First, let me say I’m not a fan of 100% on-line education unless it’s the type of education where you go on-line and teach yourself something for free. To me, the future of formal education involves a huge dose of on-line resources but still also includes face-to-face interaction with a Professor or Learning Coach of some sort. Maybe an 80-20 split with 80% of your time learning from on-line resources and 20% of your time working directly with a knowledgeable person who can both enhance your learning and verify your level of knowledge acquisition. Until such options are more widely available I recommend pursuing the traditional graduate school model, in person, on campus and learning from a Professor who you can have coffee with on a regular basis.
That said, I fully understand the demand for 100% on-line education because, for one thing, there aren’t many hybrid or blended learning options available (hopefully this will change) and the flexibility is essential for working adults (especially parents) who want to further their education and move up the economic food chain.
So, for on-line GIS education, I’ve identified 10 Universities offering a 100% on-line program leading to a Master’s Degree in GIS (or similar). Note: I did not review graduate “certificate” programs and I don’t have plans to do so unless I hear otherwise from readers. Also note that while tuition and time to completion are key elements, I did not take them into consideration for the purposes of ranking. I don’t have a formal methodology for the rankings themselves; rather, this represents a qualitative review of the curriculum and faculty as observed on each program website. So, please take this list for what it’s worth – it represents my opinion and nothing else.
If I’ve omitted a worthy program please let me know in the comment section below.