Prerequisite GIS Courses

Many students who enter the Master of GIS Applications program have previous experience with GIS, either through formal coursework, or through extensive on-the-job training.

It is highly recommended that you learn the basics of GIS before applying for the MGISA program. The program assumes that you are highly computer literate, are able to navigate the ArcGIS user interface and have a basic understanding of how to perform basic GIS analysis tasks and create maps.

Example Prerequisite Courses

Examples of appropriate introductory GIS courses include:

Camosun CollegeGEOG 217
Douglas CollegeGEOG 2270
Kwantlen Polytechnic UniversityGEOG 2400
Langara CollegeAPPL 2320
GEOG 2210
Selkirk CollegeGIS 302
Simon Fraser UniversityGEOG 255
Thompson Rivers UniversityGEOG 2750
University of British ColumbiaGEOB 270
University of the Fraser ValleyGEOG 253
University of Northern British ColumbiaGEOG 300
University of VictoriaGEOG 328
Vancouver Island UniversityFRST 328
GEOG 328

Note: this is not an exhaustive list. If you have questions about a course that you took at another institution, please contact Darlene Norby for clarification. List is subject to change.

Challenge Option 1

If you already have extensive self-taught GIS skills with ArcGIS or another GIS package, please send a resume, plus a portfolio of some of your work to Darlene Norby ( The MGISA Admissions Committee will examine the work submitted and may waive the formal GIS prerequisite, based on:

  • The volume of work completed
  • The depth of knowledge required to complete the tasks shown
  • How recently the work was completed
  • The type of software used

Challenge Option 2

If you are unable to take an introductory GIS course because of your location or schedule, VIU allows you to challenge the material though a series of Online courses offered by Esri, the company that produces ArcGIS, which is used in the MGISA Program. This software will only run on the Windows operating system.

Once you have applied to the program, your transcripts will be assessed for evidence of a satisfactory previous GIS course. If there is no evidence of a previous GIS course you will be provided with:

  • information about how to download and install one copy of the student edition of ArcGIS
  • access codes for course enrolment
  • instructions for installing the software and beginning the courses

The courses

Search for the course you need to complete on the Esri Training website. Use the latest software version of ArcGIS Pro to complete the course.

Once you have completed these courses, view your completion certificate for each course. User the mortarboard icon to view your Esri course completion certificates.

Save a copy of each course completion certificate in .PDF format, and email these to Darlene Norby (, who will confirm by email that you have met the course prerequisites.