This is a named option within Civil and Environmental Engineering M.S.

The Water Resources Engineering master’s degree from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison teaches you the scientific and engineering skills to evaluate, plan, and operate water resource and environmental systems.

Our program takes just one year to complete, and focuses on a systems-based approach to managing water resources for societal benefit. You learn principles of water movement through the environment and understand how to best utilize it for municipal and industrial uses, agriculture, and natural ecosystems. You also solve practical problems in hydrology; fluid mechanics; environmental flows in rivers, lake, and coastal environments; and water resource management.

Build the expertise to analyze and design systems that control all aspects of the distribution of water to meet the needs of humans and improve natural resource management. You also analyze and solve scientific and engineering questions through field methods, laboratory experiments, remote-sensing techniques, numerical and statistical modeling, and analytic approaches.

With a master’s degree in Water Resources Engineering at UW–Madison, you develop strong quantitative skills in modeling, systems thinking, and sustainability science. Graduate ready to succeed in consulting firms, federal and state laboratories and agencies, and municipal and county governments, and place yourself at the forefront of rapidly developing and world-changing innovations.

Applicants must first meet all of the requirements of the Graduate School. Please visit this website for details.

Applicants must also meet department specific requirements as outlined below:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from an ABET-accredited engineering program or from a recognized international institution
  • Submit a 1,000 word or fewer statement of purpose; include your technical areas of interest, coursework emphasis, research experience, professional goals, faculty members you are interested in working with, and any other items relevant to your qualifications for graduate school
  • Submit three letters of recommendation
  • Non-native English speakers must have a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a score of 580 (written) or 92 (Internet version)
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for admission

Please do not mail paper copies of application materials. Upload the required application materials to the electronic Graduate School application, including a PDF copy of the most current transcripts. Applicants who are recommended for admission by the CEE Admissions Committee, will receive an e-mail with further instructions from the CEE Graduate Admissions Office, requesting official transcripts or other required application material.

Applicants should monitor the application status by visiting the “Graduate Application Status” window within your MyUW portal (information on this is received after submitting an application). You may need to activate a NetID to gain access to the MyUW portal.

Graduate Application Status will remain “pending” until recommendations are determined.  All applicants will receive an e-mail from the CEE Graduate Admissions Team with more details once the admission committees have made decisions.

Further questions related to the CEE admissions process may be directed to

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

Students in this program are not eligible for department funded opportunities in the form of teaching assistantship (TA), research assistantship (RA), or project assistantship (PA).

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No Yes

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement At least 50% of credits applied toward the graduate degree credit requirement must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

Required COURSES

This is a face-to-face, accelerated program:

  • 30 credit degree program
  • Complete the program in one academic year (fall, spring, summer)
  • Courses begin in fall semester only
  • Take 18 credits from the approved list of specialized courses; up to 6 credits of advanced independent study; 1-2 credits in a graduate student seminar; and up to 6 credits from a second discipline based on your career interests and faculty advisement

Typical curriculum in this program: 12 credits fall semester. 12 credits spring semester. 6 credits summer semester.

Course Options

CIV ENGR 410 Hydraulic Engineering3
CIV ENGR 411 Open Channel Hydraulics3
CIV ENGR 412 Groundwater Hydraulics3
CIV ENGR 414 Hydrologic Design3
CIV ENGR 415 Hydrology3
CIV ENGR 416 Water Resources Systems Analysis3
CIV ENGR 421 Environmental Sustainability Engineering3
CIV ENGR 423 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control3
CIV ENGR 426 Design of Wastewater Treatment Plants3
CIV ENGR 427 Solid and Hazardous Wastes Engineering3
CIV ENGR 428 Water Treatment Plant Design3
CIV ENGR 429 Environmental Systems Optimization3
CIV ENGR 500 Water Chemistry3
CIV ENGR 501 Water Analysis-Intermediate3
CIV ENGR 502 Environmental Organic Chemistry3
CIV ENGR 514 Coastal Engineering2-3
CIV ENGR 515 Hydroclimatology for Water Resources Management3
CIV ENGR 522 Hazardous Waste Management3
CIV ENGR 618 Special Topics in Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics1-3
CIV ENGR 619 Special Topics in Hydrology1-3
CIV ENGR/​SOIL SCI  623 Microbiology of Waterborne Pathogens and Indicator Organisms3
CIV ENGR 700 Chemistry of Natural Waters3
CIV ENGR/​ATM OCN  701 The Chemistry of Air Pollution2
CIV ENGR 703 Environmental Geochemistry3
CIV ENGR 704 Environmental Chemical Kinetics3
CIV ENGR 716 Statistical Modelling of Hydrologic Systems3
CIV ENGR 721 Biological Principles of Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR 722 Chemical Principles of Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR 723 Energy Principles of Environmental Engineering3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  732 Unsaturated Soil Geoengineering3
CIV ENGR 821 Environmental Engineering: Biological Treatment Processes3-4
CIV ENGR 822 Environmental Engineering: Physical/Chemical Treatment Process3-4
G L E/​GEOSCI  594 Introduction to Applied Geophysics3
G L E/​GEOSCI  627 Hydrogeology3-4
G L E/​GEOSCI  629 Contaminant Hydrogeology3
G L E/​GEOSCI  724 Groundwater Flow Modeling3
MICROBIO/​SOIL SCI  425 Environmental Microbiology3

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Approved credits will be allowed to count toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement and the minimum graduate coursework requirement, but will not count toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, no more than 7 credits of coursework numbered 300 or higher from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count only toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison special student toward the Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement, and the Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement; those courses numbered 700 or above may be applied toward the Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.


Students in the accelerated MS (named options) are not eligible for department funded opportunities.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty: Professors Noyce (chair), Adams, Bahia, Cramer, Feigl, Hanna, Harrington, Holloway, Hurley, Karthikeyan, Lee, Likos, Long, McMahon, Noguera, Park, Parra-Montesinos (director), Pedersen, Potter, Ran, Russell, Schauer, Wu; Associate Professors Ahn, Fratta, Hurley, Loheide, Pincheira, Tinjum; Assistant Professors Block, Gadikota, Ginder-Vogel, Hedegaard, Hicks, Prabhakar, Remucal, Sone, Wang, Wright. See also CEE faculty.

Geological Engineering Faculty: Professors Likos (director) (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Anderson (Geoscience), Bahr (Geoscience), Feigl (Geoscience), Goodwin (Geoscience), Holloway (Nelson Institute), Thurber (Geoscience), Tikoff (Geoscience), Tobin (Geoscience), Wang (Geoscience), Wu (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Associate Professors Fratta (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Loheide (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Tinjum (Engineering Professional Development); Assistant Professors Cardiff (Geoscience), Ginder-Vogel (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Hicks (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Sone (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Zoet (Goscience); Affiliate Professors Kung (Soil Science), Lowery (Soil Science), Plesha (Engineering Physics), Potter (Civil and Environmental Engineering). See also GLE faculty.

Environmental Chemisty and Technology: Professors Hurley (director) (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Bertram (Chemistry),  Bleam (Soil Science), Ginder-Vogel (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Gadikota (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Harrington (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Karthikeyan (Biological Systems Engineering), McMahon (Civil and Environmental Engineering/Bacteriology), Pedersen (Soil Science), Remucal (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Roden (Geoscience), Root (Chemical and Biological Engineering), Schauer (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Thompson (Biological Systems Engineering). See also ECT Faculty.