The basics

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

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.

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.

Students are members of the broader CU-Boulder Geophysical Sciences Program, which has two specialization options: Solid-Earth Geophysics and Hydrologic Sciences.

PhD Degree or Graduate Certificate?

Students can choose to enroll for a full Hydrologic Sciences PhD Degree or obtain a Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Certificate while concurrently obtaining a Master's or Ph.D. degree in an associated academic department. Prerequisites and course requirements are identical for the PhD Degree and Graduate Certificate. 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

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


Students should apply for admission into the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program following admission by their chosen department. At the time of acceptance, the student will be informed of any undergraduate deficiencies that they will need to address within the first year in the Program. More info


Five courses are required: 2 core courses from four main topical areas and 3 additional courses from an approved list. More info

Research projects

Most Hydrologic Sciences students conduct research with participating departments, research institutes and centers (eg. INSTAAR ), or partner government agency labs in the Boulder area (eg. USGS and NOAA). More info


Graduate student Kim Raby (ENVS & INSTAAR) collects water quality samples in Cunningham Gulch outside of Silverton, Colorado, August 2004. An EPA study used water quality as an indicator of ecosystem health, with data subsequently fed into a scientifically based decision support tool for county land-use planners and resource managers. Photo: Susan Padgett (CU Denver).


Site built and hosted by INSTAAR