Master of Science in Hydrology Non-Thesis

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(Effectve Fall 2019) TIMEFRAME: 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.  Both a professional report completed as a current work assignment or a graduate-level paper on a topic approved by the faculty advisor and Director of Graduate Studies-Hydrology are acceptable.  Past reports, manuscripts, or documents completed prior to the beginning of the degree program may not be used to satisfy this requirement. A poster presentation at the department's annual student research symposium, El Día del Agua y la Atmósfera, satisfies 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 Final Oral Examination is required.

STUDY TOPICS: 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.

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 courses (listed below) 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 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 Master's report project in a poster format at an approved regional, national, or international conference. See the MS Hydrology & Water Resources Program Guide for full details.

Students in the Master's Non-Thesis Option complete one additional Primary Faculty advanced elective course in the department (total of 15 units Advanced Elective category).


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:

  • All Applicants:
  • Scanned copies of original transcripts (do not send original documents 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 professional goals
  • International Applicants Only: English Proficiency scores also required (details below)

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.


Non-Thesis Option students may be eligible to serve as Graduate Assistants in research or teaching, although Thesis Option students have priority because of the thesis research requirement. Non-Thesis Option students may also be eligible for tuition scholarships or similar opportunities. Other funding opportunities are provided by the Graduate College at their Financial Resources website.

Degree Program Reqs

The degree for the Master's Non-Thesis Option requires a minimum of 31 semester units, 30 course units and 1 Master's Report unit. 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 unis from this list:

  • HWRS 517A Fundamentals of Water Quality* (3 units) Fall
  • HWRS 528 Fundamentals: Systems Approach to Hydrology* (3 units) Spring
  • *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. NOTE: Non-Thesis Option students complete one additional advanced elective course for a total of 15 units.


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


  • HWRS 909 Report (1 unit)


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 the Master's Report project at an approved regional or national conference. A 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 presentation. Submit an email with details to Director of Graduate Studies-Hydrology (see the Program Guide for instructions).


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

Electronic submission of the Master's Report manuscript to the Graduate College is not required, although members of the committee may request a copy of the report.


Be aware of the Graduate College's Steps to Your Degree requirements timeline when planning your final examination. The Graduate College's electronic degree audit system includes the following GradPath forms which are required for all Master of Science-Non-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
  • Exit Survey

Learning Outcomes

Refer to the Assessment section for learning outcomes and measures.