Master of Science in Hydrology

Description   |   Admission   |    Financial   |   Degree Program Reqs   |   Learning Outcomes   |   Contact

Description  top

Time-to-completion for the Master of Science degree in hydrology is approximately 2 years (coursework and research) for well prepared students.  All Thesis Option candidates must submit a Thesis or manuscript which has been judged by the student's committee to be eligible for publication in an appropriate scientific journal and present the results at a national or international scientific meeting. All Non-Thesis Option candidates must complete one additional 3-unit course in the department and a 1-unit Report which has been judged by the student's examining committee to be a professional-level report.  (Details about the Non-Thesis Master of Science degree in Hydrology are here.)

Active research areas include hydrogeology, hydrogeochemistry, hydrometeorology, hydroclimatology, environmental hydrology, ground-water hydrology, surface water hydrology, vadose zone hydrology, mathematical and statistical methods in hydrology (including stochastic and numerical modeling), water resources sytems, and water resources policy. The program is designed for students interested in the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of the hydrologic cycle, as well as water resources systems, environmental studies, or water policy and the social sciences related to water resources.

Applicants need not have completed an undergraduate degree in hydrology and water resources, although previous study in this field or a related field is beneficial. Students who have completed fundamental undergraduate mathematics and science courses (listed below) may enter the program directly. All students are expected to acquire basic computer programming skills and complete a field methods/laboratory course sequence. To meet the professional development requirement, students are required to attend seminars and colloquia at the beginning of academic residency and officially enroll in the departmental colloquium (HWRS 595A) for one semester at some time during residency. Near the end of their residency, students are required to present their thesis research (oral or poster) at a regional, national, or international conference. See the MS Hydrology Handbook for full details.

Admission  top

Apply at the Graduate College website: Click on the Apply Now button for the Program of Study "Hydrology (MS)," either the Thesis or Non-Thesis Option.  You will be required to upload a variety of documents, including:

  • Scanned copies of original transcripts (do not send original transcripts with official seal and signature until after you are accepted into the program)
  • Names/contact information for three (3) letters of recommendation (referees will submit them to us online)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of research and/or professional interests
  • Report of GRE scores (minimum Quantitative 155, minimum Written 4.0)
  • Non-native speakers of English: Scanned copies of TOEFL Report of Scores (minimum 550, IELTS 7 -- see Graduate College English proficiency requirement

GRE Institution Code for the University of Arizona:  4832

ETS Major Field Code for Hydrology MS:  1699

Admission deadlines:

  • Domestic Applicants:  January 15 for Fall Semester.  October 1 for Spring Semester.
  • International Applicants:  January 15 for Fall Semester.  August 1 for Spring Semester.

Financial  top

The department attempts to support all students as research or teaching assistants.  Research Assistantships may be arranged with individual faculty members.  Other funding opportunities are provided by the Graduate College at their Financial Resources website.  A special scholarship opportunity may be available to new Master's students majoring in Hydrology who matriculate in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019.

Degree Program Requirements  top

See the MS Hydrology Handbook for full details.

Undergraduate course prerequisites in mathematics and science include:

  • Physical geology:  1 semester
  • College chemistry:  2-semester sequence in inorganic/analytical chemistry
  • College physics:  2-semester sequence, one course in mechanics and one course in electricity/magnetism or optics/thermodynamics
  • Fluid mechanics:  1 semester
  • Mathematics:  Calculus 1, calculus 2, vector calculus, and introductory differential equations
  • Statistics:  1 semester in statistics or probability theory for the physical sciences or engineering

The degree requires a minimum of 31 semester units, typically 27 course units and 4 thesis units.  Requirements include, but are not limited to:

CORE COURSES (minimum 4-maximum 5 courses from this category, 12-15 units)

Fundamentals in Hydrology and Water Resources

  • HWRS 517A Fundamentals of Water Quality (3 semester units)
  • HWRS 518 Fundamentals in Subsurface Hydrology (3 semester units)
  • HWRS 519 Fundamentals in Surface Hydrology (3 semester units)
  • HWRS 528 Fundamentals: Systems Approach to Hydrology (3 semester units)

May complete 1 course from this list:

  • HWRS 575 Economic Evaluation of Water and Environmental Policy (3 semester units)
  • HWRS 576 Natural Resource Law and Economics (3 semester units)
  • LAW 641 Water Law (3 semester units)

ADVANCED ELECTIVE COURSES (units vary depending on number of CORE units)

For the Thesis Option, approximately 12 graduate semester units of advanced elective course work must be completed; units in this category vary based on the number of Core course units taken. Courses should be pre-approved by the department. While the study of hydrology and water resources is multidisciplinary by nature, not all crosslisted courses may be used in the plan of study.  (Cross-listed courses are those in which HWRS is not the home department and/or primary instructor.)  The majority of course work for the degree program must be completed with primary HWRS faculty members.


  • HWRS 513A Field Methods in Hydrology and Water Resources (2 semester units)
  • HWRS 513B Field Analysis in Hydrology and Water Resources (1 semester unit)

THESIS (4 units)

  • HWRS 910 Thesis (4 semester units)


There are two requirements for Professional Development:

  • Enrollment in HWRS 595A Weekly Colloquium for 1 semester during academic residency. This unit is not included in the plan of study.
  • Presentation of Master's level Thesis research at an approved regional or national conference. No academic credit is awarded for the poster or paper presentation. 
    • In lieu of a conference presentation, a student may enroll in an HWRS 696-series seminar course (e.g. HWRS HWRS 696G) that requires an oral presentation as part of the course format.  The seminar course may be included as an advanced elective in the plan of study.

A Master's Final Oral Examination with the faculty thesis research supervisor and two other approved faculty members is required.  While the initial presentation may be open to the public (at the discretion of the student and his or her faculty committee), the examination, or defense of thesis, is closed.

Electronic submission of the thesis to the Graduate College and archival with ProQuest UMI is required.  The department does not maintain an archive, although members of committee may request a copy of the manuscript.


Graduate College Steps to Your Degree requirements timeline and the sequence of GradPath forms for the Master of Science degree:

  • Responsible Conduct of Research Form
  • Evaluation of Transfer Credit
      • Only if using external transfer courses
  • Master's/Specialist Plan of Study
  • Master's/Specialist Committee Appointment Form
      • Required for every Master's/Specialist student whether or not that student has a committee
  • Master's/Specialist Completion Confirmation Form
      • Submitted by department graduate coordinator on behalf of student to initiate final Graduate College degree audit
  • Submission of Thesis Manuscript for Archiving
      • Required if student completes a thesis
  • Exit Survey

Learning Outcomes  top

Refer to the Assessment section for learning outcomes and measures.

Contact  top

Admissions Contact:  Lupe Romero - 520-621-6831

Director of Graduate Studies:  Martha P.L. Whitaker - 520-621-9715

Graduate College Student Services Degree Counselor:  Kristi Davenport - 520-626-1930

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