Q: Is the University of West Florida accredited?
A: Yes we are a fully SACS accredited institution named once again as a best southeastern college by the Princeton Review.

Q: Is this program approved by the Dept. of Veterans (MGI Bill)?
A: Yes it is. This is a credit-earning certificate from a regionally accredited SOC institution.

Available Tracks

We currently offer two tracks: Traditional GIS track and Archaeology track.

Q: What is the difference between the traditional and archaeology track?
A: Our traditional track includes courses you would expect to see in most GIS Certificate Programs and covers a range of topics and skills most GIS practitioners deal with in the industry. Our archaeology track is designed specifically for those interested in using GIS in the fields of archaeology and anthropology.

Q: Who should enroll in archaeology courses? 
A: Students working towards a degree or job in the field of archaeology and those already working in the profession and looking to enhance skills and knowledge are encouraged to enroll in the archaeology track.

We expect most students will enroll in traditional GIS courses because our archaeology courses are specifically designed for current and aspiring archeologists.

Not sure which track to choose? Review course descriptions provided on our Course Options page and feel free to contact us for guidance.

More about the Archeology track: Due to the ever-growing demand for Archaeology practitioners with GIS skills, UWF will offer a specialized track for students wishing to utilize GIS in an Anthropological / Archaeological setting. Starting in 2012, students may opt for an Archaeology specialization. During the summer and fall semesters, students taking this option will branch into two specially designed courses. The Archaeology course option is dependent on sufficient enrollment. If you know you would like to complete the Archaeology option, please specify your choice in the application for admittance.

Deployment, Learning Environment, & Curriculum

Students "go to class" on their own time to view lectures and complete weekly assignments through UWF eLearning. All of our courses are instructor led with various means of communication and interaction. Students are expected to spend approximately 8 hours per week per course on required course materials and assignments. Former students have reported spending as many as 20 hours per week on assignments while enrolled in two courses.

Quality Online Courses: UWF Online GIS Certificate program courses implement Quality Matters Rubric course design requirements and are currently under review to receive a QM seal of approval.

What is QM? Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach and continuous improvement in online education and student learning. About QM.

Difference between Graduate and Undergraduate Courses

Q: What makes the grad-level certificate different from the undergraduate certificate?
A: The differences are:

  • Cost: Please see the Course Options - GIS Certificate page for specific prices.
  • Course level: Grad-level students will be required to complete additional work, typically more readings, writing assignments and/or an extra project due at the end of the semester.
  • Grad-level students will receive a graduate certificate in GIS.

Q: How long will it take to earn a GIS Certificate?
A: Most students will complete their GIS Certificate in 1 year following the design of the online program. Exceptions occur when students need to retake a course the following year to improve their grades or must withdraw due to serious life events.

Q: Are all courses offered throughout the year?
A: No, courses are offered only once a year. The online program begins each January and ends in December of the same year.

Q: May I jump in during the summer or fall terms?
A: In most cases, no. This program runs as a cohort and students must apply and be accepted before the program is scheduled to begin each January. The only exception is if the student is enrolling to complete the graduate-level certificate and is coming in with basic GIS courses from an accredited institution completed within the last 6 years.

Financial Aid

Obtaining financial aid is the student's responsibility. Our program does not accept financial aid for those taking our courses as non-degree-seeking students. Only degree-seeking students are eligible for federal financial aid (FAFSA). The University of West Florida offers minimal or no financial assistance for non-degree-seeking students. For more information, visit the UWF financial aid site

Training funds are available from several sources to assist you in acquiring the financial resources to begin or continue your education. Visit the UWF IT Academy site for more information.

Florida Pre-Paid can be applied towards the online courses. Please note that the GIS Online Certificate course cost per credit hour is higher than for most other courses. So far, there have not been any cases where Florida Bright Futures has covered the tuition cost. Please contact Financial Aid for more information and cost specifics.

Graduate-level GIS Certificate

Students seeking a Graduate GIS Certificate will take 12 credit hours at the undergraduate-level and 12 credit hours at the graduate-level.

Applicants wanting to earn graduate-level GIS credit or to complete our graduate-level GIS certificate must provide proof of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and gain permission prior to summer term enrollments.

Q: Are GRE scores required to enroll in graduate level courses? 
A: No. Our Certificate program is not a degree program and therefore does not fall under degree program requirements.

This is not a degree program, it's a certificate program. Students enrolled in graduate-level GIS courses are eligible to earn a Graduate GIS Certificate.

Q: What makes the grad-level certificate different from the undergraduate certificate? 
A: The differences are:

  • Cost: Please see the Course Options - GIS Certificate page.
  • Course level: Grad-level students will be required to complete additional work, typically more readings, writing assignments and/or an extra project due at the end of the semester.
  • Grad-level students will receive a graduate certificate in GIS.

Q: Why take graduate level? 
A: Various Answers:

  • The graduate certificate is for those with an undergraduate degree who desire a greater challenge.
  • It does have some practical applications such as professional certification criteria from national certification institutions such as the GISCI. GISCI or similar institutions may offer more points for graduate credits than undergraduate.
  • Students pursuing a master's degree or desiring to obtain a master's degree may benefit. Many institutions allow transfer credit, 9 credit hours.

Q: Which courses are offered at the graduate level?
A: Any classes cross-listed at the 5000 level are available at graduate level. These are:

  • GIS 5100 - Applications in GIS
  • GIS 5990 - Archaeology Applications in GIS
  • GIS 5103 - GIS Programming
  • GIS 5935 - Special Topics in GIS
  • GIS 5999 - Archaeological Topics in GIS
  • GIS 5945 - Internship in GIS

Q: What kind of graduate programs can these credits be applied to?
A: Typically, GIS falls under Geography, Environmental Studies/Science and other related earth science programs/departments. No matter which degree program you are considering, it is a good idea to verify in advance if they will let you "roll in" UWF GIS credits. In general, 6 graduate credits may be transferred. The policy differs by school, program, department and advisor. Always check in advance!

For a list of online Master of Science programs offered at UWF that may accept our courses for grad credit, visit our online campus site at

Internship Course

Q: I am already working in a GIS position, will that count?
A: Yes, your current position will count towards your 130 hours. There is no need to acquire an additional GIS position.

Q: Will UWF secure a position for me?
A: No. However, your instructor will help you along the way. At the beginning of summer semester, your instructor will contact you to discuss your options. We provide students with a list of possible internships, and if needed, will also contact prospective employers on your behalf. We are here to help and will try all available outlets to find you a suitable position. Looking ahead, you will need a resume for most positions.

Q: Are internships paid?
A: Yes and no. That is dependent upon your job placement and available funding. We would love to see all of our students compensated, but that is not always the case.

Q: Can I work remotely?
A: Yes. We have students each year who complete internship work using the remote desktop at home on their own time.

Q: Can I start working before fall semester?
A: Yes. Work completed up to one year before the course is acceptable. This does require departmental pre-approval.

Q: What if I already work full time or have no spare time for a physical/remote internship?
A: Online GIS understands the needs of our students and subsequently created an alternative option. Please visit our Current Students page for more information about the Internship Alternative Group 2.

Military Students

Q: Is this program approved by the Dept. of Veterans (MGI Bill)?
A: Yes it is. This is a credit-earning certificate from a regionally accredited SOC institution

Continuing Education and the Online GIS Certificate Program accept various forms of VA payment.

We recommend all military and veteran students visit the UWF Military and Veterans Resource Center for personalized assistance:

Terry Genton is a UWF Student Services Representative and VA Certifying Official who works with students to manage their claims and files.

UWF has been listed as a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs Magazine for three consecutive years.

Q: I need an advisor to provide a course plan to complete VA certification for the Online GIS Certificate Program. Whom do I contact?
A: Please send your request to Amber Bloechle via email at abloechle@uwf.eduand she will ensure your plan is sent to the UWF VA office for approval.


To enroll:

  • Prospective students must apply to the Online GIS Certificate Program before the scheduled deadline and be accepted in order to participate. Program Application.
  • We prefer applicants who show genuine interest in learning GIS.

To participate:

  • Students should have continuous access to a computer with at least a broadband (high-speed) internet connection. The purpose is to have a reliable connection to UWF servers hosting GIS software and data.
  • Ability to access course materials and communicate with instructors and classmates on a regular basis through email and class discussion boards.
  • Ensure basic computer skills are met. Students who are comfortable navigating the internet, exploring new software programs and troubleshooting will do well in this program.
  • Ensure recommended computer requirements are met (students may access software with MAC or PC)
  • Although there are not requirements associated with English proficiency for this program, all course materials are presented in the English language. Furthermore, GIS students are required to complete course assignments in English.

To earn Certificate:

Students who complete required GIS courses with at least a 3.0 GPA (over 7 courses) will be awarded a GIS Certificate (undergraduate and graduate levels).

State Employees

Q: As a State employee, can I use my tuition waiver to pay for Online GIS Certificate Program courses?
A: As this is not a state funded program, unfortunately, we do not accept State employee tuition waivers.

UWF Policy
"Waiver of fees is not authorized for the following kinds of courses: directed studies, practicums, internships, music and theatre performance, Continuing Education, and other one-on-one course situations such as theses and dissertations."

Transfer Credit and Course Waivers

Q: I've been working in the GIS industry for years, can I be waived or test out of your basic GIS courses in order to complete the GIS certificate?
A: Experience alone will not be accepted as a form of credit to waive any course in our program.

If you have completed a GIS course within the last 6 years from an approved Regionally Accredited University in the United States that is listed in our program within the last 6 years or so, you may qualify for a course waiver (exemption from taking the course). Military training, unfortunately, does not fall under this category and will not be accepted for credit.

We will accept one equivalent course at equivalent level per student for 3-4 credit hours if the qualifications are met.

Q: Whom do I contact regarding possible course waivers and what information do I need to provide?
A: Upon acceptance, students wishing to receive a waiver should provide transcripts and accompanied course syllabus or at least a course description via email to Amber Bloechle for review. Only the Environmental Studies Department Chair and the Online GIS Certificate Program have the ability to accept or deny course waivers for this program.


Information regarding current tuition rates can be found on our website on theCourse Options - GIS Certificate page

You should find our tuition rates to be competitively priced.

This program has a flat tuition rate regardless of location. The application fee is also waived.

Where to pay tuition? Tuition is to be paid through the UWF Cashier's office. The preferred payment method is check or credit card. More information will be presented to students once accepted into the program.

When to pay tuition? We follow the tuition/registration payment due dates set by the University unless notified otherwise. Payment will be due at the beginning of each new semester. Tuition fees are equal to the amount of credit hours times the current tuition rate listed on the Course Options - GIS Certificate page for the courses you are enrolled in.

For specific due dates, please view the UWF academic calendar.

Undergraduate level GIS Certificate Courses

All courses are available at the undergraduate level. Pre-requisites are waived and you do not need to provide transcripts in order to enroll. (Pre-requisites are required for the UWF face-to-face GIS Certificate Program.)

The undergraduate-level GIS Certificate is the most common and IS widely accepted among the industry as baseline GIS education. Students without previous GIS knowledge or experience are eligible for at least an entry level GIS position with a GIS Certificate in hand.

This is not a degree program, it's a certificate program. Students enrolled in undergraduate-level GIS courses are eligible to earn a GIS Certificate.

If you are a student seeking course credit to be used towards a full degree, or if you wish to receive financial aid, you will need to apply to the University as a degree seeking student (application fee assessed) and speak to a UWF advisor for permission to take our online courses.

All accepted students will be enrolled in undergraduate courses unless proper documentation is provided and permission is granted to enroll in graduate-level courses.

Who should apply for the online GIS Certificate Program?
  • Those interested in learning both the theoretical and practical/working knowledge of an exciting, fast growing, cross-disciplinary technology field- Geographic Information Science.
  • Working professionals looking to advance their career or meet current job requirements with advanced GIS skills as well as earn points towards the GISP certification - growing demands in both public and private sectors.
  • New learners looking to jump-start a career in GIS or incorporate GIS analysis in current research or interests. Upon completion of the UWF GIS Certificate, students without working experience (previous or through internship) are qualified for entry-level GIS positions.
  • Recent graduates or returning students who wish to acquire technical GIS skills and expertise to support current interests and knowledge. Many of our undergraduate students return to complete the GIS certificate after realizing job market demands - employers really do prefer applicants with GIS skills.
  • UWF Emerald Coast Campus/Ft. Walton Beach students or prospective students wanting or needing to complete the GIS certificate to fulfill degree requirements online vs. face to face due to schedule conflicts and/or travel.
Whom to Contact

Please visit for all information. Ninety percent of questions asked are answered on the website.

For general inquiries about the UWF Online Campus, please visit the Online Campus website, or contact the Online Campus Coordinator.

Specific questions regarding Online GIS Certificate program courses should be directed to Due to the high volume of emails, questions may take 48 hours to be answered.

Please do not call UWF Admissions or any faculty / staff within the Department of Environmental Studies as they will not be able to provide you with the correct information.

Why Choose the UWF Online GIS Certificate Program?

GIS is a key emerging and evolving industry with numerous career path opportunities. Our certificate can help you achieve the skills and knowledge needed for a job in the GIS field or for advancement in your current GIS position. There are many people working in the field without an educational background in GIS. There is an opportunity for students of all skill levels to learn and to be challenged by both the theory and analysis covered in our program.

You can make yourself more marketable by becoming a GISP. Our program's credits count as points towards earning your GIS Professional License. For more information regarding the GISP, visit

We measure the success of students who complete the program, by assessing the passing rate and keeping in touch with students who have completed the certificate. The majority of our students have found GIS work in both the governmental and private sectors.

Our program tuition rates are competitively priced. By offering our courses at a lower rate than our competitors, we hope to make an education in this exciting and growing field more attractive and manageable to our students.

The certificate is completely online, including access to the software needed for class. You do not need to meet in a class room at a particular time, but simply keep up with course materials on your own time and wherever you can access the internet. Our students will have access to software for the duration of the certificate or as long as enrollment status is active.

UWF and the Continuing Education department strive to offer students the most up-to-date learning experience through software and course content. We update our program content and software on a yearly basis.

  • We are often asked how our program differs from a course offered through ESRI: The UWF certificate program teaches GIS theory as well as wide array ArcGIS and other software skills. ESRI campus teaches how to maneuver within ArcGIS software and complete specific tasks.
  • We teach our students how to find data outside of the University archives and how to make it work for their particular needs. ESRI provides data in a neat, ready to use file.
  • While ESRI does provide support, our certificate program offers a more personalized environment. Students have access to multiple outlets of communication with the instructors and fellow students including discussion forums, email, phone, chat, and interactive web meetings.
  • I would only suggest an ESRI campus course over our certificate if the student wanted to only learn to perform a specific task, or use a particular tool. Online Certificate students at UWF may request to take select ESRI virtual campus courses free of charge. While most of our exercises are designed and tested by us, we sometimes supplement with ESRI virtual campus courses as well.