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Honors and Awards

GIS Tops NC State University’s Graduate Certificate Programs

A hand places a red pushpin on a paper streetmap - GIS Tops NC State University's Graduate Certificate Programs - College of Natural Resources News NC State University

Over the past four years, more students have earned the Center for Geospatial Analytics’ Graduate Certificate in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) than any other graduate certificate at North Carolina State University. Between Fall ’18 and Spring ’22, the Certificate was earned by a total of 230 students, over half of whom simultaneously completed master’s or doctoral degrees affiliated with seven of the university’s twelve colleges.

Given how useful spatial analysis is to a range of fields, and the growing demand for a professional workforce with GIS skills, the popularity of the certificate is perhaps no surprise.

“GIS and geospatial data science are really fields of convergence,” says Ross Meentemeyer, NC State’s Goodnight Distinguished Professor of Geospatial Analytics and director of the Center for Geospatial Analytics. “Everything is spatial, everything has a location, and so these fields bring together many different domains.”

Within the past four academic years, NC State graduates earning the Graduate Certificate in GIS have represented 24 majors, ranging from international studies and civil engineering to landscape architecture and biology. These students earned degrees from the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Design, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, Natural Resources, Sciences and Veterinary Medicine.

“The Graduate Certificate in GIS has become the university’s best example of a stackable credential,” says Eric Money, director of graduate programs (DGP) for both the Certificate and NC State’s professional master’s degree in Geospatial Information Science and Technology (MGIST). Money is also the Center for Geospatial Analytics’ associate director of educational innovation. “The Certificate was initially designed to serve students who did not want to commit to a full graduate program in GIS, so it can be completed all on its own. At least 60% of our students do that. After completing the Certificate, though, many students discover that they wish to dive deeper into GIS study, and probably at least half of these students decide to continue on and complete our master’s degree. This is in addition to those students already enrolled in a full-time graduate program at NC State who want to pair the Certificate with their degree, so they can apply GIS skills to their own work.”

An average of 100 students are enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in GIS program in any given year, and the number graduating each year is increasing.

“Geospatial jobs continue to be in high demand,” Money explains. “The number of jobs requiring geospatial skills are expected to grow 3–36% above average over the next decade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Launched in 2002, the Graduate Certificate in GIS helps students establish themselves in GIS practice and build essential skills. To serve both full-time students and working professionals, it can be completed entirely online. The deadline for Fall admission is April 15 and for Spring admission is October 15.