About the Programs
GIS programs at UMD come in all sizes to fit your needs, from the short non-degree certification program to a complete major. All programs revolve around a GIS core made up of 3 core GIS classes that build on one another and cover basic geospatial knowledge and operation of software: Intro to Maps, GIS I and GISII. Other requirement or electives are added to this core depending on the program chosen, allowing either building a wide experience of various aspects of GIS or deepening your expertise on one specific aspect.
The certificate program is primarily intended for non-students but is also opened to students who wish to learn the basics of GIS to apply to their own discipline. Two electives are added to the GIS core. Depending on your purposes, you might focus for instance focus on cartography, picking Map Design and Multimedia, Animated and Internet Mapping, or on remote sensing, with Earth Imagery and Digital Image Processing and Analysis, or any combination of 2 among 8 available electives. It is possible to complete the certificate in 3 semesters, with 1 or 2 classes per semester, or even 1 year when taking the Intro to Maps class online during the May session. Many of the GIS courses are offered at least once a year as night classes to help candidates with full-time jobs.
A minor in GIS will complement your academic major field. In addition to the basic GIS core, a general course in geography is required as an introduction to geographical thinking and methodology, and you will pick 3 GIS electives fitting your needs. A major in GIS will prepare you for careers as a GIS professional. General courses in physical and human geography and in field methodology are required as a preparation to the basic GIS core, to which specialized GIS courses in cartography, remote sensing and spatial statistics are added as requirements. GIS or GIS related electives form other departments complement your formation (16 credits): you may for instance focus on applications, with classes such as GIS in Urban Analysis or Environmental Applications of GIS and/or deepen your grasp of the computing aspects of GIS through database or programing courses offered by the Computer Science department. Finally, a GIS internship is required as a capstone experience, conceived as the link between college and the after-college life.
Coupling GIS with another field of study
The certificate and minor programs are explicitly designed to provide some level of GIS literacy to specialists of other domains. The major program aims at training GIS specialists but still require at least a minor in a second field of study – and students are encouraged to double-major. Indeed, GIS analysts work in fields as diverse as tourism and military intelligence, natural resource management and transportation, emergency response and mining, and many more. Though many GIS professionals gain thematic knowledge of these fields from first-hand experience in the workplace, it is valuable for young GIS graduates to also have a thematic specialty. The GIS major has been designed to make it easy to double- major. Within the Geography department, 3 other majors are natural companions to a GIS major: Geography, Environment & Sustainability, and Urban and Regional Studies.
The Geospatial Analysis Center
All students in any GIS program have access to the Geospatial Analysis Center which provides resources and a collaborative environment for their class work. Beyond the physical infrastructure, the GAC is the natural link between the GIS programs and the community. The Center constantly hosts applied research projects funded by local institutions in which students can get involved. It acts as a local hub of the GIS community network and naturally connects students to internship or job offers. Alumni from the GIS programs keep connections with the Center, which in turn feeds the network.
Click HERE to view the GIS program brochure