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:

  • Core Coursework
    • One each from the Hydrology, Environmental Chemistry, Limnology, and Water Policy core areas
    • WRS 8100 (Interdisciplinary WRS Seminar) during the first semester in residence
    • WRS 8581 (Research and Professional Ethics in Water Resources and Environmental Science)
  • Electives from the WRS approved list (see below for credit requirements)
  • Thesis or paper
  • Master's thesis credits (Plan A only)

For more information about electives, please visit the Twin Cities Courses page or the Duluth Courses page, 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 32 credits
    • 13 credits of Core Coursework (see above)
    • At least 9 semester credits from the WRS Approved List of Electives
    • 10 credits of thesis work (WRS 8777) , which 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;
    • Thesis 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 will 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 to cover research ex­penses or an assistantship. Students in the Plan B option generally complete in less time, or at an individualized part-time pace.

  • Coursework: Plan B requires a minimum of 30 credits
    • 13 credits of Core Coursework
    • At least 17 semester credits from the WRS Approved List of Electives
      • Students are not required to register for any credits of Plan B work, but may count 3 semester credits of WRS 8095 (Plan B Project Research) toward their electives.
  • 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 will 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:

  • 24 credits of Core Coursework equivalent to the WRS M.S.*
    • One each from the Hydrology, Environmental Chemistry, Limnology, and Water Policy core areas
    • WRS 8100 (Interdisciplinary WRS Seminar)
    • WRS 8581 (Research and Professional Ethics in Water Resources and Environmental Science)
  • 24 doctoral thesis research credits

*At least 12 course credits must be taken at the University of Minnesota.  The 12 remaining credits can be transferred from a previous graduate degree or taken while in residence.

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 electives, please visit the Twin Cities Courses page or the Duluth Courses page, or consult the WRS student handbook.

Limnology & Oceanography Track (M.S. or Ph.D.) - Twin Cities

Limnology & Oceanography Track (M.S. or Ph.D.) - Twin Cities

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

Master of Science (M.S.)

  • Core Coursework
    • Limnology (EEB 5601)
    • Water Policy (WRS 5101)
    • Environmental Chemistry (CEGE 5541, ESCI 4401, LAAS 5311, PUBH 6190 or EEB 4611)
    • Hydrology (BBE 8513 or FNRM 5114)
    • Ethics (WRS 8581)
    • Seminar (WRS 8100)
  • Electives from the WRS approved list (see below for credit requirements)
  • Thesis or paper

For more information about electives, please visit the Twin Cities Courses page 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 32 credits
    • 13 credits of Core Coursework (see above)
    • At least 9 semester credits from the WRS Approved List of Electives
    • 10 credits of thesis work (WRS 8777) , which 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;
    • Thesis 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 will 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 to cover research ex­penses or an assistantship. Students in the Plan B option generally complete in less time, or at an individualized part-time pace.

  • Coursework: Plan B requires a minimum of 30 credits
    • 13 credits of Core Coursework (see above)
    • At least 17 semester credits from the WRS Approved List of Electives
      • Students are not required to register for any credits of Plan B work, but may count 3 semester credits of WRS 8095 (Plan B Project Research) toward their electives.
  • 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 will provide a copy of their Plan B project with the WRS Program Office after a successful final oral exam.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

  • 24 credits of Core Coursework equivalent to the WRS M.S. Limnology and Oceanography Track (see above)*
  • 24 doctoral thesis research credits

*At least 12 course credits must be taken at the University of Minnesota.  The 12 remaining credits can be transferred from a previous graduate degree or taken while in residence.

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.

Limnology & Oceanography Track (M.S. or Ph.D.) - Duluth

Limnology & Oceanography Track (M.S. or Ph.D.) - Duluth

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

Master of Science (M.S.)

  • Core Coursework
    • Limnology sequence (LIM 5010, 5011, 5012, and 5013)
    • Water Policy (CE 5201)

    • Ethics (WRS 8581)
    • Seminar (WRS 8100)
  • Electives from the WRS approved list (see below for credit requirements)
  • Thesis or paper

For more information about electives, please visit the Duluth Courses page 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 32 credits
    • 14 credits of Core Coursework (see above)
    • At least 8 semester credits from the WRS Approved List of Electives
    • 10 credits of thesis work (WRS 8777) , which 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;
    • Thesis 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 will 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 to cover research ex­penses or an assistantship. Students in the Plan B option generally complete in less time, or at an individualized part-time pace.

  • Coursework: Plan B requires a minimum of 30 credits
    • 14 credits of Core Coursework (see above)
    • At least 16 semester credits from the WRS Approved List of Electives
      • Students are not required to register for any credits of Plan B work, but may count 3 semester credits of WRS 8095 (Plan B Project Research) toward their electives.
  • 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 will provide a copy of their Plan B project with the WRS Program Office after a successful final oral exam.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

  • 24 credits of Core Coursework equivalent to the WRS M.S. Limnology and Oceanography Track (see above)*
  • 24 doctoral thesis research credits

*At least 12 course credits must be taken at the University of Minnesota.  The 12 remaining credits can be transferred from a previous graduate degree or taken while in residence.

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.

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.