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Geographic Information Systems

A post-graduate program that develops your career-ready skills and opens opportunities in the geospatial sector.

A man sits in front of multiple monitors displaying geographic information data.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year
Graduate Certificate

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This graduate certificate is an intensive post-graduate level program designed to provide you with a sound basis in geographic information management systems.

You learn to:

  • Manage, manipulate and analyze data with a variety of geographic information systems (GIS)-based software
  • Use GIS technology in your area of interest, for example: biology, ecology, forestry, geology
  • Use remote sensing techniques, including image analysis and the transfer and incorporation of remotely sensed data into a GIS database
  • Develop customized applications using programming languages to automate geoprocessing tasks/analysis and deploy web mapping solutions

This program has a strong connection to geomatics programming and industry. It also leverages the expertise of the Applied Geomatics Research Group.

Choose NSCC

  • NSCC's Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) provides a focused approach to geomatics training. COGS has earned a strong reputation among employers and geomatics professionals for the quality of the programs, hands-on training and practical learning provided to students.
  • You learn at a campus location that is dedicated to geomatics training and work alongside other students studying related disciplines.
  • Small class sizes provide you with lots of opportunities for one-on-one interaction and support.
  • You use the most up-to-date equipment and software and get the hands-on training that makes COGS grads the preferred choice of employers.
  • You are supported by faculty who bring strong industry connections and years of experience to the classroom.

Other info

  • Important abilities and skills – Coursework or experience in geographic science, as well as good computer skills (computer terminology, file management, internet and office applications), are recommended to be successful in this program.
  • Many employers in this industry require a current, official criminal record check as part of the hiring process. A conviction on your criminal record may impact your ability to secure employment.


Seats are available for domestic applicants only. International applicants will be waitlisted.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Annapolis Valley Campus
Classes at COGS
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available
Annapolis Valley Campus
Full time Synchronous online
Delivered fully online with both non-scheduled and scheduled classes.

Admission requirements

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2023-24 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Graduates are qualified to work as GIS specialists, GIS analysts, GIS application programmers, GIS developers, spatial database managers, or other related occupations.
  • Graduates are employed in small and large business, governments, academia and not-for-profits across Nova Scotia and around the world.

Future study options

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

BUGE 6017 - Advanced Location Analysis
This course introduces the learner to locational and network methods and techniques used in spatial analysis using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to address a broad range of business-related applications. Consideration will be given to the knowledge, skills and processes of system dynamics that impact where a facility should be located. The learner will investigate standard techniques and solution methods for many of the locational problems society faces today.

BUGE 6021 - Data Mining
Data mining (knowledge discovery) is a key computer technology for revealing hidden patterns and trends in databases. Data analytics or Big Data are closely related to data mining. Data mining consists of data preparation, visualization, analysis, verification, and deployment. Students use such data mining modelling techniques as decision trees or neural networks, etc. for prediction, clustering, or finding rules. Practical assignments include combining data mining tools with GIS technology for mapping results of analysis.

BUGE 6027 - Network Analysis
The course focuses on solving the most typical network-related real life problems using GIS. Learners perform such network analysis exercises as finding the closest facility, determining service areas, optimizing a tour, determining accessibility, or finding an optimal location for a new facility.

GDAA 1001 - Fundamentals of Geospatial Data Analytics
This course focuses on the fundamentals of analyzing geospatial data. Students learn the step-by-step processes involved in typical data analytics workflows. Beginning with exploratory data analysis and data visualization, learners use descriptive statistics and graphical outputs to identify interesting patterns and trends in a wide range of datasets. They learn how to find data sources, examine data quality, prepare data, determine the most appropriate analytical tools, as well as document the procedures used and disseminate results. Students learn how to perform some analytical operations such as using geospatial analysis tools and statistical tests. They acquire skills resulting from working with GIS and statistical software packages.

GEOM 4030 - Raster Modelling and Map Algebra
Learners are required to use the ArcMap Desktop Spatial Analyst to complete a number of analytical tasks involving multi-factored analysis for modelling using Dana Tomlin’s map algebra. Map Algebra can be embedded in Model Builder, within the Raster Calculator tool or embedded in various scripting languages such as Python.

GEOM 5005 - Geodesy, GNSS and Geosensors
This course exposes students to basic concepts of geodesy. Students are introduced to map projections, geoids, ellipsoids, horizontal and vertical datums, and datum transformations. Students use a variety of desktop and online tools assist in manipulating spatial data and in appreciating why one spatial reference may be preferable at times than others. Given the hands on nature of the course, students are familiarized with key parameters of commonly used coordinate systems. The course focuses on the practical applications of managing a wide variety of spatial datasets, including both newly acquired datasets and those that are either in older or disparate coordinate reference systems. Spatial datasets are downloaded from multiple websites and are re-projected to a variety of industry standard coordinate system using GIS software. The course strives to provide students with the confidence to articulate many of the key concepts related to geodesy, many of which are complex and abstract in nature.

GISY 5003 - Spatial Database Management
This course introduces learners to principles and techniques of relational database design, development, maintenance and use, including spatial database objects. Learners will gain a basic insight into database systems terminology and issues facing database managers and analysts.

GISY 5004 - Fundamentals of GIS
This course is an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, applications and data analysis. Learners will gain experience in data input, processing, analysis, and final-map-product creation following technology advancements and industry standards. Hands-on activities provide experience in basic map design, reading, interpretation and analysis. Moreover, learners will investigate how spatial thinking and spatial perception influence spatial behaviour and assemble and process data from a variety of sources and formats.

GISY 6020 - Advanced Geographic Information Systems
This course allows the learner to address a number of advanced issues in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology including ways to use various data models, programming techniques, and means to manage large data sets and builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in GIS and Spatial Data Analysis (GISY 5004). Topics include digital elevation modelling and 3D display, systems building, raster data modelling and image integration, object modelling, and large spatial database management. Custom applications will be developed utilizing a number of programming languages.

GISY 6021 - Information Systems
This course introduces students to Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) and makes extensive use of an industry-standard RDBMS. Students identify, qualify, and classify the data needs of end users and build logical models to represent these needs with Entity-Relationship Diagrams. During the course, students use formal strategies for data normalization to finalize entity and attribute design decisions. Students implement their models in an RDBMS using SQL scripts.

GISY 6026 - MapInfo Professional/Vertical Mapper
This software package provides a complete environment for user-friendly thematic mapping, extremely powerful SQL querying and many typical GIS operations. Learners will also learn how to use Vertical Mapper, a grid-based contouring, modelling and display system. Vertical Mapper runs from within MapInfo and brings the power of raster GIS into this package.

GISY 6028 - Investigating Technologies
This directed studies course provides learners an opportunity to benefit from market trends in the Geomatics industry. Developments, innovations, and advancements in GIS technology lead in many directions; this course responds to market forces and demands supplying learners with relevant material.

GISY 6043 - Spatial Analysis and Geostatistics
Spatial analysis includes evaluating spatial relationships, creating spatial clusters, identifying spatial patterns, and measuring geographic distributions. Geostatistics is a set of statistical techniques for interpolation and creating surfaces. Basic geostatistical components are exploratory spatial data analysis and structural analysis (calculation and modelling of the surface properties of nearby locations). Learners will develop skills for using geostatistical techniques and selecting the most appropriate spatial analysis tool for a given research project.

GISY 6044 - Applied Geomatics Research Project
The Applied Geomatics Research course is an opportunity for the learner to work in a project-oriented environment on an application of choice, compile required data sets (if necessary), use various software tools, complete the development/analysis of the project and fully document findings. The projects will include project definition, database definition, data collection, learning software, data manipulation, data analysis and presentation.

GISY 6048 - Investigating Technologies
The workplace today requires employees to be self-directed learners. This is especially true in careers related to Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, and Geospatial Data analytics, where the tools and technologies of the trade rapidly evolve. In this course students independently research and study of a technology specialty with program instructor approval and guidance. This course allows students to customize their learning around an additional topic of interest. Students prepare a proposal for approval by the instructor. Upon approval, they pursue their proposed studies, culminating with a final project, essay, presentation, or demonstration. While the content of the final deliverable should be accurate and well documented, the goal of this course is to develop the skills required for continuous learning in a rapidly evolving field.

GISY 6049 - Geospatial Data Servers
This course provides students with an overview of geospatial data servers and their applications. Students examine different types of geospatial data servers, including their architecture, underlying technologies, and the nuances of open-source and proprietary servers. They install and configure data servers for geospatial applications, and conduct backup and upgrade procedures that mirror maintenance activities typical in industry. Students use these servers to serve up both spatial and non-spatial datasets for common industry applications.

GISY 6060 - Geoprocessing and Modelling
The course focuses on using existing and creating new geoprocessing tools, building geoprocessing models and writing scripts. These tools are commonly used in the industry for increasing efficiency and functionality of geoprocessing workflows.

GISY 6160 - Independent Project in GIS
The Independent Project in GIS course is an opportunity for GIS learners to work in a project-oriented environment. This course option will require the full semester to allow enough time to understand the application of choice, compile required data sets (if necessary), learn the software tools required for the project, complete the development/analysis of the project and fully document the findings. Projects are often completed in conjunction with an outside contact and/or in association with one of the program faculty (including AGRG Research Associates). This is a great opportunity to better understand the research environment of the Applied Geomatics Research Group and the future options that are available to you. However, regardless of your interest in the AGRG, this is also a great opportunity to focus some of your time and effort on an application area of interest to you.

GISY 6400 - Capstone Project
This course requires independent research involving geospatial technologies with the learner customizing his/her learning around a topic of interest. The learner prepares a project proposal for approval by the faculty advisor. Upon approval, work begins on the chosen topic area, culminating with a final presentation and code/data delivery and potentially report and/or live demonstration. This course applies learning from first- and second-semester courses in a self-directed manner and can be taken individually or within groups.

PROG 5000 - Programming Fundamentals for Geographic Sciences
This course is intended for those with minimal or no prior programming experience and exposes the learner to programming in various environments. This course includes an introduction to the fundamental tools of the Internet – Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Stylesheets (CSS). Learners will develop basic web site content and control web page presentation. Object-based programming then begins with basic assignments and progresses toward Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (GIS/RS) related data manipulation; learners will apply programming theory to a range of tasks.

PROG 5060 - Object Oriented Programming for GIS I
This course introduces learners to the principles of object-oriented programming (OOP). Exploration starts with learning the syntax, program structure, and data types of an OOP language. The course includes comprehensive coverage of the key object-oriented concepts of encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism. Course projects involve many aspects of the software development life cycle, from algorithm design to software implementation and maintenance.

PROG 5075 - Web Programming for GIS
This course explores web mapping as a tool for accessing and analyzing spatial data. Learners will use client-side scripting and associated toolkits to develop web-based maps for multiple devices. Security issues will be explored using server-side scripting and associated databases. Projects include many aspects of website development, from design to administration.

PROG 6060 - Object Oriented Programming for GIS II
This course explores the development of mapping applications using an object-oriented programming language and principles. Programmers will customize existing mapping software, embed mapping functionality in other applications, and develop custom mapping applications.

PROG 6085 - Mobile GIS Programming

REMS 5001 - Fundamentals of Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing
This course is an introduction to the concepts, principles and applications of remote sensing technology. The specification and use of airborne and space-borne imagery for the investigation of various earth resources and environmental monitoring will be discussed. Applied learning opportunities will be provided in the laboratory and field relating to the applications of remote sensing.

REMS 6023 - Advanced Digital Image Processing
The Advanced Digital Image Processing course allows students to apply basic introductory skills including radiometric and geometric correction, image enhancement, image classification and data integration learned in previous courses. This course consists of laboratory and classroom instruction, and encourages students to approach remote sensing challenges with a logical and real-world approach. Advanced concepts covered may include: orthorectification, mosaic, colour space transformations, aerial photo orthorectification, digital elevation modelling, three-dimensional visualizations, and advanced enhancement techniques.

REMS 6066 - Digital Aerial Photography
This course provides the learner the opportunity to gain knowledge of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) technology as it applies to the acquisition and processing of digital aerial photography. Topics include IMU/GNSS hardware and software, flight planning, camera calibration, aerial triangulation, ortho-rectification and mosaicking.

REMS 6085 - LiDAR Systems and Processing
This course exposes learners to the end-to-end project workflows commonly performed by the LiDAR survey industry. Focus is on fundamental operational and processing skills such as LiDAR theory, data acquisition, calibration, classification and accuracy assessment.

REMS 6090 - LiDAR Applications
This course exposes learners to various industry-related applications of LiDAR data and derived products. Focus is on data analysis and application of point and raster data manipulation techniques using a multitude of Geographic Information System (GIS) tools.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

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A headshot of Rachel, a young woman with long dark hair.
Rachel Godinho
Class of 2023
Within 2 weeks, I knew this program was the best thing I could have done for my career. The knowledgeable instructors and the support of the NSCC community helped me develop the technical skills and work ethic needed to be successful after graduation.

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