GIS Certificate for Currently Enrolled Undergraduate Students

This information is for degree-seeking students at Mary Washington who want to add the GIS Certificate to their program of classes

For undergraduate students at UMW the certificate is completed just like a minor. It requires 19 credits, 4 4-credit courses plus a 3-credit capstone.

To sign up for the GIS certificate, go to this page and choose Major Declaration Form. Complete the form, selecting “declaring GIS Certificate” and stating Department: Geography; Department Chair: Jackie Gallagher, Email: The form will be routed to me, and I will become your advisor for this program.

You should try taking a class first! There are three introductory options:

  • GEOG 250, Introduction to GIS and Cartography, is taught most semesters;
  • GISC 200, Introduction to GIS, is taught every semester;
  • EESC 205, GIS Applications in Environmental Science and Geology, is taught most years.

Which should you choose to begin? The content is largely the same, with slightly different examples and emphases, so in a way, it doesn’t matter. Choose one that fits your schedule and your learning style – some sections of GISC 200 are offered in the evening (6:00-9:30 pm) once a week. If you know you are interested in the cartographic aspect of GIS, be sure to take GEOG 250.

After that, you may take GISC 351, Spatial Analysis (offered every semester), or GISC 340, Remote Sensing (currently offering in spring semesters), or GISC 355, Mobile GIS and GPS (currently offering in fall semesters), or GISC 471, Special Topics in GIS (irregular offerings).

Spatial Analysis is a required course in the certificate program; any one of the others will count as an elective in the program.

Many students take one GIS course each semester because each is 4 credits and it keeps their knowledge up while they are progressing through their degree. Some students take more than one elective just to gain knowledge.

The GIS Certificate requires EITHER GISC 450, GIS Programming (offered in spring semester) OR GISC 482, Web GIS: Concepts and Applications (offered in fall semester).

Which should you take? If you know you want an app-development type of job, or a GIS job at a company that is likely to require programming, take GISC 450. A good programming background will open many doors and give you a lot of opportunities. We strongly recommend that students take CPSC 110, Introduction to Computer Science, before attempting GISC 450. We also know that some students are not comfortable with programming, or will take jobs where GIS is not the main emphasis; these students should take GISC 482.

The Capstone may be an internship or a directed study.

  • You may find an internship yourself, or we will help you find one. While you are dong work for your internship, you are expected to find some part of that work to make into a project including spatial analysis, and you write a report and give a presentation on that project.
  • Some students prefer to do a directed study, in which they work closely with a professor addressing a spatial problem with some form of spatial analysis, writing a report, and giving a presentation.
  • Go here for more information about the capstone, and see sample presentations on this page.

If you have other questions, please email Dr. Jackie Gallagher.