Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certificate

What is GIS?

A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing things that exist and events that happen on earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations such as query and statistical analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps. These abilities distinguish GIS from other information systems and make it valuable to a wide range of public and private enterprises for explaining events, predicting outcomes and planning strategies.

Students looking at GIS map

About the certificate

The University of Washington Tacoma offers 5 courses leading to a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The certificate program is a 25-credit curriculum which begins with T GIS 311, Maps and GIS, taken any quarter (Autumn, Winter, Spring) and serves as a prerequisite for subsequent courses. The remaining four courses are taken over two consecutive quarters (Winter/Spring). This program is designed for entry-level and intermediate-level GIS users who lack formal education in geography or GIS.

The certificate in GIS provides you with an excellent foundation in the concepts necessary for spatial modeling with a variety of digital data. You will develop the analytical and practical skills needed for research and employment in GIS. The certificate program also provides you with the educational foundation for transfer into a baccalaureate program in related fields of study.

If you want the knowledge and skills to utilize GIS in fields such as urban and regional planning, environmental research, resource management, crime analysis, marketing, real estate, medical research, and various branches of government, this program is for you.


Program goals

  • Provide students with a practical and theoretical understanding of approaches to spatial analysis
  • Introduce students to cartographic techniques that are used to produce maps for a variety of audiences
  • Equip students with the technical skills necessary to pursue careers in the geospatial industry
  • Serve as a graphics and mapping resource for UW Tacoma faculty
  • Assist the local community with spatial analysis and mapping needs

Upon completion of the program, students will have:

  • Demonstrated proficiency in the use of GIS software
  • Learned the analytical skills necessary to apply GIS to common social and environmental problems
  • Acquired the skills and expertise necessary to design and implement an independent geospatial research project
  • Gained the ability to create and present professional-quality graphic representations of social, environmental and economic conditions