Using ArcGIS at Ohio State


NOTICE: Changes to OSU ArcGIS Online accounts and ArcMap/ArcGIS Pro licensing as of 3/23/2022

ArcGIS Online accounts have been upgraded for all OSU users, including the following changes:

  • User type: GIS Professional Advanced (provides named user licensing for ArcGIS Pro)
  • Role: Notebook publisher (same privileges as before, plus privileges to run ArcGIS Notebooks)
  • Add-on licenses: Now includes ArcGIS Pro and extensions, ArcGIS Urban, Business Analyst, Community Analyst, GeoPlanner, and others.

Concurrent licensing for ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro is being phased out. Concurrent licensing is not supported for new releases, and support for older releases will be terminated on December 31, 2022. ArcGIS Pro users should change to named user licensing. ArcMap users should change to single use licensing. For more information, see the Getting Started documents linked below. For support, please contact

Notice for ArcGIS Pro users:  Named user licensing will require you to log in to your ArcGIS Online account.  Don't forget to log out when using a public computer.



Esri is a leader in the geospatial science industry and the developer of state of the art Geographic Information System (GIS) software including ArcGIS.  Through the Esri Education Institution Agreement, OSU is able to offer many Esri products to OSU students, faculty, and staff for educational use and limited research and administrative use.  Some of the most popular Esri products available through the site license include:

  • ArcGIS Online (a simple yet powerful web-based GIS)
  • ArcGIS Pro (an advanced next-generation desktop GIS for Windows that integrates closely with ArcGIS Online)
  • ArcGIS Desktop (a mature and full-featured desktop GIS for Windows)

The remainder of this page provides instructions to get started with the aforementioned applications.  Click on the links above or scroll down for more information about each application.  Other Esri products are also available through the site license.  If you have an academic or business need for an Esri product that is not listed here, or if you have any other questions about Esri products or their use at OSU, please email OSU Esri Support.

Note: ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro are available for Windows only.   Some users have reported running ArcGIS on a Mac using Boot Camp or Parallels.  You are welcome to try this, however we cannot support this configuration or provide installation assistance for it.

ArcGIS Online

Best for: Casual or novice GIS users, collaborative mapping projects, sharing maps on the web

ArcGIS Online is web based GIS application that you can access using a web browser or mobile device.  It is not necessary to install any software.   With ArcGIS Online, you can make and share web maps using your own data or a wide assortment of ready-to-use datasets.  Ohio State affiliates are eligible for an "organizational account", which provides additional featured privileges compared to a "public" account.  Organizational users may:

Examples of advanced functions include geocoding, network analysis (vehicle routing, service areas, etc), spatial analysis, data enrichment  including demographic and business variables), and infographic and report generation.  Some advanced features consume service credits.  Each organizational user will receive an initial allocation of service credits from the finite pool of credits available to the university community.  Additional service credits may be awarded for legitimate academic or business uses at the discretion of the OSU Esri support team.  To request additional credits, please email OSU Esri SupportIf you need to perform a large number of geocoding or network analysis operations, please contact OSU Esri Support prior to doing so.  The team may be able to suggest alternative solutions that do not consume credits.

The site license includes access to the following ArcGIS Online apps and more:


Get started with ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Pro

Best for: Advanced GIS users or students wishing to gain advanced skills, geospatial scientists, users wanting to create mixed-media maps (print and web)

ArcGIS Pro is Esri's next-generation desktop GIS application.  ArcGIS Pro provides all of the advanced mapping and spatial analysis features that were traditionally available in traditional Esri desktop products such as ArcMap, but it offers many new features including:

  • Close integration with ArcGIS Online, which allows for easy publishing of maps and data and simpler collaboration for project teams
  • New ribbon-based user interface
  • Integrated 3D visualization capabilities
  • Two powerful Python scripting environments (the traditional arcpy environment and the newer ArcGIS API for Python)

ArcGIS Pro is available to Ohio State affiliates for installation on Windows computers.

Get started with ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap)

Best for: Advanced GIS users whose needs are not satisfied by ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Pro.

ArcGIS Desktop (also known as ArcMap) is Esri's tried-and-true desktop GIS application.  It provides the same advanced mapping and spatial analysis features as ArcGIS Pro, but using a traditional interface that may be more familiar to long-time GIS users.  3D visualization is provided via an included standalone product called ArcScene.  Python scripting is supported via the arcpy environment.  ArcGIS Desktop is recommended for experienced users who will benefit from the familiarity of the software or who need to maintain projects that were originally created using this software.  New GIS users should consider investing their time to learn ArcGIS Pro and/or ArcGIS Online instead.

ArcGIS Desktop is available to Ohio State affiliates for installation on Windows computers.

Get started with ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap)


If you are new to Esri products or to GIS in general, consider making use of the many free training resources available to you as an OSU affiliate.  These resources come primarily from two sources: ESRI Training and OSU University Libraries.

Esri Training 

Esri has extensive training resources, which they make available through their Course Catalog.  Resources available at no cost include tutorials, videos, and documentation.  Instructor-led training is also available for a fee.  You can make use of these resources a-la-carte, or you can work through the Learning Plans that Esri has defined that cater to various user interests.

Note that some resources specify “Requires Maintenance” instead of a price.  As an OSU affiliate you may access these at no cost, but you must first enable your access by creating an ArcGIS Online organizational account, as described in the Getting Started with ArcGIS Online at Ohio State document.  Access to training will be enabled automatically when your account is created.  Simply sign in to the Esri training site as you would sign in to ArcGIS Online.   If you created your OSU ArcGIS Online account previously, it is likely that you already have access to the training resources.  If you find that you do not have access, please contact

OSU University Libraries

University Libraries provides support to Ohio State students and faculty interested in learning and using GIS or maps for course assignments, research projects, and more.  They can provide you with assistance for finding geospatial datasets, organizing and cleaning geospatial data, and choosing the right software or tool for your project.  To learn more about resources available from University Libraries, check out their Maps and Geospatial Data pages. If you have questions on geospatial data, check out their Data Resources pages. Also, consider joining the Research Commons mailing list or following @OSUrescommons on Twitter to get news about upcoming GIS workshops.

About OSU ESRI Support

Limited support for use of ESRI products at OSU is provided via requests sent to  This email box is monitored by a small number of volunteers, none of whom have a mandate or funding to provide this support.  Our primarily role is to maintain the Education Institution Agreement with ESRI and ensure that OSU faculty, staff, and students have access to the tools and services they are entitled to under this agreement.  Our level of support is limited to assisting with account creation, download, installation, and licensing of ESRI products.  In general, we are unable to provide support for general usage of the software.  Users are expected to resolve their own issues by reviewing the product documentation provided by ESRI and with the help of community support through forums such as the ESRI Community forums and StackExchange.   We may, at our discretion, assist with with usage issues when it is clear that the user has exhausted these channels.  In such cases, we may open a support ticket with ESRI on behalf of the user.