Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Leadership

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

P2200818The USC online Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Leadership provides emerging managers and executives in geospatial fields with the opportunity to create a personal leadership development plan for success as a geospatial leader.

In 16 graduate units (which includes a capstone course on “The Practice of Geospatial Leadership”), you can strengthen your knowledge of selected geospatial technologies, the underlying scientific concepts and analytical methods, and the ways they can be used in decision making to direct geospatial information management organizations in a constantly changing environment.

As a full-time student, you can complete this certificate in two semesters.  This program operates continually throughout the year in fall, spring, and summer semesters.  All USC Geospatial Leadership graduate certificate units apply towards the USC online M.S. in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) degree, making the Geospatial Leadership certificate a viable “stepping stone” towards the USC GIST master’s degree.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the graduate certificate, you should be able to:

  • identify the various ways that GIS promotes well-being;
  • shape the results of geospatial information management groups and organizations;
  • apply innovation to influence the successful generation, adoption and deployment of new ideas;
  • evaluate and solve for how disruptive technologies might affect GIS organizations in the future; and
  • share your vision for how the GIS field is likely to grow and evolve during the next five to 10 years.

Cutting-Edge Curriculum

Choose three electives (12 units) from among:

Typical geospatial intelligence tasks and their use in military operations, national and homeland security, international relief work and disaster management.
Provides the knowledge and skills necessary to investigate the spatial patterns which result from social and physical processes operating at or near the Earth’s surface.
Provides the knowledge and skills necessary to deploy spatial models to learn about social and environmental systems and make predictions about unmeasured processes and patterns.
Concepts, principles, and use of project management tools; the people issues encountered running GIS projects.
Design, coding, and implementation of GIS-based software and models using the Python programming language.
Principles of remote sensing and satellite systems, and the role of remote sensing data in GIS applications.  Recommended preparation: SSCI 581.
Principles of visual perception, spatial cognition and cartographic design and their contributions to the maps, animations, virtual reality and multimedia displays produced with modern GIS.  Recommended preparation: SSCI 581.
Design, implementation and technological building blocks (including GML) for distributed web-based services.
Design, coding and implementation of mobile GIS applications using the Java and Javascript object-oriented programming languages.
Role of crowdsourcing, volunteered geographic information, spatial data infrastructures and web portals in helping with the collection, storage, curation and distribution of geospatial data assets.


Conclude with the capstone course:

The geospatial value proposition and the qualities and skills leaders will need to help their geospatial information management groups and organizations achieve success.

In every course, students can take topics or themes from current professional work or from potential future career opportunities for development in individual and small group projects, providing “take-away” value at every level.

In the capstone SSCI 578 “The Practice of Geospatial Leadership” course, students will complete a life map and series of self-assessments, culminating in a personal leadership development plan for the final project.

This online graduate certificate is offered by the USC Spatial Sciences Institute, housed in the David and Dana Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences of the University of Southern California, recognized as an “R-1” top-ranked university.  The Spatial Sciences Institute is a renowned center for research, innovation and teaching, providing a strategic “home base” for your online graduate GIST studies.

Distinguished Faculty

Each member of the faculty in the Geospatial Leadership graduate certificate program, as well all other graduate geospatial degree and certificate programs offered by the Institute, holds a Ph.D. and is an expert in GIS and related fields.

A Robust Graduate Online Community

Students benefit from the resources of and support for all online graduate programs within the Institute, which includes a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Science and Technology, a M.S. in Geographic Information Science and Technology degree, a graduate certificate in Geospatial Intelligence and a GeoHealth track in the online USC Master of Public Health degree offered by the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Leading-edge Resources

USC students enjoy access to software, hardware, data, geoprocessing and Web services, as well as online access to USC libraries, which provide access to full-text journals and other library services.  Students work from virtual desktops and servers supported by an in-house Cloud computing infrastructure.

Diverse Student Body

Founded on the premise of diversity and acceptance for all students who have the passion to learn, USC enrolls more international students than any other U.S. university.

Research-based Epicenter

As a leading research institution in Los Angeles, USC has leveraged its location to establish professional and academic relationships with fellow institutions throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim, as well as around the world.

The Spatial Sciences Institute is the only North American member of the UNIGIS International Association, a global network of higher education institutions dedicated to recognizing international standards in the design, development and delivery of distance learning Geographic Information Science and Systems (GIS) programs.

The Institute also is a designated Esri Development Center (EDC), one of a small number of university entities that Esri recognizes as having exemplary programs focused on educating students in ways that promote the design and development of GIS applications using Esri’s web, mobile and desktop geospatial technologies.

Who should apply?

This graduate certificate is designed for:

  • individuals with significant professional GIS experience who aspire to or are considering a future geospatial leadership role; and
  • those individuals already serving in a geospatial leadership role who seek to improve and expand their leadership capacity.  This includes those who are interested in or who have participated in the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Leadership Academy.

Successful students will bring with them a working knowledge of and experience in spatial thinking, GIScience and GIS technology and applications.

The kinds of positions held by successful applicants include:

  • Senior Geospatial Engineer
  • Senior GIS Analyst
  • Senior GIS Systems Engineer
  • Senior GIS Systems Administrator


The Unique Capstone Experience

A signature component of this program is the workshop that is part of the capstone SSCI 578 “The Practice of Geospatial Leadership” course.  The workshop takes place on the weekend preceding the start of the annual Esri International User Conference in San Diego, California.  At this executive-style weekend workshop that begins with a Saturday lunch and concludes with a Monday lunch, you personally work with three or more distinguished and internationally-recognized geospatial leaders from industry, the public sector, NGOs and academia.

Meals and materials associated with the workshop are provided.  You arrange and pay for your own transportation and accommodations.  If you are interested in attending the Esri International User Conference, you are responsible for arranging for your own registration.