Contemporary advances in geospatial, information, and sensing technologies are changing the way we approach and solve planning and design problems. Employers are eager to incorporate innovative digital tools and applications that streamline measurement and analyses, enhance communication, and facilitate stakeholder engagement. Essential skills gained with this certificate will include the application of geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, virtual reality, building information modeling (BIM), and drones (UAS). Importantly, these applications will be enhanced by coursework in quantitative analysis and scripting to automate processes and enable evidence-based decision-making. This exciting addition to your graduate studies provides opportunities to explore increasingly in-demand technologies.  


We encourage you to reach out to Amy Rivera, Graduate Advisor, if you’re interested in learning more about the Certificate or would like guidance as a current Certificate student. You can make an appointment via Starfish or email (amy.rivera@wisc.edu)


The Certificate in Planning and Design Technologies welcomes applications from students in any graduate or professional degree program at UW-Madison.

How to Apply

To declare the certificate, students must complete the online application form which includes the following elements:

  • Information on prior educational attainment
  • Information on degree program being pursued
  • A brief statement of interest in the program

All Graduate School students must utilize the Graduate Student Portal in MyUW to add, change, or discontinue any graduate/professional certificate. To add the certificate you must log in to MyUW, click on Graduate Student Portal, and then click on Add/Change Programs. Select the information for the Certificate in Planning and Design Technologies. The Graduate Coordinator and Program Administrator will review the online application and approve the addition if appropriate.


Applications may be submitted at any time, but applicants are encouraged to apply before the end of their first year in graduate school to ensure timely completion of certificate requirements. Students may take courses that meet certificate requirements prior to completing their application.


  • Total credits required: 12
  • Include coursework from Introductory and Applications category (at least 6 credits) and from Quantitative and Scripting category (at least 6 credits)
  • Complete at least 6 credits from the Introductory and Applications category and at least 6 credits from the Quantitative and Scripting category.
  • At least 6 credits must be graduate-level coursework (i.e., courses numbered 700 or above, or 300 or above with the Grad 50% attribute)
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade (no pass/fail courses) and a B or better must be earned in order for the course to count towards the certificate requirements.
Introductory and ApplicationsAt least 6 credits
CIV ENGR 392 Building Information Modeling (BIM)3
DS/​COMP SCI  579 Virtual Reality3
ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​G L E/​GEOG/​GEOSCI/​LAND ARC  371 Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing3
GEOG 370 Introduction to Cartography4
GEOG/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  377 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
GEOG 379 Geospatial Technologies: Drones, Sensors, and Applications3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC/​URB R PL  532 Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Planning3
GEOG 578 GIS Applications4
GEOG 579 GIS and Spatial Analysis4
LAND ARC 311 Introduction to Design Frameworks and Spatial Technologies2
LAND ARC 511 Geodesign Methods and Applications3
LAND ARC/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  556 Remote Sensing Digital Image Processing3
LAND ARC/​ENVIR ST/​SOIL SCI  695 Applications of Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources3
URB R PL 841 Urban Functions, Spatial Organization and Environmental Form (Will be renamed and numbered 533)2-3
Quantitative and ScriptingAt least 6 credits
COMP SCI 320 Data Science Programming II4
GEOG 378 Introduction to Geocomputing4
GEOG 560 Advanced Quantitative Methods3
GEOG 573 Advanced Geocomputing and Geospatial Big Data Analytics4
GEOG 574 Geospatial Database Design and Development4
GEOG 575 Interactive Cartography & Geovisualization4
GEOG 576 Geospatial Web and Mobile Programming4
SOIL SCI 585 Using R for Soil and Environmental Sciences3
STAT 303 R for Statistics I1
STAT 304 R for Statistics II1
STAT 305 R for Statistics III1

Learning Outcomes 

  1. Understand and evaluate digital technologies to collect and manage data.
  2. Demonstrate an introductory or intermediate proficiency in computer scripting.
  3. Analyze and visualize geospatial data using geographic information systems or R statistical language.
  4. Evaluate digital technologies as they apply to planning and design.