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Geographic Information Systems – Cartographic Specialist

Are you a visual learner? This program may be right for you. The Geographic Information Systems - Cartographic Specialist program focuses on the art and science of communicating geographic data and information through visualization and maps. Become a proficient GIS practitioner and visual designer - creating a variety of customized, interactive maps and other products for users of geographic information.

Program Information

Start Date

September 03, 2024

Domestic Availability

Accepting Applications

International Availability


Program Code



In Person


Ontario College Graduate Certificate


Frost Campus

Program Contact

Shawn Morgan

Program Coordinator

Domestic Tuition

$2573.08 per semester*

International Tuition

$8863.02 per semester*

*Domestic tuition amounts shown are from the 2023-2024 academic year and are subject to change.

*International tuition amounts shown are from the 2023-2024 academic year and are subject to change.

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Canadian Students

View Curriculum

Cartography - known as the art and science of making maps, has come a long way since the efforts of early mapmakers who worked with pen and ink. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allows today's "cartographer" to store geographic data in an organized way, to allow for quick access, correlation, and analysis. By using GIS, cartographers are able to collect, store, and combine data about a given area, subject, or region being researched. GIS helps planners working on environmental, public health, municipal planning, and natural resource projects monitor change, predict trends and manage resources.

While about 80% of the curriculum is shared with the GIS – Application Specialist program, the Cartographic-specific courses in this program include:


  • Visualize a wide range of data using a variety of mapping techniques (i.e. Choropleth, Dasymetric, Proportional Dot, Dot Density, Distributive and Radial Flow, Terrain Visualization)
  • Create infographics that effectively summarize data and communicate intuitively using a variety of mapping and graphing techniques
  • Prepare data and perform advanced terrain visualization techniques using satellite imagery and SRTM data to build up terrain surfaces manually in Adobe Photoshop using Avenza Geographic Imager
  • Learn the theory behind how people process information, how maps impact people cognitively, and how to use that information to make effective, accessible maps
  • Prepare, integrate, and render data about human and physical geography using ArcGIS, Avenza, and Adobe software.

Web Communications

  • Become proficient in web communications for effective design and interactive maps.

Municipal GIS

  • Learn about the business practices that drive municipal operations and how to prepare information products to support decision making in a municipality
  • Prepare, analyze, integrate and render data in a variety of formats, using AutoCAD and ArcGIS software, to support various departments in a municipality
  • Work on a real-world micro-project in collaboration with a GIS professional working at a municipality

In addition to acquiring a firm, hands-on foundation using GIS technology tools and creating effective map compositions, you will have many opportunities for team building, project management, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Since employers are seeking these broad-based transferrable skills, this experience working in technology teams will give you an edge in the workplace.

This three-semester program starts in September with a 15-week semester ending in December, continues in January with another 15-week semester ending in April, and concludes with a seven-week semester starting in May and ending in June.

Not Sure Which GIS Program is Right For You?

The common first semester in the GIS - Application Specialist and GIS - Cartographic Specialist programs gives an overview and understanding of the technologies and diverse skills particular to careers in these fields at the same time as providing a solid foundation in GIS knowledge and skills. The programs share 80% of their curriculum and, subject to enrolment capacity, you can change between Cartographic and Application

Graduates of Fleming's cartographic programs have earned a reputation for excellence through their achievements in the workplace, and through cartographic and GIS competitions. Over the years, they have captured 80 American Congress on Surveying and Mapping awards in annual competitions (student category), as well as numerous awards from the Canadian Cartographic Association and the Canadian Institute of Geomatics.

Meghan Miller

Graduate Meghan Miller is featured in a January 2012 article of GoGeomaticswith an interview describing her experience in the program and her career path since graduation. Meghan now works for Canadian Cartographic Corporation (CCC).

Read the article

Adam Thom

Adam Thom, 2010 program graduate, won the Arthur Robinson Award for Best Printed Map at the 2011 Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS) Map Design Competition. The award is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Avenza-MAPublisher.

Nicole Benishek

Student Nicole Benishek won the Gold Medal for "Best Interactive Online Map" in the Canadian Cartographic Association 2010 Online Mapping Contest.

You'll spend a significant part of your time in the program doing experiential work - putting theory into practice. A co-operative GIS project in the final semester involves cross-disciplinary teams from the GIS Cartographic Specialist and Applications Specialist programs working together on a project for a business, government, or industry client.

While not prerequisites, there are a few skills and abilities that will help you to succeed in this program. These include:

  • good creative thinking skills
  • strong oral and written communication skills
  • self-discipline
  • excellent time management skills
  • analytical skills
  • computing skills

Canadian Business recently published an article on "Canada’s Best Jobs" ranking Mapping Technologist as number 9 on the top 100 jobs list. The article states:

"The explosion of big data and the growing need for location-aware hardware and software has led to a boom in the field of mapping," and concludes that this field is "…poised for growth, with the highest projected demand among the top 20 jobs—predictions suggest there will be 1.59 jobs for every qualified worker by 2022." The median salary is listed as $68,400, and salaries are anticipated to increase with growing demand for skilled employees.

Read the full article

With your GIS-Cartographic Specialist certificate, you will be able to pursue a variety of exciting, responsible positions within GIS and digital mapping environments, such as:

  • provincial and federal government mapping agencies
  • municipal utility, engineering, and planning departments
  • private sector mapping, planning, consulting, utility, and natural resource firms

Plan to spend about $1000 for books and supplies.

If you have significant difficulty perceiving distinctions between colours you will experience greater challenges in map-making.

  • Demonstrate how cognitive factors in map structure conform with the specific requirements of geometrical and symbolic map characteristics.
  • Combine logical and semiotic perspectives on how maps represent reality with emphasis on visual-cognitive processes.
  • Synthesize the various stages involved in the abstraction of reality into an organized whole to facilitate communication.
  • Conceptualize and convey the importance of map design as an efficient and accurate method of information transfer between the map author and the map user.
  • Describe and apply fundamental techniques used to retain a high degree of positional and attribute accuracy while capturing, structuring and displaying geographic data.
  • Acquire, interpret, and integrate data from various sources and with different formats and coordinate systems to solve spatial problems.
  • Explore, identify and analyze spatial problems, develop solutions and validate results.
  • Create maps and visual displays based on recognized design principles that communicate geographic information effectively.
  • Communicate complex, technical ideas and information to a given audience using a variety of media.
  • Apply database systems to enable the efficient query and analysis of spatial and non-spatial data.
  • Handle tools and equipment appropriately, in compliance with industry safety and operating standards, ensuring optimum health and safety of self, team and the environment.
  • Work effectively in a collaborative work environment, demonstrating effective teamwork, interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Practice to a professional standard, through ethical behaviour, continuous learning and participation in professional organizations.
  • Proficiently employ standard software packages used in the GIS and cartographic industries.
  • Plan and manage projects, and develop workflows to accomplish specific objectives and tasks.
  • Take a challenging computational problem, break it down to its component parts, and solve the problem in an elegant and efficient manner.
  • Employ the internet to access various data sources, to publish cartographic products, and distribute GIS data and functionality to a wide audience.

Students applying to Geographic Information Systems – Cartographic Specialist must meet the following requirements:

  • Undergraduate degree or Ontario College diploma in a related field or equivalent

Recommended (but not required for admission)

  • Since GIS is a field of study that makes extensive use of computer hardware and software technology, students entering the GIS-Cartographic Specialist program must be familiar with computers.

Latest version of windows running on hardware that meets or exceeds the recommended specifications by ESRI for ArcGIS Pro. The latest recommended and optimal configuration can be found on the ArcGIS Pro system requirements page.

Transfer Agreements

You may be able to use credits obtained at Fleming College to continue your postsecondary education in pursuit of a degree. The articulation and credit transfer agreements with our partner institutions are summarized here.

Master of Geographic Information Systems Applications
  • Minimum B cumulative program average.
  • Bachelor's degree in any discipline.
  • Review the articulation agreement for further details.
  • The program is offered as a blended face-to-face or entirely online.
Transfer Credit
  • Entry into 2nd-year studies of a 2-year program.
  • Refer to the articulation agreement for further details.

To apply please see the EducationPlannerBC website.

For more information

Visit the Vancouver Island University website for further articulation and program information.

See the official articulation agreement.

Program Code: GIA

Ontario College Graduate Certificate

Frost Campus

September 2024

Program Code: GAO

Ontario College Graduate Certificate

Frost Campus

September 2024

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