This is a named option within the Cartography/GIS MS.

This online master's program provides a broad foundation in the theory and application of mapping and geographic information sciences. Graduates of this program will be well prepared for positions as GIS analysts in government agencies, planning organizations, environmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private industry. Completion of this program does not include a thesis. Learn more.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline May 1 for international applicants; July 15 for domestic applicants
Spring Deadline September 1 for international applicants; November 1 for domestic applicants
Summer Deadline February 1 for international applicants; April 1 for domestic applicants
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy:
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 2

Academic program admission requirements are often more rigorous than those set by the Graduate School. Please check the program’s website for details on how to apply.

Applicants must have completed the equivalent of two (2) undergraduate-level courses in GIS and/or Cartography and Visualization, and one (1) course in Quantitative Methods. The Program Director, in consultation with the Program Admissions Committee, may deem these requirements satisfied if an applicant provides evidence of sufficient knowledge in these areas gained through work experience.


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Information

Students enrolled in this program are not eligible to receive tuition remission from graduate assistantship appointments at this institution.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
No No Yes No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 16 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy:
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy:
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations No formal examination is required.
Language Requirements No language requirement.

Required Courses

GEOG 378 Introduction to Geocomputing4
GEOG 572 Graphic Design in Cartography4
GEOG 574 Geospatial Database Design and Development4
GEOG 575 Interactive Cartography & Geovisualization4
GEOG 576 Geospatial Web and Mobile Programming4
GEOG 579 GIS and Spatial Analysis4
GEOG 777 Capstone in GIS Development4
GEOG 778 Practicum in GIS Development4
Total Credits32

Students in this program may not take courses outside the prescribed curriculum without faculty advisor and program director approval. Students in this program cannot enroll concurrently in other undergraduate or graduate degree programs.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 7 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or earned ten years is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 7 credits of undergraduate graduate coursework from other institutions or UW-Madison. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree or earned ten years is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

With program approval, students may transfer up to 15 credits taken as a University Special student. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to the option may not be used to satisfy requirements.


The Department of Geography expects graduate students to progress through a sequence of benchmarks within prescribed time periods. These benchmarks constitute a reasonable rate of accomplishment for full-time students holding teaching or research appointments. The department recognizes that individual circumstances vary, and not all students progressing toward their academic goals will hit the benchmarks exactly. Thus a student’s progress is considered unsatisfactory only after a period of time elapses following an unmet benchmark. A student not making satisfactory progress is placed on probation. For detailed information about these benchmarks and triggers for probationary status, please see the department's Criteria for Satisfactory Progress.

Advisor / Committee

All students are required to conduct a progress report each semester with the program director or manager. Failure to do so will result in a hold being place on the student's registration.

Credits Per Term Allowed

12 credits

Time Limits

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 


Faculty Director: Jonathan Nelson
Graduate Program Manager: Brittney Krauss
Associated Faculty: A-Xing Zhu, Robert Roth, Qunying Huang, Song Gao, and Jonathan Nelson
Associated Instructors: Justin Cole and Anwar Sounny-Slitine
Department Chair: Jack Williams