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 20, 2020

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.

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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, please submit 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.

Standardized examinations

GRE scores (required for the M.S. in GIST and M.S. in HSGI)

Bachelor’s Degree

Must be from a regionally accredited institution.

Cumulative undergrad grade point average



Applicants must have official transcripts sent from all colleges and universities attended, regardless of whether credit or a degree was obtained. The official transcript should show the titles of all courses taken, grades or marks received and the date and title of any degree(s) conferred; USC alumni do not need to submit the USC official transcript. Transcripts must be enclosed in an envelope sealed by the registrar’s office and mailed to:

If sending transcripts via regular mail, please use the following address:

University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

If sending transcripts via courier service, such as DHL or FedEx, please use the following address:

University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission and Financial Aid
3601 South Flower Street, Tyler 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

Phone: (213) 740-1111

USC also accepts e-transcripts from universities within the United States. They can be delivered to

Ready to Get Started? Contact an Enrollment Advisor Today.

GRE Waiver

The USC Spatial Sciences Institute employs GRE scores as one factor in assessing student preparation for study in the Geographic Information Science and Technology graduate programs. However, a few applicants may be granted a GRE waiver in cases where their applications are exceptional. If you have any questions about the waiver requirements or process, please contact an enrollment advisor.