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In light of the growing awareness of water's fundamental role in the global ecosystem and increasing local and global pressures on water, the need for broadly trained hydrologic experts is urgent.

See our Overview for basic information on this graduate student program.

Graduate Certificate vs. PhD Sub-Plan

The Graduate Certificate is for Masters or PhD students obtaining their degrees from a participating department. For example, to be well-prepared for their future careers, students may choose to obtain a Masters degree in Geography and a Graduate Certificate in Hydrologic Sciences. The PhD sub-plan is for PhD students in participating departments (ATOC, ENVS, GEOG, GEOL) formally accepted in the Hydrologic Sciences Program. Prerequisites and course requirements are identical.

The Graduate Certificate and PhD sub-plan offer a coherent curriculum in Hydrologic Sciences that can complement and supplement a student's regular degree program. Both allow students to obtain recognition for their accomplishments in hydrologic sciences and demonstrates the quantitative multi-disciplinary education desired by many prospective employers. After admission into the Hydrologic Sciences Program, one of the co-Directors and the student's advisor will approve a student's planned curriculum as meeting the requirements for the certificate or sub-plan. Recognition of the Hydrologic Sciences certificate or the sub-plan will be awarded only upon completion of the approved curriculum and of a graduate degree.


Required before admittance. Can be completed before or after acceptance to a participating department. More info>>

Undergraduate prerequisites

All students entering the program are expected to have advanced-level knowledge of mathematics, i.e. calculus through linear algebra and differential equations, and general knowledge of physics, including fluid dynamics. APPM 2360 and one of several fluid mechanics prerequisite courses can be taken either for a grade or pass/fail at CU Boulder satisfies this math prerequisite.

In addition, students interested in the physical aspects of hydrologic sciences are expected to have advanced-level knowledge of physics (mechanics and thermodynamics), and some background in Earth science and general chemistry.

In addition, students interested in the chemical aspects of hydrologic sciences are expected to have advanced-level knowledge of chemistry (organic and physical chemistry), and some background in Earth science.

In addition, students interested in the biological or ecological aspects of hydrologic sciences are expected to have an advanced-level knowledge of ecology, and some background in Earth science and general chemistry.

Students may also have to satisfy specific undergraduate prerequisites of the home department.


Because of the varied undergraduate backgrounds of students entering the program, it is expected that many students will have to improve their overall breadth and depth of understanding in certain subjects related to their research.

At the time of acceptance into the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program, the student will be informed of any undergraduate deficiencies that they will need to address within the first year in the program. Missing courses can be made up prior to starting the program or after enrollment during the first year of the program. Credit towards a graduate degree will not be given for courses taken to make up for deficiencies. The student's graduate committee may also decide whether there are any additional deficiencies and whether they should be counted towards the degree.

Certificate/Sub-plan requirements

  • Completion with a grade of B or better in all Hydrologic Sciences required courses.
  • Completion of degree requirements for graduate degree within the student's home department.

Additional requirements for Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Certificate:

  • Thesis topic includes substantial use of hydrologic science. Thesis committee includes at least one Hydrologic Sciences faculty member.

Additional requirements for Hydrologic Sciences PhD sub-plan:

  • Thesis committee includes at least two Hydrologic Sciences faculty members.
  • Successful completion of Preliminary and/or Comprehensive Examinations, as required by the home department.
  • Successful completion of the Dissertation defense.

Students are referred to the document "Graduate School Checklist for Graduation and Other Helpful Information" and the University Catalog for general information on requirements for their degree. In case of a conflict between those documents and the requirements stated here, the rules of the Graduate School apply.


Primary supervision of the student's research may be provided by any faculty member approved by the department