March 2, 2020

New graduate certificate in Geospatial Information Technology gives students an edge in job market

Housed in the Department of Geography, the program will appeal to a wide range of disciplines from arts to engineering
Greg McDermid and Jennifer Hird
Greg McDermid and Jennifer Hird map the changes to Alberta’s landscape. Digital Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The Department of Geography has introduced a degree-enhancing graduate certificate in Geospatial Information Technology available to applicants from any academic discipline who are eligible for admission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Classes will begin in the fall for the certificate program, which can be completed by taking four courses in one semester, or over an extended period of time. These courses will cover the basics of digital map-making, remote sensing (Earth imaging), spatial statistics, and the technology of geographic information systems.

Given its wealth of professors who have expertise in geospatial technology, as well as its state-of-the-art lab facilities with the technology needed for such course work, it was a natural that the certificate program would be hosted by the Department of Geography. However, Dr. Darren Bender, PhD, a geography professor who led the design of the program, notes that the GIT certificate will be of great appeal to students from a wide range of disciplines.

“Students who have completed their four-year undergraduate degree in arts, engineering, business management, natural sciences and many other disciplines can extend their credentials greatly with this certificate program,” says Bender. “These valuable technical skills will give them a level of career expertise that’s highly marketable.”

He adds: “Geospatial technology is ever present right now in all of our lives. Every time you pick up your smartphone, whether you realize it or not, this technology is at play. Whether it’s geo-referencing the photos you take, geo-locating your Twitter feed, or Google tracking you wherever you go. Moreover, given that this technology has become integral to our society, its use has been adopted globally by businesses, governments, and NGOs.”  

This program is meant to teach students about this technology with an emphasis on using spatial data within the context of their previous degree programs.

The list of disciplines that would be greatly enhanced by the GIT certificate is long. It includes anthropology, archaeology, history, political science, psychology, urban studies, environmental science, computer science, biological science, geology, geophysics, health sciences, engineering, and business management, among others.

The certificate can also be taken concurrently by graduate students already completing programs in the Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Planning (MPlan) and Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) programs at the University of Calgary. It can also be taken as a stand-alone program by anyone who has completed at least a four-year BA or BSc.

“We think of it as a geospatial literacy program,” says Dr. David Goldblum, PhD, head of the Department of Geography. “Students are not going to be experts on geospatial technology in one term, but they’ll have an understanding of it, and, within the workforce, they’ll bring that important strength. We think it’s a real asset that will give our students an edge in the real world.”

Goldblum adds: “This is one of the directions the University of Calgary is moving in, to turn out not only academics, but also people who are moving into careers. This is professional training.”

Apply for Geospatial Information Technology programDeadline for applications is April 30.