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2018-2019 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Environmental Remote Sensing (RS) - Certificate

The environmental remote sensing (RS) certification program is housed within the department of Geography and Sustainable Planning ( The program provides cutting edge skills in remote sensing science, digital image processing, and big data visualization. Particular emphasis is placed on applications of remote sensing technology in environmental planning, sustainable development, climate change adaptation, urban resiliency planning, and natural resource management.

Students must be degree-seeking students to receive the certificate. The certificate will be awarded at the same time as the degree is awarded. All undergraduate certificates have received Higher Learning Commission approval, and students are eligible for financial aid because they are seeking a degree.

The environmental remote sensing certificate is designed for GVSU students who want to add geospatial technology skills to their major. Students learn practical applications of geospatial technologies and develop working competency in remote sensing and GIS software, such as ERDAS IMAGINE, TerrSet (IDRISI), eCognition, and ESRI ArcGIS. Open for all majors. For more information, visit our website at

Program coordinator: Professor Gang Xu, Ph.D., Department of Geography and Sustainable Planning.

Reasons to Study Remote Sensing Technology

  • An emerging field. Geospatial technology is one of the most important emerging fields in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Marketability. Remote Sensing competency offers top jobs in a wide variety of sectors.
  • A competitive edge. Studying geospatial technologies will give students an edge over peers in the current job market.
  • Practical application. Students will learn practical skills that will benefit their future careers.
  • Flexibility. Students can attend full- or part-time. Any major combined with this certificate creates a new hybrid skillset.
  • Affordability. An extra credential on your official transcript with little to no additional cost.

Our alumni have found rewarding careers such as environmental specialists, transportation analysts, urban planners, business GIS analysts, regional intelligence analysts, lead digital mappers, and county GIS directors.


Students will complete a minimum of 12 credit hours to receive certification in Environmental Remote Sensing. Up to six credits can be transferred from another institution (subject to course content approval).

Required Courses (6 credits)

Electives (take any two of the following)


  • How remote sensing works
  • Digital image processing techniques
  • Satellite image interpretation
  • Land use/land cover classification
  • Big data visualization
  • Environmental, planning, and sustainability applications

Geography and Sustainable Planning Program Description

Click here for the program description.

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.