Master of Science in Geographic Information Science (MSGIS) 100% Online Program

The Geographic Information Science (GIS) master’s program at the University of North Alabama is an applied graduate program. Our students advance their knowledge and skills in the practical applications of geospatial tools and technologies to solve everyday problems and answer geographic questions in the fields of technology, environment, sustainability, business, government, culture, and more.

Coursework integrates critical thinking, analytical skills, and cutting-edge geospatial techniques applied within a geographic framework. The four-semester (two-year) program is offered 100% online.

Students will complete an applied capstone project or thesis as part of their program.


Time to Complete
Variable, but as few as 2 years


Mode Offered



Why North Alabama?

The Department of Geoscience, which houses the GIS master’s program at the University of North Alabama, is a dynamic, applied department, offering a range of courses tailored not only to inspire curiosity and creativity among our students but also to provide a skill set that sets them apart. Our industry contacts throughout the country mean expanded choices for employment for our students and graduates.

North Alabama has assembled state-of-the-art geospatial information technologies at the Freddie Wood Geographic Research Center along with developing innovative instructional techniques. Geographic Information Science tools that students learn to apply include GIS, remote sensing, digital image processing, GPS, programming, Unoccupied Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), cartography, and fieldwork.

The program allows for flexible scheduling and students can work at their own pace. We welcome interested students with non-geography and non-GIS backgrounds

The Master of Science in GIS Curriculum

Required Courses Credit Hours
GE 609 Geographic Methods and Design 3
GE 610 Seminar in Geospatial Science 3
GE 615 Advanced Quantitiative Methods in Geography 3
GE 695 Thesis 6
GE 699 Thesis and Research and Defense 0
Elective Courses 18
Total Hours 33

No more than 6 hours of field courses may count towards credit for the MS in Geographic Information Science degree. No more than 12 hours of courses taken at the 500 level may count towards credit for the MS in Geographic Information Science degree. Courses taken at the undergraduate level in the department which are cross-listed as 400/500, may not be retaken for credit towards the MS in Geographic Information Science degree. Courses with blanket course numbers (e.g., Special Topics (GE 597)) that have different titles are exempt from this limitation.

Students choosing the Thesis Option must complete a minimum of six hours of Thesis (GE 695),in addition to the core and 21 additional hours from the 500-600 level electives.

Teaching Faculty

The GIS master’s program at the University of North Alabama is taught by a dynamic and collegial group of fulltime faculty members with combined real-world experiences spanning the depth and breadth of all areas of geography and geospatial studies. Collectively, our faculty have traveled to every state and continent, have conducted research across the globe, and have worked in government, private industry, and non-profit organizations.


The faculty dedicated to the online master’s in GIS include the following: 

  • Matthew Balentine, PhD, Assistant Professor and Experiential Learning Coordinator
  • Jian Chen, PhD, Assistant Professor and Graduate Coordinator
  • Mario A. Mighty, PhD, GISP, Associate Professor and Lab Coordinator
  • Michael Pretes, PhD, Professor and Chair
  • Sunhui Sim, PhD, GISP, Professor

What can I do with a master's in GIS?

By earning your master’s in GIS, you will add skills and knowledge applicable to your work right away: GIS programming, WebGIS, big data analytics, spatial data analysis, remote sensing, spatial data modeling, geo-visualization, project design, research skills, environmental and cultural data collection, and more. You will be qualified to work in government and business intelligence, utilities, GIS software development, community development and planning, emergency response and disaster management, environmental organizations, and PhD programs. You will also earn credentials toward GISP certification.


The MS in GIS is an exceptional collegiate program that provides students with unlimited opportunities. The department is very welcoming to international students and to students without a geography or GIS background. Professors incorporate projects that are similar to real-life scenarios and help with job placement.

–Ashlee Romer, B.S. Criminal Justice, University of North Alabama, 2018.
Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas.


I joined the program when I was in Hawaii. I had been searching for a small program that promoted student-faculty interaction and individual development. That is what I found at UNA: the online program made me feel right at home and let me move forward at a pace comfortable to my life and work schedule. Now more than ever I am passionate about GIS and geography; it’s literally where it’s at!

–Jared Tonder, B.S. Geospatial Science, United States Air Force Academy, 2014.
Hometown: Parachute, Colorado

Admissions requirements

Admission into the online GIS master’s program at North Alabama includes the following requirements.

Unconditional Admission:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in Geography or related discipline.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Three letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources.
  • Personal statement describing yourself academically and professionally, and your desired area of study and why that is of interest to you.
  • GRE is NOT required

Conditional Admission:

A student may be conditionally admitted to the master’s in GIS program if the Graduate Admissions Committee deems the undergraduate coursework insufficient, or if the GPA is below the minimum requirement. A student without sufficient prior coursework in geography may be required to enroll in undergraduate courses to meet prerequisites for graduate level work. We welcome interested students who do not have a geography or GIS background or degree.

Tuition and Aid

Online: $495 per credit hour plus fees

2023-2024 Tuition Cost

Master of Science in GIS

Online: $495 per credit hour plus fees