Traditional GIS Capstone Certificate Program


The Department of Geography offers a one-year GIS Certificate Program developed to fill a growing demand for geospatial science skills in today’s job market.

This graduate-level capstone program is intended to provide a mix of GIS theory and practical experience for many possible applications and fields such as:

Agriculture, Archaeology, Conservation, Demography, Economics, Emergency Management, Law Enforcement, Marketing, Natural Resource Management, Public Health, Transportation, Urban Planning, Wildlife Ecology, and more!


The primary goal of the program is to ensure that students become sufficiently grounded in theoretical underpinnings of GIS to make informed use of existing GIS applications and gain skills needed to construct new applications in the physical or social realms. The full range of GIS capabilities is covered, including data capture, analysis, modeling and cartographic representation.

The program covers the foundations of GIS and spatial analysis, including cartography and statistical methods. Through hands-on exposure in the form of lab exercises, course projects, and an internship or independent project, experience will be acquired with major GIS software packages, including ArcGIS. By teaching concepts and hands-on use, the program differs from a typical short course designed for GIS training in a particular software package.

The program is intended to serve:

  • recent graduates who wish to acquire technical expertise to support the topical knowledge gained in their undergraduate major
  • returning students who wish to acquire specialized training to meet current (or future) job requirements calling for GIS knowledge


We are no longer accepting applications to this program. Please visit our other program pages to explore what we have to offer.



UW-Madison Capstone Certificate programs are a collaboration between the Graduate School and the Division of Continuing Studies. GIS Capstone Certificate students are considered to be graduate-level, but enroll into the program as University Special Students through the Division of Continuing Studies, Adult Career & Special Student Services office. Even though Capstone Certificate coursework is graduate-level, Capstone Certificate students have not been admitted to the Graduate School, nor will their studies lead to a graduate degree or graduate certificate: graduate certificates may only be earned by degree-seeking graduate students. By definition, students may not be simultaneously enrolled in both a Graduate and a Capstone Certificate program. See the Division of Continuing Studies’ Capstone FAQ page for general information about Capstone Certificates at the UW-Madison.


This program consists of 4 core courses, a minimum of 1 elective and an independent capstone project. You will need to complete a minimum of 16 credits while in the program. You may transfer in 4 credits of required coursework taken previously (approval needed if taken at another institution).

The 2-credit capstone project is tailored to individual backgrounds and interests. We welcome work-related projects by students who are presently employed. The capstone project can be taken in conjunction with or after taking G578: GIS Applications.

No Traditional GIS Certificate Program courses are offered in the summer, with the exception of Geog 602.

Disclaimer: Students entering in the spring semester may need three semesters to complete coursework since the Geog 578 is only offered in the Spring semester and requires Geog 377 as a prerequisite.


Core courses (15 credits):

  • Geog 370: Introduction to Cartography, 4 cr. Every semester
  • Geog 377: Introduction to GIS, 4 cr. Every semester
  • Geog 560: Adv. Quantitative Methods, 3 cr. Spring only
  • Geog 578: GIS Applications, 4 cr. (pre-req: Geog 377) Spring only

Electives (3 -4 credits):

  • Geog 371: Intro to Remote Sensing, 3 cr. Fall only
  • Geog 378: Intro to Geocomputing (programming), 4 cr. Fall only
  • Geog 572: Graphic Design in Cartography 4 cr.(Pre-req: 370) Fall only
  • Geog 575: Interactive Cartography & Geovisualization, 4 cr. (Pre-req: G370) Spring only
  • Geog 576: Spatial Web & Mobile Programming. 4 cr. (Pe-req: G378) Spring only

Internship/Capstone Project (2 credits):

  • Geog 602: Internship, 2 cr. Every semester



Please visit our Financial Information page to learn more about tuition and financial aid for this program.