GIS Development

Master of Science in Cartography & Geographic Information Systems

Hands type on a laptop with mapping software on the screen

Gain cutting-edge knowledge in GIS programming, software development, and web mapping for the 21st century.


Is this program right for you?

The UW–Madison GIS Development professional master’s program was created to meet the growing demand for individuals skilled in GIS software development and online map programming/web mapping.

If you are a working professional who learned GIS before the growth of GIS software development and online map programming, this program is right for you. Currently, GIS education is not keeping up with the field’s rapidly changing technology. Our new program allows working professionals and international students working in fields ranging from geography, engineering, health care, data journalism, and natural and social sciences to advance their education, keep pace with technology, and learn new tools and techniques for web mapping and GIS application support.

Our fully online global program offers students an online experience that includes the world-renown expertise, support, and network of UW–Madison. Our highly personalized and interactive program includes guest speakers, group projects, community engagement, and networking. The program is designed for full-time students and working professionals, and allows you to customize the program to fit your life. A lifelong learning component allows you to keep pace with changes in software and technology, even after you earn your degree.

Is this program right for you?

The UW–Madison GIS Development professional master’s program was created to meet the growing demand for individuals skilled in GIS software development and online map programming/web mapping.

If you are a working professional who learned GIS before the growth of GIS software development and online map programming, this program is right for you. Currently, GIS education is not keeping up with the field’s rapidly changing technology. Our new program allows working professionals and international students working in fields ranging from geography, engineering, health care, data journalism, and natural and social sciences to advance their education, keep pace with technology, and learn new tools and techniques for web mapping and GIS application support.

Our fully online global program offers students an online experience that includes the world-renown expertise, support, and network of UW–Madison. Our highly personalized and interactive program includes guest speakers, group projects, community engagement, and networking. The program is designed for full-time students and working professionals, and allows you to customize the program to fit your life. A lifelong learning component allows you to keep pace with changes in software and technology, even after you earn your degree.

Admissions requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Have completed a minimum of two undergraduate-level courses in introductory GIS and/or cartography and one course in quantitative methods/statistics. Equivalent work experience will also be considered.
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
  • Submit evidence of English language proficiency, if applicable. The required proficiency scores are: TOEFL IBT 92, PBT 580; or IELTS 7.0.

Application materials required:

Connect with us

Program Overview: Design + Innovation

September 30
noon-12:30 p.m.
Join enrollment coach Zach Benson to get more information about the Design + Innovation master's program including curriculum, application process and potential career paths. There will be time available to answer your questions!
Register for Design + Innovation Program Overview

Program Overview: Sustainable Systems Engineering

October 07
6-6:30 p.m.
Join program director Joy Altwies to get more information about the Sustainable Systems Engineering master's program including details on curriculum, learning outcomes, and application process.
Register for Sustainable Systems Engineering Program Overview

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Program highlights

  • The cartography and GIS master’s program is completely online, so you can earn your degree from anywhere in the world, on your schedule.
  • Unlike other programs, we focus on GIS development. You learn programming, mobile add creation, and web mapping—and we make sure you know all of the languages and technologies employers are looking for.
  • Our lifelong education plan ensures your skills are never dated. You have annual access to new lab materials from the classes you’ve completed, webinars from GIS experts, video tutorials from faculty, networking opportunities, and more.

How you'll learn

  • Fully online curriculum; you choose when you do most of your work each week.
  • Attend courses virtually, alongside peers from around the world.
  • Capstone course and practicum may be taken concurrently.

Sample curriculum

Core Courses

  • Geocomputing
  • GIS and Spatial Analysis
  • Graphic Design in Cartography
  • Interactive Cartography and Geovisualization
  • Spatial Database
  • Spatial Web and Mobile Programming

Other Requirements

  • Master’s Level Capstone in GIS Development
  • Practicum in GIS Development

Job outlook

Top Job Titles
  • GIS Analyst1
  • GIS Specialist
  • GIS Technician
  • Cartographer
  • GIS Developer
Top Industries
  • Government (Federal, state and regional)2
  • Surveying, engineering and construction
  • Utilities (Electrical, telecommunications)
  • Academic
  • Environment and natural resources

Market Salary
$64K in 2019

Job Postings
2,273 in 2019

Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight. 2020.
Burning Glass Technologies’ Market Salary is an estimated expected salary. Market Salary uses machine learning algorithms to account for experience, skill, and education among other factors that may impact individual salaries.
Source 1 : Burning Glass and alumni survey data
Source 2: What Can You Do with a GIS Degree?

Ready to learn more about GIS Development?
View the UW-Madison Guide

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Connect with our enrollment coaches

Our friendly, knowledgeable enrollment coaches are here to answer your questions. Contact an enrollment coach to:

  • Learn how to make this program work with your life/schedule
  • Verify credit transfers
  • Get help with your application
  • Determine if financial aid is available

Visit with our coaches on campus or at an upcoming student fair in your area. Search student fairs & events

Connect with a coach

Todd Harrington

 I always wanted to be able to do more with GIS than what I was capable of at the time. I did some research and found that Wisconsin geography was well known and had just started the online program. Each course has built on the last one, which is really helpful since it reinforces what you just learned. 

Todd Harrington | GIS & Web Map Programming