Learning GIS > Courses

Last Updated on July 26, 2022

GIS Courses at UMass Amherst

Syllabi are now available for a selection of UMass Amherst GIS courses! View them here.

GIS Courses at the Five Colleges

Course Descriptions

CE-ENGIN 497A/597A – Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems in Engineering

This course is designed to teach students about the fundamentals associated with the development of innovative technology applications in the air transportation systems area. Emphasis will be placed on airport, ground operations; the design and deployment of the next generation air traffic management system (NEXTGEN); and the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national air space (NAS).

Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisite: CE-ENGIN 310.

CE-ENGIN 497UA/597UA – Scientific Techniques of UAS Remote Sensing

Winter 2021
Ryan Wicks
TuFr 12:00PM – 1:30PM
Fully remote class

This course will introduce the basic techniques needed for UAS pilots to begin to support scientific projects with their UAS operations and to do rudimentary analysis with their own raw data products using geographic information systems (GIS) software. Topics covered will include how to measure and quantify spatial error and accuracy of data products, how to accurately measure multispectral at surface reflectance, how to accurately measure temperature using thermal imagery, and techniques for how to synthesize data products into a rudimentary analysis.

Enrollment Requirements:

UWW class; $47/term reg. fee + $482/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/uww/resources/refund-policy. Familiarity with GIS is highly recommended.

CE-ENGIN 470ST/570ST – Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Engineers

Spring 2022
Nick Tooker
Lecture: Mo 9:05AM – 9:55AM
Lab Sections: Tu 4:00PM – 6:45PM, Fr 1:25PM – 4:25PM
Link to syllabus (Spring 2022)

Introduction to fundamental principles and concepts necessary to carry out meaningful and appropriate geographic analysis with geographic information science (GIS). Reinforcement of key issues in GIS such as geographic coordinate systems, map projections, spatial analysis, use of remotely sensed data, and visualization of spatial data. Laboratory exercises use database query, database manipulation, and spatial analysis to address problems in hydrology, water treatment, renewable energy, and transportation with an emphasis on engineering design. Students will gain familiarity with the leading commercial and open-source GIS platforms.

Enrollment Requirements: Open to undergraduates with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and graduate students. Prerequisite: CE-ENGIN 270. UWW class; $47/term reg. fee + $569/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/uww/resources/refund-policy.

CE-ENGIN 650 – Unoccupied Aerial Systems (UAS) FAA Remote Pilot Certification Prep

Fall 2022
David Price
We 4:00PM – 6:00PM

This course provides students with an understanding of the various topics required by the FAA to obtain Remote Pilot Certification.  At the end of this course, students will be prepared to take their FAA Remote Pilot Written Test.  Students will also have an understanding of current public policy and regulations related to UAS in the United States.

CE-ENGIN 651 – Piloting UAVs

Fall 2022
Ryan Wicks
TuTh 8:00AM – 10:00AM

This course is intended to introduce students to the basics of flying and operating unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) multirotor aircraft safely and reliably. This course assumes no prior knowledge of UAVs or prior flying experience. This course is primarily focused on guiding students as they develop practical flying skills, but will also cover basic information on multirotor function, diagnostics, and maintenance. Preflight procedures are a key part of flying safely and will be covered. Most class time will be dedicated to providing flying practice for students. Students will be introduced to principal concerns operating in the United States national airspace, but this course will not comprehensively cover material for the FAA part 107 written test that is required for commercial operation of UAVs.

ECO 602 – Analysis of Environmental Data

Fall 2022
Michael Nelson
Lecture: TuTh 8:30AM – 9:45AM
Lab: We 12:20PM – 3:45PM
Link to course website

This course provides students with an introduction to basic concepts critical to the proper use and understanding of statistics in environmental conservation and prepares students for subsequent ECo courses in statistical modeling.

The overall goal of this course is to provide students with a gentle introduction and overview of the range of statistical techniques widely used in ecology and conservation. The specific objectives are for students to:

  • Gain a broad understanding of the role of statistics in ecology and conservation.
  • Recognize and critically assess study designs commonly used in ecology and conservation.
  • Assess which types of analyses are appropriate for different study designs and data types.
  • Build a broad conceptual and applied understanding of the range of frequently used analyses.
  • Refine written and oral communication skills.

ECO 697DD – Spatial Databases and Data Interoperability

Fall 2022
Alexander Stepanov
Th 2:30PM – 3:45PM, Fr 2:30PM – 3:45PM
Link to syllabus (Fall 2021)

This course will introduce students to modern approaches in working, managing and sharing geospatial data. The course focuses on exposing students to state-of-the-art practices in retrieving/selecting, aggregating, analyzing and processing geospatial data from multiple heterogeneous sources and technologies, such as relational databases (RDBMS), spatially enabled RDBMS, NoSQL databases, file-based databases, CAD, BIM, web-services, web-APIs, XML-based spatial data, GeoJSON, KML, cloud-based repositories and open data hubs.

ECO 697DR – Spatial Data Analysis in R

Spring 2022
Michael Nelson
Lecture: MoWe 11:15am – 12:05pm
Lab: We 12:20PM – 2:15PM
Link to course website
Link to syllabus (Spring 2022)

Spatial data provides an extra layer of information that provides an opportunity to gain powerful insights from our data. Analysis of spatial data also poses unique challenges and pitfalls. In this course, students will learn a range of techniques for analyzing data with spatial information, from both a theoretical standpoint as well as implementation of methods in R. Topics covered in the course include descriptive and inferential concepts in that students are likely to encounter in their research including (but not limited to) spatial autocorrelation, clustering, interpolation, and geographically weighted regression.

Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisite: ECO 602 and 635.

ECO 697K / DACSS 697K– Python for ArcGIS

Spring 2022
Andy Anderson
TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM
Link to syllabus (Fall 2021)

This course will cover a number of methods and applications in GIS. Basic automation methods of repetitive or complex tasks using Model Builder and Python scripting will be covered first. Then these methods will be applied to a number of common problems in Natural Resources including home range definition species habitat relationships, occupancy models, and movement analysis.

Enrollment Requirements: Pre-Requisite: NRC 585 or instructor’s permission.

GEOGRAPH 352/592M – Computer Mapping

Spring 2022
Avery Panza
TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM
Link to syllabus (Spring 2022)

This course provides introductory exposure to the basic cartography skills used for digital map making. We’ll primarily be using ArcGIS Pro and Adobe Illustrator to map physical environments as well as 3D scenes. Course learning goals include a fundamental understanding of map composure, as well as map elements such as north arrows, scale bars, and legends. We will also go over general best practices for data management such as zipping and unzipping file archives and geodatabases. By the end of term, you’ll have an Introductory level understanding of ESRI’s mapping software as well as Adobe AI for graphic design within maps or elsewhere.

Enrollment Requirements: Additional fees are associated with this section. GEOGRAPH 352 is open to Undergraduate Students only. 

GEOGRAPH 426/626 – Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation

Fall 2022
Abhishek Kumar
Lecture: TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM
Lab: Tu 2:30PM – 4:30PM
Link to course website
Link to syllabus (Fall 2021)

This course introduces the principles of digital image analysis for interpreting remotely sensed data for environmental, resource and urban studies. Emphasis will be given to the processing and information extraction from optical and thermal imagery.

GEOGRAPH 468/668 – GIS and Spatial Analysis

Spring 2022
Qian Yu
TuTh 11:30AM –12:45PM
Link to course website
Link to syllabus (Spring 2022)

This course introduces fundamental concepts and methods of geographic information system. Emphasis on developing skills using GIS to solve typical spatial problems in the geosciences and environmental sciences.

Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisite: NRC 585 or GEOGRAPH 593G, or Intro to GIS equivalent. Lab fees are associated with this section. Undergrads register for 468 and grads register for 668.

GEOGRAPH 491P/691P – GIS Programming

Fall 2022
Seda Şalap-Ayça
TuTh 11:30 AM – 12:45 PM
Multimodal
Link to syllabus (Fall 2021)

This course will cover a number of programming methods and applications in GIS. Students are going to begin with getting familiar with the ArcGIS environment and continue to explore fundamentals of programming in Python while learning the Model Builder interface. Students will explore basic automation methods of repetitive or complex tasks, this course will also introduce foundations of computer science and computational thinking. After gaining proficiency in Model Builder, this course will expand to other python scripting applications, both within ArcGIS and in other platforms. By exploring many applications of programming to advance GIS analysis and improve workflows, students will build a strong base of knowledge and capacity for future learning and flexibility with programming in GIS.

Course readings, lectures, discussions, in-class activities, and assignments are designed to help you to:

  • Learn the fundamentals of computer programming.
  • Consider how GIS applications interface with programming functions.
  • Practice writing scripts in many forms.
  • Examine and practice foundations of computational thinking; and
  • Create novel GIS programming solutions through independent skill building

GEOGRAPH 493A/693A – Cartography and Geovisualization

Fall 2022
Seda Şalap-Ayça
TuTh 8:30AM – 9:45AM
Multimodal

Summer 2022
UWW Summer Session 1
Seda Şalap-Ayça
TBD
Online
Link to syllabus (Fall 2021)

In this course, students will identify the principles of good design in cartography along with recognizing the human vision and how it influences perception and cognition. The course will also cover the scope of contemporary thematic cartography and web mapping. Throughout the semester, students will demonstrate hands-on experience in designing and improving web-based maps.

Course readings, lectures, discussions, in-class activities, and assignments are designed to help students to:

  • apply the fundamentals of cartography for designing better maps
  • practice GIS tools to improve the visual quality of cartographic products
  • practice various map types through independent design and exploration

Enrollment requirements: This is a multimodal course, and meets with the following sections: University, UWW, and Mt. Ida. The University sections will be held at the Amherst campus remote synchronously, at Mt. Ida face-to-face. The UWW section will be fully asynchronous with options for synchronous interactions for interested students. Please contact your Advisor for more info. UWW class; $60/term reg. fee + $495/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/uww/resources/refund-policy. This class is fully asynchronous with options for synchronous interactions.

GEOGRAPH 493S/693S – Spatial Decision Making and Support

Summer 2022
UWW Summer Session 1
Seda Şalap-Ayça
TBD
Online
Link to syllabus in Google Docs 
Link to syllabus (Spring 2022)

This graduate-level course is aimed at students who have a foundation in basic GIS techniques and applications and are interested in expanding their knowledge into their area of spatial decision making and visualization of the decision maps. We will start with the linkage between GIScience, spatial analysis, and decision support. We will then discuss different decision-making techniques and highlight the important distinction between conventional MCDA methods and spatially explicitly multicriteria approaches. An overview of handling spatial uncertainty as well as sensitivity analysis will be discussed. The course will also introduce Python scripting for geoprocessing as flexible approach for the development of spatial decision-making models.

In this course, students will:

  • Learn the fundamentals of spatial decision making and support
  • Become familiar with using Python scripting to solve decision-making problems for spatial models
  • Create decision analysis maps along with uncertainty/sensitivity maps in order to support the decision-making process

Enrollment Requirements: This is a multimodal course, and meets with the following sections: University, UWW, and Mt. Ida. The University sections will be held at the Amherst campus remote synchronously, at Mt. Ida face-to-face. The UWW section will be fully asynchronous with options for synchronous interactions for interested students. Please contact your Advisor for more info. UWW class; $60/term reg. fee + $495/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/uww/resources/refund-policy. This class is fully asynchronous with options for synchronous interactions.

GEOGRAPH 493W/693W / NRC 597GW – WebGIS

Spring 2022
Amanda Suzzi
TuTh 8:30AM – 9:45PM
Link to syllabus (Spring 2022)
Link to syllabus (Spring 2021)

Students in WebGIS will explore web-based applications in geographic information science. This course will focus on hands-on practice using and building web-based mapping and analysis platforms, including Google Maps, ArcGIS Online, Leaflet, and Open Street Map. Along with conceptual discussion of how the internet, web servers, and cloud-based GIS services function, students will create and host web services relevant to their coursework, research, or professional goals.

Enrollment Requirements: UWW class; $47/term reg. fee + $482/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/uww/resources/refund-policy. This class is fully asynchronous with options for synchronous interactions.

GEOGRAPH 497A/697A – Geocomputation

Spring 2022
Seda Şalap-Ayça
TuTh 1:00PM – 2:15PM
Multimodal
Link to syllabus in Google Docs
Link to syllabus (Spring 2022)

Automated geography helps us to understand the complex geographic phenomena that are intractable to solve by conventional techniques. This class focuses on opportunities for taking a computational approach to the solution of complex spatial problems, often non-deterministic. Through introductory lab practices and foundational lectures, the course covers various computer-based models and techniques applicable to spatial science, including expert systems, cellular automata, agent-based modeling, genetic algorithms, visualization, and data mining. The goals of this course are to teach basic geocomputation concepts through theory and practice to enable students to better use of the vast spatial data, exploit the value of this information resources and expand the spatial information towards analysis and modeling. Students are expected to design and implement a project which will enable them to practice the skills that they acquired during the course.

Enrollment requirements: This is a multimodal course, and meets with the following sections: University, UWW, and Mt. Ida. The University sections will be held at the Amherst campus remote synchronously, at Mt. Ida face-to-face. The UWW section will be fully asynchronous with options for synchronous interactions for interested students. Please contact your Advisor for more info. UWW class; $47/term reg. fee + $482/credit. Refunds differ from Univ. day classes; see www.umass.edu/uww/resources/refund-policy. This class is fully asynchronous with options for synchronous interactions.

GEOGRAPH 585 / DACSS 697B / NRC 585 – Introduction to GIS

Summer 2022
UWW Summer Session 1
Michael Nelson
TuTh 9:30AM – 10:45AM
CPE Class with Moodle
Link to course website (Summer 2022 – Session 1)
Link to syllabus (Summer 2022 – Session 1)
Link to syllabus (Summer 2021 – Session 1)
Link to syllabus (Summer 2021 – Session 2)

This class serves as an introduction to Geographic Information Science (GIS). GIS is the science of spatial relationships, linking data to locations to explore relations between objects. Based in geographic thought and emerging from initial applications in natural resource management, GIS has evolved to be a universally applicable way of thinking and set of tools. Through lab work and foundational lecture, this course covers the guiding principles behind various facets of GIS including the nature of spatial data, map projections, spatial analysis, and cartographic production. By evaluating the relationship between different spatial information you can identify the best location for new development, locate pollution point sources, find the easiest way to get from point A to point B, and develop a better understanding of the way the world interacts. The goals of this course are to teach you basic GIS concepts through practice and theory to enable you to make useful and meaningful contributions to various disciplines through spatial analysis. Throughout this course, you will be challenged to not only think spatially, but apply spatial analysis techniques within GIS.

Enrollment Requirements: UWW class; $60/term reg. fee + $580/credit. 

GEOGRAPH 593T – Teaching and Learning in GIS

Fall 2022
Forrest Bowlick
TBA

Students in this course will learn about the pedagogy behind GIS curriculum and instruction through practice as lab assistants in an introductory GIS course. Alongside readings establishing evidence-based practices in GIS instruction, students will work to identify barriers and frustrations for GIS learners, and ways to overcome them.

Enrollment Requirements: This is a course which supports students who are serving as lab assistants in an Introduction to GIS labs. Students in this role apply for and are selected to serve in this position. Please contact faculty for more information.

NATSCI 191CNS96 – Maps and More: Thinking Spatially

Fall 2019
Amanda Suzzi
We 12:20PM – 1:10PM
Link to syllabus (Fall 2019)

What is spatial thinking? Whether it is an outbreak of a disease, the discovery of a new species, the path of a tornado, or the location of the nearest pizza place, knowing about where things happen is important to how we understand and relate to our local environment and to the world at large. This course will help students develop problem-solving skills, cultivate critical thinking skill, and foster data literacy skills, through employing cutting-edge technology to address real-world problems.

Enrollment Requirements: Open to Natural Sciences Freshman with a declared major or on the Natural Sciences Exploratory Track.

NRC 585 / GEOGRAPH 585 / DACSS 697B – Introduction to GIS

Fall 2022
Forrest Bowlick
Lecture: Th 11:30AM – 12:45PM
Lab Sections: Th 2:30PM – 5:30PM, Fr 9:05AM – 12:05PM, Fr 1:25PM – 4:25PM
Link to syllabus (Spring 2022)
Link to syllabus (Fall 2021)

Summer 2022
UWW Summer Session 1
Michael Nelson
TuTh 9:30AM – 10:45AM
CPE Class with Moodle
Link to course website (Summer 2022)
Link to syllabus (Summer 2022)
Link to syllabus (Summer 2021 – Session 1)
Link to syllabus (Summer 2021 – Session 2)

This class serves as an introduction to Geographic Information Science (GIS). GIS is the science of spatial relationships, linking data to locations to explore relations between objects. Based in geographic thought and emerging from initial applications in natural resource management, GIS has evolved to be a universally applicable way of thinking and set of tools. Through lab work and foundational lecture, this course covers the guiding principles behind various facets of GIS including the nature of spatial data, map projections, spatial analysis, and cartographic production. By evaluating the relationship between different spatial information you can identify the best location for new development, locate pollution point sources, find the easiest way to get from point A to point B, and develop a better understanding of the way the world interacts. The goals of this course are to teach you basic GIS concepts through practice and theory to enable you to make useful and meaningful contributions to various disciplines through spatial analysis. Throughout this course, you will be challenged to not only think spatially, but apply spatial analysis techniques within GIS.

Enrollment Requirements: Open to undergraduate Geography majors and MS-Geography students.

NRC 592B – Readings In GIS

Fall 2019
Forrest Bowlick
Tu 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Link to syllabus (Fall 2019)

The primary goal of this course is to expose students to a variety of concepts, practices, and applications in geographic information science (GIS). Through extensive readings and discussions, this course will review key developments in the history of GIS, outline and explore the transition of GIS from a systems to a science perspective, and provide opportunities for students to consider domain-based approaches along their interests.

NRC 597B / SPP 597B – Unmanned Aerial Systems: Applications and Policy

Spring 2022
Charles Schweik
TuTh 2:30PM – 3:45PM

This is a project-based interdisciplinary course which will provide instruction and guidance to students as they gain practical experience using UASs in a variety of applications. Classroom instruction will cover: mission planning, data analysis, data visualization and UAS public policy in national and international contexts. Additionally, students will have lab instruction in which they process and analyze imagery and data acquired by UASs using combinations of different photogrammetry and GIS software packages. The course content is not exhaustive, but rather this is an introductory course that develops fundamental skills that students will need to execute their own projects using UASs. Example projects might include: Damage assessment and Infrastructure Inspection, Agricultural Health Assessment, Real-time mapping and Development of GIS layers, Invasive species mapping.

Enrollment Requirements: Pre-Requisite: NRC 585. Prerequisite: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems or Instructor’s permission.

NRC 597GP – GIS Problem Solving

Spring 2021
Bethany Bradley
We 9:00AM – 12:00PM
Fully remote class
Link to syllabus (Spring 2021)

This course aims to advance your GIS problem solving skills through a deeper exploration of tools for spatial analysis and visualization. The course is project-based, so if you enjoyed the final project in Intro GIS, you’ll find a similar experience here. You will gain more proficiency with GIS and hone your skills in cartography.

Enrollment Requirements: Prerequisite: NRC 585 or GEOGRAPH 593G. Additional fees are associated with this section.

REGIONPL 625 – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Planning

Spring 2022
Henry Renski
MoWe 2:30PM – 3:45PM
Link to syllabus (Spring 2021)

This is an introductory, graduate-level course in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in urban and regional planning.

The primary objectives of this course are for students to develop competency in the use of GIS software and in applying this technology to address problems typical to the practice of planning. Specific objectives include:

  • understanding the functions and capabilities of a GIS software (ArcGIS Pro);
  • obtaining, evaluating, and creating spatially referenced data;
  • understanding the basic principles of map design and the effective presentation and communication of spatial data;
  • understanding GIS terminology and core principles of Geographic Information Science (GIScience); and
  • integrating GIS-based spatial analytical tools with complimentary methods of Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) and spatial methods of quantitative data analysis.

REGIONPL 673 – Spatial Analysis and Regional Development

Fall 2022
Henry Renski
MoWe 2:30PM – 3:45PM

This course is a hands-on study in regional and local economic, demographic and spatial analysis methods commonly used by planners and economic development policy analysts.

Courses

ARHA-232 / ARCH 232 – Cartographic Cultures

Fall 2019
Dwight Carey
MW 12:30PM-01:50PM

This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will question the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.

Courses

GEOG 205 – Mapping and Spatial Analysis

Fall 2022
Thomas Millette
MoWe 10:00AM – 11:15AM

Provides a comprehensive introduction to maps, including their design, compilation, and computer production. Introduces students to the principles of abstracting the Earth’s surface into spatial databases using GIS, remote sensing, and Global Positioning Satellites.

GEOG 210 – GIS for Soc Sci & Humanities

Fall 2021
Eugenio Marcano
MW 8:30AM – 9:45PM

This course introduces the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other geospatial technologies in the social sciences and the humanities. The student will learn to collect, process, and analyze quantitative data within the spatial (geographic) context where they occur. Course content may include research topics from current faculty.

Courses

GEO 150 / ENV 150 – Modeling Our World: Intro GIS

Fall 2022
Jack Loveless
MoWeFr 10:50AM – 12:05PM

A geographic information system (GIS) enables data and maps to be overlain, queried and visualized in order to solve problems in many diverse fields. This course provides an introduction to the fundamental elements of GIS and applies the analysis of spatial data to issues in geoscience, environmental science and public policy. Students gain expertise in ArcGIS — the industry standard GIS software — and online mapping platforms, and carry out semester-long projects in partnership with local conservation organizations and/or campus offices. Enrollment limited to 20.

GEO 251 – Geomorphology

Spring 2022
Gregory de Wet
MoWe 10:50AM – 12:05PM

The study of landforms and their significance in terms of the processes that form them. Selected reference is made to examples in the New England region and the classic landforms of the world. During the first part of the semester laboratories involve learning to use geographic information system (GIS) software to analyze landforms. During the second part of the semester laboratories include field trips to examine landforms in the local area. Prerequisite: 101, or 102, or 108 or FYS 103.