Academic Programs

    Geographic Information Systems

    The GIS program at FDLTCC offers hands-on training in advanced, industry-standard Geographic Information Systems software and related geospatial technologies including satellite positioning (GPS), remote sensing, drones, spatial analysis, cartography, and interactive web mapping. GIS training enables spatial thinking to solve complex problems with a location component. The college’s cultural mission adds a unique emphasis on capturing and visualizing a sense of place using GIS. The program is advised by a team of industry professionals in the public, tribal, private, and higher education sectors. Whether you’re coming straight from high school or from a prior career, our GIS program will give you spatial skillsets that are in high demand for a wide range of occupations and higher degree majors.


    Schedule a Tour


    83% of graduates have found careers related to GIS since 2016.


    Over 150 cartographer, photogrammetrist, surveying, and mapping technician openings are anticipated per year through 2030 in Minnesota.


    GIS graduates from FDLTCC have earned a median wage of $33.20/hr as cartographers, photogrammetrists, and more.


    The mission of the Geographic Information Systems Program is to prepare students for entry-level employment in the GIS field or for transfer to a four-year program of study, and to provide continuing education opportunities for persons interested in learning and using geospatial technologies.

    Career Opportunities

    GIS is a growing career field, and GIS skills are in demand in many occupation categories—any job that requires you to locate or map something. With a two-year Associate of Science degree in GIS, students will be qualified for an entry-level GIS Technician position in local, state, tribal, or federal government or for a private mapping or engineering firm, with an average salary of about $53,000 a year.1 Additional education leading to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree qualifies you for a GIS Analyst, GIS Specialist, or Cartographer position with an average salary of $65,000-$75,000 per year.

    The GIS Certificate provides an add-on credential for jobs in natural resources, emergency services, utilities, public health, urban planning, computer programming, and more. GIS is an essential component of an Environmental Science program of study.

    1. Statewide average salaries for Minnesota as of September, 2023, from ZipRecruiter

    The GIS/LIS (Geographic Information Systems and Land Information Systems) Consortium is a professional non-profit organization dedicated to developing and supporting the Minnesota GIS/LIS community for the benefit of its people and contributors.

    Explore the MN GIS/LIS Portal for Emerging Professionals and Students 

    Transfer Agreements

    We have transfer agreements in place that make it easy to convert your Associate Degree into a Bachelor’s. Our formal transfer partners in GIS include Bemidji State University and Minnesota State University Mankato. We have informal and in-progress transfer arrangements that have led to student success at the University of Minnesota Duluth and University of Wisconsin Superior. Students can also take advantage of STEM mentorship programs such as the TRIO McNair Scholars program through CSS and Bridges Program at UMD.

    Explore GIS Degree Options in Minnesota

    Partners and Projects

    We partner with a variety of local, regional, and national entities to provide students with real-world research and project opportunities. We typically have 2-3 NASA internship opportunities for students each semester and over the summer, as well as paid research positions through the FDLTCC Environmental Institute. Recent GIS projects have included work with the Fond du Lac Band Resource Management Division, 1854 Treaty Authority, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Wisconsin State Cartographer’s Office, and others. Students have funded opportunities to present their work at professional conferences. Several of our students have won awards for projects presented at the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium Annual Conference.

    Associate of Science Degree

    To complete the 60-credit Associate of Science Degree in GIS, students must take:

    • Core Courses:
      • MATH 1030 Introduction to Statistics
      • BUS 1035 Database & Data Spreadsheets
      • GEOG/PE 1054 Using GPS: Geocaching and Field Mapping
      • GEOG 2001 Introduction to GIS
      • GEOG 2005 Cartography & Visualization
      • GEOG 2030 Remote Sensing of the Environment
      • GEOG 2054 Programming in GIS or CSCI 1020 Introduction to Programming
      • ART/CSCI 1097 Introduction to Digital Graphics
      • GEOG 2051 Web Mapping
      • GEOG 2050 GIS Applications
      • GEOG 2090 Undergraduate Research or GEOG 2096 GIS Internship
    • Additional General Education Courses:
      • ENGL 1101 College Composition
      • ENGL 1120 Writing for Professionals
      • SPCH 1010 Public Speaking or SPCH 1020 Interpersonal Communication
      • GEOG 1010 Physical Geography
      • Any MnTC Goal 5 Group 1 course
      • GEOG 1020 Cultural Geography or GEOG 1040 World Regional Geography
      • AMIN 1050 Anishinaabeg of Lake Superior
      • 4 additional elective credits, including 1 Physical Education credit

    To complete the 16-credit GIS Certificate, students must take:

    • GEOG/PE 1054 Using GPS: Geocaching & Field Mapping
    • GEOG 2001 Introduction to GIS
    • GEOG 2030 Remote Sensing of the Environment
    • GEOG 2050 GIS Applications
    • GEOG 2005 Cartography & Visualization or GEOG/CSCI 2051 Web Mapping
    GIS Program Courses

    All course descriptions can be found in the College Catalog.

    GEOG 1002 Introduction to Maps – 3 cr
    This course teaches how to read maps and apply them to solve problems. Students will be introduced to a variety of map types, including those of different cultures and time periods, and will publish their own basic web and story maps. (Meets MnTC goal areas 5 and 8).

    GEOG 1060 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems – 2 cr
    This course will prepare students for the FAA Remote Pilot Certificate exam, which is legally required to fly UAS (drones) commercially or within 5 miles of an airport. Learning materials will cover tested topics including regulations, airspace, weather, operations, aircraft performance, and decision-making. Students will practice flying a drone under close instructor supervision.

    GEOG 2001 Introduction to GIS – 3 cr
    This course introduces basic concepts of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Students will apply GIS theory to hands-on laboratory activities and projects based on real- world scenarios and data. Industry standard online and desktop software is utilized to introduce data creation, acquisition, management, and editing, georeferencing, spatial analysis, symbolization, and map production workflows for a variety of professional GIS applications.

    GEOG 2005 Cartography & Visualization – 4 cr
    Course explores the art, science, technology, and ethics of map design and map making. Course topics include maps as representations of reality and culturally situated documents, the power of maps, coordinate systems and projections, scale and generalization, map elements, visual hierarchy and variables, typography, reference and thematic map types, and design considerations for print and web. Students will apply cartographic principles using industry-standard GIS and graphics software to design effective maps covering real- world social, cultural, and/or scientific themes. (Meets MnTC Goal Area 6).

    GEOG 2030 Remote Sensing of the Environment – 4 cr
    This course explores the fundamental concepts and applications of remote sensing. Students will investigate land-cover patterns of physical and social environments spatially and historically through laboratory activities. Course topics include electromagnetic principles, sensors and their characteristics, imagery data sources, image analysis, image classification and interpretation, LiDAR, and integration with GIS. (Meets MnTC goal area 3)

    GEOG 2050 GIS Applications – 4 cr
    Comprehensive consideration is given to a real-world geospatial project, either aligning with an external partner or suitable to the student’s field of interest. Topics include data and file management, project management, advanced GIS analysis techniques, and developing and presenting products that convey project results. (Prerequisite: GEOG 2001 and GEOG 2005 or consent of instructor)

    GEOG/CSCI 2051 Web Mapping – 4 cr
    This course covers the creation of both static and interactive online maps. Course topics include the basics of internet architecture, web data formats, web services, web cartography, UI/UX (user interface/user interaction) design, and publishing on the web using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Students will create shareable web maps on real-world topics using both graphical mapping platforms and JavaScript code- based APIs. No prior coding experience is necessary. (Prerequisite: GEOG 2001, GEOG 2005 or instructor consent)

    GEOG 2054 Programming in GIS – 3 cr
    This course covers the automation of geoprocessing tasks using graphic GIS software, Python scripts, and open-source command line utilities. Students will be introduced to programming in Python and on the Windows command line, and will learn how to automate tasks with ArcGIS Model Builder, how to translate Model Builder into Python scripts, and how to create custom toolboxes for ArcGIS. No previous programming experience is assumed. (Prerequisite: GEOG 2001 or instructor consent)

    GEOG 2090 Undergraduate Research – 1-3 cr
    Independent experimental or theoretical research under faculty supervision. (Prerequisite: consent of instructor)

    GEOG 2096 GIS Internship – 1-3 cr
    This internship provides an opportunity for students to take philosophy out of the classroom and use it in the real world by focusing their study on one or more aspects of philosophy and connecting it to a hands-on experience. (Prerequisite: advanced arrangement and consent of instructor).

    View the College Catalog


    My favorite thing about FDLTCC is the people. I’ve met fantastic students, faculty and staff who go above and beyond what I expected.

    It is awesome here at the FDLTCC Education Program because it is like a family here, if you need help or are struggling with anything, you have quite a few people who will help you out.

    I chose FDLTCC because of its size and the curriculum. When I first came here in 2019, I was just looking for what I needed to volunteer, perhaps in a crisis shelter. I met with Don Jarvinen, and the rest is history.