Master of Geographic Information Systems

Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) is an advanced course-based program with an independent research component renowned for its successful development of GIS professionals and academics.

Degrees offered

  • Master of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS), course-based in Geography

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What is thesis-based study?

Pursue independent research guided by a supervisor who shares your research interests. If you want to advance your knowledge or expand your expertise in a specific field or research area, our thesis-based programs are for you.

What is course-based study?

Ideal for students seeking to advance their careers, our course-based programs offer research, project and group work components in a wide variety of delivery methods.

What is a supervisor?

A supervisor is a faculty member who oversees your research and the development of your thesis.

Program requirements

The MGIS program is designed to allow you to achieve a thorough understanding of geographical information concepts and theory, and gain exposure to research and application specialties.

Collaborative multidisciplinary scientific research, industry association participation, and community-based research contributes to the recognition of the program as a significant contributor to the local geomatics community. Graduates possess practical geospatial expertise and applications knowledge, in addition to professional skills valued by industry. Students without a strong GIS or remote sensing background will build their spatial analysis skills and experience as part of their program.

The MGIS Program structure consists of the following elements:

  • The program is comprised of 10 courses; five of which are mandatory, and five optional courses. Two of the mandatory courses are based on an individual research project. 
  • The optional courses may be taken within the Geography Department or in other Departments or Faculties on campus, such as Arts, Engineering, Management, Biology or Geology. 
  • The two research-project courses will focus on a single topic of the student's choice, decided in consultation with their supervisor. The first course will be a critical literature review of the topic, and the second will consist of the actual research and implementation. 
  • The final papers from the two courses are combined into a cohesive manuscript that fully documents the project and results. 
  • The document will be the basis for a comprehensive oral exam at the end of the student’s program, to be administered by an examining committee. The exam will also focus on material from core courses.

The MGIS program may be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.


MGIS students are required to take 10 courses in their program. These 10 courses must include the five core courses (see below). The remaining five options will generally either build on the student's GIS skills or enhance their knowledge of their application specialty.

Core Courses: The five mandatory "core" courses that each student in the MGIS program must take are: 

  • Geog 647: Advanced Research and Applications in GIS
  • Geog 633: Research and Applications on Remote Sensing
  • Geog 639: Advanced Spatial Analysis and Modelling 
  • Geog 681: GIS Project: Theoretical Issues
  • Geog 683: GIS Project: Application 

Upgrade Courses: Students without a strong GIS or remote sensing background will use their option courses to build their spatial analysis skills and experience.

  • Geog 682: Fundamentals of Geographic Information Science
  • Geog 684: Fundamentals of Remote Sensing
  • Geog 686: Applied Statistics and Geospatial Analysis

Graduate program contacts

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Graduate Program Advisors

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For Thesis-based students: Denise Retzlaff

For Course-based students: Federica Gowen»

Graduate Program Directors

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For Thesis-based programs:

Dr. Gwendolyn Blue 

For Course-based programs:

Dr. Yvonne Martin


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