student testing water

Water Resources Management

Contacts: Anita Thompson (Professor and Chair); Jim Miller (Graduate Advisor), (608) 263-4373

Water is fundamental to all life. Meeting the increasing human demand for water while ensuring its future availability and quality is a significant societal challenge.

The Water Resources Management (WRM) program prepares students to face the complexities of managing this critical natural resource.

The WRM curriculum integrates the biological and physical sciences (which identify and measure problems) with engineering (which provides technological alternatives), law and the social sciences (which assess needs and potential for institutional response). Each WRM student gains breadth in relevant planning and management areas while developing depth in an area specialty.

The program leads to a master of science (M.S.) degree in water resources management. Graduates typically seek employment as professionals in government, business, industry, education and the nonprofit sector.

WRM students do not conduct individual research projects. Instead, they participate in a summer group practicum, or workshop, with a water resources management focus. Students more interested in individual research may wish to consider the Nelson Institute's master's degree in Environment and Resources as an alternative to WRM.

Master's-level students may combine WRM with graduate or professional study in other fields through certificate or joint, double, dual degree programs. In addition, doctoral students in related UW-Madison programs may complete WRM as a Ph.D. minor.

Learning Goals

Water Resources Management aims to provide a graduate program in which students learn to approach water resources issues from an interdisciplinary perspective and at a watershed scale, emphasizing practical, hands-on experience. We expect the skill set provided by a WRM degree will generally enable graduates to find and maintain employment in organizations or agencies related to the field of water resource management.

  1. Students will expand their knowledge of the physical, chemical, biological, and social sciences and learn how to apply this knowledge to the management of water resources.
  2. Students will understand water resource decision-making at governance levels from local to national.
  3. Students will be able to use a wide range of analytical tools to sustainably manage water resources.
  4. Students will be able to participate in, as well as lead, interdisciplinary teams.
  5. Students will be able to orally, and in writing, communicate to stakeholders the findings and recommendations of interdisciplinary projects.
  6. Students will have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.