USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute

Admissions Requirements

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:
May 15, 2024
The application deadline* is:
March 31, 2024

*Due to high levels of interest in USC’s online GIS programs, processing may take up to three weeks. We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible to ensure that our admissions committee can review your materials in time for the upcoming semester.

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.

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.

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



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.