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.

PhD Degree vs. Graduate Certificate

The PhD Degree is for PhD students formally accepted in the Hydrologic Sciences PhD Degree Program while the Graduate Certificate is for PhD or Masters students obtaining their degrees from a participating department. For example, to be well-prepared for their future careers, students may choose to obtain a Ph.D. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering or in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a Graduate Certificate in Hydrologic Sciences. Prerequisites and course requirements are identical.

The Graduate Certificate offers a coherent curriculum in Hydrologic Sciences that can complement and supplement a student's regular degree program. The Graduate Certificate allows 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. After completion of the approved curriculum, the student will request a Graduate Certificate and one of the co-directors will generate a letter to the appropriate department head and Dean. The certificate will be awarded only upon completion 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 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.

Degree requirements

  • Completion with a grade of B or better in all Hydrologic Sciences required courses (and any courses taken to remedy deficiencies)
  • Completion of degree requirements for graduate degree within the student's home department.

Additional requirements for Hydrologic Sciences PhD Degree:

  • Successful completion of Preliminary and/or Comprehensive Examinations, as required by the home department.
  • Successful completion of the Dissertation defense.

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.

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.


Graduate student Matthew Miller (CEAE & INSTAAR) augers while fellow students Rose Cory (CEAE & INSTAAR) and Eileen Gardner (EEB & INSTAAR) supervise, Nymph Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, March 2003. The group was sampling lake water and sediment for Cory's work on seasonal changes in the chemistry and redox state of dissolved organic matter. The details of such changes and the microbial use of iron have implications for eutrophication and other aquatic processes as well as for remediation technology. Photo: R. Cory (CEAE & INSTAAR). j


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