FAQs for Prospective Students

If you have questions about graduate school at UW–Madison broadly, the Grad School FAQ page is easy to read and full of useful information.

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Are students in the online programs allowed or required to attend courses on campus?

Students in the online programs will complete their coursework 100% online and are not required or permitted to take in-person courses.

What is the course offering schedule for your programs?

We offer all our online courses every semester, including during summer term. The Accelerated Ms program course offerings fall in-line with the face-to-face course schedule. You can find more information on this schedule by visiting the public course search.

How are the online courses formatted? Are they synchronous or asynchronous? How is the content delivered?

Our online courses are offered asynchronously, meaning they will not meet live at specific times throughout the semester. Rather, students are given access to the course materials through the semester to work through at their own pace. Courses are delivered via the Canvas Learning Management System. Each course includes a unique mix of video lectures, readings, assignments, quizzes, and final projects. Each course operates on a semester schedule, including deadlines.

My GPA falls below your requirement. Is the GPA requirement strict?

Your question is one of the most common ones we receive. While your GPA is important, it’s but one component of your application that we consider. We encourage you to still apply to our program and explain the circumstances of your GPA to us in your letter of interest.

Who should I contact if I am using the post-9/11 GI Bill or the Wisconsin GI Bill?

Veterans are eligible for financial assistance through the GI Bill for all our programs. Learn more at University Veteran Services.

What are the application fees for your programs?

Capstone Certificates – There is no cost to apply to our capstone certificates.
Master’s – There is a $75 application fee payable by Visa/Mastercard Credit or Debit Card. International students are assessed an additional small fee, so the cost is closer to $85.

Will references be notified?

Your references will be notified and instructed on how to submit their recommendation after your application has been submitted.

Must letters of recommendation come from former professors?

In addition to former professors, references can come from people who can speak knowledgeably about your ability to succeed in a rigorous professional program. This could include, for example, current or former work or volunteer supervisors.

Can I apply for one of your programs with credit hours still remaining toward my current degree?

Yes, you can still apply, so long as those credits and your bachelor’s degree are completed by the time the fall semester begins.

Can you do the programs at your own pace?

Our programs provide a good amount of flexibility in how students choose to manage their course load each semester. That said, our courses do operate in many ways like a traditional course and they have set deadlines throughout the semester. Assignment deadlines differ and can vary between weekly to monthly.

What kind of jobs do graduates from these programs go on to do?

The primary goal of our programs is to provide our students with the tools they will need to apply their GIS and cartography knowledge to their specific area of interest. Due to the vast range of GIS applications the possibilities are endless. Graduates from the GIS Fundamentals Capstone Certificate can expect to enter the job market at entry level GIS positions. Graduates from our more advanced programs will acquire skills that could be applied to a range of entry level to high level GIS positions. For more information on the GIS job outlook check out this article.

Is there a time limit to complete a program?

Capstone students can choose to complete the program in as little as one 15 week semester or as many as 3 semesters, which is approximately 1.5 years. Graduate students in the Accelerated/Non-thesis MS program can complete the program in as little as 3 semesters (1 year) or as much as 6 semesters (2 years). Graduate students in the Online MS program can complete the program in as little as 3 semesters (1 year) or as much as 12 semesters (4 years). The summer semester (while optional) is included in these estimates.

Can I defer my admission?

Students are permitted to defer their acceptance to a program for one year with some restrictions, including the application fee where applicable.

What is the timeline for application review?

The admissions committee reviews all complete applications following each semester deadline. Each semester has two deadlines- the first consideration deadline and the final deadline. An admissions decision is typically sent out within one month of the deadline. Please check the appropriate program page to find the deadline information for your program.

GIS Fundamentals Capstone Certificate

Advanced GIS Capstone Certificate

Online Master’s Program

In-Person Accelerated Non-thesis Master’s

Note: An application is not considered complete until both letters of recommendation have been submitted. If you are applying to an MS program you can check your application for confirmation of these letters. If you are applying to a capstone certificate program you will receive email confirmation once both letter have been received. Again, an application must be complete by the deadline in order to be reviewed within that deadline review cycle.

What kinds of scholarships are available?

GISPP does not have any scholarship opportunities. However, UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies has a number of scholarships. For more information, visit https://acsss.wisc.edu/scholarships/.

If I start an MS program and decide it's not for me can I still earn a certificate using the credits for courses I've already taken?

No. Credits earned in one of our MS programs CANNOT be transferred to one of our capstone certificate programs. All credits for our capstone certificate programs must be earned while enrolled in that program. There is one very limited exception to the GIS fundamentals Capstone. You can see that here under “Tuition, Financial Aid, and Credit transfers” https://geography.wisc.edu/gis/online-gis-fundamentals-capstone-certificate-program/