Master of Science in Hydrology


(Effective Fall 2019) TIMEFRAME: Time-to-completion for the Master of Science degree in Hydrology and Water Resources 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. See the Master's Thesis Manuscript Options for details about Traditional and Publication formats. 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.)

STUDY  TOPICS: 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.

PREPARATION: 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 prerequisite courses may enter the program directly. NOTE: Students must have completed at least 2 semesters of calculus and have no more than 4 outstanding course deficiencies at the time of matriculation. All outstanding (incomplete) undergraduate course prerequisites should be completed by the end of the first year in residence.

PROFESSIONAL SKILLS: All students are expected to acquire basic computer programming skills (e.g. Python, MATLAB, Fortran, C++) and complete a field methods/laboratory and field synthesis course sequence.

To satisfy the professional development requirement, students are required to attend seminars and colloquia at the beginning of academic residency and officially enroll in the departmental weekly colloquium, HWRS 595A, Current Topics in Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, for at least one semester at some time during residency. (These units are not included in the Master's Plan of Study.) Near the end of academic residency, students are required to present their thesis research or master's report project in an oral or poster format at an approved regional, national, or international conference. An oral or poster presentation at the department's annual student research symposium, El Día del Agua y la Atmósfera, satisfies this requirement. See the MS Hydrology & Water Resources Program Guide for full details.


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:

  • All Applicants:
  • 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
  • International Applicants Only: English Proficiency scores are also required (details below)

INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: English Proficiency Guidelines: Non-native speakers of English should consult the Graduate College website for information about documenting their proficiency in English. Currently, these minimum scores satisfy the English Proficiency requirement:

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.


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.

Degree Program Requirements

The degree for the Master's Thesis Option requires a minimum of 31 semester units, 27 course units and 4 thesis units. See the MS Hydrology & Water Resources Program Guide for full details. Requirements include, but are not limited to:


  • 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
  • *You must have received a grade of C or higher to satisfy these course prerequisite requirements. Grades below C are not recognized the UA Graduate College.
  • *Please note that we cannot accept students with more than four undergraduate course deficiencies, and you must have completed at least two semesters of calculus. If you have a course in progress or course/courses to be completed prior to beginning our program, you may note this on the graduate application.


Complete 6 units from this list:

  • REQUIRED HWRS 518 Fundamentals in Subsurface Hydrology (3 units) Fall
  • REQUIRED HWRS 519 Fundamentals in Surface Hydrology (3 units) Spring

Complete 6 units from this list:

  • HWRS 517A Fundamentals of Water Quality* (3 units) Fall
  • HWRS 528 Fundamentals: Systems Approach to Hydrology* (3 units) Fall
  • *Option: You may complete 1 of the following courses in lieu of HWRS 517A or 528, but not both:
    • HWRS 575 Economic Evaluation of Water and Environmental Policy (3 units) Fall
    • HWRS 576 Natural Resource Law and Economics (3 units) Spring
    • HWRS/LAW 641 Water Law (3 units) Spring


All course work should be pre-approved by the Director of Graduate Studies-Hydrology. 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 are not taught by HWRS Primary Faculty instructors.) Refer to the MS Hydrology & Water Resources Program Guide for an approved list of HWRS Primary Faculty Advanced Elective Courses.


  • HWRS 513A Field Methods (2 units) Spring
  • HWRS 513B Field Synthesis (1 unit) Summer Presession (completed by end of May)

THESIS (4 units)


There are two requirements for Professional Development:

  • Enrollment in HWRS 595A Weekly Colloquium, Current Topics in Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, for at least 1 semester during academic residency. These units are not included in the Plan of Study.
  • Presentation of Master's Thesis research at an approved regional or national conference. An oral or poster presentation at the department's annual student research symposium, El Día del Agua y la Atmósfera, satisfies this requirement. No academic credit is awarded for the poster or paper presentation. Submit an email with details to Director of Graduate Studies-Hydrology (for instructions, see the Program Guide).


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 and defense of thesis is closed.

Electronic submission of the thesis manuscript 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.


Be aware of the Graduate College's Steps to Your Degree requirements timeline when planning your final examination. Allow yourself enough time to make any required revisions of the Master's thesis manuscript before submission to the Graduate College. The Graduate College's electronic degree audit system includes the following GradPath forms which are required for all Master of Science-Thesis Option degree candidates. You can complete these forms by logging on to the university's Student UAccess system:

  • 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

Refer to the Assessment section for learning outcomes and measures.


General Inquiry:

Admissions Contact:

Director of Graduate Studies: