Frequently Asked Questions


Does the program offer any full weekend (Saturday - Sunday) or night classes?
We do not offer any night or full weekend courses in our program. Classes are held all day (8:30am - 5:30pm) Friday and Saturday in the Geography Department on the main SF State campus. Both days must be attended to complete the course.

Do I need to apply to San Francisco State University to start taking classes in the program?
Because the program is for a professional development certificate, there is no formal application process required through SF State. You can register for and attend individual classes or multiple classes anytime during the semester. Participants may complete the program requirements and receive a certificate of completion or attend just those classes that are of particular interest.

How much does it cost to complete the GIS certificate program? Can I get financial assistance for the program?
Tuition for classes is $395 and acquiring the certificate program (based upon completion of 11 courses - 17.6 CEU) will be ~ $4,395. Since the certificate program is offered through SF State Extended Learning, it receives no state money to support its programs; therefore, financial aid is extremely limited and restricted to academic certificate programs. The GIS certificate is not an academic certificate program therefore financial aid generally cannot be granted for its tuition fees.

Is there an employment placement program offered through the certificate program?
We do not offer an employment assistance or official placement program for students attending our courses. However, the program is a strong resource for job postings, opportunities, and internships (all opportunities sent to us are posted for all students to access) and it is a great venue for networking with fellow participants and instructors. Many students acquire a job or internship at some time during or shortly after the program.

Is there anything I should be reading or doing in advance before starting the program?
The programs overall structure is designed to teach students who only have a basic knowledge of the field from the ground up - no formal training in GIS, Geography, or other sciences is required. No prior preparations (readings, testing, etc.) for the classes are necessary.

With the successful completion of the certificate, will I be qualified to find employment or make a viable career change? What type of position will I be suited for?
The certificate program is designed to provide students with the appropriate training and skill set for acquiring a job using GIS. There is no formalized placement program, however there is considerable exposure to jobs and internship postings as well as networking with GIS professionals while attending the program. This offers a successful forum for obtaining a position after finishing the certificate of completion. The student base is a mix of individuals working at a job already incorporating/adopting GIS who need further training, individuals in career transition, academic students supplementing their training, and those only taking a course or two to enhance their current skill set. I can say confidently that many students do go on to acquire a position using GIS in a variety of disciplines.

Within the GIS Community I believe there has always been much confusion regarding position title, requirements and qualifications. There is often a disparity in job qualifications desired and the title listed. Given this, completing the certificate will give students the skill set for acquiring a position with title of GIS Technician, Specialist, or lower level Analyst (I or II).

Is a specialization necessary for better employment opportunities?
Outside of the core courses, the curriculum is set up for flexibility with the remaining electives. A specific track of courses can be tailored to your interests, some of which develops once you have started gaining greater exposure to GIS through the early courses. We take a broad approach to GIS training (exploring GIS concepts as a whole with specific work with the latest software version) however we do offer discipline specific courses dealing with use of GIS in a particular field (e.g., Spatial Analysis of Public Health Data, Watershed GIS, etc.).

What salary would I expect to earn in GIS?
As far as salary ranges it is hard to establish because positions and median salary will vary geographically. For more information on salary ranges for GIS professionals it might be useful to visit salary.com.