About the Program

How to Begin Taking Classes

  • There is no application process to begin taking classes.
  • Obtain an SF State ID & Password.
  • Register for classes based on individual goals and prerequisites.
  • Payment is due upon registration. Space is limited. Please register three weeks in advance.
  • Request a Certificate of Completion after all classes have been successfully completed.
  • For online classes, log in to iLearn using your SF State ID and Password.

Program Objectives

San Francisco State University's GIS certificate program provides students with broad exposure to principles and applications of GIS. Certificate requirements are intended to parallel skills needed by GIS professionals. A student who has earned the GIS certificate will be well-versed in GIS theory and will have knowledge and practical exposure to the following:

  • Hardware and software used in GIS
  • Planning and construction of spatial databases
  • GIS analyses
  • Representation of data in both mapped and tabular form

Education is a key component of the GIS professional certification programs that have been evolving from the GIS Certfication Institute and Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). Both of these professional certifications allow application of credits with an accredited institution to satisfy a significant portion of the points needed to meet certification requirements. See GIS certificate requirements.

Intended Audience

The program is designed for professionals, students and the general public in environmental resource management, urban and regional planning, local government, facilities management, and other fields who need to become skillful and knowledgeable users of geographic information systems. This program will most benefit entry-level and intermediate-level GIS users who lack formal education in geography or GIS. There are no prerequisites for GEOG 9003 Introduction to GIS, though familiarity with maps or geographic concepts is recommended. GEOG 9003 Introduction to GIS is a prerequisite for most other GIS courses.

Program Instructors

All instructors are formally educated in GIS and have considerable professional experience. A student that completes the GIS Certificate program will have taken classes from professionals in transportation GIS, agriculture GIS, database management, biogeography, education, geomorphology, and state and local government GIS. See Faculty


Are you a current certificate program student or an alumi? Join our group on LinkedIn to keep in touch and view internship and job postings. 

Payment Options

We offer third party payment by employer or agency through the College of Extended Learning. Find out more on the Payment page.

Register Early

GIS class size is limited due to the need for all students to have access to computer terminals. Registration for individual courses is on a first-come basis. To guarantee a space in a class, early registration is advised.

Length of GIS Program

The time it takes for current students, professionals and the general public interested in GIS to complete a certificate of completion varies according to each student's availability and interests. The course requirements to earn a certificate may be completed in as short a time as four months – one semester – or students may choose to take as long as several years. On average, the time it takes a candidate to complete certification is six to nine months.

Location & Frequency of GIS Classes

Classes are offered in conjunction with the Department of Geography and the Institute for Geographic Information Science on the main SF State campus. Course sequences begin three times per year in late August, late January, and late May or early June. Classes are designed as intense two-day trainings scheduled for eight hours (8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.) per day on Friday and Saturday.

State-of-the-Art GIS Teaching Facility

The Department of Geography has a state-of-the-art computing facility to facilitate GIS instruction and research. Each student will have access to a Windows computer with the latest versions of ESRI ArcGIS, eCognition, ENVI and ERDAS Imagine for class/labs. You may find more information about this facility on the Geographic Analysis Teaching Laboratory website.


As a result of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014, CalJOBS provides connections to customer-focused employment training for adults and dislocated workers. SF State is an approved provider for WIOA funds. SF State is listed on the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) on the CalJOBS website. Search on Keyword: SF State College of Extended Learning.