How to Apply

Thanks for your interest in the Master of Geographic Information Science degree program at the University of Minnesota! Visit our About page for more information on why the MGIS program is a great opportunity for career advancement and professional development.

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 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 One Stop Student Services page on tuition for the current MGIS graduate tuition rate. More information about graduate studies at the University of Minnesota can be found at the Graduate School Admissions Office.


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 college-level introductory courses in statistics and computer programming

Note: For the computer programming requirement, the course should be an undergraduate- or graduate-level course 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). You also have the option of taking GEOG 5541: Principles of Geocomputing (offered in the spring semester) to meet this requirement. You can take it as a non-degree student or during your first year in the MGIS program if admitted. Equivalent professional experience involving programming may meet this requirement as well.

Applying for Admission

We admit students twice a year, for both the fall and spring semesters. Failure to submit the required materials by the semester deadline will delay your application process. 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 30

Spring semester admission deadline: September 1

In order to apply, you must complete the online application and pay the fee by the deadlines indicated above for the fall and spring admissions periods.

Key items in the online application include a personal statement, unofficial transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and an English language proficiency exam score (for international applicants). Diversity and extenuating circumstances statements are welcome but optional. 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 online application system. A decision for admission notice will be emailed to you once your application is carefully evaluated by the department’s admission committee and authenticated by Graduate School Admissions Office. You can expect a decision by late March for fall admission and by mid-October for spring admission.

Personal Statement

This statement should describe your GIS research interests and career goals, professional and research experience, why the MGIS program is a good fit for you, and other relevant background information including any extenuating circumstances (e.g., below 3.0 cumulative grade point average) or diversity insights; it should not exceed two pages. The MGIS program only requires one statement, however, you have the option of submitting separate diversity or extenuating circumstances statements. 


Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be provided directly to the online application. 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. If you are admitted, the University will request official copies. 

Additional Information on Transcripts for International Students

International applicants should provide 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. 

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required and should be submitted via the online application system. 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. 

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 some other scores. See the Graduate Admissions Office English Language Proficiency page for details. Our preferred score for the TOEFL is 100, including 22 on Reading and 24 on Writing; IELTS is 7.5; PTE is 68. 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 to the online application system. See the Graduate School's International Student Resource page for more helpful information.

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.