Geographic information science is the study of geography through digital technology. It uses geographic information systems, remote sensing (primarily interpretation of satellite imagery), and spatial modeling (viewing, analyzing, and mapping spatial data) to examine geographic patterns and processes. 

Geographic information systems (GIS) and the digital spatial data that they contain inform major decisions on how smart cities are built, how natural resources are managed, how communities respond to natural disasters, and how the spread of disease is detected. These same systems and data guide such everyday tasks as deciding one's driving route, finding family and friends using a phone, or figuring out when the bus will arrive. 

Why Iowa?

The Geographical and Sustainability Sciences department works closely with various centers, departments, and researchers across campus, including The Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, the Iowa Geological Survey, the College of Public Health, International Programs, and the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Biology, and Statistics and Actuarial Science.

Research and Instructional Labs

The GIS Research Lab provides GIS processing and computing capabilities with a range of software and hardware necessary for high-end GIS research.

The Remote Sensing Research Lab provides high-end computing and storage for image processing and analyses.

The Geographical Information Systems Instructional Lab (GISIL) is a state-of-the-art, 29-seat computer lab used to teach GIS, cartography, and remote sensing. GISIL features instructional support technology and an array of special-purpose peripherals and software. GISIL also supports field-based educational activities using mobile GIS software and hardware, wireless communication networks, radio-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with mounted cameras, and global positioning system technology. 

Admission Requirements

This certificate may be earned by any student admitted to the University of Iowa who is not concurrently enrolled in a UI graduate or professional degree program. 

Students who major in geography with the geographic information science track or who earn a minor in geographic information science are not eligible to earn the Certificate in Geographic Information Science. 


Geographic Information Science
Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our  Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500  student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 study abroad  programs and multiple undergraduate research opportunities


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


The undergraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science requires a minimum of 18 s.h. of credit, including at least 12 s.h. earned at the University of Iowa. 

This certificate is designed to provide individuals the knowledge and skills needed to work with geographic information and to prepare them to work in this growing profession. The study of geographic information science focuses on fundamental questions about how to acquire, store, manage, analyze, and visualize geographic information using computers. The required course work helps build a knowledgeable geospatial workforce that understands how to use and apply geographic information science properly in a wide range of settings. 

Students interested in specializing in geographic information systems or in remote sensing, or those seeking a more general background should work closely with their adviser to plan their certificate course work. 

Review Geographic Information Science in the UI General Catalog to learn about required course work for the certificate.