Home » Learning GIS » Tutorials


A curated collection of training resources we find helpful, ordered from beginner level to more advanced.

Open-Access and Free Resources

The Basics of GIS

A Gentle Introduction to GIS
By the QGIS Community. A good introductory resource for anyone new to GIS concepts or software.

Geometric Aspects of Mapping
By R. Knippers. Overview of the basic concepts of coordinate systems and map projections.

“A free introduction to geo.” Covers the basics of GIS data types, coordinate systems, symbolization, and simple analysis.

Beginner Tutorials

Beginner’s Guides to Map Reading
By the UK Ordnance Survey. A series of guides that teach you how to read a map, use a compass, measure distance, and understand contour lines, map scales, and grid references.

Iowa State GIS and Mapping Task Sheets
Quick 1-2 page instructions for accomplishing a range of mapping tasks.

Advanced Tutorials

Aerial Photographs Tutorial 2.0
By Christopher J.J. Thiry (Colorado School of Mines Library). Free online tutorial about how to use aerial photographs to learn about the landscape.

Harvard Libraries GIS Tutorials
By the folks at the Harvard Map Collection. The section “Tutorials” has an ever-growing collection of tutorials ranging in skill level.

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Natural Resources Management
By Charles M. Schweik (UMass Amherst). Lab exercise manual used in an Introduction to GIS class designed for undergraduates or graduate students. Material takes students through the fundamentals using ArcGIS v10.

Introduction to GIS with QGIS
By Frank Donnelly (Brown University). Tutorial designed to accompany a one-day workshop, which goes through the basics of QGIS to build a customized thematic map. Data is provided to work through the tutorial at your own pace.

Leventhal Map & Education Center Guides and Tutorials
By the folks at the Leventhal Center, Boston Public Library. Suite of tutorials and guides that searchable by topic and skill level, ranging from “Get Started with QGIS” to “Set up a PC to Use Python.”

QGIS Courses (SpatialThoughts)
By Ujaval Gandhi. Free asynchronous QGIS courses (basic and intermediate levels).

QGIS Tutorials and Tips
By Ujaval Gandhi. Series of tutorial that increase in skill level (from beginner to advanced), complete with step-by-step instructions and screenshots. Great introduction to QGIS software.

QGIS Training Manual
By the QGIS Community. The essential guide to QGIS, an open-source software that is built and maintained by a community of users across the globe.


GIScience YouTube Channel
By Brian Tomaszewski, Rochester Institute of Technology. Dozens of videos ranging from short beginner tutorials to advanced hour-long deep dives.

Grounded: QGIS for Beginners
By Fiona Stapleton (QGIS School). Learn the very basics of QGIS with this 5-part video series.

Intro to GIS Tutorial Videos
By Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab. Dozens of short videos about different features and tools in ArcGIS software.

Lynda.com (via the Boston Public Library)
A wide range of video courses about GIS are available for free with a library card from the Boston Public Library. If you live, work, study, or own property in Massachusetts, you can get a Boston Public Library card (eCards available for people outside Boston). Then visit the BPL Online Courses webpage to access Lynda.com. The Master GIS for Data Science Learning Path is a good place to start, combining 8 courses that cover ArcGIS, QGIS, and web GIS applications. 

QGIS4Arch and QGIS 2-Minute Tutorials
By AnthroYeti (Edward González-Tennant, University of Central Florida). Free online course for learning QGIS for those who work with cultural heritage resources, including archaeologists, architectural historians, and historians. The course is designed to take you from beginner to expert.


Esri Resources

Learn ArcGIS

The Esri Learn ArcGIS platform provides a suite of guided lessons that use real-world data to teach users how to use Esri’s various products. In addition to individual lessons, users can follow paths that provide a recommended course through a series of articles and related lessons. 

How to access Learn ArcGIS

  1. Visit https://learn.arcgis.com/en/
  2. Click Sign In in the top-right corner of the page.
  3. At the login page, click: Sign in with Enterprise Login
  4. Type “umass-amherst” into the text box.
  5. Click Sign in to University of Massachusetts-Amherst using UMASS-AMHERST.
  6. Enter your UMass credentials to login.

Recommended Lessons

Get Started with ArcGIS Online
Use public data to create a map of Houston, Texas, that allows you to identify areas at risk in the event of a hurricane. Create a web app to allow others to explore your map online.

Get Started with ArcGIS Pro
Learn the basics of ArcGIS Pro desktop software by locating tourist sites in Singapore, running a basic spatial analysis, and creating an appealing visual map.

Recommended Paths

Get to Know ArcGIS StoryMaps
A mix of articles, videos, and a short lesson to introduce you to the StoryMaps platform.

Map Projections
Great place to start learning about coordinates systems, and the differences between geographic and projected systems.

Manage GIS Data with a Geodatabase
Geodatabases are an Esri-proprietary format for organizing and managing geospatial data. They are commonly used in by government offices and private firms that need to deal with lots of geospatial data on a regular basis. If you are working with a big dataset (or with multiple related datasets), using a geodatabase may be a good strategy for your project. 

Esri Training Catalog

The Esri Training Catalog provides a wide range of training videos, tutorials, and other content for all of its software products and platforms. Lessons vary in length from 30 minutes to several hours.

How to access the Esri Training Catalog

  1. Visit https://www.esri.com/training/catalog/search/
  2. Click Sign In in the top-right corner of the page.
  3. At the login page, click: Sign in with Enterprise Login
  4. Type “umass-amherst” into the text box.
  5. Click Sign in to University of Massachusetts-Amherst using UMASS-AMHERST.
  6. Enter your UMass credentials to login.

Recommended for Basic Concepts

Python for Everyone
Learn fundamental Python concepts and be introduced to the Python scripting environment in ArcGIS. Tips and techniques to help you master proper Python syntax, script flow, and error handling are presented.

Map Design Fundamentals
This course presents design principles you can apply to create appealing maps that are easy to use and understand. You will learn how to combine layout composition, color, symbology, and text to design a map that clearly communicates your intended message.

Recommended for ArcGIS StoryMaps

With Esri Story Maps, you can combine maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia to create web apps. In these lessons, you will use different templates to create story maps tailored to stories you want to tell.

Getting Started with ArcGIS StoryMaps
Looking to create your first story map? Here’s a step-by-step guide to using the ArcGIS StoryMaps builder (in the form of a StoryMap!).

The Anatomy of a Story
An ArcGIS StoryMaps cheat sheet (in the form of a StoryMap!).

Recommended for ArcGIS Pro

GIS Basics
GIS allows people to visualize and analyze data to help solve spatial problems and make smarter decisions. In this course, learn the fundamental components and capabilities of GIS and discover how ArcGIS can help organizations address business needs. 

ArcGIS Pro Basics
ArcGIS Pro provides the tools to integrate, visualize, analyze, and share your data. This course introduces you to the powerful capabilities of ArcGIS Pro and how it can be used in your work.

Going Pro: ArcGIS Pro Essentials for ArcMap Users
Are you an experienced ArcMap user preparing to migrate to ArcGIS Pro? There are many things to love about ArcGIS Pro, and this seminar will help you be productive right away. You will learn essential ArcGIS Pro terminology and get familiar with the ribbon-based user interface. The presenters highlight key differences in mapping, editing, and geoprocessing workflows and demonstrate new and streamlined capabilities that will help you complete your GIS work more quickly and easily than ever before.

Getting Started with ArcGIS Pro
Learn the essential concepts you need to jumpstart your productivity with ArcGIS Pro. This course introduces the ribbon-style interface, project-based organization, key capabilities, and ArcGIS Pro terminology.

Last Updated on September 1, 2023