NAU GPR Graduate Programs
ASKED APPLICATION QUESTIONS (FAQ)
General FAQ for
All NAU GPR Graduate
(Certificates, MS, and BS-MS Integrated Program)
1) When do I apply to
the Certificate or MS degree programs? What about Graduate Assistantships and
are accepted at almost
any time of the year for Fall and Spring admission.
- To properly
evaluate and process your application, we impose the following deadlines
for receipt of all
your material, including official transcripts and letters of
start in the Fall Semester, applications must be received in full by August 15th.
start in the Spring Semester, applications must be received in full by January 5th.
Certificate Applications (GIS or Community Planning)
start in the Fall Semester, applications must be received in full by August 22nd.
start in the Spring Semester, applications must be received in full by January 12th.
- Please note
that the evaluation of applications received in the Summer can take longer
because fewer faculty are available.
Assistantships and Tuition Scholarships are only available to MS students
and have earlier application due dates. More information is available on the
FAQ for MS applicants.
Students have earlier due dates to allow
for visa application processing:
1st for Fall (August) admission
1st for Spring (January) admission
NAU Graduate College requires: your Appliciation;
your Official Transcripts; and your TOEFL report before we at the
department can evaluate your application.
visa will take 3 to 6 months (depending on your country) from time that
the GPR department recommends admission.
must have a passing score on your TOEFL to be fully admitted to NAU. If
your TOEFL is low, you may be allowed to improve your English through the
NAU Program in Intensive English (PIE). However, you cannot take any
graduate courses until after the PIE courses are completes (usually 1 to
2 semesters). Contact the NAU Graduate College for more information on
2) The application
requires transcripts, but my degree was granted back in 1976. I'm not sure I'm
going to be able to get transcripts. Is this a requirement that can be waived
- You should
be able to get transcripts from that long ago without any problem. The
university transcript requirement system has been around for a very long
3) Am I allowed to take
any grad classes outside of the GPR Department as electives for either the
Certificate or MS degree program?
- That is up
to your advisor for either the certificate or MS. For the MS degree, the
advisor might also consult with your MS committee.
4) What is the minimum
acceptable undergraduate GPA to enroll in the online GIS Certification program?
The online GIS Master's program?
- The minimum
GPA for admission is 3.0 for the MS degree. We will admit students
conditionally with lower GPAs if other application material indicates that
the student will likely be successful in completing the degree.
There is no minimum GPA for the Certificate.
5) Who should my letters
of recommendation come from: professors, employers or someone else?
- A stronger
application would have at least two letters from professors, as they are
more familiar with academic expectations of a graduate degree than are
understand that applicants who have not been in school for several years
may not be able to obtain letters from their instructors. Employers are
your next best choice for letters.
- In the end,
we are primarily interested in letters from people who can judge your
potential to be successful in the program you are applying for (Graduate
Certificate or MS degree).
6) Will any travel or
field trips be required for the online programs?
- Not for the
online versions of the programs. For the MS degree, you will be required
to make an oral presentation of your thesis or practicum project. This can
be conducted via video conferencing, but you will be required to arrange
7) Overall, and minus
books, how much will the Certification program cost? What about for the
8) Is there a price
difference in enrolling for the Certificate vs the Masters
Program. I understand that the Masters Program
consists of more units, but, I was wondering if there are additional fees that
the certificate program does not require.
- There is no
price difference for the Planning Certificate, other than taking more time
to finish the MS. The GIS Certificate has an additional $250 program fee.
9) Can you provide an
approximate range of book costs per semester?
- No, I cannot
estimate this as it varies a lot depending on which classes you take and
who the instructor is.
10) Could I take a
couple of classes over the summer and then be admitted?
- Yes, but you
should see an advisor to make sure that the Summer classes can be applied
to your degree.
You will also need to submit a Graduate College
petition form after you are admitted to apply the classes to your degree.
Approval is not guaranteed, so seeking advice is important.
- Only 25% of
the total units required for the certificate or degree can be taken before
you are admitted into either program, and again, only by having a petition
approved by the department and NAU Graduate College.
11) How do the online
courses work? Are they self-paced? Are exams online or are they proctored at
- They are
generally not self-paced -- they have specific assignments due by specific
dates. There are no proctored exams at specific locations. Some classes
have open book exams, but this policy varies from one faculty member to
12) Are the start times
for the online version of the classes the same as for the on campus version? Do
they start at the beginning of semesters? Are there fewer courses offered
online than on campus?
- The online
classes use the same assignments and websites as the on campus classes
taught by the same faculty member. For GIS classes, the only difference is
that the on campus classes have a once a week class lab, which distance
students are welcome to attend if they come to Flagstaff.
- Yes, there
are fewer classes offered online than on campus, but not a lot fewer (in
our department, at least). It depends somewhat on your emphasis.
Currently, I think there is only one GIS class that is not offered online,
and only two (or three) planning classes.
13) Are their course
videos for the online classes, or are they primarily reading, powerpoint follow-alongs?
- That depends
on the class and the instructor in the class. The classes are mostly based
on readings, but multimedia is also used, to varying degrees.
14) If I want to take
more than courses for a certificate or degree program than is required, does it
- You can take
additional classes beyong the required ones as a
certificate student. There is no limit. Full time at the graduate level is
9 units. Additional units is the same basic
tuition rate as for 9 units. You need special permission from the registrar
to take over 15 units as a graduate student in one semester. In general,
graduate classes are estimated to required 30% more effort than
15) If I apply for the Masters Program am I able to obtain the Community Planning
or GIS Certificate after I complete the required courses?
However, you must still submit (and pay for) an application to the NAU
Graduate College for the Certificate. We can probably just use your
application materials from the MS degree at the department level, but you
should check with the GPR Graduate Programs Coordinator. You can apply for
the Certificate at any time, and receive the it whenever you finish your
- Note that it
is easier to apply for the certificate program after you have entered the
MS degree program. If you are in the certificate program and then want to
apply for the MS degree, there are some issues on how many certificate
units you can use toward the MS degree. (see the next questions)
16) If I am uncertain
about pursuing a MS degree, can I begin the Certificate Program and then switch
to a MS later? Would I still need to take the GRE is I did this?
students will start the certificate and then apply for the MS before
completing the certificate. Most of these students complete both the
certificate and MS at the same time.
- You would
need to submit a full application for the MS degree. Only 25% of the units
required for the MS degree can be taken before you start the MS degree
program. The MS requires 36 units, so you can only apply 9 units taken
before you start the MS degree toward the degree. You will also need to
petition to have these classes applied, which must be approved by the
department and the NAU Grad College.
- Yes, you
would still need to take the GRE. This is because the MS requires broader
academic skills than does a certificate. You may, however, petition the
department to request a waiver of the GRE requirement.
17) I have not taken any
geography classes, will I have to do make up work for
Certificates and MS Applied Geospatial Sciences degree do not require
previous geography coursework.
18) What are the
differences between the MS versus the Certificate for educational purposes and
employment purposes. For example, if a
employer asks for a masters for a qualification would the certificate be
comparable? What designation do you receive after completing the certificate vs
completing the traditional MS? Do you get a MIS or MAS?
certificate is much easier to get -- you are just taking courses -- sort
of like a minor, but at the graduate level. The MS has much higher
expectations. The certificate is not a Masters designation of any kind --
it is just a certification that you have taken additional coursework and
achieved a level of competency in GIS. Your highest degree would still be
19) For the online GIS
classes, my computer has 2gb of RAM and a 2MHz processor, will this be enough
to run the program (ESRI suggests a 2.2 MHz processor and at least 2Gb of ram),
or should I look into getting a faster computer?
computer is good enough for running the ESRI ArcGIS. If you need a copy of
the student edition ArcGIS Desktop 10 installation disk, please place a
request at http://geog.nau.edu/courses/rh83/disk/request.asp.
- NAU provides
remote login to a
virtual lab server which has the complete ArcGIS suite.
For GSP 536 (enterprise geodatabase), you must use the virtual lab to
connect to our database. Performance of this virtual lab server is not bad
if you have a high-speed internet connection.
20) How proficient will we become in the
utilization of GIS software?
- Our students
are among the most proficient in comparison to graduates from competing
GIS programs. Plus, we have the flexibility to do the program fully
21) Once I am accepted
how soon can I start courses? How many courses can I take at the same time?
- You can take
classes at the start of the Fall or Spring semester following your
- We rarely
offer graduate classes in the summer, though you can get credit for
internships, practicum work, and thesis in the summer.
- Nine units
is considered the minimum for Full Time for a graduate student.
- The NAU Grad
Colleges requires a petition if you want to take more than 15 units in one
semester as a graduate student.
- our GIS
courses are all 4 units each. All other classes are usually 3 units each.
22) Can courses that a
student took for their undergraduate degree be applied toward a graduate MS or Graduate Certificate? Especially if they are essentially the
same courses taught at NAU, though at the undergraduate level.
- No. Any
course applied towards a bachelor’s degree or undergraduate certificate can not be used again towards graduate certificate or
degree. Similarly, any course applied to a graduate degree that you have
already been awarded cannot be applied to another graduate degree.
- For the
Integrated BS-MS degree, up to two classes at the 400 level can be
"double dipped" with approval of your MS advisor.
22) After earning a
Certified or Master's degree, will career placement assistance be available?
department does not provide this in a formal manner. Such
opportunities, however, do become available informally on a regular basis,
and NAU offers career assistance through the Gateway Center that can assist you.
23) Do I simply apply
for Student loans through the Financial Aid Office just as I have in past
- You need to
ask the NAU Financial Aid Office about this. One major difference is that
graduate students are not eligible for grants, though they can still apply
- Both MS and
Certificate students can apply for financial aid.
financial aid purposes, half time graduate study is 5 units/credits a
students are eligible for a variety of other sources of financial aid. See
Integrated Students will be considered undergraduates for student aid
purposes until their BS degree has been completed.
- The GPR
Department also provides some financial assistance specifically to MS
students (not for Certificate students). See our MS FAQ for more information on these.
24) Can I get reduced
tuition rates in your MS and graduate Certificate programs if I live in a WICHE state?
- The Graduate
Certificate in Community Planning is formally listed in the Western Regional Graduate
Program of WICHE.
am told that our GIS Certificate and MS Applied Geospatial Sciences
degree *might* also qualify for WICHE tuition rates, even though they are
not listed in WRGP. However, I have not been able to confirm this.
tuition rates only apply if you take the Community Planning certificate
entirely from outside of the state of Arizona. If you come to the NAU
campus from another state, you will be required to pay out-of-state
you are a distance student in a non-WICHE state, you are also required to
pay out-of-state tuition rates.
25) I am unsure about
taking a degree or certificate entirely online. Is this a smart thing for me to
- About half
of the new students who started our MS Applied Geospatial Sciences degree
in 2012 were online. In addition, we normally have about 15 online
students in NAU's Master of Administration - Land Use Planning degree. It
is probably a smart move for the right student, as not everyone wants, or
is comfortable with, doing their degree online. Our online MS students
tend to work fairly closely with their academic advisors, as do the
on-campus students, but they also require a degree of self-initiative that
might be higher than for on-campus students.
26) How do I graduate
when I am done?
27) From what I have been told,
graduate applications are reviewed "all the time," but I am concerned
that this may not be able to happen in a timely manner due to my submission date.
If accepted into the program will I be able to get started next fall, or am I
submitting the application too late?
- The bigger
problem is that the later one waits to the start of the semester, the
harder it will be to find an advisor, which is required for the MS degree
application. Most faculty will only accept a limited number of students to
advise at one time.
Certificates, the main problem in waiting until
28) What is
the common misconceptions of these programs?
most common misconception is that our MS degree (as well as our GIS and
Planning Certificates) requires a BS in geography or GIS. While a Bachelors degree is required, in fact, our graduate
programs are designed to address the educational needs of students with a
diversity of backgrounds, but with a common interest in building better
communities and environments in a diversity of ways through the tools GIS
and community planning and recreation.
do I find and send the department application forms and letters?
The application form is mostly
done online through the NAU
from U.S. universities are required to submit an unofficial digital copy
of their undergraduate transcripts with their application. They are only
required to submit official transcripts after they have been admitted by
the GPR Department. Students will not be able to enroll in classes until
their official transcripts are received by NAU.
with a Bachelor degree from NAU do not need to submit transcripts.
from non-U.S. (international) universities must submit official
transcripts before their application will be reviewed by the GPR
transcripts must be sent to the NAU
Please see our additional FAQs specifically for: