Water Resources

The goal of the water resources track is to prepare students for graduate programs and/or careers related to watershed hydrology, water policy, and other aspects of water resources governance and management. Students can expect potential careers with local, regional, national, and global organizations including government agencies, NGOs, universities, and private corporations. Students following the water resources track will receive a broad technical training in fundamental sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology, as well as more specialized training in hydrology, hydrogeology, geomorphology and soil science. In addition, students will take classes related to, or can specialize in, water policy and management studies within this track of the Resource Conservation major. Students will gain a working knowledge of the social and political context of water use, allocation, conservation, and management, both with regard to water quality and water quantity issues. The water resources emphasis is a great starting point for students interested in a variety of post-graduate careers and opportunities: from a US Forest Service hydrologist, to a Peace Corps volunteer working on community drinking water systems, to a graduate student studying the ecosystem service benefits of legally-enforceable instream flow rights.

Potential employment areas for students following the water resources emphasis include, but are not limited to: soil and water conservation; watershed management; river and wetland restoration; climate data collection and analysis, including monitoring and measurement of winter snowpack; streamflow monitoring and flood prediction; design and operation of dams and reservoirs; groundwater exploration; monitoring of surface water and groundwater quality; contaminated land assessment and remediation; water rights investigation; watershed group coordination and outreach; and water policy analysis. Potential federal employers include the USDA Forest Service, US Geological Survey, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the US Environmental Protection Agency, among others. Within Montana, the Department of Natural Resources Conservation (DNRC) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) both employ water resource professionals. In addition, there are a myriad of non-governmental organizations and private enterprises that employ water professionals. Students completing the water resources track will be well prepared for graduate programs in water resources management, watershed science, water policy, hydrology, soil science, wetland and riparian ecology, restoration ecology, stream ecology, and forestry.

Students wishing to meet the requirements for employment with the federal government as a Hydrologist (Series GS-1315) must take at least 30 semester hours in any combination of courses in hydrology, the physical sciences, geophysics, chemistry, engineering science, soils, mathematics, aquatic biology, atmospheric science, meteorology, geology, oceanography, or the management or conservation of water resources. The course work must include at least 6 semester hours in calculus (including both differential and integral calculus – M 171 and M 172), and at least 6 semester hours in physics.

Required Core Curriculum

In addition to specialized courses in the Water Resources track, all students must complete the required core curriculum. 

Within the required core curriculum, students in the Water Resources track should take M 162 Applied Calculus.  

Degree Requirements

Suggested Course for the Water Resources Track

The following courses are recommended for students emphasizing Water Resources.  Please note that the courses in bold are the most important courses for students in this track to take.

GEO 101N - Intro to Physical Geology 3
GEO 102N - Intro to Physical Geology Lab 1
NRSM 385 - Watershed Hydrology 3
GEO 420 - Hydrogeology 4
GEO 460 - Process Geomorphology 4
GPHY 335 - Water Policy 3
NRSM 415 - Environmental Soil Science ENSC 245
GEO 421 - Hydrology 3
BIOE 428 - Freshwater Ecology BIOB 170 3
Hydrology Series Requirements
PHSX 205N - College Physics I 4
PHSX 206N - College Physics I Lab 1
PHSX 207N - College Physics II 4
PHSX 208N - College Physics II Lab 1
M 171 - Calculus I 4
M 172 - Calculus II 4