Professional Certificate in Geographic Information Science

COVID-19 Update

In the interest of safeguarding the health of our students, faculty and staff, San Francisco State University is taking steps to further limit the potential for COVID-19 to spread within our community per the directive from the university president on March 10, 2020. All classes are being held in online mode through April 7, so students will have received information from their instructors about how their classes will operate. The Institute for Geographic Information Science has been researching methods for online instruction and off-campus software access for years. We are glad to be able to use our experience and the cooperation we have developed with campus ITS/AT to provide as effective remote support as possible for teaching and research needs for SF State students, faculty, and staff.

Given these capabilities and the circumstances, we have decided to close our in-person lab spaces during this partial campus closure period (currently scheduled from now through April 7) to reduce risk of exposure for everyone. This will impact the following computer lab spaces: the Geographic Analysis Teaching Lab (HSS 290) and the IGISc Research Lab (HSS 272). Staff and faculty responsible for these spaces are working remotely for at least the next two weeks, and should be reached via email if necessary. Please contact faculty and staff via email for assistance and to answer any questions.

Click here to register for classes

*Note if you are a graduate of SF State or a current student, you will need to call the College of Extended Learning enrollment services at 415-405-7700, option 5 or e-mail them at  M-F 9am - 5pm to update your SF State status to "CEL Student" before you can enroll in programs online.

About the program

The SF State College of Extended Learning's GIS Certificate Program was created in 1994 and has helped start the GIS careers of many Bay Area residents. With over 23 courses to choose from, students may take individual classes to enhance their skill set, or complete a series of courses to obtain either the general certificate or the certificate in environmental GIS. The program is designed to be accessible to individals just starting out in GIS, but rigorous enough for those already experienced in the field.

Program Objectives

San Francisco State University's GIS Certificate Program provides students with broad exposure to principles and applications of GIS. Certificate requirements are intended to parallel skills needed by GIS professionals. A student who has earned the GIS Certificate will be well-versed in GIS theory and will have knowledge and practical exposure to the following:

  • Hardware and software used in GIS
  • Planning and construction of spatial databases
  • GIS analyses
  • Representation of data in both mapped and tabular form

Education is a key component of the GIS professional certification programs that have been evolving from the GIS Certfication Institute and Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). Both of these professional certifications allow application of credits with an accredited institution to satisfy a significant portion of the points needed to meet certification requirements. Click here to see the GIS Certificate requirements.

Intended Audience

The program is designed for professionals, students and the general public in environmental resource management, urban and regional planning, local government, facilities management, and other fields who need to become skillful and knowledgeable users of geographic information systems. This program will most benefit entry-level and intermediate-level GIS users who lack formal education in geography or GIS. There are no prerequisites for GEOG 9003 Introduction to GIS, though familiarity with maps or geographic concepts is recommended. GEOG 9003 Introduction to GIS is a prerequisite for most other GIS courses.

Program Instructors

All instructors are formally educated GIS and have considerable professional experience. A student that completes the Certificate program will have taken classes from professionals in transportation GIS, agriculture GIS, database management, biogeography, education, geomorphology, and state and local government GIS. Click here to learn more about individual instructors.


Are you a current certificate program student or an alumi? Join our group on LinkedIn to keep in touch and view internship and job postings. 

Payment Options

We offer third party payment by employer or agency through the College of Extended Learning. Find out more here.