Groundwater Hydrology Course and Training Program Information

Oct 10, 2019

Degree programs focusing on groundwater hydrology are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels, with field work, internships or thesis projects usually included in the curricula.

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Essential Information

Maintaining water quality, studying contamination and collecting data are all topics of study in groundwater hydrology programs, which focuses on preserving and ensuring enough safe drinking water for today and tomorrow. Coursework focuses on topics such as structural engineering, water evaluations and geology. At the undergraduate level, the groundwater hydrology major is usually classified in studies leading to a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. In some schools, it is part of a minor in hydrology or water studies. Master's and doctoral programs in hydrology are typically more research-intensive.

Applicants for a bachelor's degree need a high school diploma or equivalent, and a bachelor's degree in a related field for master's degree program. Doctoral programs require a master's degree in related field as well. Graduate programs often require the completion of a thesis and fieldwork.

Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering

This degree program relies heavily on science and mathematics, along with other required courses. Civil engineering programs also include the construction of water structures and water delivery channels. Along with required courses such as chemistry and English, coursework may include:

  • Structural engineering
  • Materials and testing
  • Construction engineering
  • Soil science
  • Atmospheric dynamics
  • Field work

Master's Degree in Groundwater Hydrology

A Master of Science in Groundwater Hydrology focuses on data collection and studying this information to use it to help address water problems and issues worldwide. Some of the challenges facing groundwater hydrologists include preventing contamination, cleaning contamination and managing waste. The effects of water quality on ecosystems are also studied. Some of the subjects explored in master's programs include:

  • Water evaluations
  • Water hydraulics
  • Erosion
  • Sediment transport
  • Fluid mechanics

Ph.D. Degree in Groundwater Hydrology

At the doctorate level of study, a student can specialize further within the discipline. Some programs allow the candidate to design a unique program while being mentored by a faculty adviser. Many disciplines are integrated with hydrology at this doctorate level. Internships help candidates apply their studies into practical use. Coursework may include:

  • Hydrobiology
  • Hydrochemistry
  • Geology

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Groundwater hydrologists with a doctorate may teach at a college or university or choose a career in research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted employment opportunities for all hydrologists are expected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than average. Job growth may be attributed to threats posed by global warming and the increased need for water resource management. The median annual salary for hydrologists in May 2018 was $79,370, according to the BLS.


If hydrologists are offering services to the public, they need to pass a state exam to prove training and experience, depending on the state. In states that don't require licensing, hydrologists may obtain a voluntary certificate.

Popular Career Options

Some groundwater hydrologists spend their time in the field, while others work in offices and examine data using computers. Sometimes the job requires both. Individuals with a bachelor's degree in groundwater hydrology may seek employment by engineering consulting firms and resource agencies. Other popular career options are:

  • Architectural services
  • Management consulting services
  • Engineering
  • Technical consulting

Continuing Education Information

Along with continuing on to a master's degree program, there are professional development courses available from private companies that may last up to a week. They cover the fundamentals of ground water contamination, pollution and cleanup, and cover the most current data and techniques.

Students interested in hydrology can pursue bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degrees in groundwater hydrology, hydrology, or the related field of civil engineering. Graduates can find work as licensed hydrologists, researchers, consultants, and more.

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