Graduate Catalog
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Remote Sensing
Cheatham Hall, RM 319, MC0324 310 West Campus Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Contact this Certificate
Email Contact(s):
Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
Randolph H. Wynne:
Valerie A. Thomas:
Joseph B. Baker:


Remote sensing provides technical and methodological approaches to holistically study human activities that have an impact on the Earth’s sometimes poorly understood physical processes. Because remote sensing systems are often sensitive to wavelengths outside the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g., the infrared and microwave) they allow us to expand our view and "see" the world in a different way. Objective, inter-calibrated, and synoptic data streams from a wide variety of sensors and platforms have become increasingly available since the dawn of the space age. For some systems, archives contain several decades of imagery portraying interactions between humans and the Earth’s environment. While the information resulting from analysis of these data is, by itself, policy relevant, only by combining the information available from remote sensing with the knowledge, approaches, and analytical tools of the social and natural sciences can complex issues at the interface of science and society be addressed. Further, remote sensing itself engenders a variety of social and policy questions, ranging from personal privacy to the social and cultural change that inevitably results from the wide adoption of transforming technologies.

How to Apply:
Fill out the online application for participation in the certificate program.
Upon processing of the application, you will be contacted
with information about the submission of additional
required materials. Thank you for your interest.


Admission to the Graduate School and completing a Graduate Certificate Application are required for all students.  For both degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students, the Graduate School requires completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or better for admission to Certificate Status.  Applicants with an undergraduate GPA < 3.0 may qualify for Commonwealth Campus admission.  Students pursuing a degree and a certificate simultaneously are classified within their degree program.  Certificate credits may be used to meet degree requirements if they are appropriate for inclusion on the degree Plan of Study. 

Course Requirements

The program requires 10 hours of graduate-level credit to obtain a Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing from Virginia Tech. At least 2/3 of these courses must be graded A-F. Course credits from below 5000-level courses are not permitted. Two courses (4 credit hours total) will be mandatory for all students in the program: the Seminar in GIS and Remote Sensing as well as Remote Sensing of Natural Resources. In addition, students will then be required to complete two of the following three options to complete their program: Remote Sensing Engineering Principles, Remote Sensing in the Social Sciences, and Introduction to Science and Technology Policy.  This set of courses will ensure that all students, regardless of disciplinary background, will be exposed to the same types of research approaches. Further, all students will discuss common scientific and policy issues that have evolved from increasing natural and anthropogenic stresses on the earth system – stresses that are driving research and development in this field. When students finish the course requirements, the oversight committee chair will sign the Course Check Sheet. Students will need to submit an Application for Conferral of Certificate form to the Graduate School. Transfer credits are not permitted.
Required Courses: 
  • Remote Sensing Engineering Principles (ECE 5194, I, 3H, 3C)
  • Remote Sensing of Natural Resources (FOR 5254, II, 3H, 3C)*
  • Remote Sensing in the Social Sciences (AAEC/GEOG/FREC 5544, I, 3H, 1L, 4C)
  • Seminar in GIS and Remote Sensing (FOR/GEOG 5104, II, P/F, 1H, 1C)
  • Introduction to Science and Technology Policy (STS 5614, II, 3H, 3C)
Total credits for certificate = 10; No grade below “B” is accepted