Geographic Information Systems (C)

  • Certificate

About this Program

Unlike one-size-fits-all programs, the geographic information systems certificate program is precisely focused on environmental biology. The program builds high-demand expertise in the use of computerized cartography and spatially referenced databases. In fact, most job postings in the field include GIS as an emphasis and even as a qualification requirement.

Program Overview

Help unravel pressing problems

GIS skills provide an increasingly critical visual bridge in communications between bioscience and policymakers, nonprofits and stakeholders. Hood’s program equips students to support the decision-making and analysis entailed in pressing conservation efforts, natural resource management, climate change and more.

Become skilled in the pre-eminent software

Coursework begins with a core introduction to prevalent environmental issues. Students delve into the applications and informed use of GIS in resource conservation and insect, fresh water and invasive species ecology. Hands-on practice hones proficiency with ArcGIS, remote sensing imagery and other cutting-edge technology. Capacity-building experiences include capturing and managing multiple types of geographic data, assessing relationships, measuring change and modeling events.

Learn while working

The 18-credit program’s small, evening classes offer the advantage of individual attention and the flexibility to continue working by day. Beyond the campus, close ties with NASA/Goddard, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources and more afford access to top minds in the profession.

* Please note that graduate certificate programs are now eligible for loans.

Program Contact

Kristin Fisher

Kristin Fisher, Ph.D.

Program Director

(301) 696-3612
Nick Masucci

Assistant Director of Graduate Admission & Data Management


Degrees Offered

  • Certificate

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For students applying to the certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program, please submit the following to the Graduate School:

  • One copy of official transcripts from each institution attended
  • An essay (550 words or less) that includes background experience and future goals

Two letters of recommendation are suggested but not required (letters can be emailed to

Prerequisites for Admission
It is recommended that entering students have completed undergraduate course work in the following:

  • Biology (2 semesters, with lab)
  • Chemistry (2 semesters, with lab)
  • Mathematics (1 semester)

Required Core Courses (9 credits)

ENV 501  Introduction to Environmental Biology  (3 credits)
ENV 502  Principles of Ecology (3 credits)
ENV 526G  Introduction to GIS Mapping (1 credit)
ENV 526H  Introduction to GIS Analysis (1 credit)
ENV 526I  Introduction to Remote Sensing (1 credit)

Electives (minimum of 9 credits):
Once students successfully complete ENV 526G and 526H and meet all the prerequisites for a given course, students will select an additional 9 credits of GIS electives. The elective courses will require a major GIS-related project or paper in order to receive certificate credit.

ENV 503 Pollution Biology (3 credits)
ENV 506 Environmental Microbiology (3 credits)
ENV 507 Natural Resource Management (3 credits)
ENV 509 Ecological Invasions and Biological Control (3 credits)
ENV 511  Conservation Biology (3 credits)
ENV 512  Insect Ecology (3 credits)
ENV 513 Marine Ecology (3 credits)
ENV 563  Freshwater Ecology (3 credits)
ENV 564 Environmental Toxicology (3 credits)
ENV 577 Climate Change (3 credits)

Our Faculty...

provides support and assistance in the development of new programs, serves as ambassadors for our program and identifies best practice standards.

All Faculty
Boulton photo_2020

April Boulton

  • Associate Professor of Biology
  • Dean of the Graduate School
Drew Ferrier

Drew Ferrier

  • Professor of Biology
  • Director of the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies
Eric Kindahl

Eric Kindahl

  • Associate Professor of Biology
  • Program Director, Environmental Science & Policy