How to obtain GIS software?

  • ESRI's GIS products (ArcGIS for Desktop, ArcGIS Pro, etc.)

    Faculty, staff, and students at UM-Dearborn are eligible to install ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro on a personally owned machine as long as the intended use is for academic/research/University related purposes.  See Software Licensing and Distribution.

    Faculty, staff, and students also have access to ESRI's cloud-based GIS, ArcGIS Online.  Sign in with Enterprise Login, using the university's arcgis URL (, and authenticating with your umich login information. 

  • Open Source GIS: QGIS

    QGIS is a free and open-source cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android) Geographic Information System.  Download at For more information, see Reviews of QGIS.

How to get data into a GIS

  • Spatial Data Formats

    The simplest way to get data into a GIS is to look for data in geographic data formats, such as shapefiles and geodatabases.  The following data formats and/or data types can be imported into ArcGIS Desktop and into ArcGIS Pro

  • Map images without spatial reference

    To include a scanned image of a map in a GIS that is missing a spatial reference, one would provide the map with a spatial frame of reference in a process referred to as georeferencing. Learn how to georeference an image in ArcGIS Pro.    

  • Mapping street addresses

    If the location information that is provided is in the form of street addresses, the GIS can determine the correct geographic locations through geocoding.

Free GIS / Cartography courses


    Upcoming ESRI MOOCs:

    These free online classes offer a convenient, effective, and fun way to keep up with the fast-paced developments in the ArcGIS platform. Classes are open day and night and require only a couple of hours of study per week. A certificate is available upon completion.

  • Other ways to Learn GIS for Free

GIS Resources and Events

Social Sciences Building
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