This website is best viewed in a browser that supports web standards.

Skip to content or, if you would rather, Skip to navigation.

Northwest Missouri State University


Frequently Asked Questions

+ Expand All- Collapse All

Admission

What are the admission requirements for the Master's program?

Learn more about how to apply for admission to the Master's program.

Applicants must submit all required application materials and meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher on a 4.00 scale. At the discretion of the GIScience program, students with a lower GPA may be admitted conditionally.
  • Minimum verbal plus quantitative GRE score of 286. Students not meeting this score must maintain a 3.00 GPA for the first nine hours of graduate credit before admission to candidacy.
  • There are additional admission criteria for international students. Please see the current graduate catalog or contact the Graduate School at gradsch@nwmissouri.edu.
  • Acceptance to graduate study by the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • Compliance with all of the eligibility requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in the current Graduate Academic Catalog.

What are the admission requirements for the certificate program?

Learn more about how to apply for admission to the Master's program.

Applicants must submit all required application materials and meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher on a 4.00 scale. At the discretion of the GIScience program, students with a lower GPA may be admitted conditionally.
  • There are additional admission criteria for international students. Please see the current graduate catalog or contact the Graduate School at gradsch@nwmissouri.edu.
  • Acceptance to graduate study by the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • Compliance with all of the eligibility requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in the current Graduate Academic Catalog.

Are there any course prerequisites for admission?

There are no course prerequisites for admission to either the Master's or certificate program. Although GIS experience is beneficial to students, in-depth experience with GIS is not a mandatory requirement for admission. Students admitted to the Master's or certificate program must either test out of the course "Principles of GIS" or take the course during their first term. "Principles of GIS" is a foundation course intended for students with minimal background in GIS or those who need or want to take a refresher course. Most of the courses in the GIScience program have "Principles of GIS" as a prerequisite. All students who believe that their GIS knowledge is sufficiently strong and that they do not need to take "Principles of GIS" must test out of this course. Test-out procedures are emailed to all admitted students at least a month before the term begins. Students who successfully test out of "Principles of GIS" will need 32-33 hours to earn the M.S. degree or 12 hours to earn the certificate. Students who do not successfully pass the test out exam and therefore must take "Principles of GIS" will need 35-36 hours to earn the M.S. degree or 15 hours to earn the certificate.

Can courses be transferred from another university?

For the Master's degree, no more than nine semester hours of graduate credit consisting of no more than four courses may be transferred. The courses must be from a regionally- or nationally-accredited institution and must be applicable to the GIScience degree. GIScience faculty will determine if the courses are applicable. Transfer credit applied to the Master's degree must have been earned within eight years of the date the degree is awarded.

For the GIScience certificate, no more than three semester hours of graduate credit may be transferred. The courses must be from a regionally- or nationally-accredited institution and must be applicable to the GIScience certificate. Transfer credit applied to the certificate must have been earned within four years of the date the certificate is awarded.

If I want to try online learning, can I take one course in the GIScience program without being admitted to the Master's or certificate program?

In general, our online GIScience courses are reserved for students admitted to the Master's and certificate programs. Empty seats may be filled by non-degree seeking graduate students on a case-by-case basis. For further information, contact the GIScience Graduate Program Director, Patricia Drews at drews@nwmissouri.edu.

How Does the GIScience Program Work?

Are the Master's degree and certificate programs completely online?

Yes, the Master's degree and certificate programs are done entirely online. You never have to set foot on the Maryville campus.

How long does it take to earn the Master's degree or graduate certificate?

Most of our students are working full-time and take one or two courses per trimester. At this rate, the typical student will take 3-4 years to earn the Master's degree and 1-2 years to earn the certificate. Students may enroll in more courses per trimester and earn the degree in less time if their work and other commitments allow sufficient time to take a heavier load. The shortest time for earning the Master's degree is generally two years, although this time could be reduced if a student transfers in credit from another university. The shortest time for earning the certificate is one year (two trimesters).

What is the maximum time allowed for the Master's degree or certificate?

All requirements for the Master's degree must be completed in eight years. All requirements for the certificate must be completed in four years.

Can I sit out a term and not take classes?

Yes, you may sit out one or more terms as you work towards the Master's degree or certificate. However, the clock for maximum time allowed keeps ticking during terms that you sit out.

Are courses offered year around?

Courses in the GIScience program run on the same academic calendar as on-campus University courses. Online GIScience courses begin and end on the same dates as on-campus courses. Most of the GIScience courses are offered during the fall and spring trimesters. We offer a few courses (generally 4 courses) during the summer trimester. The summer courses contain the same content as the fall and spring courses but run at a faster pace.

What is a trimester?

Northwest uses the term "trimester" to mean the same thing as a semester. The fall and spring trimesters consist of 14 weeks of instruction and one week for final exams. The summer trimester consists of courses of variable lengths. Summer courses for the GIScience program usually run for eight weeks.

Can I take a course at my own pace? Are there set times when I must login to the course?

As noted above, the online GIScience courses begin and end on the same dates as on-campus University courses. Each GIScience course will have its own internal deadlines established by the instructor. For example, students may be given one week to do a unit or a five-day period in which to take an exam. Within the internal deadlines for a course, students can access the course whenever they wish, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because most of our students are working full-time and scattered across several time zones, there are few, if any, instances when students must login to a course at a specific time.

What is the normal course load?

Most of our GIScience students are working full-time and take one or two courses (three or six credit hours) per trimester. Some students have taken three courses (nine hours) during a trimester. Work and other responsibilities will dictate how many courses a student should take.

Graduate students taking nine hours are considered full-time students. Students must be enrolled in at least five credit hours to be eligible for loans through the University. Contact the University's Financial Assistance Office for loan information.

How are courses delivered?

All Northwest online courses use eCollege course delivery software. eCollege, a company based in Denver, CO, provides services and technology to support online education. Northwest's online courses reside on eCollege's computers, which are supported with redundant servers and 24-hour access. Courses are accessed through a web browser.

A typical course will include readings, assignments (exercises, course projects, and/or papers), asynchronous discussions, and exams. The readings may come from a textbook, other sources posted on the course site, and other online resources.

Many of our GIScience courses have assignments that require access to ArcGIS. ArcGIS is not accessed through the eCollege interface. Students install ArcGIS on their own PC. For an assignment that utilizes ArcGIS, a student will usually download the assignment and any supporting data from the course site and then log off the course site while using ArcGIS for the assignment. After completing the assignment, the student will login to the course site and upload any assignment deliverables to a dropbox established for that purpose.

Communication with the instructor is usually done through email, asynchronous discussions, and instructor feedback on assignments. Of course, phone calls from students are also welcome.

Are Master's and certificate students in the same course sections?

Yes, Master's and certificate students take the same course sections and must fulfill the same course requirements.

Moving between the Certificate and Master's Programs

If I begin the Master's or certificate program, can I change to the other program?

Students admitted to either the Master's or certificate program may change to the other program by formally applying for admission to the other program and meeting all of the admission requirements for it. The same transcripts, references, and essay submitted for admission to the first program may be used for application to the second program. The GRE is waived for applicants for the Master's program who have earned the GIScience certificate at Northwest.

Do the certificate courses count towards the Master's degree?

All courses taken for the GIScience graduate certificate may be counted towards the Master's degree, as long as they were taken within the eight-year period allowed for the degree.

Do Master's students earn the GIScience certificate?

No. Students are enrolled in either the Master's program or the certificate program, not in both at the same time. However, a student who has earned the GIScience certificate may apply for admission to the Master's program and earn the Master's degree.

Program Cost

What does the program cost?

For tuition and fees, please visit the Bursar's website.

Other costs include books, software, and a graduation fee of $55 for Master's students. Books will average approximately $100 per course. Note that this is an average. The textbook costs for some courses are higher. All students are required to have ArcGIS for Desktop Standard or Advanced and the Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst, Network Analyst and Geostatistical Analyst extensions. ESRI offers student pricing for the software. For more details on software and hardware requirements, please see: Software Requirements

Why do out-of-state students pay more tuition for an online program than Missouri residents?

Like all academic programs at Missouri state universities, a significant part of the cost of the GIScience program is paid for by the taxpayers of Missouri. Residents of Missouri pay less tuition because they have already paid to support Northwest Missouri State University and the GIScience program through their tax dollars.

Is financial aid available?

The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences currently does not offer assistantships or fellowships. Graduate students seeking information about other financial aid available to graduate students should contact Northwest's Financial Assistance Office at 660.562.1363, or consult the office's site.