2023-2024 Catalog

Certification in Geospatial Science

15 Credits

Program Description

The Certificate in Geospatial Science program will provide students with a solid foundation in the theory and application of geographic information. GIS (Geographic Information System) is a computer-based mapping tool for understanding spatial data—it involves gathering, storing, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying spatial information. Smipúlexwtn is the Salish word for GIS and translates to “an instrument used on the land”. GIS technology is new and evolving, yet it is traditional in spirit and thousands of years old. For example, searching for a campsite requires knowledge of many aspects of the landscape and an analytical mind—basically a geographic information system.

The US Department of Labor has identified GIS to be one of the three leading areas of employment in the near future—skilled geospatial technicians are highly sought after in careers such as Natural Resources, Earth Sciences, and Cultural Resource Management & Preservation, as well as Urban/Community Planning, Agriculture, Public Health, Marketing, Business, Transportation, and Law Enforcement.

This Certification program complements any major at the Salish Kootenai College, especially Forestry, Wildlife Biology, Hydrology, and Tribal Historic Preservation. The program also provides continuing education opportunities for professionals, currently in the workforce, interested in expanding or maintaining their skill level in geospatial science.

The Certification in Geospatial Science requires 15 credits: 12 credits of core courses and 3 credits chosen from the electives list.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand cartography theory and practice, the use of coordinate systems, map symbology, and map layout.

  • Understand where spatial data comes from, and how to acquire & manage datasets. Be familiar with types of spatial data.

  • Know how GPS systems operate. Be able to collect and incorporate GPS data into GIS.

  • Gain a theoretical and practicing knowledge of digitizing, geoprocessing, and raster analysis—tools for creating and manipulating spatial data.

  • Understand the theory and practical uses of Remote Sensing and image analysis.

  • Develop skills for designing and implementing real-world GIS applications in your profession.

Material directly relating to indigenous traditional knowledge and current issues in tribal natural resource management will be sought out and incorporated into all geospatial classes in the form of project-based exercises and course content. These courses will be open to students in any academic department, and available to current professionals in the workforce wishing to expand their geospatial skill base.

Certification Requirements

Required Courses

NATR334GIS I: Basic Cartography and Geoprocessing


NATR354GIS II: Basic Digitizing & Raster Analysis


NATR374GIS III: Advanced Digitizing & Raster Analysis


NATR471Remote Sensing & Image Analysis


Elective Courses (choose an 3 additional credits):

ANTH410Advanced Archaeological Field Methods


FORS343Fire and GIS


NATR239Geospatial Data Management


NATR243Advanced Cartography and Map Visualization


NATR343Data Processing and Visualization in Natural Resources


SKC periodically offers Geospatial Workshops or Special Topics courses, which may be used toward elective credit with advisor approval.