Degree Requirements

The Water Resources Science (WRS) program offers the following degree options:

Master of Science (M.S.)

Master of Science (M.S.)

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Water Resources Science consists of:

  • Four core courses (one each from Hydrology, Environmental Chemistry, Limnology, and Water Policy),
  • One elective in the area of water quality,
  • Two or more WRS elective courses in an area of emphasis,
  • At least 6 semester credits from a minor outside WRS, or a related field (minor not required),
  • Registration for the WRS 8100 seminar during the first semester in residence,
  • Research and Professional Ethics in Water Resources and Environmental Science (WRS 8581),
  • A Plan A thesis or Plan B paper (Plan A students will complete 10 thesis research credits).

For more information about degree requirements and course offerings, please visit the Twin Cities or Duluth course pages, or consult the WRS student handbook.

M.S. Plan A

The M.S. Plan A option is best suited for students with a funded research project. The Plan A option provides a more re­search-intensive background.

  • Coursework: Plan A requires a minimum of 30 credits (including thesis credits)
    • Major Coursework- four core courses (see above), one water quality elective, and two area of emphasis courses. 
      • M.S. Plan A students may elect to take one water quality elective course that may double for one area of emphasis course. Students must still obtain the minimum number of credits for their degree.
    • 6 credits in a supporting field or a designated minor (please note that the required number of credits to obtain a minor is set by the program in which the minor is taken),
    • 10 credits of thesis work (WRS 8777) (thesis credits can be taken at any time).
  • Thesis: Plan A also requires the successful completion and defense of an M.S. thesis
    • Coursework is individualized to reflect a student's preparation, degree goals, and research topic;
    • Theses must be written on a research project that you carry out in consultation with your faculty advisor. Specific formatting guidelines for your thesis are available on the Graduate School's website.
    • You must present a bound copy to the WRS Program Office. Check with your advisor for their copy requirement.

M.S. Plan B

Plan B is best suited to students who do not have a funded project that will cover research ex­penses and provide an assistantship. Students accepted without funding should consider the Plan B option, which generally can be completed in less time, or at an individualized part-time pace.

  • Coursework: Plan B requires a minimum of 30 credits
    • Major Coursework- four core courses (see above), one water quality elective, and two area of emphasis courses. 
    • 6 semester credits in a supporting field or a designated minor (Note that the number of credits for the minor is set by the program in which the minor is taken),
    • Additional coursework, divided in any appropriate manner between the major field and related field or minor program (subject to approval by your advisor), if 30 credit minimum is not completed through major coursework and supporting field coursework alone.
    • Students are not required to register for any credits of Plan B work. However, students may count three semester credits of WRS 8095 (Plan B research) toward their degree.
  • Plan B Project(s): No thesis is required, but each student must demonstrate the ability to work independently by completing one or two project papers.
    • Best suited for students with few previous courses in water resources science and thus need more course work to gain the combination of depth and breadth needed in this field,
    • Project must be approved and overseen by the faculty advisor,
    • Must utilize field, laboratory, or computer work and the analysis, synthesis, or interpretation of data.
    • Plan B students should provide a copy of their Plan B project with the WRS Program Office after a successful final oral exam.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Water Resources Science consists of:

  • Coursework equivalent to an M.S. in WRS:
    • Four core courses (one each from Hydrology, Environmental Chemistry, Limnology, and Water Policy),
    • One elective in the area of water quality,
    • Two or more WRS elective courses in an area of emphasis,
    • Registration for the WRS 8100 seminar during the first semester in residence,
    • Research and Professional Ethics in Water Resources and Environmental Science (WRS 8581).
  • Ph.D. students are also required to enroll in a minor or appropriate supporting program courses.
    • 12 semester credits of course work outside the WRS major.
  • Dissertation
    • 24 research credits are required prior to the dissertation defense.

The Ph.D. is a research degree that represents the highest level of academic accomplishment in any field. Persons with this degree are expected to have demonstrated the ability to conduct inde­pendent research and should also have the level and breadth of knowledge about their field that one could reasonably expect of someone who has attained the highest academic degree in their field. Research performance, evidenced by the preparation of a dissertation on an independently pur­sued research topic, is the primary requirement for the Ph.D. degree. Each student degree program is designed in consultation with a faculty advisor to meet the special needs of the student, and must be approved by the DGS.

For more information about degree requirements and course offerings, please visit the Twin Cities or Duluth course pages, or consult the WRS student handbook.

Limnology & Oceanography (M.S. or Ph.D.)

Limnology & Oceanography (M.S. or Ph.D.)

The Limnology and Oceanography track is a concentration within WRS that may be completed at the Masters or Doctorate level.

Master of Science (M.S.)

The M.S. in the Water Resources Science Limnology and Oceanography Track consists of:

  • Four Limnology and Oceanography Track core courses,
  • One water quality elective,
  • At least 5 semester credits of Limnology area of emphasis electives,
  • At least 6 semester credits from a related field or minor outside WRS,
  • Registration for the WRS 8100 seminar during the first semester in residence,
  • Research and Professional Ethics in Water Resources and Environmental Science (WRS 8581),
  • A thesis (M.S. Plan A) or Plan B paper (M.S. Plan B).

For more information about degree requirements and course offerings, please visit the Limnology & Oceanography Courses page, or consult the WRS student handbook.

M.S. Plan A

The M.S. Plan A option provides a more research intensive background, and therefore requires 10 credits of thesis work (WRS 8777) and the successful completion and defense of an M.S. thesis. The thesis generally represents original laboratory or field research, or in-depth analysis and synthe­sis carried out in consultation with the faculty advisor. Plan A course work is individualized to reflect a student’s preparation, degree goals, and research topic. The faculty Advisor must be a member of the Limnology and Oceanography Track faculty.

M.S. Plan B

The M.S. Plan B requires a minimum of 30 course credits, consisting of at least 17 semester credits in the major field and minimum of 6 semester credits in a related field or minor program; the remain­ing 7 credits may be divided in an appropriate manner between the major field and related field or minor program. No thesis is required, but each student must demonstrate the ability to work inde­pendently by completing one or two project papers in consultation with the faculty advisor, who must be a member of the Limnology and Oceanography Track faculty. These papers can be in-depth lit­erature reviews in some cases. Students are not required to register for any credits of Plan B work. However, students may count three credits of WRS 8095 (Plan B research) toward the M.S. degree. The Plan B is well suited for part time students who do not wish to focus on research, but require a more in depth knowledge of Limnology and Oceanography for their professional goals. 

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

  • Coursework equivalent to an M.S. in WRS:
    • Four Limnology and Oceanography Track core courses,
    • One elective in the area of water quality,
    • Two or more WRS elective courses in an area of emphasis,
    • Registration for the WRS 8100 seminar during the first semester in residence,
    • Research and Professional Ethics in Water Resources and Environmental Science (WRS 8581).
  • Ph.D. students are also required to enroll in a minor or appropriate supporting program courses.
    • 12 semester credits of course work outside the WRS major.
  • Dissertation
    • 24 research credits are required prior to the dissertation defense.

The Ph.D. is a research degree that represents the highest level of academic accomplishment in any field. Persons with this degree are expected to have demonstrated the ability to conduct inde­pendent research and should also have the level and breadth of knowledge about their field that one could reasonably expect of someone who has attained the highest academic degree in their field. Research performance, evidenced by the preparation of a dissertation on an independently pur­sued research topic, is the primary requirement for the Ph.D. degree. Each student degree program is designed in consultation with a faculty advisor to meet the special needs of the student, and must be approved by the DGS.

For more information about degree requirements and course offerings, please visit the Limnology & Oceanography Courses page, or consult the WRS student handbook.

Minor in WRS

Minor in WRS

The WRS minor is available to both M.S. and Ph.D. candidates.

M.S. minor students must complete:

  • 9 credits total, including:
    • WRS 5101 (3 credits), and
    • Two other courses from the WRS program’s core courses.

Ph.D. minor students must complete:

  • 12 credits total, including:
    • WRS 5101 (3 credits),
    • One course from the WRS program’s core courses, and
    • Two electives within one area of emphasis.

Interested in Applying?

Review our Admissions Information page for deadlines and procedure.  Requests for additional information can be sent to wrs@umn.edu.  

Courses

Students can find a list of approved courses in the University Catalog.