On this page:

The basics

  • Interdisciplinary & interdepartmental (ATOC, CEAE, EBIO, ENVS, GEOG, & GEOL).
  • For science & engineering graduate students.
  • Intensive in math & physics, including fluid dynamics.
  • Graduate Certificate and PhD sub-plan offered.
  • Research Partners: CADSWES, CIRES, CWEST, INSTAAR, & other research units of CU-Boulder; NCAR, NEON, NOAA, & USGS.

Is this program right for me?

The CU-Boulder Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program focuses on quantitative studies of water in the environment including its role in geologic and biogeochemical processes, ecosystem functions, and global elemental cycling. The Program is interdisciplinary and interdepartmental. It is intended for currently enrolled science and engineering graduate students at CU.

The program is designed to encourage students with a variety of undergraduate backgrounds to enter the field. Nevertheless, all students in the program must have a substantial background in math and physics, including fluid dynamics. Deficiencies in one area can be addressed during the first year of the program.

Graduate Certificate or PhD sub-plan?

Students can choose to obtain a Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Certificate while concurrently obtaining a Master's or Ph.D. degree in an associated academic department. PhD students can also enroll in the Hydrologic Sciences sub-plan/specialization offered through their department. There are several research opportunities for collaboration with various departments and organization at CU and in the Boulder area. Prerequisites and course requirements are identical for the Graduate Certificate and PhD sub-plan. More info>>

The role of departments

The Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program complements existing departmental graduate programs. All Hydrologic Sciences students are University of Colorado students admitted through one of the participating departments. More info>>

Participating Departments

  • Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC)
  • Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering (CEAE)
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO)
  • Environmental Studies (ENVS)
  • Geography (GEOG)
  • Geological Sciences (GEOL)


The Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program is administered by the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR)  and the Center for Water, Earth Sciences, and Technology (CWEST).   Both units have a central mandate of research and graduate education. INSTAAR researchers discover and communicate the mechanisms that drive environmental change, especially across the planet’s cold regions. CWEST is a scientific and educational partnership that brings together the expertise and facilities of both the USGS and CU Boulder to advance our understanding of the planet’s earth and hydrologic systems. The center is housed at INSTAAR on CU’s east campus. One of CWEST’s key educational initiatives is the administration of the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program at the University of Colorado.