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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