• Dates: March 2nd  – April 26th, 2022
  • Application Deadline: January 15th, 2022.
  • Applications will be reviewed between January 15th & 30th, 2022.

Study proposals include but are not limited to topics in: Agriculture, Education, Environment, Environmental Justice, Data Science, Engineering, Food Systems, Forestry, Government, Health, Natural Resources, Water resources, Urban planning, Transportation, Marketing/Market Research. Technical approaches may focus on student-identified topics in GIS, remote sensing and data communication.

Learning Objectives

The Independent Study proposal will describe customized educational objectives for the student. In general, the learning objectives for this course are to:

  • Develop and complete a project with a clear study question related to GIS, remote sensing, data visualization, geospatial computation or related topics.
  • Find, Process and Apply data to a study question
  • Revise results and findings based on targeted feedback
  • Present findings in a final format (e.g., report, story scroll)


Must have taken other courses in the GIS certificate, or receive instructor and Director approval to use this as a first option of the GIS Professional Certificate

The Process

An independent study is a major project intended to allow students to reinforce and polish their GIS and/or remote sensing skills. Participants generate their own project proposals. Each project should attempt to answer a particular question, and these projects should involve the integration of GIS and/or remote sensing concepts, data sets and approaches. After defining the scope, students should plan on spending 10-12 hours each week working on the project for the 8-week course. They will have meetings once per week at a selected, predetermined time with their Independent Study Mentor (see description below “To Apply” section). The purpose of these meetings is to ensure that adequate progress is being made and that the final product will meet the educational objectives defined by the student. Independent study proposals are due one month before the start of the Independent Study course to allow review by the UVM GIS Certificate Program Director and Independent Study Mentor. Once approved, students will register for the course. Proposals needing further development, revision or input from an Independent Study Mentor may be deferred to the following Independent Study term. Proposal submissions in advance of the deadline are highly encouraged.

To Apply

To apply for the Independent Study, please follow these instructions:

  1. Fill out the GIS & Data Communication Independent Study Proposal (fillable PDF) – You may also submit your application in an alternative format, such as .docx.
  2. Submit your proposal with the Independent Study Application.

What is an Independent Study Mentor?

An Independent Study Mentor is an experienced professional who has agreed to mentor a student in the independent study project. The mentor engages in regularly scheduled progress updates (e.g., weekly) to evaluate student progress, advise in critical decision points, and foster student problem solving. Ideally, the mentor’s area of expertise is aligned with the student’s project to the extent they might advise on data sets or methodologies, although the mentor is not meant to be a technical trouble-shooter. The UVM GIS Certificate Program has a number of mentors available to work with 5-6 students per year based on their availability. Students may identify a new mentor not yet working with the program, such as a professional in their field/region of interest. All mentors will be contacted by the UVM GIS Certificate Program to verify their agreement to serve on a specific student project.