The School of Environment, Geography, and Sustainability at Western Michigan University offers two certificate programs and one affiliated certificate program for graduate students. Assistantships/funding are not offered to students enrolled in certificate programs (funding is offered to those in the MS in Geography program).

Certificate in geographic information science (GIS)

The certificate program in geographic information science is designed for post-baccalaureate students in social and physical sciences, public administration, information technology, engineering, business and other disciplines where skills in handling and analyzing geographically distributed data are needed.

Skills acquired

The program provides a strong framework for developing competencies in geographic information systems, remote sensing and spatial analysis. Students completing the program will be able to:

  • Analyze and interpret patterns and trends in spatial data to aid decision making.
  • Collect, assemble, organize and manipulate spatial data using geographic information system software.
  • Use GIScience and image analysis software to model, design and analyze geographic problems and produce professional cartographic products such as maps and charts to aid solutions of those problems.


See the WMU catalog for requirements.

Certificate in geospatial applications of unOCCUPIED aIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (UAs)

Drone on a table getting prepped to flyThe certificate program in geospatial applications of unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS) provides post-baccalaureate students with the basic knowledge necessary to become an FAA-licensed small UAS remote pilot. This nine credit hour certificate program focuses on obtaining and analyzing airborne imagery to yield accurate two-dimensional maps of earth surface land cover and vegetation health, digital surface/terrain models, and three-dimensional models.

Skills acquired

Students who complete this certificate will be able to:

  • Master the body of aviation-related knowledge needed to become an FAA-licensed remote pilot.
  • Develop flight plans for acquiring imagery for earth surface mapping.
  • Acquire ground control points for georeferencing and accuracy assessment.
  • Use photogrammetric software to process overlapping images to create 2D orthophotomosaics and 3D point cloud models.


The certificate consists of three classes (9 credits total):

AVS 5300–Unmanned Aerial Systems I
GEOG 5830–Remote Sensing
GEOG 5840–UAS Data Capture, Processing, and Analysis

See the WMU catalog for requirements.

Certificate in climate change policy and management (Joint program)

The graduate certificate program in climate change policy and management, a joint program between the Department of Political Science and the School of Environment, Geography, and Sustainability, provides professional training to address challenges arising from the climate crisis from a policy and/or management perspective, in government, private and/or nonprofit sectors. National and international communities are only beginning to come to grips with the extraordinary challenges that climate change presents. These challenges include inter alia; transitions to renewable energy; increasing energy efficiency; adapting to widespread drought, heat waves, and rising sea levels; and supporting people displaced from their homes and livelihoods. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted that limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the target enshrined in the Paris Agreement, requires "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."

The graduate certificate program serves both early professionals and mid-career students. It offers a grounding in the science of climate change and its effects and training in areas of policy and management that are likely to see increasing demand. The program may be taken as a stand-alone program or concurrently with another WMU graduate program, in which case classes may be counted to fulfill requirements in both programs.


Required classes (9 credit hours):

GEOG 6250–Climatology
PSCI 5700–Managing Challenges from Climate Change
PSCI 5710–Environmentally Sustainable Development

Approved classes (select three, for 9 credit hours):

BIOS 5440–Global Change Ecology
GEOG 5570–Environmental Impact Assessment
GEOG 6260–Disaster Management
GEOG 6280–Data Analysis in Climate Science
GEOG 6300–Climate Change and Geography
PSCI 6311–Monitoring and Evaluation of International Development Projects
SOC 5600–Corporate and Governmental Crime
XXX 7100–Independent Research (3 credit hours, any department, with approval of program director)

Learn more about the certificate from the Department of Political Science.

See the WMU catalog for requirements.


To apply for either one of our certificate programs, follow the admission instructions for the Master of Science in geography.


Contact our graduate advisor Dr. Meng for more information about the GIScience and Geospatial Applications for UAVs certificate programs.