GIS: Self-Paced Online Courses

Virtual Campus courses are online, independent study GIS instructional courses available FOR FREE to current UC San Diego community members. These self-paced classes address a tremendous range of GIS topics and skill levels. The general format of the classes is an introduction to a particular GIS concept or task, and then a series of hands-on exercises with the ArcGIS software to actually put it into practice.

With approximately 90 courses available, it's almost certain that there is a class that is right for you! And if you feel pressed for time, know that each course you enroll in gives you one year to complete it.

ESRI is the predominant designer and developer of geographic information software. They produce and maintain Virtual Campus courses as a resource for their GIS users.

Who can take Virtual Campus courses and how many can I take?

Any current UC San Diego student, faculty, or staff member can take Virtual Campus courses. This includes UCSD Extension students and visiting scholars. You can take as many classes as you feel you will actually do!

Do I have to pay for Virtual Campus courses?


UC San Diego buys a campuswide site license from ESRI for the ArcGIS software, and as a great benefit with that license agreement, the Virtual Campus courses are free to you as a current UC San Diego community member. Take advantage of this!

Do I have to have the ArcGIS software to take a Virtual Campus course?

In order to complete the exercises in the Virtual Campus courses, you do need ArcGIS software. You are welcome to use the software on any of Data & GIS Lab's computers. If you are a student, contact the GIS Coordinator as you may be eligible to obtain a free, one-year time-out student version of ArcGIS.

How do I get started with a Virtual Campus course?

That's easy!

First, peruse the list of available self-study courses.

Second, try to decide which course(s) sound right for you. If you feel overwhelmed by your choices, don't worry. We're happy to help you figure out what class might be right for you.  (If new to GIS, "Learning ArcGIS Desktop" is recommended as it is a very thorough introductory course.)

Third, contact the GIS Coordinator from your UC San Diego email address. Be sure to include a short description of who you are, what you are hoping to learn, your level of GIS expertise, and your UC San Diego affiliation.

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GIS Staff is Here to Help!

Data & GIS Lab Staff schedule

I'm happy to provide additional information on our resources and services.

Please let me know about your questions, comments, and suggestions for this website and for GIS on the UC San Diego campus.

—Michael L. Smith, GIS Coordinator

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