USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute

Admissions Requirements

ANNOUNCEMENT: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have modified our admissions requirements for Summer 2021. We are offering accommodations to qualified applicants who:

  • Are unable to submit the two required letters of recommendation before the start date

Applicants who fall under this situation should contact an enrollment advisor at 877-650-9054 or before submitting an application.

For more information and updates about USC’s response to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 preparedness page.

The Geographic Information Science and Technology online graduate programs are offered by the Spatial Sciences Institute in the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The graduate GIST certificate was one of the first online GIS graduate programs in the country.

Upcoming Start Date

The next start date is:
January 10, 2022

Although many students have a GIS background before entering the program, we encourage anyone with an interest in the spatial sciences to apply. Our graduate programs are designed to be applicable across disciplines and include options for experienced GIS professionals as well as individuals with little or no experience in the geographic sciences. We will consider all elements of your professional and academic background when reviewing your application.

Academic Calendar and Deadlines

Students are admitted on a rolling basis for fall, spring and summer semester starts.

Request Brochure

Fill out the information below to learn more about the University of Southern California’s online GIS Graduate Programs and download a free brochure. If you have any additional questions, please call 877-650-9054 to speak to an enrollment advisor.

* All Fields are Required. Your Privacy is Protected.
  Are you enrolling from outside the U.S.? Click Here.

Application Materials and Requirements

Online application

Submit along with $90 application fee.

Statement of Purpose

Please submit a statement of purpose with your online application. This statement should:

  1. Describe your motivation, field of interest and career goals.
  2. Identify potential projects that you might pursue for the master’s thesis project (master’s applicants only).

If you have questions about potential thesis topics, don’t hesitate to contact an enrollment advisor.


Please submit your most up-to-date resume.

Two Letters of Recommendation

If you are applying for the M.S. in Geographic Information Science and Technology or the M.S. in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence, we require two letters of recommendation.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are making accommodations for applicants who are unable to submit the two required letters of recommendation before the start date on May 20. Contact an enrollment advisor as soon as possible at 877-650-9054 or Our admissions team will work with you to find the solution that best serves your circumstances.

Writing Sample

Please submit a writing sample with your online application. The writing sample can be any kind of written product which you consider to be the best representation of your professional communication skills. It may be a piece written in undergraduate or graduate studies, or in the workplace. It should be a well-written piece that fully demonstrates your ability to present material in a logical, cohesive, and organized manner.

Bachelor’s Degree

Must be from a regionally accredited institution.

Cumulative undergrad grade point average



Due to the statewide COVID-19 orders for California residents to stay at home, the Admission Processing office will not be open to receive incoming mailed and couriered official transcripts. This means that any documents we receive will not be processed or added to student files until we are cleared to open. We are working to process previously received transcripts.

If an institution is directly sending your transcripts to USC, they should be emailed to Please use PDF format only for attachments. No other file types (such as JPEG or .doc files) can be processed at this time. Do not send any other materials or correspondence to this email address.

If you need to submit transcripts issued by an institution’s registrar, please follow these steps:

  1. Scan your official registrar-issued transcripts.
  2. Submit the transcripts via the Contact Form.
  3. Select “Graduate Admission” as the Area and “Transcripts” as the Category. Be sure to have your 10-digit USC ID.
  4. In the body of the message include your USC ID number, and then attach the documents. PDF format is strongly encouraged for attachments. You may also send JPEG or .doc files through the contact form, but you should expect delays to have the files imaged.