Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems

The Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems provides introductory and in-depth study into the design and application of geographic information systems (GIS) technology. Students enrolled in this program will complete 20 credits of coursework at Portland State University. Courses in the program will be taken by students admitted solely to the certificate program, or concurrently enrolled as Masters and Doctoral students in a degree program at PSU.

Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of GIS, the certificate consists of core introductory courses, advanced topics and applications development courses drawn from the Geography, Urban Studies and Planning, and Geology departments at PSU. The certificate program is administered by the Department of Geography.

The PSU GIS certificate and the individual courses offered as part of the PSU GIS certificate will count towards the national GIS certification programs. These programs include the GISP (Certified GIS Professional) certification administered by the GIS Certification Institute and the ASPRS Certification programs by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS).

For program and advising information, please contact the GIS Certificate Program Coordinator, Geoffrey Duh (, 503-725-3159). 

Program Requirements

Students must complete 20 graduate credits, including 8 credits of core courses and 12 credits of courses selected from the list of electives.  All certificate program courses must be taken for a letter grade (A-F). The program prerequisite, GEOG 380 Maps and Geographic Information (syllabus), cannot be used toward the certificate requirements.

Students have up to 3 years to complete the Certificate program. Only courses taken within 3 years of the program completion date can be used to fulfill the program requirements.

  • GEOG 588/USP 591 GIS I: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (syllabus) - 4 credits                 
  • GEOG 588L/591L Concurrent registration in GIS Lab session - 0 credits
  • GEOG 592/USP 592 GIS II: Applications (syllabus) - 4 credits
  • GEOG 592L/592L Concurrent registration in GIS II Lab session - 0 credits

*USP 531 or G 524 may be substituted for GIS I.

You may request a waiver of these 2 courses from the program director on the basis of prior educational background under the following circumstances:
    1) If you have taken the courses at the undergraduate level or taken them as part of an undergraduate program at PSU.
    2) If GIS I and GIS II equivalent courses were taken at another institution you must submit syllabi from those courses as part of your waiver request.
Waivers are at the discretion of the program director. If the waiver is not approved you must take GIS I and GIS II. If the waiver is approved you must take additional credits from the following list to fulfill the required 8 credits of core curriculum:

  • GEOG 575 Digital Compilation and Database Design
  • GEOG 581 Digital Image Analysis I: Introduction
  • GEOG 584 Cartographic Applications of GIS
  • GEOG 597 Advanced Spatial Quantitative Analysis

ELECTIVES (12 credits):

  • G 525 Field GIS
  • GEOG 575 Digital Compilation and Database Design (syllabus)
  • GEOG 580 Remote Sensing and Image Analysis (syllabus)
  • GEOG 581 Digital Image Analysis I: Introduction (syllabus)
  • GEOG 584 Cartographic Applications of GIS (syllabus)
  • GEOG 585 Map Design and Production (syllabus)
  • GEOG 589 Building a GIS Database with GPS (syllabus)
  • GEOG 590 GIS Programming (syllabus)
  • GEOG 593 Digital Terrain Analysis(syllabus)
  • GEOG 594 GIS for Water Resources (syllabus)
  • GEOG 595 Maps, Models, and GIS
  • GEOG 597 Advanced Spatial Quantitative Analysis
  • USP 543 Geographic Applications to Planning
  • USP 593 Public Participation GIS

Experimental 510 Courses
Due to the fast developments in geospatial technologies, some experimental courses can be used toward the Certificate with the approval of the Program Director. Please verify the eligibility with the instructor or Geography department before taking a 510 course to fulfill the Certificate requirements. Each student can have a maximum of one 510 course per program. The experimental course can only be used as a substitute for an elective, not a core course. Joint campus courses (JC 510) are considered transfer credits for which all transfer credit limitations apply.

Transfer Credits
Transfer credit is defined as eligible graduate credit taken at other accredited institutions.  Two-thirds of the Graduate Certificate program requirements or 15 credits minimum, whichever is larger, must be taken at Portland State University.  Transfer credits must be letter-graded with a B or higher and eligible for use in master’s degree programs at PSU.  The Proposed Transfer Credit form (.pdf) (GO-11GC) must be used for approval of transfer credit.

Course Overlap between Degrees and Certificates
Graduate courses can be applied to a master's (or a doctoral) degree and a graduate certificate or to two different graduate certificates. See the PSU Bulletin for more information about course overlap and other certificate requirements. 

Admission Requirements

In order to be admitted to the certificate program, you must have a Bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. (If your GPA is between 2.75-3.0, you can be admitted conditionally.) Current PSU graduate students must be in good academic standing.

To Apply

GIS Certificate students can be admitted Fall, Winter, or Spring terms. 

If you are currently enrolled in a PSU graduate program, you do not need to submit the online university application. Instead, fill out a GO-19 Request for Change of Program Form signed by your current program advisor, and submit it with the departmental application forms. See this Departmental GIS Certificate Application page for application instructions.


For Fall term: May 1st

For Winter term: October 15th 

For Spring term: January 15th

Visit this site for more information and to apply:

Supplemental materials you will be expected to have for the online application:

  • A statement of purpose explaining your reasons for choosing to undertake the Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems. You will be asked to upload your personal statement in one of the following supported file types: PDF, DOC, DOCX, RTF, or TXT.
  • An official transcript from each post‐secondary institution you have attended is required. You can submit unofficial transcript if it is from Portland State University. You will be asked to upload each transcript in one of the following supported file types: PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF, or TIF.
  • Recommendation form from one academic (or other) professional who can comment on your academic performance or attest to your skills as they pertain to your selected program of study. You will need to enter the name and email address for the individual before selecting the “Send to Recommender” button. Once selected, the recommender will be sent instructions for completing the form. You can see the status of the referral by going to the online application system and looking under the "Application Checklist." 

Additional Information

See the Graduate Certificate in GIS Student Handbook for additional information and frequently asked questions.