Important Notice: COVID-19 Institute response

Full-time Advanced Diploma 9100fadvdip

GIS in a Digital World

Fall 2020 Delivery Mode: ONLINE

  • This program will be delivered online for the fall semester.
  • Your education is our priority and we will continue to deliver the applied instruction, collaborative experience, and industry connections that you expect from BCIT.

A career in GIS can take you where you want to go.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology is used to manage and utilize geographic data, and is widely recognized as an essential tool in such diverse fields as forest management, urban planning, engineering, municipal management, business, and environmental studies. The potential uses of GIS technology are almost too numerous to list, and are found everywhere - from local government to the United Nations, from volunteer organizations to global corporations, in the public and private sectors.

The Advanced Diploma program in Geographic Information Systems is designed for university or college graduates with a background in a related discipline or technology.

The curriculum combines theory and practice and covers GIS principles, training in GIS software, technical issues, remote sensing, digital mapping and management issues. Students must also successfully complete a supervised work experience before graduation. This may be either an industry project or an industry practicum.

Whether you are a recent university or college graduate getting started in a career, or an experienced professional seeking new employment opportunities or career advancement, we invite you to study our web pages to learn more about the GIS program at BCIT. With over 20 years of experience in delivering advanced GIS technology programs and courses, the GIS program has established an excellent reputation for producing highly skilled and sought-after graduates.

The GIS Department has compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you decide which BCIT GIS option is best for you.

NOTE: BCIT also offers a Bachelor of Technology Degree in GIS. Students enrolled in the Advanced Diploma can change to the Bachelor of Technology program early in the Fall semester if required. Once the student has committed to the Advanced Diploma and has graduated, they cannot take subsequent courses and apply for the Bachelor of Technology.

Missed an info session?

If you've missed a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) information session, the full video is now available.

Note: This information session was held May 21, 2020 and topics discussed in this session are subject to change without notice.

Program Entry

COVID-19 Notice to Applicants

Please visit Admission during COVID-19 to learn how BCIT Admissions is supporting applicants. At this time, there are no program-specific changes for applying to this program.

Application processing

Open to applications beginning October 1st (or next business day).

Entrance requirements

Geographic informations systems (GIS) is a multidisciplinary field and has applications in a wide variety of professions and industries. The GIS Department welcomes applicants from most academic areas.

Applicants must meet all entrance requirements and will be accepted on a first qualified basis as long as space remains.

Applicants who have completed post-secondary studies outside of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand will require a comprehensive evaluation of their credentials by the International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES). Credential evaluation reports from other Canadian services may be considered. These reports must include course-by-course evaluations and GPA calculations.

Read more about how to meet BCIT’s entrance requirements

Applicants currently enrolled in the last term of their degree/diploma must be on track to complete by May. To apply submit both of the following documents from your post-secondary institution:

  • Transcript of completed courses
  • Confirmation of enrolment letter verifying your current course enrolment and registration in the final term of your degree/diploma

Recommended for success

Interested in the program? Great, but do your research carefully to ensure that GIS is the right program for you.

Attend a GIS INFO session, talk to faculty and students, research the career opportunities and job market, and do an honest self-assessment that you are ready to enrol and capable of succeeding.

Ready to apply? Excellent choice, but it's important to be prepared for this challenging program.

You'll significantly improve your chances of admission and success if you come well-prepared. Read the following and spend some time in assessment and preparation.

  • Strongly recommended fundamental computer literacy and computer programming skills.

  • Computer programming is emphasized strongly in the BCIT GIS program. Students who arrive unprepared usually find the programming and GIS customization courses a great deal of work, which affects other studies.

  • Regardless of your abilities and experience, you should develop your skills as much as possible before you start the program. The GIS program covers many programming languages. Programming languages taught currently in GIS courses include Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP and others. You should know programming concepts and program design before starting GIS studies at BCIT, but you do not need to know any particular programming language.

  • You will be using the Web a great deal in the program. For example, you will be developing your own pages in September to present your resume and project/practicum. You should also learn how to create basic web pages using HTML, and how to use an HTML editor before you arrive in September.

  • Refresh your skills in basic algebra, trigonometry, and analytical geometry (e.g. polar and rectangular coordinates, equation of a straight line, distance between two points). You will find this helpful in a number of courses.

  • It is recommended that students possess good communication, teamwork and technical problem-solving skills.


Students accepted into the full-time program are registered into all the required courses in the program matrix as a block. Many students are able to receive exemptions for some courses completed previously in part-time studies at BCIT or from other institutes. These students can apply for credit/exemption once they have started the full-time program in September.

Apply to program

To submit your application:

  • Include proof of meeting all entrance requirements.
  • Convert all transcripts and supporting documents to PDF files.
  • Have a credit card ready to pay the application fee.
Apply Now

Learn more about how to apply

Scheduled intakes

September each year.


Within two business days of submitting your completed application, BCIT will send a message to your personal and myBCIT e-mail addresses. All correspondence regarding your application will be posted to your online myCommunication account at We'll send you an e-mail when a new message is posted. It's important to watch for these e-mails or regularly check your account online.

You can expect to receive communication concerning the status of your application within four weeks.

Costs & Supplies

Tuition fees

Please see the Full-Time Studies Tuition & Fees page for full-time tuition fees.

BCIT tuitions are based on a per credit calculation to a maximum or cap tuition amount. Students registered in a full-time program who are not taking a full course load or who have received course exemption(s) may not receive a refund as a result of the per credit calculation amount exceeding the maximum tuition.

Books and supplies

Level 5: $600; Level 6: $300
(general estimated cost, and subject to change)

Financial assistance

Financial assistance may be available for this program. For more information, please contact Student Financial Aid and Awards.


Learning about GIS technology means learning a lot more than just GIS software.

Our program is built upon years of experience in delivering GIS education and training, and is designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge to work in the diverse and challenging GIS industry.

Our technology courses cover CAD, Remote Sensing, databases, computer programming, GIS algorithms, spatial analysis, and mapping. And of course, advanced courses in GIS software use and customization. You'll see first hand how primary data capture is done, how data is processed, and gain skills in editing and managing GIS data.

In software courses, you'll delve deeper, and gain extensive hands-on experience using industry standard software. Through the database courses, you'll see the critical importance of data modelling and management.

Through computer and programming courses, you'll learn about different ways to program and customize software for data handling and specialty applications, Web-mapping, web applications, and how these tie into current developments in GIS.

Management courses will introduce you to the IT (hardware, software, and networks), management and organization issues associated with GIS.

You'll put all these pieces together as you pursue your GIS project or practicum. Through the project/practicum courses you'll develop skills in planning and executing GIS applied research or gain real world work experience with a GIS employer.

You'll hear guest speakers from industry, be involved in GIS conferences or the BCIT Open House, and be encouraged to get involved in BCIT activities and the local GIS community.

By the time you graduate, you'll have all the necessary skills to pursue a career in GIS.

Through it all we'll be encouraging you to develop the workplace skills essential for success - critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, initiative, self-reliance and communications.

Program matrix

Level 7 - Fall Term (15 weeks) Credits
  GIST 7010 GIS Programming 1 3.0
  GIST 7100 Fundamentals of GIS 3.0
  GIST 7108 Fundamentals of Mapping 3.0
  GIST 7111 CAD for GIS 3.0
  GIST 7120 GIS Project Planning 3.0
  GIST 7128 ArcGIS 1: Introduction 3.0
  GIST 7130 GIS Computing and the Internet 3.0
  GIST 7132 GIS Database Systems 1 3.0
  GIST 8118 GIS Remote Sensing 3.0
  GIST 8128 ArcGIS 2: Data Management and Analysis 3.0
Level 8 - Winter Term (10 weeks) Credits
  GIST 8010 GIS Programming 2 3.0
  GIST 8100 Technical Issues in GIS 3.0
  GIST 8106 Spatial Analysis 3.0
  GIST 8107 GIS Digital Mapping and Cartography 3.0
  GIST 8109 Geospatial Systems Management 2.0
  GIST 8132 GIS Database Systems 2 3.0
  GIST 8138 ArcGIS 3: Customization and Modelling 3.0
Level 8 - Spring Term (10 weeks) Credits
  GIST 8110 Management Issues in GIS 3.0
  GIST 8125 GIS Project 13.0
  GIST 8126 GIS Industry Practicum 13.0
Total Credits: 66.0

Transfer credit

Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at BCIT? Check out BCIT's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.

Program Details

As a full-time student, you'll be immersed in a highly structured and demanding environment for the duration of the program.

You'll learn GIS in a number of ways - through lectures and hands-on labs, with integrated e-learning, independently and in teams, through demonstrations and research.

You'll be one of 45 students accepted into the program. Like yourself, everyone has a university or college background, and many have work experience. Many disciplines and fields of study are represented, leading to a rich, dynamic and varied learning environment.

Your schedule will be busy, with 24-31 in-class hours per week, plus homework. Most classes consists of a lecture and a lab, with the entire class of 45 students attending the lecture. You'll break out into smaller groups of 15 for the labs. In the computer labs, you'll have your own computer workstation and access to industry standard software to complete the labs and assignments. You'll have regular (usually weekly) applied assignments to complete for most courses, so it's important to manage your time well and perform consistently throughout the school year.

Classes start in September and end in mid-April. From April on, you will spend all your time applying your newly gained GIS skills to your industry research project or workplace practicum. You'll finish by the end of May or June, depending on the scheduling of your practicum.

Program Outcomes

  1. Develop GIS spatial and non-spatial databases which serve the needs of a specific organization or project, following international standards as necessary, for local, WAN, or web deployment.
  2. Develop new GIS systems and procedures for local, WAN, or web deployment, using COTS software, open source software, and custom programming.
  3. Use GIS technology, programming languages, and computer aided software engineering tools to design and program GIS and database applications, and customize other computer applications.
  4. To have detailed knowledge of how to use specialized GIS technology and analysis techniques to enter, display, update, and manipulate spatial information.
  5. Manage spatial information systems and assist in the development of Internet-based GIS and business applications on smart phones, tablets, and desktop computers.
  6. Compare and assess COTS and open source software, and hardware for their suitability in handling common GIS applications, and plan the acquisition of GIS technology for enterprise deployment.
  7. Integrate non-GIS external software or datasets (such as spreadsheets, databases, and statistical packages) with GIS desktop, web/cloud, and wireless applications.
  8. To review and respond to Requests for Proposals, conduct cost-benefit analysis, prepare budgets, and manage GIS project teams.
  9. Know how to follow problem solving methodologies to break down large tasks into manageable pieces following a logical order, and to think critically and solve spatially-oriented problems.
  10. Use educational technology and self-directed study to enhance professional currency.
  11. Have a broad understanding of infrastructure components of GIS, including networks, software, data portals, cloud storage, smartphone/tablets, and spatialized databases.
  12. Have a basic understanding of the techniques in primary data acquisition using CAD, softcopy photogrammetry, and surveying.
  13. Have a basic understanding of cartographic techniques and principles.

Program length

9 months, full-time

Program location

Burnaby Campus
3700 Willingdon Avenue
Burnaby, BC

Program structure

GIS Technology Courses   45.0
Management Courses   5.0
Projects Courses   16.0
Total   66.0

Graduating & Jobs

When you graduate from the program, you will have completed one of the best educations in GIS technology available anywhere and be ready for the workforce.

A career in GIS can open a lot of doors. Opportunities exist in all parts of the private and public sectors, and in all sorts of application areas.

Job Opportunities

The majority of GIS graduates are working for either private industry (forestry, GIS vendors, natural resource exploration, computer systems) consulting companies (environmental, engineering, forestry, mapping, scanning, and software) or government agencies (municipal, provincial, federal). The graduates are developing GIS databases, using GIS to analyze data and predict the result of planned changes, managing GIS projects, planning the acquisition of GIS technology, developing GIS custom systems and training GIS users.

Graduate employment outcomes

The BCIT student outcomes reports present summary findings from the annual survey of former students administered by BC Stats one to two years after graduation. These reports combine the last three years of available results for the 2017-2019 BCIT Outcomes Surveys of 2016-2018 graduates and for Degree 2015-2017 graduates. The reports are organized into three-page summaries containing information on graduates' labour market experiences and opinions regarding their education. More detailed information can be accessed at the BC Student Outcomes website.

To view these results, you may need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in your Web browser.

Faculty, Advisors & Staff

GIS Faculty are dedicated, energetic and knowledgeable, and have both GIS industry experience and formal schooling. The Department also utilizes instructors from the BCIT Geomatics Department, as well as sessional instructors from industry.

The Geographic Information Systems program benefits from the combined expertise of educational and industry professionals who form our program Advisory Committee. Their valued input and liaison with BCIT have helped ensure the relevance and currency of the program. We would like to acknowledge their continuous support for the success of the program.

GIS Faculty

Karl Kliparchuk, Program Head/Faculty
BSc, MSc (Geog)
Tel. 604-432-8737
Loc. SW3-2090

Sheila Churchill, Faculty
BSc(Geology), DiplT(GIS), PGeo,  MSc(GIS)
Tel. 604-451-6897
Loc. SW3-2079

Carmen Heaver, Part-time Studies Coordinator/Faculty
BSc, DiplT(GIS),  MSc(GISc)
Tel. 604-432-8378
Loc. SW3-2091

Rob Hewlett, Faculty
BSc, DiplT(GIS), MSc(CIS)
Tel. 604-432-8746
Loc. SW3-2079

Mike Hill, Faculty
BSc,  MSc(GIS)
Tel. 604-412-7421
Loc. SW3-2079

GIS Staff

Dee Morita, Program Assistant
Tel. 604-451-7001
Loc. SW2-215

Advisory committee

  • N. Ali, CBRE Canada
  • P. Bates, District of West Vancouver
  • O. Blasig, GE Energy
  • J. Clark, Spatial Vision Group
  • M. Doherty, ESRI Canada Ltd.
  • K. Hayne, City of Vancouver
  • C. Huntington, City of Burnaby
  • W. Johnstone, Spatial Vision Group Inc. (Chair)
  • H. Lee, RCMP
  • C. Lim, Acuere Consulting
  • S. Mak, BC Centre for Disease Control
  • J. Paillard, Stornoway Diamond Corp.
  • G. Singh, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources
  • M. Stoakes, SAFE Software
  • R. Taylor, Kerr Wood Leidal

Contact Us

Please see FAQs for more details or contact Program Advising if you have questions about:

  • Application process
  • Entrance requirements
  • Applying for transfer credit and advanced placement
  • Program costs
  • Job placement and graduate outcomes  |  604-434-1610

Dee Morita, Program Assistant  |  604-451-7001

Questions or comments?

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"The very technical nature of the program combined with programming language exposure, challenging labs requiring considerable personal problem solving, usage of web applications for specific labs and assignments, industry project design, implementation and management experience and the other comprehensive skills obtained have helped to put us a step ahead....the BCIT GIS Program has provided me with solid skills and experience"
Mike Fowler, Class of 2004


"I'm so happy that I chose BCIT's Advanced Diploma in GIS. The amount of knowledge packed into the courses fully prepared me to pursue a GIS career in any industry. The wide course selection provided theoretical concepts and practical technical skills. Not only did I learn about cartographic principles, GIS technology/software, and programming languages, but also important management skills that I have carried into my career. I highly suggest the program to anyone interested in a GIS career." Sarah Croft, BA (Honours), Dipl. GIS, Class of 2013


"The exposure to a large number of topics helped me gain experience that is suitable for a wide variety of careers. Strong critical thinking skills and an ability to balance multiple projects demonstrate a robust work ethic which employers look for and value."
Tia McKillop, Class of 2016

Program Entrance and Laddering Options

View our entrance and laddering options in a PDF format.