Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Analytics

  • Format: online
This six-week, self-paced course provides an introductory-level overview of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Analytics. Note: This course is part of the Digital Technology Certificate Program that offers three online courses available through MU Extension and Engagement: Business Data Analytics, Coding and Programming, and Geographical Information Systems. Individuals will receive a certificate of completion for each completed course, and those who complete all three courses will receive an MU Extension Continuing Education Certificate in Digital Technology.





Dr. Timothy Haithcoat and Dr. Timothy Matisziw

Support Staff

Please contact MU Extension for enrollment, course fee, certificate, and other like questions: Sarah Rielley and Jonathan Mack



PREREQUISITES: There are no prerequisites for this course. 

COURSE CREDITS: This course is part of the Digital Transformation Consortium, which can be reviewed by selecting this link, which offers three online courses available through MU Extension and Engagement: Business Data Analytics, Coding and Programming, and Geographical Information Systems. Individuals will receive a certificate of completion for each completed course, and those who complete all three courses will receive an MU Extension Continuing Education Certificate in Digital Transformation.

CLASSROOM LOCATION & TIME: This course is 100% online and self-paced. As this course is delivered entirely online, you must actively participate by visiting Canvas regularly, i.e. at least three times per week. In an online environment, participation and engagement are crucial for success.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a technology that has been rapidly maturing over the past few decades. GIS now play essential roles in a wide array of public and private sector entities. This course provides an introductory-level overview of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Analytics. Learning materials consist of lectures as well as a suite of hands-on laboratory exercises designed to expose students to the diverse functionalities of modern GIS.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The following objectives are for this self-paced course. Each assessment will have a list of objectives that are in line with the following. Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Understand the basic structure, functionality, and applicability of GIS.
  • Differentiate among the alternative data models and formats commonly utilized in GIS.
  • Understand and apply basic cartographic principles.
  • Identify sources of GIS-compatible data.
  • Apply attribute-based and location-based queries.
  • Understand the benefits of geospatial analytics to practical planning problems.

REQUIRED TEXT: There are no required textbooks for this course. Students will be asked to view several provided online videos, articles, graphics, etc. that support the module activities, lectures, and assessments hosted on Canvas.

REQUIRED HARDWARE: At a minimum, you will need the following hardware to participate in this course:

  • A stable internet connection with a connection speed no less than 10 Mbps.
  • Although not required, a large and/or multi-monitor display configuration may be useful.

REQUIRED SOFTWARE: At a minimum, you will need the following software to participate in this course:

  • A computer with an up-to-date operating system (e.g., Windows, Mac, or Linux) and web browser - Firefox and Chrome are recommended.
  • A PDF reader of your choice (e.g., Adobe or Microsoft Word).

COURSE ANNOUNCEMENTS, CANVAS INFO, & ONLINE PARTICIPATION: There is a Canvas site dedicated to this class (obviously). This is where grades will be posted, important announcements will be made (pay attention to these), module instructions and assessments are housed, etc. Content and lessons are divided into several modules. Ensure you have notifications turned on for course announcements, or check announcements regularly if doing so manually. It is your responsibility to stay up to date with all course announcements.



To complete each learning module, students must review associated lectures, attempt the associated GIS laboratory exercises, and complete the end-of-module feedback forms. Successful completion of the course requires completion of all learning modules. As is always the case with online courses, you must engage with the material in a reasonable amount of time before the due date and time of the assessment for each module.


COURSE SCHEDULE: Though this is a self-paced course, it is designed to be completed within six to eight weeks based on the schedule below. You can use the schedule below as a reference to help guide you through the course.


Date/Academic Week

Module Topics
Module Description

Week 1

Module 0 - Course Introduction, Resources, and FAQs

Module 1 - Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

In Module 0, we'll go over the functionality of this class and the tools needed to be successful throughout the duration of the course.

In Module 1, we'll discuss the core features of what constitutes a Geographic Information System (GIS) as well as the history of GIS.

Week 2

Module 2 - Geographic Representation and Cartography In Module 2, we'll discuss the basics of geographic representation, mapping, and cartography.

Week 3

Module 3 - The Raster Data Model In Module 3, we'll cover the essential principles of the raster data model.

Week 4

Module 4 - The Vector Data Model In Module 4, we'll explore the core elements of the vector data model.

Week 5

Module 5 - Database Joins and Geocoding In Module 5, we'll explore attribute joins and spatial joins as well as the concept of geocoding.

Week 6

Module 6 - Geospatial Analysis

Module 7 - Course Wrap-up

In Module 6, we'll examine the geospatial analysis techniques of spatial interpolation and network analysis.

In Module 7, we'll wrap up the course and discuss the remaining steps necessary to obtain the MU Extension Continuing Education Certificate in Digital Transformation.



The information below also appears in Canvas under “Supports & Policies” > “MU Policies and Expectations,” so that all students in all courses have access to this.

CLASSROOM SAFETY & EMERGENCY PLAN: If you have any classes on campus and there is an active threat in the area I recommend you immediately check your surroundings and take action by running, hiding, or fighting. Learn more by watching Surviving an Active Shooter. Lastly, be sure you are signed up for MU Alert, the University's mass emergency notification system.

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS: The University of Missouri is committed to supporting student well-being through an integrated network of care, with a wide range of services to help students succeed. The MU Counseling Center offers professional mental health care and can help you find the best approach to treatment based on your needs. Call to make an appointment at 573-882-6601. Any student in crisis may call or go to the MU Counseling Center between 8:00 – 5:00 M-F. After-hours phone support is available at 573-882-6601. Visit our website at to take an online mental health screening, find out about workshops and resources that can help you thrive, or learn how to support a friend. Download Sanvello, a phone app that teaches skills and strategies to help you maintain good mental health. Log in with your Mizzou e-mail to unlock all the tools available through Sanvello at no cost to you.


If you need disability-related accommodations, please email  MU Extension ADA Support.   For technical support, please email   Canvas Support.


Academic integrity is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person’s work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed, and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards breaches of the academic integrity rules as extremely serious matters. Sanctions for such a breach may include academic sanctions from the instructor, including failing the course for any violation, to disciplinary sanctions ranging from probation to expulsion. When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, collaboration, or any other form of cheating, consult the course instructor or the Office of Academic Integrity.

Students are expected to adhere to this honor pledge on all graded work whether or not they are explicitly asked in advance to do so: “I strive to uphold the University values of respect, responsibility, discovery, and excellence. On my honor, I pledge that I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this work.”

NETIQUETTE: We all want to foster a safe online learning environment. All opinions and experiences, no matter how different or controversial they may be perceived, must be respected in the tolerant spirit of academic discourse. You are encouraged to comment, question, or critique an idea but you are not to attack an individual. Our differences, some of which are outlined in the University’s nondiscrimination statement, will add richness to this learning experience. Please consider that sarcasm and humor can be misconstrued in online interactions and generate unintended disruptions. Working as a community of learners, we can build a polite and respectful course ambiance.

NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY: The University of Missouri does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex* (including gender), pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, disability, protected veteran status, and any other status protected by applicable state or federal law. Discrimination includes any form of unequal treatment such as denial of opportunities, harassment, and violence. *Sex discrimination includes rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, unwanted touching, stalking, dating/domestic violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation. Retaliation for making or supporting a report of discrimination or harassment is also prohibited.

If you experience discrimination or sexual violence, you are encouraged (but not required) to report the incident to the MU Office for Civil Rights & Title IX. Learn more about your rights and options at or call 573-882-3880.  You also may make an anonymous report online. 

If you are a survivor, or someone concerned about a survivor, and need immediate information on what to do, see both the Office for Civil Rights & Title IX and the RSVP Center. They can assist students who need help with academics, housing, or other issues.

If you choose to write or speak about having experienced any of these forms of prohibited discrimination or harassment, Mizzou policies require that, as your instructor, I share this information with the MU Office for Civil Rights & Title IX. They will contact you to offer information about resources, as well as your rights and options as a member of our campus community.

INTELLECTUAL PLURALISM: The university community welcomes intellectual diversity and respects student rights. Students who have questions or concerns regarding the atmosphere in this class (including respect for diverse opinions) may contact the departmental chair or divisional director, the Office of Academic Integrity, or the MU Equity Office.

ACADEMIC INQUIRY, COURSE DISCUSSION, & PRIVACY: When students record something that happens in a course (a lecture, class discussions, meetings, etc.) it has an impact on the rights of the people captured in that recording. For example, the instructor and the University may have rights to the intellectual property contained in that recording. At the same time, another student who may have been recorded has the right to privacy. To protect these rights, MU employs a policy (called “Executive Order No. 38”) to govern both situations you may encounter while taking a course – when an instructor allows recordings and when they do not.

In this class, students may not make audio or video recordings of course activity, except students permitted to record as an accommodation under section 240.040 of the Collected Rules. Students who violate this policy are subject to discipline per provisions of section 200.020 of the Collected Rules and Regulations of the University of Missouri about student conduct matters.



*Disclaimer: The instructor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus, and course schedule during the semester.