General Information for All WRS Students


Graduate School registration policy requires all students to register every fall and spring term to maintain active status.  Students not enrolled are automatically discontinued from their program after 2 weeks after the start of the term (fall and spring terms only).  Register before the first day of each term to avoid a late registration fee

Full-time registration is 6-14 credits. Registration information, including dates and deadlines can be found online (Twin Cities or Duluth).

Degree Requirements and Courses
The Degree Requirements page outlines the courses you will need to take to fulfill your program. If you are enrolled in the Limnology and Oceanography track, skip directly to the tab for your campus. For more information about electives, please visit the Twin Cities Courses page or the Duluth Courses page

What if All My Coursework is Complete?
You have two registration options if you've completed all coursework - GRAD 999 or Advanced Status. Please read the following thoroughly to decide which is right for you.

GRAD 999
For students who have completed all coursework and thesis credit requirements and do not have to be registered to meet any other internal/external agency registration requirement (e.g., students who do not hold RA or TA positions with the University), the Graduate School offers Grad 999 – a zero-credit, zero-tuition non-graded registration mechanism. Students do not need to complete any paperwork or acquire a permission number to register. There is, however, a four semester limit for enrollment in Grad 999.

Advanced Status
The Office of the Registrar and the Graduate School have developed procedures that permit eligible Advanced Master’s and Doctoral candidates to be certified as “full-time” students when registered for only one credit. Faculty advisors and the Co-DGS on your campus will affirm that each student is working full-time on the thesis or dissertation. These courses are intended only for advanced Master’s and Doctoral students who have a GDP on file, have completed all their program coursework and required thesis credits, but are still working full-time on the research or writing of their thesis or dissertation. Students who plan to register for Advanced Status need to apply well in advance of the term they plan to register and must file the application every semester they intend to utilize the benefit. Watch for emails from the WRS Program Coordinator for deadlines.

More details about GRAD 999 and Advanced Status can be found here.


Credits from a minor can fulfill your electives. Talk with the Graduate Program Coordinator before you Request to Add a Minor with GSSP.

Graduate Degree Plan 

Students need to document their coursework and other details of their graduate program. It is the coursework contract between you and the University.

  • M.S. candidates, before the end of the second semester, or after completion of 15 credits, whichever comes first.
  • Ph.D. students, during the third semester of study.

TWIN CITIES STUDENTS: The WRS program is now live on GPAS (Graduate Planning and Audit System).  The University has put together a guide for completing the GPAS planner and a tool to walk you through understanding the degree audit.  Both can be found online.  

DULUTH STUDENTS:  The Graduate Degree Plan Form is available online (.pdf). You should fill out the form as completely as possible in consultation with your advisor, who must approve and sign it.

  • Include the academic term, course number and title, number of credits, and grade (if known) for each course.
  • Be sure to include WRS core courses and electives (and minor, if relevant). Calculate the total number of major credits at the bottom of the page. There are no longer "Other" credits for WRS.
  • Courses taken for graduate credit elsewhere that are to be officially transferred should be listed on the first page of the GDP. Indicate the school where the courses were taken and attach a copy of appropriate transcripts.
  • Do not list any courses you took as an undergraduate. If you wish to fulfill core course requirements with undergraduate courses, discuss this with the Co-DGS. These courses taken as an undergraduate may fulfill a WRS core requirement, however, you will still need to take enough WRS elective courses to meet the degree credit requirements.
  • Indicate any required thesis credits (10 credits of WRS 8777 for an M.S. Plan A and 24 credits of WRS 8888 for a Ph.D.) on the first page, rather than listing these in the coursework section.

The Co-DGS reviews all degree plans to ensure compliance with Graduate School and program requirements and to provide a quality control check for the program. It is not unusual for the Co-DGS to contact you or your advisor for clarification of information you supply. The Co-DGS may make technical corrections to the plan without consulting the student. After the form is reviewed and approved by the Co-DGS, a copy is retained for your file, and the form is transmitted to the Graduate School. Once students receive the approved plan from the Graduate School, they should supply a copy to their advisor.


After approval by the Graduate School, the GDP or GPAS becomes your official program, and all items listed must be fulfilled before your degree will be awarded. However, your GDP/GPAS may be revised by submitting a petition, if your proposed change is considered desirable. Petition forms may be found online (.pdf).


Academic records need to be at a satisfactory level before you can graduate. Overall GPA of courses included on the Graduate Degree Plan must be a minimum of 3.0 for doctoral students or 2.8 for master's students. Major field GPA must be a minimum 3.0. Minor GPA must be a minimum of 2.8.

Annual Student Review

The Graduate School requires annual evaluations of all graduate students. You will complete the electronic WRS Annual Student Review form annually in March, which provides a brief self-evaluation and report of accomplishments, and discuss this form with your advisor(s). Watch for an email from the WRS Program Coordinator during Spring Semester.

After submitting the review form online, your advisor(s) will review the form and provide a brief summary assessment either on the form or in a separate e-mail to the Co-DGS. The information you provide will allow us to assess support of students and also enable us to highlight your accomplishments in Graduate School reports and in other efforts to promote the program. These evaluations should also serve to provide feedback on milestones and help ensure timely completion of your degree.

Failure to complete the annual review will result in a hold on your record, impeding your summer and fall registration. You should be sure to keep a copy of your annual review, as it will facilitate completing the form for the next year and may also be useful in resume and job application assembly.

Travel Grants

Students in the WRS graduate program can apply for grants to help defray their travel expenses for attending regional, national, or international conferences (up to $1,000 annually). Other requests for professional development may be considered if funds are available. Click here for eligibility and access to the application.

Time Limit for Degree Completion

Petitions for a one-year time extension may be submitted to the Graduate School (via the WRS Graduate Program Coordinator). No more than two, one-year petitions will be considered.

Leave of Absence

WRS students are expected to maintain active status through continuous registration from the time they matriculate until they graduate. Students who are not able to maintain active status are strongly encouraged to consult with their Director of Graduate Studies and advisor to determine whether requesting a leave of absence is the most appropriate course of action. Students who do not have an approved leave of absence and are not continuously enrolled may experience negative consequences related to academic, visa, financial aid, and other student issues.  Click here for more information and to find the necessary forms.

Mental Health

The University of Minnesota takes your mental health very seriously.  There is help for you if you need it.  Do not hesitate to contact your faculty advisor or the WRS Program Coordinator or the Student Counseling Services on your campus (Twin Cities  |  Duluth).

Grievance Policy

Any grievances should be resolved through consultation with your advisor. Should a matter not be resolved at this point, or should the issue be inappropriate for discussion with your advisor, you should consult with the Co-DGS. For employment and departmental issues, consulting the head of the department in which you are housed may be more appropriate. If the Co-DGS or department head is not able to resolve the grievance, they may direct you to the Student Conflict Resolution Center.


You must be a student with active status to graduate. You can maintain active status by registering each fall and spring semester. Thoroughly review the Graduation Checklist for Graduate Students webpage. Follow these instructions carefully; everything must be completed, including payment of copyright and abstract fees, before you can graduate. You should notify the WRS Program Coordinator at least two weeks in advance of your defense with the time, location, and title of your defense presentation, as well as an abstract.

Exit Interview

You will receive an electronic Exit Interview form from the WRS Program Coordinator to gather your opinion of the program. You will also be asked for your updated employment and contact information to maintain our Recent Graduates web page.

Thesis Copies

Follow Graduate School requirements for electronic submission. Students also must submit an electronic copy of their dissertation, thesis, or Plan B project to the WRS Program Coordinator.

Are You New to WRS?

Information relevant only to new students can be found here.

Get Involved!

Meet other graduate students and make a difference.

  • Water Resources Students in Action - everyone's welcome to help organize social events to encourage camaraderie, academic events to promote water-related research on campus, and participatory events to engage with the community.
  • CFANS Graduate Student Board - two students on the Twin Cities campus represent WRS to the college administration.
  • Council of Graduate Students - an M.S. and Ph.D. student represents WRS on the official governing body representing all graduate students at the University of Minnesota. 
  • Boreas Leadership Program - offered by the Institute on the Environment.