General ADGISA Program FAQs

  1. What do I get from this program?
  2. Is this program accredited?
  3. How is VIU’s Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications unique?
  4. How much background do I need?
  5. Why is the cost of this program higher than the cost of similar programs?
  6. Can I have some courses waived if I have previous GIS knowledge?
  7. Do the course credits transfer to a Masters?
  8. Can I have some course materials to see what the program is like?
  9. What computer hardware will I need for this program?
  10. Can I use a Mac computer for this program?
  11. What software will I need for this program?
  12. What additional equipment will I need for this program?
  13. What texts will I need for this program?
  14. Can I use ADGISA courses as regular Geography courses for credit in my Major?
  15. I don’t have one of the prerequisites for the ADGISA program. Are any alternatives available?
  16. What else can I expect from Vancouver Island University’s Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications?
  17. Is funding available?
  18. What is the difference between the online program and the face-to-face program?
  19. What are your employment statistics and opportunities for graduates of this program?
  20. What are my chances of finding work in the GIS field in the mid-Vancouver Island area?
  21. Where do I go to find out more about the field of GIS?
  22. Where do I go to find out more about job opportunities in this field?
  23. I’m working in the field of GIS and I just want to take one course in your program – would I be able to do this?
  24. I understand that I will have the use of the ESRI software while I am a student in the ADGISA program. Can I using the ESRI software after the course is over?
  25. What is the normal starting salary for graduates from your program?

Online ADGISA Program FAQs

  1. How long does the online program last?
  2. How do I compare this to a regular program?
  3. What is the workload in the online program like?
  4. How do I get into the online classroom?
  5. What is the online classroom like?
  6. What type of student is suited to this online program?
  7. What if I need to take a break from the online program for personal reasons?
  8. What is the refund policy for the online program?
  9. What is the total cost of the online program including all texts, software, and equipment?
  10. What is your policy regarding withdrawal without academic penalty from the online ADGISA program?

Face-to-face Program FAQs

  1. How long does the face-to-face program last?
  2. How do I compare this to a regular program?
  3. What is the workload in the face-to-face program like?
  4. What type of student is suited for this intensive program?
  5. How does the practicum work in the face-to-face program?
  6. What types of practicums are available in the face-to-face program?
  7. Do students receive any pay for practicums in the face-to-face program?
  8. What is the refund policy for the face-to-face program?
  9. What is the total cost of the face-to-face program including all texts, software, and equipment?
  10. What is your policy regarding withdrawal without academic penalty from the face-to-face ADGISA program?

General ADGISA Program FAQs

1) What do I get from this program?

You receive comprehensive exposure and experience in the use of geographic information systems' software. You will learn how to use GIS as a spatial informational and problem-solving tool. Content is equally divided between developing hands-on competency in GIS technology and using GIS as a tool in solving geographic problems through assignments and project work. Students in the program will be well-positioned to secure employment upon graduation.

2) Is this program accredited?

The Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications is a university-accredited program approved by the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education.

3) How is VIU's Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications Unique?

The intensive 8-month face-to-face program is broken into two distinct halves. In the first 4 months, students acquire hands-on GIS skills training with a focus on GIS applications to a variety of geographic or spatial problems. In the second 4-month period, students apply the GIS skills they've learned as they undertake a special GIS applications project in the workplace. Projects are developed in consultation with instructors and sponsors in the private or public sector of the local or regional economy. Each student has a faculty advisor during this project work.

The 16-month online version of the ADGISA program has been designed to accommodate students who are currently employed or who cannot relocate to Nanaimo. Students in this program option acquire the same range of skills as those in the face-to-face program. The application of those GIS skills are embedded in the delivery of individual courses, as opposed to being applied in a work-study practicum.

Upon successful completion of either program option, graduates will be able to secure employment as a GIS Analyst or GIS Technician.

4) How much background do I need?

The ideal student will hold:

  • A university degree or a technical diploma from an accredited college or institute
  • An introductory course in Geographic Information Systems (equivalent to VIU's GEOG 328)

5) Why is the cost of this program higher than the cost of similar programs?

The price at which an institution offers a program has a lot to do with the funding received by the provincial government and how it is applied to programs within the institutions.

At Vancouver Island University, our Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications program is completely self-funded (no government funding is applied to the program). Therefore the viability of the program depends on the quality of the program, student word-of-mouth, and results. Vancouver Island University is well known for its high level of teacher/student interaction--due to the smaller class sizes (only 20 students are accepted into the in-class GIS program annually) and accessibility of instructors (no Teacher's Aids are used in our classes). In past years, over 80% of our students have been able to secure employment in the field after graduating from the program.

Remember too that average rental prices for accommodation in Nanaimo are 42 % cheaper than in Vancouver or other major centres:

Nanaimo average rents*:

Vancouver average rents**:

 

2008

2009

2009

Studio:

$488 $509

$805

1 bed:

$617 $594

$939

2 bed:

$748 $730

$1154

3 bed:

$902 $885

$1399

Nanaimo vacancy rate:

Vancouver vacancy rate:

April, 2009: 3.3%

April 2009: 1.9%

* per month averages, from movetonanaimo.com/2009/06/16/nanaimo-rental-market-news 
** per month averages, from straight.com/article-229579/metro-vancouver-has-highest-rent-canada

6) Can I have some courses waived if I have previous GIS knowledge?

This will be determined on an individual basis by GIS faculty.

7) Do the course credits transfer to a Masters?

The transfer of course credits from this program into a Master's program would be assessed by each receiving university.

8) Can I have some course materials to see what the program is like?

Course materials are only available to registered students. This website contains course descriptions of each course offered in the program.

9) What computer hardware will I need for this program?

Students are expected to provide their own laptop computers. See Harware requirements

10) Can I use a Mac computer for this program?

Regarding Mac computers: Whether or not your Mac computer will be able to run the ArcGIS software depends on how new it is. ArcGIS needs a Windows Operating System in order to run. Most newer Macs (with Intel chips) should be able to run a Windows Operating System in a virtual environment using software such as Mac Parallels Desktop.

11) What software will I need for this program?

Students in both the face-to-face and online programs will have free access to the full suite of ESRI ArcGIS software during the program, including the off-campus GIS project work. See other software requirements.

12) What additional equipment will I need for this program?

Students are required to purchase their own GPS units FOR THE ONLINE PROGRAM ONLY. See additional equipment requirements.

13) What texts will I need for this program?

Student will require specific texts for the ONLINE PROGRAM ONLY.

14) Can I use ADGISA courses as regular Geography courses for credit in my Major?

No, the ADGISA courses run on a different schedule from regular Geography courses, which makes it impossible to take these courses at the same time as other Geography courses.

Furthermore, these courses are graduate-level, which means that you must already have a BA or a BSc. before you are eligible to take these courses.

15) I don't have one of the prerequisites for the ADGISA program. Are any alternatives available?

There are various alternatives that are accepted as equivalencies to the stated prerequisites.

16) What else can I expect from Vancouver Island University's Advanced Diploma in GIS Applications?

For students taking the face-to-face program, VIU offers:

  • An opportunity to study in a small-scale university environment in one of Canada's most vibrant and live-able west coast cities, noted for its temperate climate and friendly people.
  • Small class sizes with highly personalized instruction.
  • Focused special projects with practical applications.
  • Practical project experience under sponsorship in the workplace.
  • An intensive classroom program in a relatively short period of time.

For students taking the online program, VIU offers:

  • An excellent track record in offering accredited online college and university programs and courses.
  • Instructors with experience in delivering online curricula.
  • Small class sizes with highly qualified instructors.
  • Special GIS-based projects that have distinct practical applications.
  • A paced delivery that meets the needs of employed or distant learners.

17) Is funding available?

Student loan funding may be available for the full-time face-to-face program. There is no funding for the part-time online program.

Other types of funding, such as HRDC funding, may be available to you, depending on your individual situation.
Visit the Financial Aid and Awards Office at your nearest VIU campus.

18) What is the difference between the online program and the face-to-face program?

The face-to-face program offers GEOG 593, which is a practicum. Because the online version does not offer a practicum, there are three additional courses in the online program, filling in additional technical training in place of the practicum:

i) GEOG 524 - Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing
ii) GEOG j525 - Global Positioning Systems and Survey Analysis
iii) GEOG 530 - Programming Foundations

Each of the classes in the online program are 8 weeks in length, running over the course of 3 semesters, with a break in the summer.

19) What are your employment statistics and opportunities for graduates of this program?

Over 90% of graduates that have taken the program (to date) have successfully secured full-time jobs in the field of GIS.

Your previous education and experience will play into what sort of prospects might be available in a given area. For example, someone with a municipal planning background and a GIS diploma will find several municipal governments and perhaps a smaller number of regional districts even in a fairly rural area. However, someone seeking to combine economics and GIS, or archaeology and GIS, might be forced to look at larger urban areas in order to find a consulting firm that specializes in such a narrow area of study. Specializations such as forestry or oil and gas would again have regions where there is more or less such activity.

The job market is tight on the island, as it is most places these days.  If you can get your foot in the door with an organization during the practicum, if they end up hiring it's very likely that your resume will stand out from the other 99 applications simply because you're a known quantity (they know you and know what you're capable of).  Two-thirds to 3/4 of the graduating class from Spring 2009 were able to find GIS employment, most on the island.  Most of the others were able to find GIS-related employment in other regions.

20) What are my chances of finding work in the GIS field in the mid-Vancouver Island area?

The graduates who remain in the mid-island area have ended up with a variety of employers, including local government, the provincial government and consultants in the area. Your job prospects will depend to a large extent on your previous education and experience.  To use the municipal planning/GIS diploma example, someone with that background will have in the order of 10 municipal governments and a few regional districts in that 100km radius.  However, if you are wanting to combine specialized fields of study with GIS (for example marketing and GIS or environmental studies and GIS), you might be forced to look at Victoria or Vancouver in order to find a consulting firm which specializes in such a narrow area of study.

21) Where do I go to find out more about the field of GIS?

Try out Arc Explorer Web and get a feel for what GIS can do.

22) Where to I go to find out more about job opportunities in this field?

More about job opportunities in the field of GIS.

23) I'm working in the field of GIS and I just want to take one course in your program - would I be able to do this?

This program is set up to train students as a cohort group (students move through the program taking the same courses at the same time). However, you may be able to take one course in the program at the discretion of the program chair and with permission from the course instructor, providing there is enough space in the course and enough lead time to get you set up on the equipment and software. You would still be required to apply to the program and be accepted prior to taking the course. If you are interested in only one course, please note this in your program application.

24) I understand that I will have the use of the ESRI software while I am a student in the ADGISA program. Can I using the ESRI software after the course is over?

The software is available to students at no charge while they are enrolled in the ADGISA program. In addition, students retain the use of the software for about 4 months after they complete the program, and they may take additional online courses through ESRI at no extra charge. Software supplied by the ADGISA program is for academic use only, both during and after completion of the program.

25) What is the normal starting salary for graduates from your program?

The problem with estimating the starting salary for our graduates is that ours is a post-degree program, so every student has an existing degree and in many cases some previous work experience.  Those students who can combine their previous education and experience with GIS (e.g., planning, field biology, forestry) often command a higher salary than those who cannot (e.g., perhaps a history degree is more difficult to apply to most GIS work).  In addition, our students range in age (and thus previous experience) from their early 20's to their 50's.  So we've got a very wide range of potential salaries.  Most of the grads are probably looking at between $35,000 and $55,000 as a starting annual salary, as a best guess.

Online ADGISA Program FAQs:

1) How long does the online program last?

The online ADGISA program extends over sixteen months. This program option is based exclusively on the successful completion of ten courses. Within the context of the delivery of each course, students are required to complete applied GIS-based exercises and small project assignments.

2) How do I compare this to a regular program?

In the online version, students complete ten separate, but sequential, courses to earn the 30 credits required for the post-graduate diploma in GIS.

3) What is the workload in the online program like?

The courses are quite demanding, and will require that students dedicate approximately 10-15 hours per week per course to complete readings and assignments. For students to complete the diploma program in 3 semesters (16 calendar months) the maximum course load at any one time is two concurrent courses, resulting in a weekly commitment of 20 hours or more. If students cannot accommodate this level of time investment they may be granted special permission to structure their courses to ensure there are no concurrent courses. This would reduce the weekly time commitment, but would result in completion of the diploma one year later.

4) How do I get into the online classroom?

Once you have been accepted into the online GIS program, have paid your tuition fees (according to the fee payment schedule as outlined in the program Information Sheet, and are registered in your course, you will receive a Welcome email on the Friday before your course start date (online courses normally start on a Monday). This email will give you detailed information about how to access the online classroom, along with information on who to contact if you have any questions or problems.

5) What is the online classroom like?

We use the Moodle Learning Management System to help us organize our online classroom. Moodle provides opportunities for deployment of lesson modules, interactive discussion forums, quizzes, assignment submission, email to the instructor and other students, grade checking, and much more.

This Learning Management System allows for ongoing conversation with your instructor and fellow students via an email-based discussion forum available from within your course and organized by topic. The instructor acts as the leader and moderator for the forum, and is available on a regular basis to answer questions either from within the group discussion area or privately via individual email. The instructor normally also posts regular weekly office hours for the duration of the course – so if you want to call and ask a question on the phone, you know when to reach him/her.

6) What type of student is suited for this online program?

This program has been designed to cater to students who wish to:

  • Acquire GIS skills training to advance their career options while continuing to work or maintain other responsibilities.
  • Strengthen basic GIS skills training to enable them to solve geographic or spatial problems within their profession or technical field.
  • Enhance career options in a profession where GIS is a required skill set.
  • Enjoy the flexibility that comes with studying online - an advantage to those students who are unable to relocate.

7) What if I need to take a break from the online program for personal reasons?

This program is set up to train students as a cohort group (students move through the program taking the same courses at the same time). However, if you need to take a break in the program for personal reasons, you may be able to arrange this with the permission of the program chair.

8) What is the refund policy for the online ADGISA program?

a. Tuition refunds for the ADGISA online [or face-to-face] program are governed by the following regulations:

  • Tuition fees for courses are due prior to the start of class.
  • After the tuition due date there is no refund.
  • If a student withdraws from a course after the tuition due date, tuition fees paid may not be deferred to a subsequent intake.

b. Unpaid fines and other amounts owing will be deducted from the refund.

c. Students required to withdraw due to violation of the Student Conduct Policy are not entitled to any refund.

9) What is the total cost of the online program including all texts, software, and equipment?

The cost of the program is $8900 CAD plus student union & activities fees of approx. $500. You will need your own computer in order to complete the program. Software is provided to students. There is one required text (approx cost $120 CAD) and one recommended text (approx cost $84 CAD) for the online program (not required in the face-to-face program), as well as a requirement for students to purchase their own GPS unit (again - online program only, approx. cost $250 CAD). Total investment over 3 terms: approx. $9854 CAD. We do have a standard payment plan in place, so that students pay a series of 3 installments over the course of the 3 terms – see the information sheet for details.

10) What is your policy regarding withdrawal without academic penalty from the online ADGISA program?

Students in the online ADGISA program have 4 weeks to withdraw without academic penalty from each course in the online program. For example, for GEOG 501 S10W70 (starting Jan 18/10) – the last day to withdraw without academic penalty would be by the end of the day on Feb 12/10.

Face-to-face Program FAQs

1) How long does the face-to-face program last?

The face-to-face ADGISA program extends for eight months. Four months of intensive hands-on training, followed by four months of GIS applications project work. The project work is pursued off-campus. Instructors provide online support for these projects. The GIS project may be undertaken individually or under the auspices of a sponsor.

2) How do I compare this to a regular program?

In the face-to-face option of the ADGISA program, there is an extensive applied component in the form of a GIS applications project - worth 9 credits. In this sense, the program focuses on the ability of students to produce a meaningful GIS applications product at the end of the program. The course work completed in the program is equivalent to 30 university-level credits.

3) What is the workload in the face-to-face program like?

This program has a compressed timetable that is intended to (re)introduce students to the workforce in eight months. Because of this, the workload is intense, and students should be prepared to commit their full efforts to the program for its duration.

4) What type of student is suited for this intensive program?

This program has been designed to cater to students who wish to:

  • Acquire GIS skills training to advance their career options.
  • Strengthen basic GIS skills training to enable them to solve geographic or spatial problems within their profession or technical field.
  • Bridge into a job where GIS is a required skill set.
  • In the case of the face-to-face option, limit the amount of time away from the workforce - in some cases this diploma can be earned with 4 months absence from the workforce: where employers wish to sponsor a candidate, the subsequent 4 months of applied learning can be undertaken in their own place of employment for the mutual benefit of the employer and the employee.

5) How does the practicum work in the face-to-face program?

Students will obtain and negotiate their practicum with potential sponsors, and develop a terms of reference document which will define the project. It's very similar to the process of proposal writing, which will serve students well should they embark on a career in consulting/contracting. Students then work for 9 weeks on their negotiated project, after which time they return to the classroom for a 2-week period. During this time, students are taught techniques for web presentation of maps, and the students deliver their final presentations and reports.

6) What types of practicum is available in the face-to-face- program?

Students work with provincial or federal agencies, generally those involved with mapping applications (such as fisheries, wildlife, or environmental agencies), or with non-government private industry involved in anything related to mapping (eg. for marketing/demographic purposes), or academic faculties/service groups who have specific project goals that relate to mapping applications. If you are interested in a practicum in a certain region (eg. Victoria), be sure to mention this to the Faculty member responsible for Practicums when you start the program, since we can quite often accommodate this type of request.

7) Do students receive any pay for practicums in the face-to-face program?

8) What is the refund policy for the face-to-face program?

a. Tuition refunds for the ADGISA face-to-face [or online] program are governed by the following regulations:

  • Tuition fees for courses are due prior to the start of class.
  • After the tuition due date there is no refund.
  • If a student withdraws from a course after the tuition due date, tuition fees paid may not be deferred to a subsequent intake.

b. Unpaid fines and other amounts owing will be deducted from the refund.

c. Students required to withdraw due to violation of the Student Conduct Policy are not entitled to any refund.

9) What is the total cost of the face-to-face program including all texts, software, and equipment?

The cost of the program is $8900 CAD plus student union & activities fees of approx. $250. You will need your own computer in order to complete the program. Software is provided to students. There are no other textbook or equipment requirements for the face-to-face program. Total investment over the 8 months of the program: approx. $9150 CAD. We do have a standard payment plan in place, so that students pay a series of 3 installments over the course of the 3 terms – see the information sheet for details.

10) What is your policy regarding withdrawal without academic penalty from the face-to-face ADGISA program?

The last date to withdraw without academic penalty from each course in the face-to-face program is at the end of the 5th day of classes.

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