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Water Resources Management

Administrative Unit:Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
College/School: Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Admitting Plans:M.S.
Degrees Offered:M.S.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor


The Water Resources Management Program (WRM) is an interdisciplinary graduate program leading to a master of science (M.S.) degree in water resources management. The program addresses the complex, interdisciplinary aspects of managing water resources by helping students integrate the biological and physical sciences (which identify and measure problems) with engineering (which defines technological alternatives) as well as law and the social sciences (which assess needs and potential for institutional response). Through the WRM program, a student gains breadth in relevant planning and management areas while developing depth in an area specialty.

The water resources management degree is designed to prepare students for employment as water resources management professionals. Rather than conduct individual research projects, WRM students participate in a summer group research practicum with a water resources management focus. Students who wish to add individual research credentials to their records frequently arrange to complete a second, simultaneous master's program in one of the university's traditional departments. Those interested primarily in individual research may wish to consider the Nelson Institute's Environment and Resources Program as an alternative. The WRM program does not offer a doctoral degree.

Any person with an undergraduate or graduate degree in the biological sciences, earth sciences, economics, education, engineering, history, journalism, landscape architecture, law, mathematics, physical science, political science, urban and regional planning, or other suitable field may apply for admission to the WRM program.

Two options are available. All applicants should apply for the regular 45-credit option, which provides depth in an area specialty in addition to breadth in resource management and planning. The alternate option (30 to 44 credits) is for those who have at least three years of pertinent professional experience or for those advanced students who already have a related master's degree prior to entering the program; either such candidate may appeal for the alternate option based on their background. The alternate option, also known as the reduced-credit option, can be pursued with the consultation of one's faculty advisory committee once that candidate is enrolled in the program. The candidate's advisory committee and the program chairperson make the final determination as to whether or not the alternate option is appropriate. No thesis is required for either option, but every WRM student must complete the 2-credit spring planning seminar and the associated 4-credit summer practicum.


Application materials for Water Resources Management must be received by December 15 for admission to the following summer session or fall semester and by October 15 for admission to the following spring semester.

For more information: Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Academic Programs Office, 70 Science Hall, 550 N Park St, Madison WI 53706-1491; 608-262-7996; fax 608-262-2273; grad@nelson.wisc.edu; nelson.wisc.edu/graduate/water-resources-management/index.php.