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Boost your GIS career and make your data work for you

Geographical Information Sciences (UNIGIS)

This programme is designed to teach you how to build complex, multi-dimensional maps based on data, but also how to analyse the information these maps provide and use it to make effective decisions. You’ll work independently, yet with the support of a small group of fellow professionals and a dedicated staff with extensive professional and acedemic GIS experience. The staff will closely monitor your progress and help you overcome any challenges.

Programme Design

The programme is designed to allow professionals all over the world to study and explore all over the world. You have online lectures, reading materials and assignments that hone both your GIS and academic skills. The submission deadlines are set, but when and where you work on your assignments depends on your personal schedule. There are several online meetings with your teachers and peers for discussions, questions and advanced learning. These are recorded so if you can't be present, you can still gain from the knowledge exchange. Finally, there is a student tutor to help you with scheduling issues, additional curiosities and making the most out of the curriculum. 

The first year of the programme is designed to teach you all the fundamentals you need as a GIS professional and as an academic practioner. In the second year, the modules discuss more complex problems that require you to combine skills and to combine your classes with real world problems, if possible related to your work reality. In the final year you write your MSc thesis, where you pick a topic that fits with your interests and work circumstances. 

Year 1 - Foundation

The first year (21 EC) of your part-time, online master’s programme begins with four required core modules. These modules will give you a thorough grounding in relevant GIS concepts, methods and tools, and a view into the most recent developments in the field.

• Geovisualisation

• Geoprocessing

• Geodatabases

• Geodata capture, standards and quality


  • Geovisualization: Any geospatial project involves maps as either input information sources or information output /presentations. The Geovisualization course consists of two main blocks: (i) cartographic concepts of coding and encoding of spatial information via maps and (ii) hands on practicing in GIS-based maps. The course starts with GIS-related topics of data management and Bertin’s principles of graphic variables. Students learn to think about adn execute map design, map projection and map content compilation.  
  • Geoprocessing: In this course you will learn how you can use simple geoprocessing tools to enrich data, summarize data, visualize elements of data, and many more possible treatments based on a case study. You will work with a model builder, for which you learn how to make assumptions, select proper geoprocessing tools, and structure and report your analyses.
  • Geodatabases: In this course you will first learn how to explore and analyse existing databases, using acquired knowledge about the theory of databases. In the second part you learn how to develop a database schema and implement the design in PostgreSQL in PostGIS. As part of this we'll teach you how to use SQL.
  • Geodata capture, standards and quality: GIS projects can utilise a wide range of geospatial data, from paper maps to daily remotely sensed imagery, or even real-time sensor information. This means that GIS professionals need skills in different domains to navigate and identify suitable data for a GIS project. You will learn about a plethora of acquisition techniques, as well as understanding measuring errors, data standards and data transfer.

Year 2 - Advanced

The second year (21 EC) of your part-time, online master’s programme focusses on diving into depth of GIS technology and application. You will work on specific case studies, some provided by us, but some fitting with your work or personal interests. Topics that you can explore include building a Digital Twin, programming in Python, remote sensing and research skills. 

In these courses you work on your own case studies, that also include examples and data that fit with your work interests. You combine the GIS skills and knowledge you gained to start tackling the major societal and scientific challenges we are facing today. 


The courses that are currently offered in year 2 are: 

  • Digital Twins
  • Geodemographics
  • Advanced remote sensing
  • Programming for GIS
  • Capstone
  • Workshop year 2

Year 3

In year 3 you will write a full master thesis. In this programme we let you pick a topic that fits with your personal and professional interests (with a focus on GIS, of course). During the year you will have a supervisor that guides you in the thesis process, including planning, finding interesting and relevant literature and providing his or her expertise. 

MSc degree
If you successfully complete all three years of this part-time programme, you will receive a master’s degree in Geographical Information Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

UNIGIS Master’s

Are you interested in enhancing your current and future roles by making your data work for you? Do you want to get more out of the data that are so essential to your decision-making process?
This fully online, three-year, part-time Master’s programme is ideally suited for busy professionals interested in taking their careers to the next level. Two professionals tell you why they chose for this study.

Change your future with the Geographical Information Sciences programme

Change your future with the Geographical Information Sciences programme

After completing this Master’s programme, you will have skills and tools that are applicable across a wide range of in-demand positions. You can immediately put them into practice in your day-to-day professional work.

Whether you are a Market Analyst for a retail chain, an urban or rural City Planner, a Data Manager for an NGO or a Consultant for local or national agriculture legislators, the GIS knowledge and skills you acquire in this Master’s programme will help you analyse data and create physical, tangible maps to tell your story clearly and convincingly. You will make more informed decisions, based on better data. You will, therefore, become an invaluable member of your project team.

From sustainability to crowd control, from global pandemics to food security. From market domination to land preservation and from health crises to financial opportunities: knowing how location data impacts the crucial decisions we make is the key to unlocking the potential for a better future.

Explore your future prospects
Girl on the VU campus

Can we help you?

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
School of Business and Economics Executive Education
De Boelelaan 1105