Geographic Information Systems Professional Concentration

Program at a Glance

  • Complete in as few as 24 months
  • 7 courses
  • $5,225

Gain the Essential Skills Needed to Become a GIS Pro

A broad variety of industries—from planning and engineering to agriculture and public health—utilize geographic information systems (GIS) in some capacity, making a practical understanding of GIS technology a valuable asset to any professional. Whether you want to start a new career in GIS or advance your existing GIS skill set, our Geographic Information Systems Professional Concentration program provides a practical understanding of GIS technology and its application, focusing on Esri’s ArcGIS software package.

What You’ll Learn

Students who complete this program will gain a clear understanding of GIS technology and terminology along with the training and expertise to put them to use. You’ll learn:

  • GIS terms, available systems (focusing on ArcGIS), data sources and GIS policy decisions
  • Spatial analysis, including working with ArcGIS tools such as, Spatial Analyst, ArcToolbox and ModelBuilder
  • GIS database design philosophy and maintenance
  • GIS techniques for watershed analysis
  • Python programming for GIS applications
  • How to manage sustainability projects using GIS applications
  • GPS and Global Navigation Satellite Systems--knowing where data comes from
  • Cartographic design, including choosing appropriate symbology and using scale-dependent rendering

What You’ll Get

Our program offers:

  • UC-quality courses that are approved by UC Davis and can be counted as elective credits toward the Land Use and Environmental Planning Certificate Program
  • GIS skills that are in high demand across many industries, giving you flexibility in the job market
  • One-on-one interaction with veteran GIS practitioners from a variety of industries
  • Class projects and case studies, conducted in a UC Davis computer lab, that offer relevant, hands-on learning opportunities that you can put to use immediately
  • Unique networking opportunities with instructors and fellow students that can help advance your career
  • $65,458 is the average income for a GIS analyst (Glassdoor)
  • GIS analyst jobs are expected to grow by 7% through 2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Top five states for GIS analyst employment: Maryland, Texas, California, Colorado and Arizona (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The UC Davis Extension Geographic Information Systems Professional Concentration is approved by the UC Davis Department Environmental Science & Policy.

This program requires completion of 9 required units of designated course work and three elective courses with a grade of “C” or better.

Course content is frequently revised to ensure that the program is up-to-date with the latest industry standards. For this reason, you must complete all of the course requirements of your certificate within five years from the day you enroll in the first course.

For additional information about our enrollment policies, please click here.

Required Courses

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Quarter Academic Credit
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an exciting set of technology tools used in almost every field imaginable. Knowledge of GIS and experience with spatial analysis will enhance your resume and allow you to analyze and manage your data more effectively than ever before. Gain an overview of GIS in this hands-on workshop. Learn about terms and concepts, available systems, data sources and design and policy decisions that must be addressed prior to implementation of a GIS project. By combining lectures and hands-on experience working with ArcGIS, this course will provide you with a basic working knowledge of GIS and a concrete sense of the planning and design work involved in using GIS.
Course Code
Advanced GIS: Productivity, Geoprocessing and Analysis
Quarter Academic Credit
Increase your understanding of available tools in ArcGIS for many types of spatial analyses, and understand how to choose the appropriate set of tools for different situations. Gain experience with a variety of geoprocessing tools in ArcGIS, discover better work routines and learn how to improve your workflow using ModelBuilder. Review important topics such as projections and editing, and explore many overlooked but useful tools that make life easier and save time and effort, including many advanced editing tools and map topology. You will also learn how to create map books using data-driven pages and ModelBuilder effectively for streamlining analyses and creating an easily modifiable interface for spatial analysis steps that are repeated many times.
Course Code
Data Acquisition and Evaluation/GPS
Quarter Academic Credit

Through brief lectures, classroom computing sessions and outdoor and indoor exercises, students will explore alternatives for coupling digital imagery with GPS-derived positions, and will evaluate data quality in imagery and GPS-derived positions. Skills in preparation of metadata will be cultivated throughout the course with emphasis on data quality elements. Students will build upon project work of their choosing, concluding with hands-on building of a geographic database (geodatabase) in industry-standard format. 

Course Code
GIS Database Design
Quarter Academic Credit

Review industry-standard and emerging data design technologies for today's natural resource and land use planning. Learn to identify poor data design characteristics, convert logical data definitions and relationships to physical data design, prepare a plan for efficient data loading and manage quality assurance. Analyze real-world examples, including green site selection, government service delivery and sustainability projects. Discuss tabular, spatial, document, image and other types of data formats, as well as new challenges in integrating data of different sources, qualities, scales and complexities. Examine prevailing application development methodologies, such as:

  • Interpreting and documenting business requirements
  • Modeling data relationships
  • Database language options
  • Data population
  • Database administration

Participants will propose, design and populate a database of their choice using spatial and other forms of data.

This course is intended for professionals who desire to include GIS as a tool in land use and resource planning efforts, and will also be beneficial to anyone with a strong desire to incorporate GIS database design and maintenance technology in a systematic and comprehensive manner. The course is directed at those who have a working knowledge of ArcGIS; it is highly recommended that students have experience using ArcGIS or take Introduction to Geographic Information Systems prior to undertaking this course.

Course Code

Elective Courses

GIS for Watershed Analysis: Advanced

This hands-on GIS workshop will give researchers, planners and land/resource managers the spatial analysis skills they need to integrate field data with watershed-scale variables and gain a better perspective of the upstream processes and circumstances that may be driving observed conditions. As an advanced-level course using ESRI's ArcGIS software, learn how to perform advanced raster queries and calculations and how to conduct advanced manipulation of terrain data through Python programming. Students will generate and assess their own digital elevation models from field collected LiDAR data and will classify and analyze Landsat satellite imagery to assess drought conditions. Implementation of workflows will focus on watershed generating algorithms and the attribution of vector data from raster analysis. By the end of the workshop, students will be able to generate watershed boundaries and stream networks, as well as stream order, in a semi-automated fashion. Additional exercises will focus on the integration of reach-level habitat inventories, fish and macroinvertebrate surveys, and water quality parameters into a watershed GIS. Students will also become familiar with the implementation of various ArcGIS tools and extensions, complementary software packages such as Geospatial Modelling Environment, and advanced concepts in watershed analysis.

Students enrolling in this course should be comfortable in ArcGIS and understand raster and vector concepts, but no prior programming experience or experience with Spatial Analyst is required. GIS for Watershed Analysis: Intermediate is a recommended, but not required, prerequisite for those who are less comfortable with basic ArcGIS operations.

Course Code
GPS for Advanced Applications

Global Positioning Systems (GPS), or more currently, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are increasingly used in every aspect of field data acquisition and operations. This course is designed for professionals in science and management who seek condensed exposure to GNSS hardware, software and techniques beyond the basic capabilities of smartphones and recreational-grade GPS. Lecture topics include accuracy/precision theory, cost functions, error sources and their mitigation, real-time and post-differential correction, and virtual reference networks. Field exercises include customizing field data collection platforms, actual field data collection, post-processing and error assessment.

It is strongly recommended that students have prior training in ESRI (ArcGIS) or similar software. Completion of Introduction to Geographic Information Systems is sufficient for success in this course.

Course Code
GIS for Watershed Analysis: Intermediate

In this intermediate-level class, learn the theoretical background of watershed analysis within a Geographic Information System to develop a familiarity with common methods, tools and frameworks for investigation. Through extensive hands-on training, gain practice with diverse components of ArcGIS 10 series software and related tools. Exercises explore basic skills for working with watersheds and raster data types using tools such as Spatial Analyst, ArcToolbox and Model Builder.

Students will gain experience with fundamentals related to performing raster queries and calculations and discover how to use Digital Elevation Models to derive slope and drainage area parameters for watersheds, and create vector hydrography. The course covers basic automation using modelbuilder and also guides students in developing their own algorithms and where to look for future learning.

It is strongly recommended that students have prior training in ESRI (ArcGIS) or similar software. Completion of "GIS for Resource Managers and Professionals" or "Introduction to Geographic Information Systems" is sufficient for success in this course. Advanced students may skip directly to GIS for Watershed Analysis: Advanced, but the courses are complementary and together provide a strong foundation for GIS-based watershed analyses.

Course Code
Introduction to UrbanFootprint

Learn how to use UrbanFootprint the new generation of land use scenario creation and analysis tools. Gain hands-on experience with creating, editing and analyzing scenarios. Learn how the tool treats land use, and how it analyzes the scenarios to better understand how land use and transportation interact and how the land use decisions made now will impact natural resources, energy use, and fiscal health in and around communities.

UrbanFootprint is based on advanced server technologies and enables users with a web browser and internet connection to edit land use scenarios and conduct analysis across a wide range of performance measures. Written entirely using open source software, UrbanFootprint enables Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and other city, county, regional, and state governmental organizations to use a common platform for land use, transportation, and resource scenarios. Because of the open source nature of UrbanFootprint, non-profit and other non-governmental organizations will be able to use the software to develop and compare scenarios either independently or collaboratively.

UrbanFootprint is the formal name for the urban footprint modeling software created by Calthorpe Analytics.

Course Code
Python Programming for GIS

This hands-on GIS workshop will introduce students to the fundamental programming and GIS principles commonly used in the GIS industry. Students will learn how to automate geoprocessing tasks such as querying data, creating and saving data, connecting data, as well as learning how to automate map production tasks. By the end of the course, students will be able create, modify and troubleshoot Python code.

Course Code
Using GIS to Manage, Analyze and Promote Sustainability
This course will identify opportunities to promote, implement and manage sustainability projects through the use of GIS. Students will review real-world case studies of GIS application in solving energy reduction mandates, and will learn how to match GIS tools to specific sustainability challenges, including site selection, preservation efficiency evaluation, land use compatibility analysis and green marketing techniques. In addition to structured hands-on exercises, students will be able to complete a small GIS sustainability project of their own choice. Attention will be given to local and global efforts, including the application of GIS in monitoring California Senate Bill SB 375 and Assembly Bill AB32.
Course Code

Required Courses

Required Courses Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 2 Classroom Classroom
Advanced GIS: Productivity, Geoprocessing and Analysis 2 Classroom
Data Acquisition and Evaluation/GPS 2 Classroom
GIS Database Design 3 Classroom Classroom

Elective Courses

Elective Courses Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
GIS for Watershed Analysis: Advanced Classroom
GPS for Advanced Applications Classroom
GIS for Watershed Analysis: Intermediate Classroom
Introduction to UrbanFootprint Classroom
Python Programming for GIS Classroom
Using GIS to Manage, Analyze and Promote Sustainability Classroom
  • Tuition for the entire Geographic Information Systems Professional Concentration ranges from $4,370-4,545, depending on when you enroll.
  • Textbooks and parking are not included in the tuition fee.

For information about financing your education, please click here.

Here are your options:

Ready to enroll in the program?

  • Register. Fill out a brief program registration form. By doing so, you declare your intent to complete the program in 5 years or less, lock in program requirements and will be contacted by a program adviser who will work with you to map out your academic path.

Not ready to commit yet?

  • Enroll in an individual course. Check out individual courses that are currently open for enrollment. Courses will be applied to the program if you later decide to complete your professional concentration.
  • Sign up for an information session. Learn more about the program by enrolling in a free information session. If an information session for this program is not currently open for enrollment, click on “notify me,” and we’ll contact you when the next one becomes available.

Questions? We’re here to help. If you’ve got a question, email us or call (530) 757-8777.