Master of Science in Hydrology Non-Thesis

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

Description  top

Time-to-completion for the Master of Science degree in Hydrology Non-Thesis Option is approximately 1 1/2 to 2 years (coursework and final report) for well prepared students.  A degree candidate must submit a 1-unit Master's Report.  Examples: Professional report completed as a current work assignment or a graduate-level paper on a topic approved by the faculty advisor.  Past reports, manuscripts, or documents--those completed prior to beginning of the degree program--may not be used to meet this requirement. 

By definition, the Non-Thesis Option is not research-based and may be suitable for working professionals who wish to focus more on applied hydrology and water resources. (Details about the Master of Science Thesis Option are here.)  A Master's Report (professional report) and Master's Final Oral Examination are required.  Areas of study 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 course. To meet the professional development requirement, students are required to attend seminars and colloquia (HWRS 695A) at the beginning of academic residency and enroll in one advanced course (HWRS 696-series) at or near the end of their residency. 

All students must complete fundamental core courses in hydrology and water resources unless equivalent graduate-level courses have been taken elsewhere. Students in the Master of Science Non-Thesis Option complete one additional 3-unit course in the department (29 units of course work vs. 26 units of course work for students in the Thesis option).  NOTE:  Students must comply with Graduate College requirements regarding academic residency (the minimum number of graduate units completed at the University of Arizona), as well as the maximum number of transfer course units allowable for inclusion in the Master's degree program.

Admission  top

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

  • Scanned copies of original transcripts (do not send original documents with official seal and signature until after you are accepted into the program)
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation (submitted online)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of professional goals
  • Report of GRE scores (minimum Quantitative 155, Written 4.5)
  • International Students Only  Scanned copies of TOEFL Report of Scores (minimum 550, IELTS 7)
  • Graduate Assistant Application form (optional)

GRE Institution Code for the University of Arizona:  4832

ETS Major Field Code for Hydrology MS Non-Thesis:  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

Students may be eligible to serve as Graduate Assistants in research or teaching, although MS Thesis Option students have priority for assistantship support (see Graduate Assistant Application form); students may also be eligible for tuition fee scholarships or other similar opportunities. 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, and Fall 2018.

Degree Program Reqs  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 for the physical sciences or engineering

The degree requires a minimum of 30 semester units, a combination of CORE and Advanced Elective course work, i.e. 12 & 15 units or 15 & 12 units, plus a 2-unit field methods course and a 1-unit Master's Report.

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 (12-15 units depending on number of CORE units)

For the Non-Thesis Option, 12-15 graduate semester units of advanced elective course work (depending on the number of Core course units completed) plus a 2-unit Field Methods course and a 1-unit Master's Report are required (total of 30 graduate units).  Choice of courses, especially advanced elective courses, should be pre-approved by the department's Director of Graduate Studies. 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.)  The majority of course work for the degree program must be completed with primary HWRS faculty members. Discuss your choices before including them in your plan of study.


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


  • A 1-unit Master's Report (HWRS 909) is required.  Examples include a professional report completed as a current work assignment or a graduate-level paper on a topic approved by the faculty advisor.  Past reports, manuscripts, or documents--those completed prior to beginning of the degree program--may not be used to meet this requirement.


There are 2 requirements for professional development:

  • Enrollment in HWRS 695A Weekly Colloquium (1 unit) for 1 semester during academic residency.  This unit is not included in the plan of study.
  • Presentation of Master's Report 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 HWRS 696-series seminar course (e.g. 696F, 696G) that requires oral presentation as part of the course format.  The HWRS 696-series seminar course may be included as an advanced elective in the plan of study.


A Master's Final Oral Examination with the faculty advisor 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 members), the examination by the faculty committee is closed.  Electronic archival of the Master's Report is not required.

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:  Terrie Thompson - 520-621-6831

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

Graduate College Degree Counselor:  Cindy Nguyen - 520-621-0119

File Upload