Certificate Programs in Geography

The Department of Geography at Western Michigan University offers two certificate programs and one affiliated certificate program for graduate students.

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 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Drone on a table getting prepped to flyThe certificate program in geospatial applications of unmanned aerial vehicles provides post-baccalaureate students with the basic knowledge necessary to become an FAA-licensed small Unmanned (sUAS) remote pilot. This nine credit hour certificate program focuses on obtaining and analyzing airborne imagery to yield accurate 2-dimensional maps of earth surface land cover and vegetation health, digital surface/terrain models, and 3-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 sUAS 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 2-D orthophotomosaics and 3-D models.


The certificate consists of three classes:

AVS 5300–Unmanned Aerial Systems I
GEOG 5830–Remote Sensing
GEOG 5840–Digital Photogrammetry

See the WMU catalog for requirements.

Certificate in climate change policy and management (Affiliated program)

The Graduate Certificate Program in Climate Change Policy and Management provides professional training to address challenges arising from the climate crisis from a policy and/or management perspective, in government, private, and/or non-profit sectors. Six classes (18 credit hours) are required to complete the program, with a grade point average of at least 3.0 out of 4.0, including three required classes and three selected from a list of approved classes.


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 our colleagues in the Department of Political Science and/or view the program flyer.

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. Emerson for more information about the GIS and Geospatial Applications for UAVs certificate programs.