FAQ

FAQ for Certificates in Applied Digital Geography and GIS

1. Why should I learn GIS in the certificate programs at Ryerson?

2. Can I take just a few individual courses and not register in the certificate program?

3. How long will it take me to complete the certificate?

4. What course should I take first in the first Certificate in Applied Digital Geography and GIS – CODG 101 or CODG 102?

5. How much work is involved in each course?

6. Can I take the certificate full-time?

7. Do I need to buy the GIS software?

8. Can I complete the certificate through Distance Education?

9. What software do you use?

10. Are there any costs other than the course fees?

11. Do you provide career opportunities?

12. How do I register in the certificate program?

13. Can I get credit for GIS courses that I took at other universities or colleges or for my professional work experience?

14. The admission criteria of the first certificate include an undergraduate degree in a related field. What constitutes a related field?

­1. Why should I learn GIS in the certificate programs at Ryerson?

These certificates reflect Ryerson University’s mandate for career-focused education. They balance conceptual knowledge and practical training in a combined lecture-lab environment which gives students what they need for a successful career in the GIS industry. Technology changes rapidly and it is not enough to know how to use the GIS software; students must understand the concepts and have problem-solving skills for spatial decision-making.

The certificates also build on the reputation of Ryerson’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies as a leader in GIS education in Canada. The benefit of this connection for certificate students can be seen clearly in some companies that employee graduates from the Department’s undergraduate and graduate programs and now have hired graduates from the Certificate in Applied Digital Geography and GIS.

­2. Can I take just a few individual courses and not register in the certificate program?

Absolutely. You do not have to register in the certificate program until just before you complete your third course.

­3. How long will it take me to complete the certificate?

Each certificate requires the successful completion of six courses. This can be accomplished in nine months, depending on when you start the program and what courses you want to take. You have up to six years to complete a certificate.

The first certificate requires that you successfully complete the two introductory courses before taking any of the electives. Some students take these courses at the same time but it depends on the other commitments in your life. The two courses together require seven hours of class time a week (and 14 hours in compressed format in the Spring term.) Each of the electives is generally offered once in a twelve-month cycle.

The Advanced Certificate requires that you complete four or five of the specialty courses before enrolling in at least one of the final, integrating courses. Each course is generally offered once in a twelve-month cycle.

­4. What course should I take first in the first Certificate in Applied Digital Geography and GIS – CODG 101 or CODG 102?

The program was devised so that CODG 101 comes before CODG 102. There is some overlap in the two courses to reinforce the concepts and skills. If the schedule does not work when you want to start the program (i.e. in the Spring CODG 101 is offered online and you want to take it in the classroom), then you can start with CODG 102.

Some students take both courses at the same time, depending on their other commitments.

­5. How much work is involved in each course?

Courses require three hours of class time per week. The courses offered through distance education are based on this time frame. There are courses offered in compressed format, but the number of class hours is the same; the number of class hours per week is doubled but the number of weeks is cut in half.

The amount of time required outside of the class depends on the course, your speed and ability to work through the labs and assignments, and the amount of time you want to devote to learning the material.

Most courses are lab-based with weekly or bi-weekly labs to submit. Some courses have major projects or assignments or in-class presentations. Most courses have final exams and some have mid-term tests.

­6. Can I take the certificate full-time?

The certificates are designed to be part-time, with courses offered in the evening, on weekends or over the Internet. For the first certificate, you need to take the first two courses before any of the others, and a schedule of two courses is not full-time study. Depending on what electives you want to take and when they are offered, it would be possible to take three or four electives in one semester and that would constitute full-time study.

For the Advanced Certificate, there are generally two courses offered each semester, and this would not constitute full-time study.

­7. Do I need to buy the GIS software?

It is not necessary to buy any software. As a certificate student, you have access to the GIS software and data in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies’ GIS Teaching Lab during class time and the Department’s GIS Open Lab during the daytime, seven days a week and during evenings Monday through Friday. You have your own password-protected space on the server to save your work and access it at any time.

If you take distance education courses, you have access to the GIS software and data through the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies’ Virtual Lab. You download citrix software onto your home computer and your computer becomes a remote workstation.

Certificate students are eligible to have a one-year, student edition of ESRI’s ArcGIS for their home use.

­8. Can I complete the certificate through Distance Education?

There are six courses in the first Certificate in Applied Digital Geography and GIS which are offered online, allowing you to complete the certificate without having to come to the Ryerson University campus. Each course is offered once in a twelve-month cycle.

If you live in the Toronto area, you can take some courses in the classroom and some online, depending on your preference.

­9. What software do you use?

We have the latest versions of industry-standard GIS software: the full ESRI suite including ArcGIS (ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcScene, ArcInfo Workstation, and add-ons), SDE, IMS, and ArcObjects; MapInfo Professional; Intergraph’s Geomedia. For Remote Sensing and digital image processing, we have ERDAS Imagine and PCI Geomatica. Database software includes MS Access, SQL Server and Oracle Spatial.

Developer tools include Visual Studio environment and .NET 2.0 framework. All workstations are equipped with MS Office.

In some courses, students use only one software package while in other courses students use more than one.

­10. Are there any costs other than the course fees?

A few courses require that you to buy a textbook but for many courses, the readings are provided on the course website or through the Internet. There is a small administrative fee to register in the Certificate program and also to apply to graduate.

All of the lab fees are included in the cost of the courses.

­11. Do you provide career opportunities?

There is no practicum or job placement in either program, but as a certificate student, you have the opportunity to be on a list kept by the Academic Coordinator that connects new and old students to employment opportunities.

In the past, at least a dozen times a year, graduates working in the GIS industry will contact the Academic Coordinator about a job at their company – maybe they are even doing the hiring – and the Academic Coordinator will send this opportunity to those on the list. On GIS Day each year, there is an evening session where certificate graduates who are successfully employed in the GIS industry discuss their career path.

As a Ryerson student, you can access the Career Centre for help in realizing your career goals. When you graduate, as a Ryerson alumni, you will have access to the alumni site where jobs in GIS are posted.

­12. How do I register in the certificate program?

Both Certificates in Applied Digital Geography and GIS require approval from the Academic Coordinator before you register in the first certificate course to ensure that you have the background needed to succeed in the program. There is a preregistration form to complete. You can also arrange an appointment to discuss your background with the Academic Coordinator or come to a Program Open House. See How to Apply.

­13. Can I get credit for GIS courses that I took at other universities or colleges or for my professional work experience?

Yes, there is an Advanced Standing policy at Ryerson University that allows course credit to be granted. If the course content is similar and the grade achieved meets the required standard or if the professional work experience is similar to specific course content, course credit can be given. Up to 50% of the course requirements for either certificate can be gained through Advanced Standing. In the case of the professional work experience, a challenge exam may be required.

If you want to consider Advanced Standing, you should contact the Academic Coordinator.

­14. The admission criteria of the first certificate include an undergraduate degree in a related field. What constitutes a related field?

Since geographic information systems can be applied in so many businesses, industries, and government agencies, there are few fields that are not related! Our students are graduates from many disciplines including archaeology, business, civil engineering, computer science, environmental science, forestry, geography, health, information technology, journalism, real estate, social work, urban planning, and zoology.