100% Online GIS degree : Master's in Environmental Geographic Information Science


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Next Start Dates

June 1, 2020
August 17, 2020
October 19, 2020

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Heather Stetkis
Online Graduate Concierge

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100% Online GIS degree: M.S. in Professional Science: Environmental Geographic Information Science (GIScience)

Unity College’s 100% online GIS degree is big data visualized and put into the environmental context that matters. Big picture thinking also means thinking big about how we influence the environment and the world.

Big picture. Big heart.

Often, environmental scientists can analyze and interpret environmental data while GIS scientists can manage and manipulate data. Unity College’s 100% online GIS degree, the Master’s in Professional Science in Environmental GIScience, will prepare students to meld the two by integrating spatial technologies and environmental information. Students will be expected to be highly inquisitive about the ramifications, motivations, and cost of global responses to environmental issues while exploring their own individual ideas. The central distinguishing feature of the online GIS degree is to focus on understanding the environment through spatial technologies. 

Program Highlights:

  • 100% online. With the online GIS degree in Environmental GIScience students who take a full course load can complete the degree requirements in as few as 12 months!
  • World-class faculty experienced in online teaching.
  • Small class sizes allow for personalized attention. That’s something you won’t find at larger, online universities!
  • Affordable and flexible. Take the classes whenever works for you. We offer five start dates per year!
  • Unlike similar programs, no GRE is required.
  • Get free access to the GIS software, ArcGIS, for use in your classes.

Who should pursue an online GIS degree?

The M.S. in Professional Science: Environmental GIScience track, is aimed at:

  • state and federal biologists
  • recent graduates who want a career in the environmental sciences
  • environmental scientists who want to expand their management knowledge
  • environmental impact assessors
  • professional ecologists who want an advanced degree
  • wildlife habitat managers
  • environmental science teachers who want more experience
  • …and anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in GIS

Job Outcomes of the online GIS degree

Graduates of the Master’s in Professional Science: Environmental GIScience track, have careers as : GIS Technician/ Specialists with NGO, U.S. Census, USFS, NPS, NOAA, USGS and BLM, Cartographers, Urban Planners, GIS Developers, Spatial Analysts, Remote Sensing Analysts, Geographers, GIS Analysts, LiDAR Analysts, Land Survey Technicians and Transportation Technicians.

Urban Planner

Projected 10-year growth:

+ 12.8%

Median Salary:



GIS Analyst

Projected 10-year growth:

+ 9.3%

Median Salary:




Projected 10-year growth:

+ 15%

Median Salary:



Geographer / GIS Specialist

Projected 10-year growth:

+ 9.3%

Median Salary:



Source: Burning Glass Technologies. “Labor Insight™ Real-Time Labor Market Information Tool.” Updated March 11, 2020.

Degree requirements:

30 credits earned
3.00 minimum cumulative graduate-level grade-point average

Professional Skills Core:

PROF 505 Strategic Management of Innovation
Course Description:

The course is designed to help students understand the strategic, organizational, and human issues that can either help or hinder you (and the organizations, both private and public, you work for) in efforts to develop and implement science-based solutions to environmental and natural resource challenges. It combines the study of those principles needed to manage scientific innovation with an emphasis on how environmental innovation fits within an organization’s strategy and business model, and why they matter, and how one creates an innovative learning organization, drives change within an organization, and drives the adoption of the innovations the organization creates.

PROF 510 Communication for Environmental Professionals
Course Description: 

This course will provide students the opportunity to develop vital professional skills in oral and written communication while preparing them to communicate clearly about science, policy, and technology issues with demographically diverse and geographically dispersed audiences. Content will address mass media and public understanding of science; organizational communication issues such as structure and communication networks; rhetoric, advocacy, and strategic message development; the role of public opinion and public policy; innovation and decision making; crisis communication and conflict management; emerging communication technologies; and inter-organizational and cross-disciplinary communication.

PROF 515 Ethical Practice and Policy
Course Description: 

This course will investigate some of the ethical dimensions of a life in professional science, examining dimensions of environmental and natural resource science and policy in the context of globalization, global change, and climate change. Students critically evaluate the ethical dimensions of common scientific practice and policy issues related to sustainability and natural resources.

Environmental GIScience Core:

GISC 505 GIS and Remote Sensing for Environmental Solutions
Course Description:

This course is intended to introduce students to GIS and remote sensing software and tools used to solve real-world environmental problems. Students will learn concepts and data sources and formats used in environmental research they may encounter in careers in environmental science. This course introduces the fundamentals of cartography, photogrammetry, geographic information science, and remote sensing through maps and spatial analysis used to answer various environmental and ecological issues. This course will also introduce students to use map and data outputs in the decision-making process that can impact environmental assessments and determinations.

GISC 510 Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing for Ecological Applications

Course Description:

This course is intended to build upon introductory course knowledge. This course will teach students to understand and apply more advanced methodologies using GIS and remote sensing technologies. They will apply knowledge gained in this course to environmental concepts they may be exposed to in their careers. Types of data used will include vector and raster spatial data, imagery, maps, and topographic data to examine environmental problems. Data assessed will include spatial information regarding human and natural hazards and disasters, land use and land cover, surface temperature, climate change, wetland delineation, wildlife corridor mapping, coastal erosion, human impacts on the environment, and more. Students can use this data to gain insights and make problem-solving decisions regarding real-world environmental issues they may encounter during their careers.

GISC 605 Modeling Our Changing World
Course Description:

This course is intended to continue to build on the concepts and techniques learned in previous GIS and remote sensing courses. Students will learn to model and analyze real-world environmental science problems (e.g. past and future impacts of climate change on the Earth). A model is a simulation of the real-world. Students will model raster and vector data using algorithms and basic programming language. Students will use various proprietary and/or open source software to model and analyze environmental data including ArcGIS, R and QGIS.

GISC 515 Environmental Research Methods
Course Description:

This course will expand upon GIS and remote sensing concepts, techniques, and tools used in environmental research. Students will gather, process, and analyze data from a variety of sources. Data sources will include GIS and remotely sensed data from online repositories like USGS Earth Explorer, Google Earth, state GIS repositories, the National Atlas Viewer, the NPS IRMA Data Portal, the NRCS Soil Data Viewer, and the USDA Geospatial Data Gateway. Types of data examined will include vector and raster spatial data, imagery, maps, and topographic data. Students will also learn to gather, process, and analyze basic geographic data using tools they have access to including GPS devices including watches, smartphones, cameras, and trackers.

GISC 520 Creating Maps and Graphics of Ecosystem Change
Course Description:

This course is intended to introduce students to theory and practice of cartography and visualization. This course will teach students to learn, to think, and to communicate visually using a variety of environmental GIS data. Activities and a final project will teach students to visually display and examine environmental problems. Students will learn symbology, coordinate systems, map projections, topographic representations, interpolation, classification schemes, and more to effectively visually communicate real-world environmental problems and solutions to scientific and general public audiences.


GISC 525 Project Development for Environmental Problem Solving
Course Description:

This course will apply all the knowledge and skills students have learned in the Professional Skills and Environmental GIScience core courses. Students will work with faculty or a government or private institution to solve a real-world environmental problem. Faculty will work with each student to identify an area of interest or need and begin to put together a portfolio of professional work for student’s intended or current careers.

GISC 690 Environmental GIScience Capstone
Course Description:

The Capstone course project will be the culmination of the knowledge and skills learned throughout the Environmental GIScience program. Students will complete processing, analysis, and interpretation GIS and remotely sensed data to solve the real-world environmental problem of interest identified in the Project Development course. Students will present their final projects in oral, visual, or written form to a public audience. This can include conferences, industry professionals, community town hall meetings, and more. Examples of final projects formats can include factsheets, peer-reviewed articles, project reports, interactive graphics or animations, poster presentations, YouTube videos, PowerPoint presentations, websites, and more.

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I thought the program was a great, fast-paced way to complete a Master's in one year. I am very proud of what I have accomplished with Unity's help and how it helped build my GIS Portfolio.

Dakota H.

Master's in Environmental GIScience

I chose Unity College because of the online accessibility and accelerated program. The experience was great. I learned new techniques in GIS and learned new ways to think about sustainability in the world.

Jason K.

Master's in Environmental GIScience