In the good old days, prospective college students applied in the fall, a year before they wanted to begin college, and received their acceptance letters in the spring. Online master's degree programs in geographic information systems are different. Some independent study programs allow students to begin at any time. Some follow the traditional model of accepting a limited number of students for fall admission. Some begin their programs two or three times a year. It is important to check with the admissions office for exact application and financial aid deadlines so that you can coordinate the preparation of all your admissions materials.