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How to Apply

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. See the Office of Student Finance graduate tuition rate for current MGIS tuition rates. More information about graduate studies at the University of Minnesota can be found on through the Graduate School Office of Admissions.


Admission to the MGIS program requires:

  • a bachelor's degree from an accredited college
  • a preferred cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (or the equivalent)
  • completion of one college-level course in:
    • mathematics
    • statistics
    • computer programming

Note: 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.

Applying for Admission

We admit students twice a year, for both the fall and spring semesters. Failure to submit required materials by the semester deadline 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.

Fall semester admission deadline: January 30th
Spring semester admission deadline: September 1st

In order to apply, you must complete the online application through ApplyYourself. Additional application instructions are provided by the Graduate School. Please note that your application will not be complete without submitting an application fee.

International students are required to provide a TOEFL score or the score from another English Language Proficiency Exam such as IELTS or MELAB. 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. More information for international students can be found through the Graduate School.

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.

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

Application Requirements

  1. MGIS Supplemental Application Form
  2. Personal statement
  3. Transcripts
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. English Language Proficiency Exam score

MGIS Supplemental Application Form

Download the PDF iconMGIS Supplemental Application form. Complete the form and save it in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format. Upload the completed form under ApplyYourself's "Program Supplementary Information" section.

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 pages. The document can be uploaded in the "Applicant Statements" section of ApplyYourself. The MGIS program only requires one statement. 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) 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. See the Graduate School's application instructions for more information, including detailed instructions 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 in the appropriate ApplyYourself 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. More information on status updates is available through the Graduate School.

English Language Proficiency Exam Score

This exam score is required for non-native English speakers. The preferred test is the TOEFL, although we do accept IELTS and MELAB scores. 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 ApplyYourself. See more information about English language proficiency scores, including official submission via to the Graduate School.

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.