Distance Learning Water Resources Management Degree Programs

Students interested in a career in water management can find online learning opportunities at the associate's or master's levels. Programs at the associate's degree level can prepare students for entry-level water technology careers, and master's degree programs are often focused on water resources engineering or policy.

Essential Information

Water resources management degree programs are rarely offered in an online format, but a few associate's and master's degree programs are available. Interested students may want to look into campus-based programs as well.

A couple online associate's degree program in water resources are available. Students may be able to choose a specialization, like water utility management, drinking water operations and wastewater operations. Although coursework can be completed online, programs may require an internship. Graduates may be prepared to work as water technicians for consulting companies, performing duties like evaluating water distribution and use, water policies and water efficiency.

A few Master of Engineering degree programs in environmental engineering or civil engineering include a focus area in water resources management. Applicants are typically working professionals who hold an engineering bachelor's degree. Master of Science degree programs in water resources management are also available; they're usually more focused on the economics, politics and policies regarding water resource management, and students may learn how to use technology like GIS and spatial databases. Programs may be completed primarily or fully online, and students may also complete a practicum or an internship.

Online Associate's Degree in Water Resources Overview

An online Associate of Applied Science in Water Resources prepares students for careers as water specialists. Online learners explore water patterns, collection and analysis. Related subjects of study include water conflict management, agriculture, sustainability, irrigation technology, natural resource management, environmental management, ecosystem science and civil engineering.

Program Information and Requirements

The associate's degree program typically consists of four semesters, and it can be completed in about two years. Entering students should be comfortable using a computer for word processing and Internet research. Communication is conducted through discussion boards. Some classes may involve chats and video conferencing. Instructors communicate with students primarily through e-mail.

Distance education programs require students to have regular access to high-speed Internet. Classes have video and audio content that requires common media software and plug-ins. In order to videoconference, students need a webcam, speakers and microphone.

List of Common Associate's Level Water Resources Courses

Students learn about the importance of water for the environment and human populations. Students focus their studies on either water quality or water quantity. Both concentrations include classes in geography and map interpretation. To complete the associate's degree program students must take general education courses in math, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Basics of Water Resources Course

This introductory class on water resources covers the basics of water resource management, including terminology and the water cycle. The course touches on water rights and laws, as well as relevant history. Students examine political, economic and social factors that affect water demand, availability and allocation.

Water Rights and Policy Course

How water use is governed is the focus of this course. Online learners explore the conflicts and legal developments in the past 30 years in dry areas in the northwest and southwest United States. Students learn how water resources are restricted and shared, along with how quality is regulated.

Hydrologic Measurements Course

This class familiarizes students with techniques and tools for measuring surface and ground water. Students learn common methods of hydrologic data collection and analysis.

Employment Opportunities for Graduates

Associate's degree holders possess the theoretical knowledge and practical experience for careers as water efficiency technicians, water management technicians or water quality operators. The median annual wages reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators were $39,850 in May 2009 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education

Associate's graduates can also further their education through the completion of a bachelor's degree program. Although on-campus programs are available for water resources at the bachelor's level, online programs are rare. Related areas of study at the bachelor's level include civil engineering, geosciences and environmental science.

Online Master's Degree in Water Resource Management Overview

Online master's degree programs train students in the analysis, testing and management techniques used in water resources planning. Students explore theories in infrastructure planning, economics, water flow and ecology. The program typically culminates in a practicum or capstone project.

Program Information and Requirements

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Bachelor's degrees in science or engineering are preferred. Entering students must have completed calculus, chemistry, physics or biology.

Personal computers need to be equipped for CDs and DVDs. Students are required to have access to a printer. Some assignments require Microsoft Office. Updated browsers and recent operating systems are necessary.

List of Common Master's Level Water Resources Management Courses

Water resources management programs include classes on law, government, ecology and civil engineering. Some classes may have prerequisites in economics.

Policy for Natural Resources and Environment Course

This course examines the role of the government in natural resources management at federal, state and local levels. Students learn about current laws and policies in a historical context. Additionally this course examines international and global institutions that regulate water resources, as well as applicable political and environmental considerations.

Public Works Course

This class explores the role of the engineer in planning and managing public works. Students learn to assess the needs of a community and create projects based on that analysis.

Sustainable Management for Water Resources Course

Students identify the limiting factors for water resources. This class discusses ways to curb unsustainable use and implement responsible solutions. This course also details the effect humans have on hydrologic ecosystems

Career Information for Graduates

Water resources management education prepares graduates for careers in conservation science, public policy, environmental policy and civil engineering. Graduates may be employed as water management specialists or water efficiency technicians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), conservation scientists had a median annual wage of $60,160 in May 2009 (www.bls.gov). Hydrologists had a median annual wage of $73,670 in May 2009, according to the BLS.

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