What Are the Top Schools with Cartography Programs?

Explore three schools with cartography programs, and find out what kinds of cartography degrees you could pursue at each school. Review the typical characteristics of a school with a strong program in cartography. Schools offering Culture & Media Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top School for Cartography?

As a cartographer, you might prepare maps by hand or using geographic information systems (GIS) tools. Cartography training typically is offered through geography departments at 4-year colleges and universities, and it might be part of a program that also covers GIS or GIScience studies.

If you want to study cartography, you might look for a school that has extensive map collections, lab facilities with GIS software and mapping research opportunities. You also might seek a school with a highly ranked geography department.

What Are Three Top Cartography Schools?

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) in Indiana, PA

As a student in IUP's Department of Geography and Regional Planning, you can gain hands-on experience through the James E. Payne Geographic Information Systems/Cartography Lab, the Spatial Environmental Lab and the university's weather station. You also might take part in the department's project to map abandoned and unidentified mines in western Pennsylvania.

IUP offers a GIS/cartography track at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The master's program includes both thesis and non-thesis options; students who select the latter must complete a portfolio prior to graduation. Available degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Geography, GIS and cartographer concentration
  • Master of Science in Geography, GIS/cartography track

University of Colorado (CU-Boulder) in Boulder, CO

CU-Boulder tied for 96th among national universities in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 rankings. As an undergraduate student at CU-Boulder, you might choose to complete an internship with a public agency or firm, and you'd have the option of enrolling in an honors program, which would require you to write a thesis your senior year. Among CU-Boulder's six laboratories are the KESDA Ken Erickson Spatial Data Analysis Lab and the Meridian Lab, which develops new software tools for GIS. Available degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Geography with a GIS, cartography and remote sensing track

University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison

Based on U.S. News & World Report rankings, UW was tied for 49th among national universities in 2019. UW supports the History of Cartography Project and associated book series. The 50-year-old UW Cartography Lab, a full-service production facility offering cartographic services to the university and the public, provides graduate cartography students with diverse hands-on opportunities. The Robinson Map Library has over 500,000 maps and aerial photographs.

As an undergraduate at UW, you could major in cartography/GIS or complete a double major in geography and cartography/GIS with an honors thesis option. At the graduate level, you could complete a master's degree in geography/GIS; you also could pursue a cartography/GIS theme through the master's or doctoral programs in geography. Additionally, the university offers a 1-year, 16-credit GIS graduate certificate program, which includes study in cartography and requires a capstone project or internship. These degrees are offered at UW:

  • B.S. in Cartography and GIS
  • B.S. in Geography
  • M.S. in Geography
  • M.S. in Cartography and GIS
  • Ph.D. in Geography

Ten Schools That Offer Cartography Degrees

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocationEstimated Undergraduate In-State Tuition (2018-2019)*
Brigham Young University 4-year, PrivateProvo, UT$6,000
Ohio State University4-year, PublicColumbus, OH$11,000
University of Minnesota4-year, Public Minneapolis, MN$15,000
University of Oklahoma4-year, Public Norman, OK$11,500
Kennesaw State University4-year, PublicKennesaw, GA$6,000
South Dakota State University4-year, PublicBrookings, SD$9,000
Radford University4-year, PrivateRadford, VA$11,000
Texas State University4-year, PublicSan Marcos, TX$10,000
Northwest Missouri State University4-year, PublicMaryville,MO$8,000
Michigan State University4-year, PublicEast Lansing, MI$14,500

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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