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Research Guides

Geographic Information Systems

What is GIS?

GIS is an automated system composed of hardware, data, software, and people used to create, store, display, and analyze spatial data and related attributes. A GIS integrates query and statistical analysis with mapmaking and geographical analysis.

What is GIS used for?

Geographic information systems allow users to perform complex analyses of geographic and statistical attributes. These analyses provide powerful planning and decision making tools for a wide variety of disciplines. GIS is now being used for applications such as: cancer research, criminal justice, environmental risk analysis, health administration, marketing, public health, urban studies and planning, and others. 

Where to Learn More

The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs offers a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

As part of the State of Virginia higher education site license for ESRI, VCU students, faculty, and staff have free access to GIS courses offered via the ESRI Virtual Campus. VCU Technology Services administers the site license for VCU and provides helpful information about hardware and software. Courses included in the site license display an open lock icon or are labeled free.