Jul 15, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Geographic Information Science Certificate

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

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Department of Environmental Studies, College of the Environment

26 credits


Many environmental systems and issues involve spatial patterns that can be analyzed, visualized, and communicated through Geographic Information Science (GIS) techniques. The GIS Certificate provides students with in-depth training in GIS theory and techniques. Our students gain advanced skills in the creation, development, management, analysis, and visualization of spatial data. We teach our students how to use GIS for a wide range of environmental applications, from modeling climate change impacts to identifying inequitable patterns of exposure to pollutants to prioritizing land for renewable energy installations or conservation easements.

Many classes are offered only once per year and must be taken in sequence, so careful planning with an advisor is required.

The Environmental Studies Department also offers a minor in GIS, a major in Environmental Studies with a GIS emphasis, and a graduate Certificate in GIS. Many undergraduate students complete the more advanced GIS Certificate as well as either the GIS minor or the major in Environmental Studies with a GIS emphasis. Classes may be double-counted toward these degree combinations. The GIS Certificate has more rigorous requirements, including a higher minimum grade for classes counted toward the degree (a B- rather than a C-) compared to the minor, and signifies a more advanced level of geospatial technical expertise.

Why Consider a Certificate in Geographic Information Science?

The certificate prepares students for careers as geospatial analysts and GIS technicians, and is a valuable complement to many majors. Do you love maps? Are you comfortable with spatial problem solving? Do you enjoy the combination of art and science that goes into cartography? Are you curious about how spatial data can be used to explain the patterns and processes behind environmental issues? If so, then the advanced Geographic Information Science Certificate will be a great choice for you. Come join us as we work together to map our world!

Contact Information

Department Chair
Rebekah Paci-Green
Arntzen Hall 206

Certificate Advisor
Aquila Flower
Arntzen Hall 202

Sample Careers

GIS Technician | GIS Analyst | GIS Manager | Geospatial Analyst | Cartographer | Geographer

Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

Admission to the GIS Certificate is competitive and space is limited. Applicants should be enrolled in or have completed ENVS 320 by the time they apply. To apply, see our website for detailed instructions and deadlines cenv.wwu.edu/sal/gis-minor-certificate. Applications will include an essay, a resume, and a professional portfolio.

Non-matriculated individuals must complete the Special Student Enrollment form, found on WWU’s website by typing “special student enrollment” in the search field. Please contact the Registrar’s Office at 360-650-3432 for the particular dates of acceptance of these forms. Aside from regular tuition and course fees, there is a small additional enrollment fee associated with this certificate.

Grade Requirements

A grade of B- or better is required for a student’s certificate courses, and supporting courses for certificates.


The GIS Certificate curriculum is centered on four core classes (GIS I, II, III, and IV). Students also complete a quantitative methods class and select from a list of additional GIS electives.

GIS Applications Electives (2-5 credits)

❑ Take additional credits from the following list to bring your total certificate credits to a minimum of 26:

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