The Certificate in Geographic Information Systems is designed for those individuals seeking careers as GIS specialists, providing geographic data management, spatial analysis, and GIS system management support to professionals in a broad range of disciplines, such as criminal justice, health services, city and regional planning, civil and environmental engineering, transportation, and marketing. Certificate holders will seek employment in positions such as “GIS Specialist,” “GIS Analyst,” or “GIS Coordinator.”

The School of Architecture and Urban Planning in the College of the Arts & Architecture and the College of Letters and Science jointly offer the certificate. The core courses (12 credits) focus on the structure of geographic data, components for managing geographic information systems, spatial analysis, and delivery of geographic information through maps and displays. Students select the remaining 6 credits for the certificate from electives, which may include an internship, in areas such as remote sensing, map-making, and data management systems.

Upon completion of the certificate courses, a student is awarded the certificate which qualifies for 5 credential points in the GIS Certification Institute’s standards for professional certification in GIS.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


  • Students wishing to obtain this certificate must declare their intention by applying to the program office or director.
  • All graduate certificate applicants—even those already enrolled in a UWM graduate program—must apply to the Graduate School through the Panthera Admission Application.
  • Graduate degree and previously admitted graduate non-degree students who decide to pursue a certificate program must submit the Panthera application before completing 6 credits in the certificate sequence.
  • Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree and have a minimum 2.75 cumulative undergraduate grade point average to be admitted into a certificate program.

Credits and Courses

A minimum of 6 credits each in Urban Planning and Geography courses are required for completion of the certificate. To earn the Certificate, one must complete six semester-long courses (with a minimum of 18 credits), satisfy graduate school criteria for successful completion and maintain at least a B (3.00) average in all courses. No more than 3 credits of Internship or Independent Study will be counted towards the Certificate. The program requirements are as follows:

Tier 1 (select one course)
Geographic Information Science
Introduction to Urban Geographic Information Systems for Planning
Tier 2 (select one course)
Intermediate Geographic Information Science
Using Urban Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Planning
Tier 3 (Select two courses)
Remote Sensing: Environmental and Land Use Analysis
Applied Projects in Urban Geographic Information Systems
Internet Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Techniques and Problems in Archaeology
Data and Information Management
Select six credits in courses from the list below:
Watershed Analysis and Modeling
Spatial Analysis
GIS/Cartography Internship
Advanced Remote Sensing
Independent Work (with appropriate topic)
Special Topics in Urban Planning:
Introduction to Urban Geographic Information Systems for Planning
Using Urban Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Planning
Applied Projects in Urban Geographic Information Systems
Internet Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Legislative/Administrative Agency Internship
Independent Study
Anthropological Applications of GIS
Techniques and Problems in Archaeology
Topics in Advanced Research Design in Anthropology
Data and Information Management
Analysis Oriented Technology: Spatial Data Analysis; Crime Mapping; ArcGIS
Legal Aspects of Information Products and Services
Special Topics in Information Science:
Other courses as approved by the GIS Certificate Subcommittee 1
Total Credits18

Tier 1, 2, or 3 courses may count as electives once the Tier requirements have been satisfied.


Students will be advised by the Geography and Urban Planning faculty who teach GIS courses.

Additional Requirements

Transfer Credit

No more than 20% of the required credits may be taken at an institution other than UWM. To be eligible for transfer, the course must have been completed within the last two years. These courses are subject to Graduate School transfer policy and must be approved by the director of the certificate program.

Grade Point Average Requirement

A minimum cumulative 3.00 grade point average in certificate courses taken at UWM is required.

Articulation with Degree Programs

  1. Credits and courses required for a certificate may double count toward meeting UWM graduate degree requirements subject to the following restrictions:
    • Degree programs must approve the courses from certificates that can double count toward the degree.
    • All credits taken in completion of certificate requirements may count towards a UWM graduate degree as long as they do not contribute more than 90% of the total credits needed to obtain the degree. (Note: Students in PhD programs must still complete the minimum residency requirements)
    • Certificate courses used toward meeting degree requirements must be completed within the time limit for transfer credit.
  2. Courses completed for a degree may be counted toward a subsequent certificate, subject to all certificate policy requirements.
  3. A course may count toward no more than one certificate and one degree.
  4. Students may not earn a certificate subsequent to a concentration in the same area.

Time Limit

Certificate program time limits shall be established as follows:

  • 18 or fewer credits/Three years from initial enrollment in the certificate sequence.
  • 19 or more credits/Four years from initial enrollment in the certificate sequence.

For certificates that are designed as add-ons to degree programs and are awarded concurrent with the degree, the time limit shall be the same as that of the degree program.

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