Curriculum That Works Around Your Schedule

Through coursework and a capstone project (M.S. students only) you’ll gain expertise that is needed in the private and public sector in the fast-growing fields of geospatial data science and CyberGIS, including techniques and tools for geospatial data processing, analysis, and visualization leveraging high-performance and data-intensive.

All courses in the CyberGIS and Geospatial Data Science certificate and M.S. program are 100% online so you may complete the courses from wherever you are! A majority of the courses are scheduled as 8-week courses, to provide students with a focused experience, flexibility in scheduling, and an ability to complete the program quickly. Courses are offered during both the first and second eight week’s of the Fall and Spring term as well as over the Summer. The second 8-week courses typically build on the topics covered over the first 8-week. With the way the courses are structured you could potentially finish the online Masters program in a year, if you choose to but you have the flexibility to move at a slower pase as well. Most of the courses are scheduled as asynchronous sessions online so you have the flexibility to work around your schedule. 

Even though the content is delivered asynchronously some instructors schedule synchronous components (e.g. labs, one-on-one) to meet with students one-on-one or in groups so that students have the opportunity to interact with their peers in the courses as well as with Illinois faculty. Students that may need to miss some synchronous sessions may work with the respective faculty member to review a recording or make other accommodations. Each class has weekly expectations and deadlines, with flexibility to allow you to complete work around your professional and personal obligations. You’ll interact with other students on a regular basis and feel like you’re part of a program with your peers (as opposed to complete self-paced learning).


Students in the CyberGIS and Geospatial Data Science M.S. and certificate programs will take courses from the following offerings:

Learn the conceptual and technical fundamentals of geographic information science and gain both information science techniques and critical spatial-thinking skill. Apply skills learned to solve geospatial problems using ESRI ArcGIS solutions stack.
Learn the principles underlying cyberGIS and geospatial data science. Apply cyberGIS techniques to analyze and visualize big geospatial data in Python using advanced cyberinfrastructure and high-performance computing.
Learn fundamentals of remote sensing and explore techniques to process satellite images, aerial photography and LiDAR data using R programming language.
Learn Geographic Information Science (GIScience) principles that underlie the development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software so you can be easily and intelligently use GIS techniques and adapt to rapidly changing geospatial technologies.
Learn how to use Python on high-performance and parallel computing architecture. Apply Python tools for developing high-performance geospatial computing solutions. Optimize and speed up geospatial computation using Python libraries like NumPy, SciPy, Numba, and Cython.
Learn open source mapping and visualization libraries such as Leaflet, D3 and Plotly and how to mash up these libraries to create interactive and dynamic visualization tools and GIS applications.
Get hands-on experience using Geospatial AI and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms (e.g., decision trees, and support vector machine) and tools that allow you to investigate and identify patterns, clusters, classes, and anomalies based on various types of geospatial data and apply these techniques to a variety of geospatial applications.
Apply advanced techniques of spatial analysis, including spatial autocorrelation, trend surface analysis, grouping and regionalization procedures, and point pattern analysis to solve geospatial problems.
This supervised individual research project is taken by students as the final requirement for the online Master’s degree CyberGIS and Geospatial Data Science. Students will apply theory and knowledge from their program coursework and conduct a research project in their profession through planning, research, and the collection, analysis, modeling, assimilation, and presentation of data. Student work closely with a faculty advisor to customize and determine a project focus and expected outcomes for successful project completion and graduation.

* Additional courses may be added or available and may be discussed during student advising.

** Students will be advised upon admission to the certificate program regarding course selection. Note that the capstone research project class is for M.S. students only.

Additional Information

Students pursuing the master’s degree will complete 32 total credit hours of coursework which will include courses from the list above and may also include other adviser-approved electives. The program requirements will conclude with the program capstone course (GGIS 598 Graduate Capstone Project). If courses are taken for the certificate sequence, they may also be applied to the Master’s degree requirements. Students should consult with a program adviser to discuss a program plan of study for the master’s program. 

Master's Program
Capstone Research Project

The Capstone Research Project (GGIS 598–4 or 8 credit hours) is this program’s version of a master’s thesis. During this course, students will design and create their “capstone research project” which will utilize all of the skills, knowledge, and expertise gained though taking courses in the CyberGIS and Geospatial Data Science Program. This will allow students to apply those skills towards their own personal interests in an advanced geospatial problem or for developing a GIS-based application with guidance from a faculty member. When complete, the capstone project will be a professional piece that students can add to their portfolio, and could also be presented as a research paper, a webinar series, a dynamic presentation, a GIS-based application, etc. This will help students establish and demonstrate their additional expertise in the field. 


Students completing the CyberGIS and Geospatial Data Science Online Graduate Certificate Program must complete a minimum of 12 credit hours offered online by the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Sciences. This will be typically three courses. Once admitted to the certificate program, students should consult a program adviser regarding course selection and sequencing based upon their particular area of interest, skills and desired professional goals.


Master's Degree and Certificate Prerequisites