Skip to main content Skip to site utility navigation Skip to main site navigation Skip to site search Skip to footer

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - Remote Sensing

Learn to see Earth in a whole new way using Earth Observation data collection and analysis skills.

A man wearing a plaid, button-down shirt examines a drone in a classroom setting.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year
Graduate Certificate

Apply Now


Remote sensing professionals map, measure, and monitor our Earth using a range of sensors and cutting-edge technology. Using camera systems, laser scanners (lidar) and microwave sensors (radar), they collect, analyze, and report on spatial data. This provides organizations with insights to help solve problems and support decision making in the environmental and natural resources sectors and beyond. 

In this graduate certificate program, you develop a foundation of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills that are enhanced by specialized training. Using industry standard software, you manipulate, analyze, and present data from spaceborne, airborne, and terrestrial systems.

Through practical hands-on projects that build on your foundational skills you learn how to:

  • Pilot Remotely Piloted Airborne Systems (RPAS) – drones – and utilize land-based Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) survey equipment to collect data.
  • Source available Earth observation (EO) data from government, industry, and research organizations.
  • Interpret and analyze lidar, radar, multispectral, hyperspectral and thermal imagery.
  • Present 2D and 3D geospatial information in reports, plans, and digital or hard-copy maps
  • Apply geodesy, programming, and database fundamentals.
  • Integrate, manipulate and manage remotely sensed datasets in a GIS to uncover insights.

This program is offered at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS), Canada's largest geomatics-focused learning environment, and prepares you for a career in the global geomatics sector.

Work experience

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience courses are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.

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.
  • 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 graduates the preferred choice of employers.
  • You are supported by expert faculty who bring strong industry connections and years of experience to the classroom.

Other info

  • 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/Online
Classes at COGS
Full time Blended
Delivered through a combination of online and in-person classes. At least 50% of learning is in-person.
Seats available

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 2024-25 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

The field of remote sensing has multiple applications in forestry, geology, defence/intelligence, disaster management, conservation, oceanography, meteorology, urban analysis and agriculture.

Working in both public and private sectors in North America and beyond, graduates are:

  • Operating airborne and terrestrial cameras and LiDAR systems
  • Piloting drones and processing imagery
  • Using imagery to monitor heath of agricultural crops, monitor environmental change
  • Developing tools for use in GIS
  • Tracking environmental changes for use in weather prediction
  • Helping natural resource companies find new sources of opportunities

Future study options

  • Take advantage of our joint masters program with Acadia University. Completion of the graduate certificate in Remote Sensing is the equivalent of year one in the Master of Science in Applied Geomatics.

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.

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 5005 - Geographic Information Systems for Remote Sensing
This course introduces students to concepts related to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial data for Remote Sensing applications. The course provides students with the skills required to acquire, assemble, prepare and manage GIS data using modern, industry standard software packages. Geographic related questions are answered, and results presented using a variety of methods.

GISY 6046 - Applied Research Project
This course gives students an opportunity for to work in a project-oriented environment on an application of choice, compile required data sets, and use various tools, including those learned in the program along with emerging technologies learned independently. Students develop a project proposal, plan its implementation, collect/acquire relevant data, and conduct analysis and/or modelling. Students document the project throughout, from the planning stage through to the final project deliverables.

PROG 5001 - Programming Fundamentals for Remote Sensing
This course is intended for those with minimal or no prior programming experience and exposes the learner to programming in various environments. Students develop object-based programming skills through basic assignments and progress toward Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (GIS/RS) related data manipulation. Students apply programming theory to a range of tasks.

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 5010 - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Survey
In this course students plan and carry out Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) surveys to collect relevant, accurate remotely sensed data. Students plan, prepare and execute surveys to meet specific project requirements. Students also develop skills to assess the accuracy of data they have collected and coordinate all equipment requirements for data collection. This course involves fieldwork in order to set up surveys and collect data.

REMS 6022 - Remote Sensing Systems and Applications
This course covers the design, sensor specification, and utility of past, present and prospective airborne and spaceborne remote sensing systems that have earth resources observation and environmental monitoring as their primary objective. Students explore both active (radar) and passive (optical) systems. Students also discuss and investigate applications of digital data derived from these systems in various disciplines using digital image processing techniques.

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 6091 - LiDAR Operations and Applications
This course exposes students to the end-to-end project workflows commonly performed during airborne and terrestrial laser scanning using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. Students become familiar with the use of airborne and terrestrial LiDAR in survey applications through examination of theory, project planning, application in fieldwork, and data processing. Students also explore other common applications of LiDAR.

REMS 6100 - Airborne Survey
This course introduces students to the planning, collection, processing and validation of airborne remotely sensed electro-optical datasets. The remote sensing industry uses different platforms and sensors for various applications sharing similar concepts, methods of planning, collection, processing and validation. Once a remote sensing professional has identified the appropriate platforms and sensors and understood their capabilities, they can use a similar approach to the data collected.

Remote Sensing Prescribed elective course requirement. Semester 3 REMS6200, REMS6210, REMS6220

Apply Now

Learn more about this program

Contact us

Share your details with us and we'll send you a program overview.

Required fields are marked with a red symbol (*)

Thank you for contacting us.

Your program overview is on the way. While you wait, feel free to browse our list of Programs & Courses or visit our Admissions information section.

Explore similar programs

To find other programs and career options that might be a good fit for you check out these areas of interest: