GIS scholarship sources

What are good sources to find GIS scholarships?

This site seems to have a nice list of GIS scholarships, and Google is always helpful in such matters.

Check with local chapters of GIS-oriented organizations, such as GITA and URISA. They often offer scholarships.

If you don't mind becoming part of the Military Industrial Complex, you could apply for a SMART scholarship. The NGA is a participant.

Check within your discipline. Unless you're doing research in theoretical GIS. Really you should be looking at getting a scholarship in your domain (Transportation, Bio, Image analysis, etc.). All these fields have a heavy link to GIS so that broadens the scope of the search

Washington University Open Scholarship

Course description: This course will familiarize students with the basic knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS) and their application to social work practice and research. The course is organized around three primary areas: 1) conceptual 2) technical and 3) data management. A conceptual overview of GIS is presented to provide students with foundational knowledge about the theory, purpose, function, and applicability of GIS in practice and research settings. Students will develop critical thinking skills necessary to devise research questions appropriate for a GIS, to develop a GIS, interpret the findings, and to evaluate the spatial relationships between variables.

If you created a poster before Spring 2015 and would like to make it openly available (Unrestricted) online, please submit the linked Consent Form to [email protected]

Geographic Information Systems

The SCAG GIS Services Program was initiated and organized starting in the late 1980s with the goal of being the preeminent source of information for the southern California region. The purpose of the program is to derive and promote a model policy for distributing geospatial data and other information developed and maintained at SCAG. We believe so strongly in providing this service to stakeholders that we have incorporated this philosophy into our Ten Year Strategic Plan.

Our services are available to government agencies and private businesses without any fees. Our information is used by local government, public agencies, consultants, academia, students and the general public. Our information is designed for use in plans, studies, analyses, and presentations. The SCAG GIS Services Program is made up of skilled researchers, statisticians, demographers, economists and GIS technicians with a long history in the industry. As an agency, we strive to be a central source for providing GIS data and information about the region.

SCAG offers specialized software training and data assistance to its member jurisdictions through the GIS Services Program. The GIS Services Program promotes data sharing and updating to enhance region-wide GIS data standardization and helps SCAG maintain effective working relationships with its member cities and key stakeholder agencies. Services include training, data conversion, simple application development and more. These resources help local agencies better leverage their assets to become more efficient, save money, and/or provide new services to their residents and businesses. SCAG’s conservative estimate of savings to local participating jurisdictions is $2 million.

One important element of SCAG’s GIS and Data Program is the GIS Services Program. Started in 2010, the GIS Services Program is a free service to SCAG member agencies. Currently, 79 local jurisdictions and two partner agencies (Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), Imperial County Transportation Commission (ICTC), and the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) are participants. Through the Program, SCAG’s GIS staff assists member agencies with professional services and free trainings and software. For some agencies the newly acquired tools have been used to deliver additional services to residents and developers, which has led to a new source of local revenue. The Program has also given SCAG staff the opportunity to meet, discuss and customize GIS services for the 81 participants. Customized services include creating desktop/web applications with local jurisdiction data, converting non-spatial data into GIS format, day-to-day GIS problem-solving and GIS training at 17 venues across the region including the cities of Brawley, Lancaster, Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Santa Ana and Ventura.

SCAG is also in the process of implementing an Enterprise GIS that at its core is focused on developing and disseminating information to interested parties. We are completing our digital geographic databases and are focused on data distribution and standardization and that the data be used as widely as possible. We look to the web as the engine for distributing our data and information in a cost effective and sustainable way.

Our program goals are:

Users of geographic information and data will gain better access to needed data.

Local governments and public agencies will partner with SCAG on data standardization.

Local governments will find more, and diversified, users for their data.

Local governments and SCAG will realize cost savings through data sharing and through the establishment of consortiums when feasible.

Data maintenance, update, and metadata documentation will become accepted as part of the normal data distribution business process.

The maintenance of this program is spearheaded through the Research and Analysis department under the Land Use and Environmental Planning division at SCAG.

GIS Links

ESRI is the world’s leading provider of geographic information systems (GIS). Their main site allows users to become acquainted with the benefits and capabilities of GIS.

ESRI Software Training is available for all levels of GIS (introductory, intermediate, advanced), oftentimes at no price.

ESRI’s ArcGIS Online allows users to build and deploy simple web based mapping applications at no cost.

URISA is an association for GIS professionals, and offers training and certification opportunities.

How to Apply

The application you submit today will be considered for the 2021-2021 cohort which starts Autumn 2021.

What You'll Need to Fill Out the Application:

  • Your personal information (full name, address, email, telephone number phone, and student ID number).
  • Two professional/academic references (names, title, email, and telephone number).
  • Current resume in word or pdf format for upload.

Personal statements for the following questions:

  • How do you imagine that you'll fit into a small group of up to 40 students, and what unique quality do you expect to bring to the program?
  • Describe your interest in GIS.
  • What are your career goals?
  • How will a certificate in GIS improve the likelihood of success in the career that you've chosen?
  • Please describe your computer skills and the confidence that you have in your ability to grasp fairly challenging computer-related concepts.
  • Describe in detail your background or training in GIS.

If you are a current UW Tacoma student

Complete the online GIS application form.

If you are NOT a current UW Tacoma student

  1. Submit an Applicationfor Nonmatriculated Admission, indicate "GIS Certificate," and pay the $60 application fee.
  2. Complete the online GIS application form.


There are many different GIS software packages available. Each software package will have strengths and weaknesses which can make choosing difficult. Below are a few options that are commonly used here at the University of Rochester but this list is by no means comprehensive. For other options you can view this page.

Desktop Applications

ESRI ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro: The University of Rochester maintains a site license to a comprehensive set of ESRI ArcGIS software. ArcGIS Pro (recommended) and ArcGIS Desktop (soon to be deprecated) are installed on all IT maintained public PCs on River Campus. ESRI products are primarily Windows only. Licensing information can be found on the University IT Licensing page for all other cases including installs on personal PCs.

QGIS: QGIS is an opensource desktop software package similar to the ESRI options and is also installed on all public PCs on River Campus. It is free and opensource and is available for PC, Mac and Linux.

Online Applications

ArcGIS Online is a power cloud based online GIS and mapping tool that the University has access too as part of our ESRI software site license. It can be used as a stand alone tool or can be used in conjunction with ESRI desktop mapping tools. From the ESRI website: “ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based mapping and analysis solution. Use it to make maps, analyze data, and to share and collaborate. Get access to workflow-specific apps, maps and data from around the globe, and tools for being mobile in the field. Your data and maps are stored in a secure and private infrastructure and can be configured to meet your mapping and IT requirements.” To get an ArcGIS online account or for questions please contact: [email protected]

Google Maps (My Maps) and Google Earth can be used to quickly create simple maps and visualizations that can be easily embedded in most online publishing platforms.

Scribble Maps allows you to quickly and easily create online maps using a variety of icons and symbols and share or embed the maps freely. It is a “freemium” platform with a free basic service that allows for the creation and sharing of interactive maps and a “pro” version with additional functionality.

OpenLayers and Leaflet are not stand alone applications but are open source web mapping libraries that allow for the creation of customized applications and maps. While these libraries may have a steep learning curve it allows for the creation of royalty and copyright free web applications.

Geographic Information System (GIS) and Digital Scholarship Research: GIS Software & Tools

There are various GIS software programs widely used in the academic circle:

Developed by ArcGIS provides an online platform called StoryMaps which allows users to create simple maps for displaying their projects.

Developed by Google Inc., Google Earth/Google Earth Pro perhaps is the most well-known GIS software across the globe. Google Earth displays satellite images onto a 3D globe and users could explore geographical information with an oblique angle. Users can also create their own maps by creating custom image overlays and establishing links to images, videos and articles. With Google Earth, users can view the up-dated images of the disaster-stricken areas. They can even zoom on Mars and Moon and below the ocean. The software is also available at Digital Scholarship Lab.

    Another free and open source GIS software that can be used on Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD platforms.

GRASS GIS is a free and open-source software used for geospatial data management and analysis as well as creating maps and spatial modeling. It can be used to manage raster and vector data. Unlike ArcGIS, it can support most of the computer operating systems, such as Mac OS X. Linux and BSD. GRASS GIS is particularly popular among the US government agencies, such as NASA, NOAA as well as some green consulting firms. The software is available at Digital Scholarship Lab as well.

Sources of Geographic Information and Data (Spatial & Non-spatial) or Spatial and Non Spatial/Attributes Data or Types of GIS data

The most important and expensive component of the GIS is Data which is generally known as fuel for GIS.

GIS data is combination of graphic and tabular data.

Perhaps the most important component of a GIS is in the part of data used in GIS.

Types of GIS Data:

GIS data can be broadly described as – Spatial data and Non-Spatial data.

Data that define a location of a geographical features.

Spatial data is the physical representation of earth features. It represents the location, size and shape of the object in the earth i.e. building, ponds, mountains, administration, and boundaries etc.

These are in the form of graphic primitives that are usually either points, lines, polygons or pixels. .

Spatial data can further be divided into two types – vector and raster data.

  1. Raster Data: Raster data is made of pixels. It is an array of grid cells with columns and row. Each and every geographical feature is represented only through pixels in raster data.
  2. Vector Data: Vector data represents any geographical feature through points, line or combination of these.
Sources of Spatial Data: Hard copy maps, aerial photographs, remotely sensed imagery, point data, samples from surveys, and existing digital data file.
Non-spatial data:

Data that describes the characteristics of a geographical feature.

Non spatial data also called attribute or characteristics data.

Non-spatial data are represented in table formats. For example, the administrative boundary table has population information, district name, provinces, sex ratio etc.

Sources of Non-Spatial Data: GIS data from Libraries, National and international mapping Agencies, elevation data, Bathymetry Data, Georeferenced images, time series Multispectral Satellite images, Town planning and management departments, State and national agencies and detailed district or Municipal data.

Difference between Spatial Data and Non-Spatial Data
  • Describes the absolute and relative location of a geographic feature.
  • Describes the characteristics of a geographical feature.
  • All types of data objects or elements that are present in a geographical space or horizon.
  • Characterizes of geographical features that are quantitative and qualitative in nature.
  • Satellite images and scanned maps help to obtain spatial data.
  • Town planning and management departments, Libraries, National and international mapping Agencies help to obtain non-spatial data

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Geospatial Services

The Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Services enables students to acquire practical skills and theoretical essentials to lead with geographical (xyzt) data in the public and private sector. This program adapts to newly emerging technologies necessary to handle ever-increasing amounts of data, placing students at the leading edge of geospatial science.

Experiential learning integration, using hands-on applications, challenges and encourages students to move out of their comfort zones to become independent scholars and well-informed citizens within a world driven by constant change.

Analysis of geospatial data accelerates innovative analysis and provides solutions to problems in multiple sectors such as:

  1. GeoIntelligence and situational awareness
  2. Catastrophe risk modeling for the insurance industry
  3. Precision agriculture and boosting food production
  4. Surveying (via drone collection)
  5. Industrial asset inventory.

Northeastern’s Geospatial Services program is a member of the USGIF.

Check out some recent student projects and articles.

More Details

Unique Features

  • Online program allows for flexibility and remote learning
  • Hands-on experience working across multiple software environments, including commercial and open-source products, such as ESRI, ENVI, PCI Geomatica, GeoIntelligence, and project management software
  • Option to participate in co-op program, experiential learning, and capstone project

Program Objectives

  • Provide hands-on experience with software from ESRI, the industry leader in GIS
  • Improve the understanding of Internet GIS
  • Explore the fundamentals of remote sensing
  • Secure foundational skills in project management, system implementation, database development, and implementation
  • Evaluate the theoretical, mathematical, and computational foundations of GIS
  • Learn to effectively interpret and apply geographic information
  • Analyze cartographic principles
  • Study the legal, economic, and ethical issues associated with GIS
  • Examine practical applications of GIS to support geographic inquiry and decision making

Member of the USGIF

Northeastern’s Geospatial Services program is a member of the USGIF. The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation is the only organization dedicated to bringing together industry, academia, government, professional organizations, and stakeholders to exchange ideas, share best practices, and promote the education and importance of a national geospatial intelligence agenda.

Unique Transfer Credit Opportunity

Do you hold GEOINT Certification Program (GCP) credentials through the NGA under the authority of the Defense GEOINT (GCP-F, GPC IA-II, GPC CA-II or GPC GDM-II equivalent)? If yes, you can accelerate through the Master of Professional Studies in Geospatial Services at Northeastern University by applying your credential(s) in exchange for transfer credit.

Successful applicants can experience the following:

  • Receive up to 12 quarter hours of transfer credit – a 25% savings in tuition
  • Satisfy PDU credential requirements under the creditable graduate Academic Study category
  • Enjoy the convenience of a 100% online, interactive curriculum
  • Build your resumé and strengthen your skills in remote sensing (earth observation) and geospatial analytics.

Successful completion of the GCP applies to all cleared Department of Defense (DoD) civilian, military, and contractor practitioners in GEOINT-related work roles throughout the National System for Geospatial Intelligence. GCP can also apply to non-DoD members of the NSG with GEOINT equities.

Contact us today for more information by completing the form on our page.

Career Outlook

Trend data suggests that geographic information technology (GIT) is related to the overall increase in interest in big data analytics. GIT and related systems are able to capture and model all types of spatial and geographic data, often useful for business or government intelligence, location-enabled services, and the planning and management of logistics, among many other purposes. Analysts trained in GIT are well-informed in how to produce, aggregate, and manipulate geographic/spatial data in order to drive decisions or services in any number of fields or industries. With the advent of mobile technology, the utility of GIT and employment of analysts with this expertise is expected to grow.

Alumni Success

What are our graduates doing? Explore our alumni map, created in-house, which shows positions held by our recent GIT alumni around the globe.

Analytics in Action – Application of Data and Technology in Geospatial

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): MIT Geodata Repository

The MIT Geodata Repository provides easy access to a large amount of data held by MIT GIS Services. Access the data using GeoWeb, an online interface to search for and download data from MIT and partner institutions (some data from partners may not be available to download).

License terms vary by dataset (see the dataset metadata for more information), but all data layers that are restricted to members of the MIT community adhere to these terms:

  • Licensed electronic resources are restricted to members of the MIT community and for the purposes of research, education, and scholarship.
  • Under MIT's licenses for electronic resources, users generally may not:
    • Redistribute the materials or permit anyone other than a member of the MIT community to use them
    • remove, obscure or modify any copyright or other notices included in the materials
    • use the materials for commercial purposes

    What GIS Courses and Degrees Are Available?

    GIS specialists usually have a bachelor's degree in geography, cartography, or surveying. These programs are typically offered by geography departments. However, since GIS tools are used to support a wide variety of disciplines, classes may also be offered as part of engineering, forestry, geology, or environmental science programs. Many schools now offer minors, certificates, and master's programs in GIS and other geospatial technologies. However, within the earth and environmental sciences, these offerings generally enhance the skills and credibility of scientists, rather than standing on their own. For this reason, those interested in applying GIS to environmental issues would be wise to develop a broad background in environmental science, forestry, geology, etc., as well as math and computer programming.

    Some states require cartographers to be licensed as surveyors. Candidates must have earned at least a high school diploma, and must also pass a test.

    GIS specialists can also earn certification as a Certified GIS Professional (GISP) through the GIS Certification Institute. Several states have recognized and endorsed the GISP. The GISP has also been endorsed by the National Association of Counties.

    Certification renewal is required every five years. Esri Technical Certification is also available for Esri's ArcGIS software, a suite of popular GIS solutions. While the above certifications are optional, they set candidates apart, demonstrating their skill and dedication. Such certifications are increasingly important for promotions and advancement.