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Water Resources Science & Management Graduate Certificate


Water is an important resource for maintaining the health and integrity of our natural and social systems.  Sustainable water management requires an understanding of the water system and the impacts our decisions about water have on populations, economies, and ecosystems.

Who should pursue this certificate?

This certificate is a 9-credit graduate program open to students from all colleges and disciplines who are interested in freshwater resources.

Through this program, students will develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the physical, social, and cultural drivers that shape how water is managed within the larger environmental and human landscape.  Those completing this certificate will emerge with the breadth of knowledge required to think critically about water issues.

Students earning this certificate will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the interdisciplinary and often co-evolving science and policy advances for addressing freshwater issues.
  • Utilize fundamentals of the physical sciences to broadly understand the hydrologic cycle and how human management of water influences this cycle.
  • Display knowledge of the social, legal, and institutional environment surrounding water resources and management.
  • Broaden their professional and social networks to enhance their disciplinary understanding of water and water management.

Important Updates & Information

The Fall 2023 WRSM Certificate Meeting is TBD

Please check back for the meeting date.


WRSM Certificate Listserv

Join the WRSM listserv for updates and to learn about opportunities to fulfill your experiential requirements.  You can subscribe here. Please find the list name “wrsm_undergrad” from the pull-down menu. You must confirm your subscription, so watch for a confirmation email.

Certificate Requirements

Certificate requirements include the following:

    • Complete 9 credits of coursework within a core curriculum of freshwater-related classes spanning four major themes:
        1. Subsurface and Surface Hydrology
        2. Water Chemistry / Ecology / Biology
        3. Water Methods & Analysis
        4. Water Policy & Management
    • Complete a set of Experiential Requirements

Water Research Center Events Calendar

To find seminars that may count towards your experiential requirement, you can check out the WRC events calendar.

Course Requirements

All graduate students participating in this certificate program will be required to complete a minimum of 9 credit hours by taking at least one course from the three water cluster areas not identified by the student as their primary focal area.

A list of certificate course options can be found here.  Other course requirements are as follows:

  • To ensure an interdisciplinary experience, the classes chosen by the student must represent at least two different academic units.
  • Some courses may be listed under more than one cluster area.  Classes cannot count towards two cluster areas simultaneously.  Students must take a different course in each cluster area.  Additionally, the classes chosen by the student must represent at least two different academic units.
  • A minimum grade of 2.0 will need to be achieved for the course to count as progress towards completing the certificate, and a minimum grade of 3.0 must be maintained for the program.
  • Students can seek approval to take classes that are not included in the course list but have a freshwater focus and fall within one of the four cluster areas.  To discuss class alternatives please email before you enroll in the course.

Experiential Requirements

In addition to the course component, students must complete three water-related activities.

Required activities:

1.  Attend One Water Meeting and Social. These are held Fall and Spring semesters.  They are in-person and virtual for Global Campus students.

2.  Attend One Water Seminar per Year (in-person or virtual) and Summarize the Experience. Students must attend one freshwater research seminar per year and submit the required documentation to meet this requirement.

Seminar requirements:

      • It must be a research talk and be freshwater focused;
      • The lecture must be outside of your regular classes – a class lecture does not count; and
      • It can be from within or outside of WSU.  Seminars are posted on the WRC events calendar or you can find other opportunities.

Seminar documentation: Please submit a one-page summary of the talk you attended (in your own words), along with the title, presenter’s name, date of the event, and whether it was in-person or virtual.  Please email this documentation to

3.  Other activities (must complete one):

    • Capstone class: SOE 535 Interdisciplinary Water Resources Science and Management, is a 3-credit interdisciplinary course designed to explicitly provide students with an overview and broad understanding of the complex freshwater issues that exist and the policy and science required to manage them.  Offered spring semesters.
    • Water-related internship: Students looking for a more practical, hands-on experience have the option of completing an internship that relates to freshwater science or policy. (E.g., through the PNNL-WRC SULI Program or other water-related internship opportunity; 135 hrs (3 credits) required)

Admission Requirements

  • Graduate students from any department or college are eligible to participate in this certificate program and must apply with the Registrar.
  • Other applicants must meet the existing admission standards for non-degree seeking students.
  • Students can apply during any phase of their training, as long as they have sufficient time to meet all of the requirements.
  • Interested individuals will need to submit a letter of support from their major advisor along with a copy of their most recent transcript and other relevant academic information to be admitted into the program.
  • Upon admission, students will be required to identify which water cluster area (Subsurface and Surface Hydrology, Water Chemistry/Ecology/Biology, Water Methods & Analysis, or Water Policy & Management) their proposed research most closely aligns with. This will be recorded as their “primary focal area”

You can learn more about the program on the WSU Graduate School Degree Program page.

Awarding the Certificate

At least one semester before the semester of their expected graduation, a student must:

  • Submit an exit application to the School of the Environment verifying that all requirements have been, or will be met before they graduate.  Certificate of Completion fees may apply as dictated by the WSU Registrar’s Office.

At the beginning of the semester a student plans to graduate, they must:

  1. Apply for the certificate using MyWSU and Student Center. This will notify the Registrar’s Office to confer the certificate.
  2. Email Denise Hopkins <> so she can complete the appropriate certification forms. A one-time certificate processing fees will be assessed by the Registrar’s Office.

Certificate Program Contact Information

This certificate is housed in the WSU School of the Environment and managed with support from the State of Washington Water Research Center to deliver an interdisciplinary overview of water resources science and management. Questions about the certificate program should be directed to the Certificate Committee Chair