What is ArcGIS?

ArcGIS is the industry-leading geospatial software used to answer geographic questions, provide analysis, assist in interpretation of information, and, of course, produce cartographic products. ArcGIS can be used to create web-mappable data products, as well.

Spatial data refers to any information tied to a location. Census data is spatial data; road centerlines are spatial data. Any information that can be tied to a location, a geographic latitude-longitude coordinate, or a physical address, is spatial data.

ArcGIS provides an enormous collection of spatial analysis tools. These tools can do such things as calculate density and distance, interpolation, perform cost analysis, and proximity analysis. Address geocoding, the locating of a phenomenon by using a mailing address, one of the most popular tasks associated with geographic data, is a relatively easy capability within ArcGIS.

ArcGIS supports over 70 different data formats, SHP, E00, DWG, DXF, DGN, KML, and many more. The ArcGIS Geodatabase helps users management the variety of difference data sets used in analysis. ArcGIS allows users to add, modify, browse, and query using standard SQL geographic information.

ArcGIS can produce some nice mapping products and supports exporting graphic files to a variety of common graphic file formats, including TIFF, JPEG, Adobe PDF and Illustrator (.AI). ArcGIS contains a number of data visualization functions for assisting users in the analysis of complex data sets.

For more details about ArcGIS for Desktop, please visit ArcGIS for Desktop at ESRI.com.

Note to Mac/Apple folks: ArcGIS for Desktop is not natively supported for any Mac OS. If you have no choice and have access to only a Mac, the Mac must be running some form of Windows emulation.

Computer Requirements

Faculty, staff, and students need ArcGIS for Desktop to use for most Virtual Campus courses. The computer requirements for ArcGIS for Desktop Student Edition are the same as those for the non-student edition.

For specific system requirements, visit ArcGIS Resources - System Requirements

For most users, the following requirements will be sufficient: 

  1. Operating System: XP, Vista, 7 (32- or 64-bit). Windows 8.1 is supported only at ArcGIS 10.1 Service Pack 2
  2. CPU Speed: 2.2GHz minimum.
  3. Processor: Intel Pentium 4, Core Duo,  or Xeon. AMD processors are also acceptable though may not be specifically on the support page.
  4. RAM: 4GB minimum. MARC recommends a minimum of 8GB, or as much as one can afford. ArcGIS Pro (ArcGIS 10.3) needs at least 8GB of RAM.
  5. Graphics Card: Any NVIDIA or ATI card w/more than 256MB RAM will work. But...invest in a 1GB card or better. Card must support OpenGL v2.0 or higher.
  6. Display: A 24-bit color display with a resolution equal to or greater than 1024x768.

ESRI ArcGIS for Desktop 10.X

MSU/MARC is able to provide ArcGIS for Desktop for free to all faculty, staff, and currently-enrolled students. The ArcGIS for Desktop Student Edition is the same full-install found in several Murray State computer labs. The only difference is the Student Edition expires after one year. Faculty and staff can have ArcGIS for Desktop installed on any MSU computer for free. Students can request a Student License using the information found at the bottom of this page.

ArcGIS for Desktop includes the core ArcGIS software, plus Spatial Analyst, Network Analyst, and Geospatial Analyst. A version of python programming language (v2.7) is also included. These software products are enough to accomplish the vast majority of virtual campus courses.

ArcGIS for Desktop on the campus of Murray State University

Murray State Computer Labs

ArcGIS for Desktop can be installed on any Murray State University lab computer, as long as the computers meet the minimum system requirements. Currently, ArcGIS is supported in the following campus computer labs:

  • Mid-America Remote sensing Center
  • Department of Geosciences
  • JCSET Science Resource Center *open to all JCSET students
  • Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business
  • Hutson School of Agriculture 

As noted above, none of the computer labs are open to the general student population, with the exception of the Science Resource Center. These computer lab double as teaching/lecture classroom and are therefore not open as general-use computer labs. Please refer to the rules pertaining to the individual computer lab for more information.

Requesting ArcGIS for Desktop

ArcGIS for Desktop is available for installation on any Murray State University computer. ArcGIS for Desktop Student Edition is available for faculty, staff, and currently-enrolled students to install on their own personal computers. The ArcGIS Student Edition cannot be installed on Murray State University computers. If a campus user needs ArcGIS for Desktop installed in a computer or research lab, a separate request for a campus install is necessary.

Students, Faculty, and Staff Needing a Personal Academic Version of ArcGIS for Desktop

Students, faculty, and staff may request a copy of ArcGIS for Desktop Student Edition for their academic use, to be installed on their own personal computer. Please use the form below to request a copy of ArcGIS Student Edition.



Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff interested in using ArcGIS for Desktop for on-campus academic and research purposes can use the Faculty/Staff form below to request software download instructions.


Our site is new

Help us make it better, and tell us what you think.