Master of Science

Most prospective students who do not already have an M.S. degree will apply into the M.S. Degree Program. Students without an M.S. who wish to apply directly to the Ph.D. program may do so, but are advised to consult with the faculty HWR&EFM representative first. Students who are admitted to the M.S. program can later apply to the Ph.D. degree program through a relatively informal application process.

M.S. Degree Plan

M.S. students in the Hydrology, Water Resources & Environmental Fluid Mechanics program can opt for one of several degree plans as prescribed by Departmental rules. The Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department offers two types of Master of Science degrees, Plan I and Plan II. Plan I includes a written thesis, with reduced coursework. Plans II(a) and II(b) focus on coursework with the option of including up to two semesters of independent study.

  • Plan I (Thesis Option):
    This degree requires 24 hours of course credits and 6 hours of thesis credits. Usually, this translates into 8 courses (most courses are worth 3 credits), and research leading to a Master of Science thesis. Plan I degrees can only be pursued under the direct supervision of a research advisor, and students must formally defend the thesis. This option gives the student experience in the research process including writing and potentially publishing a research paper.
  • Plan IIa (Coursework Option):
    This degree requires a total of 30 credits. The thirty credits may be obtained by taking ten three-credit courses. This plan typically offers a potentially faster route to an M.S. degree with a wider variety of coursework.
  • Plan IIb (Report Option):
    This degree also requires 30 credits, but up to 6 credits of independent study may be included towards the 30-credit requirement. An independent study usually includes research leading to a report (a "mini-thesis") completed under the guidance of a faculty member. This degree plan is the least common of the three.

Doing research for a Master of Science thesis or independent study may not be possible for all students admitted to the program. If you are interested in doing a thesis or independent study, you should do a number of things: (1) get to know the faculty in the program, (2) do well in your classes, and (3) express your enthusiasm for doing research with faculty whose research areas interest you. While it is rare for incoming Master's students to be offered research assistantships, most M.S. students who are interested in doing research are able to associate themselves with some kind of paid research project during their time here.

M.S. Course Requirements

All M.S. students, regardless of degree plan, are subject to the following coursework requirements. We sometimes make exceptions to these requirements when a student's research or interests would benefit. All exceptions must be approved in writing by the student's academic advisor. Courses in which a student receives a C+ grade or below may not be counted towards a degree plan. More details on course requirements and availability can be found on the student advising guide document.

Analytical Skills (6 credits)
CVEN 5537: Numerical Methods in Civil Engineering
CVEN 5454: Statistical Methods in Civil Engineering

Core Content (9 credits)
CVEN 5313: Environmental Fluid Mechanics
CVEN 5333: Physical Hydrology
CVEN 5353: Groundwater Hydrology

Modeling Skills (3 credits)
The following courses can be used towards this requirement:
CVEN 5343: Transport and Dispersion in Surface Water
CVEN 5363: Modeling of Hydrologic Systems
CVEN 5383: Groundwater Modeling
CVEN 6383: Flow and Transport through Porous Media

Advanced Skills (3 credits)
One CVEN 6000-level course, or an advisor-approved 5000-level course from outside the CEAE Department.

Electives (9 credits, must be approved by your advisor)
Plan I: 3 coursework credits plus 6 credits for MS thesis
Plan IIa: 9 coursework credits
Plan IIb: 6 coursework credits plus 3 credits for MS report

Graduate Seminar
M.S. students are required to register for two semesters of CVEN 6393, the Graduate Seminar, and must make at least one seminar presentation. Note that the seminar credits cannot be used as Elective credits, and thus do not directly contribute towards your M.S. degree.

Graduate Certificate in Engineering for Developing Communities (EDC)

Students wishing to obtain a graduate certificate in Engineering for Developing Communities (EDC) in conjunction with their M.S. in Hydrology, Water Resources & Environmental Fluid Mechanics must fulfill the M.S. course requirements listed above in addition to the following four courses that are required for the EDC certificate:

CVEN 5919: Sustainable Community Development I
CVEN 5929: Sustainable Community Development II
CVEN 5939: Sustainable Community Development Field Practicum
ATLS 5250: Practitioner Fieldwork Methods

These courses do not count toward the modeling skills, advanced skills, or elective courses required for the M.S. in Hydrology, Water Resources & Environmental Fluid Mechanics.
Although the above description provides general guidelines, graduate students who need to take courses relevant to their areas of research are allowed some flexibility in their course plans with the approval of their advisors and graduate committees.


Doctor of Philosophy

Students who apply to the Ph.D. program typically already have an M.S. degree, or are currently enrolled in an M.S. degree program. Students without an M.S. who wish to apply directly to the Ph.D. program may do so, but are advised to consult first with the faculty HWR&EFM representative first.

Ph.D. Course Requirements

In accordance with Graduate School rules, a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework at the 5000-level or above is required for the Ph.D. degree. Courses taken prior to enrollment in the Ph.D. program may be transferred as follows:
Up to 15 credit hours of 5000-level or above course work may be transferred from another institution and applied toward the 30-hour minimum coursework requirement (even if those credit hours were counted towards another degree).
For a student who obtained an M.S. degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder, up to 21 credit hours of 5000-level or above coursework may be transferred (even if those credit hours were counted towards the M.S. degree).

Preliminary Examination

After students in the Ph.D. program have completed their core coursework, all Ph.D. candidates must take the Preliminary Examination. The goal of the Preliminary Exam is to determine if the candidate is adequately prepared to pursue a Ph.D. degree, and to identify subject matter areas in which additional study may be needed. The student must pass this examination in order to continue in the Ph.D. program.
The Preliminary Exam is a written test of the knowledge you have accumulated through M.S.-level course work. The Preliminary Exam is a three-day, open-book, closed-colleague exam. The exam is typically offered once a year, during the week prior to the start of classes in the Fall. The exam consists of five questions, each corresponding to one course in the graduate program. Students can choose the questions on which they which to be tested, subject to the following requirements:

Methods (must include at least one of the following)
CVEN 5537: Numerical Methods in Civil Engineering
CVEN 5454: Probability and Statistical Methods for Natural and Engineered Systems

Core Content (must include at least two of the following)
CVEN 5313 Environmental Fluid Mechanics
CVEN 5333 Hydrology
CVEN 5353 Groundwater Hydrology
The remaining two courses can be based on graduate courses of your choosing, subject to approval by your advisor and the group faculty. You must select these subject areas for the preliminary exam and convey these selections to the preliminary exam administrator one month before the exam.

The written test will be graded on the following basis for the five committee members' questions: satisfactory = 2, marginal = 1, and poor = 0. A total grade of 8 or better, with no individual scores of "0", is required to pass the preliminary exam unconditionally. If you score 6 or 7 points on your written exam, you will be required to retake all questions on which you scored less than 2 (and the retake must be on the same topics). If you score fewer than 6 points on the written exam, you must retake the entire exam, in which case you are free to change the chosen topics. A second sub-passing grade (fewer than 6 points) on the preliminary exam would result in a request that you discontinue the Ph.D. program.

All dissertations involve: (i) a Preliminary Examination, (ii) a Comprehensive Examination, and (iii) a Dissertation Defense. Dissertation credit hour requirements and examination details can be found in the Advising Guide Document.