The School of Freshwater Sciences offers a graduate program of studies providing students with advanced training and education in four areas:

  • Freshwater Policy and Economics
  • Freshwater System Dynamics
  • Human and Ecosystem Health
  • Freshwater Technology

Each of these focus areas is interrelated with the others, and includes biologic, physical, technologic and policy aspects of freshwater.

The Master of Science program has two tracks designed to provide a strong foundation necessary for the training of graduates that will utilize novel approaches to the sustainable and equitable use and management of freshwater systems worldwide. The Doctor of Philosophy program is a research degree designed to explore and discover novel approaches to the sustainable and equitable use and management of freshwater systems worldwide. These programs will create an interdisciplinary atmosphere for training the next generation of scientists armed with the knowledge, skills and experience to anticipate and address the freshwater issues of the future.

Timely application is encouraged for students seeking financial support. When applying for admission, applicants should describe as completely as possible their specific research interests within freshwater sciences. Applicants are strongly encouraged to establish contact, before or during the application process, with Freshwater Sciences faculty members whose research interests are closest to their own, regarding the likelihood of one serving as the student’s major professor.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.

MS Water Policy (Professional) Admission Requirements

Prerequisite Coursework

The following prerequisites are strongly recommended:

  1. At least one semester coursework in three of the following at the college level: chemistry, biological sciences, microeconomics, statistics, political science, and advanced algebra or calculus.  
  2. One additional semester of statistics, microeconomics, geographic information system, chemistry, or biological sciences.

Admission will be considered based upon the applicant’s academic and/or professional background, proposed course of study, and possible additional coursework once in the degree program, should important preparatory gaps be identified.

Other Admission Requirements

An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus these departmental requirements to be considered for admission to the program:

  • A bachelor's degree in economics, environmental policy, political science, public policy, journalism/communications, biology, or other appropriate natural science, social science, or engineering discipline.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s scholarship and/or research potential.
  • Submission of a Reason Statement. Statements are used to determine the appropriateness of your educational and professional goals and serves as an example of your ability to express yourself in writing. Your reason statement should include:

  1. your reasons for pursuing graduate study
  2. your specific background interests and background in the field
  3. any relevant skills or training you've acquired
  4. any academic awards or honors you have received
  5. the name(s) of faculty members with whom your research interests most closely align

Credits and Courses

MS Water Policy (Professional)

The minimum degree requirement for the MS Water Policy (Professional) track is 32 graduate credits.

FRSHWTR 510GEconomics, Policy and Management of Water3
FRSHWTR 585GApplied Water Statistics and Data Manipulation 13
or ATM SCI 500 Statistical Methods in Atmospheric Sciences
FRSHWTR 781Water Law for Scientists and Policy Makers3
FRSHWTR 810Professional Development for Water Leaders3
FRSHWTR 890Science Communication3
FRSHWTR 900Colloquium in Freshwater Sciences1
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Sensing Networks
Aquatic Ecosystem Dynamics
Quantitative Freshwater Analysis
Environmental Health of Freshwater Ecosystems
Select 12 credits in consultation with the students major advisor12
Graduate Internship
FRSHWTR 980Graduate Internship1
Total Credits32

ECON 413G if needed in an "off" year.

Additional Requirements

Major Professor as Advisor

Upon admission to the program, each student in the professional track will be assigned an initial advisor based on their background. The initial advisor will provide counseling to the students and help to identify goals and objectives of their graduate education. Students should identify their permanent advisor during the first semester in the program. The advisor will oversee the student’s internship.

A plan of study is required and planned by the student in consultation with their advisor and the internship coordinators of the program. The plan of study identifies the planned courses and timeline for completion of the degree coursework and internship.


All students in the professional science track are required to participate in an internship research experience, generally between the first and second years of the program. Internship experiences focus on complex regional, national, and global water problems and often involve authentic, practical problems in the field. The program coordinators provide resources and internship opportunities with industry, government, and non-profit organizations. It is the responsibility of the student and advisor to identify the internship and the direct supervisor within a specific organization and submit a proposal that identifies goals and objectives of the internship. Proposals will be reviewed and approved by the advisor. Alternatively, a group project may occur in lieu of an internship and should provide students with training and experience in performing professional-level work that involves managing group dynamics and applying technical expertise to solve complex, multidisciplinary water-related problems.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within seven years of initial enrollment.

Accelerated Program Option

This program is offered as part of an accelerated graduate program. For more information, see Accelerated Graduate Degrees.