University of Minnesota
Master of Geographic Information Science

Master of Geographic Information Science


Admission Requirements and Overview

Thank you for your interest in the MGIS program. Admission to the MGIS program requires a Bachelors degree with a preferred cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (or the equivalent if a different system is used). Additional requirements include completion of one college-level course in mathematics, statistics, and computer programming.  For the computer programming requirement, the course should be an undergraduate or graduate level course taken from a computer science department and have a strong programming component (for example, CSCI 1103: Introduction to Computer Programming in Java; this course is designed for students with no previous programming background who are interested in an introduction to programming.). Equivalent professional experience involving programming may meet this requirement. The GRE is not required. For international applicants, an English Language Proficiency Exam such as TOEFL, IELTS, or MELAB is required. Applicants should understand that the admissions process is competitive, based on a careful assessment of each applicant’s file, and that we can only offer admission to a limited number of qualified applicants to ensure high quality advising and accessibility to facilities and other resources.

Please be sure to carefully review our tuition and funding information to fully understand our funding restrictions prior to applying to the program. Visit the Office of Student Finance Graduate Tuition Rate page for current MGIS tuition rates, under the heading "College of Liberal Arts Master of Geographic Information Science (MGIS)".  The Graduate Admissions Office Prospective Student’s page has additional information on graduate studies at the University of Minnesota.

International students who receive a Form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) based on admission to this program will be required to maintain full time enrollment (6-14 credits per semester) and will be subject to the rules and regulations that pertain to the F-1 or J-1 student visa status.  Prospective international students should also visit the Graduate Admissions Office International Student page for more information about graduate studies at the University of Minnesota.

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Links of Interest to Prospective Students

Application Process

The first step of the application process is to read through this description as well as the Application Instructions on the Graduate Admissions Office web site.  All materials are submitted electronically through the online application system. The MGIS program has both a Fall and a Spring admission period.  Please submit all the required materials by January 30th for Fall admission and September 1st for Spring admission.  Failure to do so will delay the processing of your application. We recommend that students applying for Spring admission have some previous GIS experience or an introductory GIS course since many introductory courses are only offered in the Fall term.

Admission decisions are communicated to applicants using the ApplyYourself system.  A decision for admission notice will be emailed to you once your application is carefully reviewed by the department’s admission committee and your transcripts and any credentials (e.g., test reports) are authenticated by Graduate Admissions Office.  You can expect a decision by late-March for Fall admission and by mid-October for Spring admission.

Please note that your application will not be complete without submitting an application fee (visit this page for more information about fees). 

In addition to submitting your main online application and application fee, please submit the following materials electronically via ApplyYourself by the deadlines indicated above for Fall or Spring admission periods.  

MGIS Supplemental Application Form

First, you should download the MGIS Supplemental Application Form, complete it and save it in .DOC, .DOCX or PDF format. Next, under AY’s “Program Supplementary Information” section, you can upload the completed form using the “Graduate Program Additional Application” button.  

Personal Statement

This statement should describe your GIS research interests and career goals, professional and research experience, and other relevant background information; it should not exceed two single-sided pages.  The document can be uploaded in AY’s “Applicant Statements” section using the “Statement #1” button.  Statement #2 is not required.  If you wish to address any extenuating circumstances (e.g., below 3.0 cumulative grade point average) you can use the “Extenuating Circumstances” upload button under this same section.


Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly to the online application. International applicants should upload an English translation if the transcript is not in English.  Additionally, international transcripts should include a grade point average (GPA) based on your institution's grading scale (for example, 100 point system, 5 point system, A-F, etc.) on the transcript or a supporting document provided by the applicant's academic institution. Please do not mail in paper copies of your transcripts, there is no need for official transcripts or academic records for initial review.  Visit the Application Instructions page and read the “Transcripts and Credentials” section for more information; this includes detailed instruction on how to upload your unofficial transcripts to the ApplyYourself system.  If you are admitted, the University will then request official copies of this material.  

Letters of recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required and should be submitted using AY’s online application system under the “Recommendations” section.  Paper copies are not accepted.  Select people who are well-acquainted with your academic work and research experience and/or your professional experience.  You should also send your recommenders the link to our Recommendation Guidelines to assist them with writing your letter.   Please note that you do not need to wait for your recommendation providers to submit their recommendations before completing the rest of the online application. You can also check the status of your recommendation providers after you submit your application. For more information on status updates, please see the Graduate Admissions Office Application Status page.    

English language proficiency exam score (TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB)

This exam score is required for non-native English speakers.  The preferred test is the TOEFL.  Our preferred score for the TOEFL is 100 including 22 on Reading and 24 on Writing (Internet-based test) or 600 (paper-based test); IELTS is 7.5; and MELAB is 84. As official test scores can take longer to report, you have the option to upload score report documents and/or self-report test scores, registration numbers, and test dates in the “Test Information-Self Reported” section of the AY online application. For more information about TOEFL Scores including official submission please visit the Graduate School's test scores page.

MGIS Program Commitment to Diversity

The Master of Geographic Information Science (MGIS) program embraces the University of Minnesota's position that promoting and supporting diversity among the student body is central to the academic mission of the University. A diverse student body enriches graduate education by providing a multiplicity of views and perspectives that enhance research, teaching, and the development of new knowledge. A diverse mix of students promotes respect for, and opportunities to learn from, others with the broad range of backgrounds and experiences that constitute modern society. Higher education trains the next generation of leaders of academia and society in general, and such opportunities for leadership should be accessible to all members of society. The MGIS program is therefore committed to providing equal access to educational opportunities through recruitment, admission, and support programs that promote diversity, foster successful academic experiences, and cultivate the leaders of the next generation.

For more on the Graduate School's commitment to diversity, please see the Graduate School's Diversity Statement that includes the University of Minnesota's Mission Statement.