How often do the courses run? Can I join in on the current session?

The courses run approximately on the following schedule:

  1. Fundamentals of GIS: Weekly, starting Sundays
  2. GIS Data Formats, Design, and Quality: Weekly, starting Sundays
  3. Geospatial and Environmental Analysis: Every other week, starting Sundays
  4. Imagery, Automation and Applications: Every other week, starting Sundays
  5. Geospatial Analysis Project: approximately every other month, starting on a Sunday

If you are considering enrolling, you can enroll in any upcoming session, and for the weekly courses, within a few days after the course starts. Or, if you’d rather, you can wait for the next session to start. For Geospatial Analysis Project, due to the large time between runs of the course, if you just missed the start but want to join in the current session, you can message Nick – on occasion, we’ve helped people get into the current session.

If you’re in a current session and want to join the next session, see What happens if I fall behind in a course? Will I be penalized?


How can I audit the course for free?

In addition to the paid options for courses that result in a certificate, Coursera offers the ability to Audit courses for free. Auditing allows you to view all of the videos, materials, and links, as well as download the course materials for practice. Importantly for many, you can view the quizzes and final assignment, but cannot submit them for a grade.

I believe giving audit access is very important so that everyone can afford GIS education – if you want more practice and challenge, I encourage you to pay for the course, as you will get more practice from submitting the assignments, but auditing will still give you a strong GIS education. Coursera has made it harder to enroll as an auditor recently (and hard to see that you *can* audit at all), so here’s a GIF that shows you how to do it:

(click to enlarge)

To summarize what you see in the gif, do the following while logged into the site as a registered user:

  1. Go to the course (you need to do this per-course, not for the specialization)
  2. Click or scroll to the ‘Pricing’ section and confirm that auditing is available for the course.
  3. Scroll to the Enroll button
  4. Click the small audit link near the bottom of the box the pops up
  5. Enjoy the course!

Should I take courses concurrently? Will they be offered again?

Each course runs every month and the courses in this specialization are designed to be taken in order, not together. The courses directly build on each other, so if you have little to no experience, you will not be able to follow along unless you take the courses in order. The order is listed below, and on the specialization page.

  1. Fundamentals of GIS
  2. GIS Data Formats, Design and Quality
  3. Geospatial and Environmental Analysis
  4. Imagery, Automation, and Applications
  5. Capstone: Geospatial Analysis (can only be taken last by those who purchased the whole specialization)

While it’s not strictly required that you take each course, you should if you have no prior experience. If you do have prior experience, it’s recommended you at least audit each course in order to double check that you have experience with all of the covered topics. Additionally, licenses are only provided in the first week of Fundamentals of GIS.

Again, each course is offered monthly (as of this writing, courses 4 and 5 have yet to launch, but they will be on the same schedule) – you will not miss out on the courses by waiting and taking the prior courses.


What happens if I fall behind in a course? Will I be penalized?

The good news is that it’s OK to fall behind – nothing bad happens. Coursera is trying to help you finish the course, not punish you for falling behind. First, each course, except the capstone, only has one hard deadline, and that’s the one for the final project. Still if you miss that, or many quizzes, Coursera may offer to adjust your deadlines, which is to say that it might move you to the next session of the course. You can also do this manually at the bottom of the course info page while logged in (as of this writing), or by going to your course dashboard (follow these instructions). Since these courses currently run monthly, it really just moves you to being on track again with your deadlines.

If you paid for the course, you have a full year to complete it with Coursera – so make sure to complete it within that window, but otherwise there is no penalty in your grades or otherwise for falling behind, for any reason.