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Arctic Studies Certificate


The Department of Geography offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate in arctic studies, in collaboration with the Program in Nordic Studies (SCAN), the Program in Russian Studies (RUSS), the International Affairs Program (IAFS), the Department of Environmental Studies (ENVS), the Department of Anthropology (ANTH), the Department of Ethnic Studies (ETHN) and the research entities of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR).

Certificate Intent

This certificate prepares students to address pressing environmental, political and cultural issues in the far north. A laboratory for studying the effects of global climate change, the arctic region spans three continents, with territories in Canada, Greenland (Denmark), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States. Its population exhibits considerable ethnic, linguistic, and sociopolitical diversity, and contains numerous indigenous peoples. Issues as critical as nationalism, territorial rights and law, security, economic development and resource technology place the arctic at the center of global, regional and national interests. Further, the region’s natural and social characteristics have inspired influential and enduring expressive culture—produced by locals and outsiders—from antiquity to the present.

These features make study of the arctic ideal for students pursuing careers in international politics and diplomacy, indigenous rights, environmental science and climate change, humanistic scholarship or creative work.  Students pursuing the Arctic Studies certificate may be eligible for a paid internship at the CIRES National Snow and Ice Data Center.  Contact Mistia Zuckerman if interested.

The primary contact for the Arctic Studies certificate is Distinguished Professor Mark Serreze

For more information, see Program Requirements and Contact Info.

GIS Certificate


Geographic Information Scientists (GIScientists) have an ongoing concern with the collection, analysis and display of high precision spatial data. The Department of Geography (GEOG) and the Department of Computer Science (CSCI) are offering a joint undergraduate certificate in GIS and Computational Science. The program draws upon faculty expertise in both departments, providing interdisciplinary training in spatial data analysis and computation, both of which characterize GIS in most career paths.  Computational geospatial skills are in high demand on campus and in local, regional and national job markets such as government employment, industry or consulting careers, and graduate school. The certificate is available for all majors and may be of particular interest for students in other earth science disciplines and social science disciplines.  Non-matriculated students may enroll at CU through Continuing Education and once admitted, may apply for the certificate.

Certificate Intent

The undergraduate certificate in GIS and Computational Science will teach students to identify, analyze and understand spatial patterns, with an emphasis on computation and analytical problem solving.  Required coursework in GIS, basic statistics, and basic programming, coupled with advanced electives in GIScience will give students the computational knowledge and skills to tackle society’s important and pressing environmental problems. The interdisciplinary nature of the certificate introduces students to the special characteristics (scale dependence, spatial autocorrelation) that complicate spatial data analysis, and offers additional programming skills relative to the basic GIS concentration. The computational emphasis will also increase students’ competitive edge in the job market and when applying to graduate school. 

The primary contact for the GIS Certificate is Sarah Schlosser.

For more information, see: Program Requirements and Contact Info

Hydrology Certificate


Hydrology is the study of water storage and movement in the Earth system, including the effects of hydrologic fluxes on the distribution of energy, chemicals and sediments.

Students may take the courses at any time during their undergraduate program, completing them by their last semester.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Use a holistic approach to understand the hydrologic spatial connections and interactions between the physical and human environment.
  • Use sound, defensible and rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze and interpret hydrologic data in a meaningful way.
  • Articulate these findings to various audiences in a respectful and professional manner.

Required Classes for a Hydrology Certificate in Geography


  • GEOG 3511 (4) - The Water Cycle (previously named "Introdiction to Hydrology")
  • GEOG 3023 (4) - Statistics and Geographic Data

Required Courses

Three of the following GEOG courses:
  • GEOG 3601 (3) - Principles of Climate
    • ATOC/ENVS 3600 - Principles of Climate
  • GEOG 4201 (3) - Biometeorology
    • ENVS 4201 - Biometeorology
  • GEOG 4241 (4) - Principles of Geomorphology
    • GEOL 4241 - Principles of Geomorphology
  • GEOG 4251 (4) - River Systems and Landforms
  • GEOG 4321 (3-4) - Snow Hydrology
  • GEOG 4501 (3) - Water Issues in the American West (previously named "Water Resources and Water Management of Western United States")
Three additional courses from outside the GEOG department:
  • CVEN 3434 (3) - Introduction to Applied Ecology
    • ENVS 3434 - Introduction to Applied Ecology
  • EBIO 4030 (3) - Limnology
  • EBIO 4100 (3) - Advanced Ecology [special topic: "Lake and Stream Ecology"]
  • EBIO 4155 (3) - Ecosystem Ecology
    • ENVS 4155 - Ecosystem Ecology
  • EBIO 4160 (3) - Introduction to Biogeochemistry
    • ENVS/GEOL 4160 - Introduction to Biogeochemistry
  • GEOL 3030 (3) - Introduction to Hydrogeology

Contact Peter Blanken, Katherine Lininger, or Elizabeth Pike if you have questions or wish to discuss specific courses not listed here that may be acceptable substitutes for the classes listed above.

Course Recommendation

There is no course sequencing. Courses can be taken in any order. However, we strongly suggest that Introduction to Hydrology and Statistics be taken before the senior-level courses.

Lower Division Science Courses. Students who are trying to position themselves for a career in hydrology or related disciplines are encouraged to take lower division courses in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. However, these courses are not required either as prerequistes for the courses or for the hydrology certificate.