a course that you think is very similar to one of our courses, we will ask you to provide a syllabus of that course so that we can compare it with our course content. Only one outside course can be substituted for an onGEO professional course.

Question: I have taken an accredited version (Geo 221V & 221L, 324, 325, or 326) of your online courses, can it be counted toward your professional certificate?
Answer: Yes. Once we have confirmed that you took the course and completed it with a passing grade, it will be counted toward your onGEO professional certificate.

Question: Do the professional-certificate courses count for academic credit? Will they appear on my transcript?
Answer: No and no. While they are strongly based on accredited courses offered by the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University (listed in the question above), the certificate courses do not count for academic credit and will not appear on an academic transcript. If you need any documentation that you successfully completed a course, onGEO staff can write a letter describing the course and verifying your completion. If you need credit and for the courses to appear on your transcript, then you must take the credit versions (Geo 221V & 221L, 324, 325, or 326) of the courses.

Question: Are discounts available?
Answer: Yes. We offer several discounts, for the following groups of people: current and former members of the military, and alums of the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University. We also offer a refer-a-friend discount, as well as a group discount for four or more students from the same organization taking a course. Finally, all students receive a $200 discount off of the final course in the certificate program, if they ask about the discount.

Question: I know how much each course costs to register. Are there any other costs, such as for software or textbooks?
Answer: All software programs used in the courses are either free or are available to you via a remote server operated by the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University. You will not need to purchase any software. Three courses require a textbook, which range in cost from approximately $40 to $100. Many used copies of these textbooks are available for a lower price, and some of them are available in a lower cost, electronic format.

Question: Can I take more than one course at a time?
Answer: Yes, many students take two courses at a time. If you would like to pursue this option, work with the certificate program advisor to determine the sequence of courses.

Question: Will I need a textbook?
Answer: Textbooks are required IGT, GIS, and CART. A textbook is recommended for RS. No text is needed for the CJ or FAA courses.

Question: How do your courses compare to ESRI's online training for ArcGIS?
Answer: The certificate courses go into significant more detail about the spatial concepts and theories behind the analysis tasks you might perform in ArcGIS. In general, they have much more content than an ArcGIS training course. Additionally, you would have the availability of an instructor throughout the duration of the course to help you answer any questions you might have. Finally, the courses cover a wider range of topics and geospatial tools than those covered in ESRI's online training, including volunteered geographic information, ethics, graphic design, and programs such as QGIS and Adobe Illustrator.

Question: What job placement or other assistance do you offer after I earn my certificate?
Answer: We do not offer formal job placement assistance at this time. However, we offer many resources to help students locate relevant GIS job listings, and we also share job listings with current students. onGEO staff are also happy to review and critique cover letters and resumes, as well as write recommendations and serve as references for potential employers.