Hydrology Classes and Courses Overview

Hydrology courses focus on how water is distributed and managed, with an emphasis on studying the importance of water in society and the application of conservation methods. Hydrology classes are part of natural sciences programs leading to bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and graduate certificates.

Essential Information

Full degree programs in hydrology, while available, are rare; instead, students usually take a hydrology concentration within a program in environmental science, engineering or geosciences. Hydrologists generally need a master's degree in the natural sciences, although some entry-level positions can be obtained with a bachelor's degree. Some states require licensure.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in hydrology classes:

  • Groundwater hydrology
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Surface water hydrology
  • Atmospheric processes
  • Aquatic ecology

List of Common Courses

Fundamentals of Hydrology Course

Basic hydrology covers the characteristics of the water cycle. Students learn about precipitation and run-off patterns, soil moisture, groundwater and the analysis process. Water usage is also covered. Conservation, water shortages and future water innovations are discussed. This course is usually found in the first half of a bachelor's program.

Groundwater Theory Course

This course focuses on an in-depth study of subsurface water sources. Aquifers, flow, analysis and quality are covered. Pollution, laws and problems are also discussed. In graduate programs, theories are studied, included distribution, testing, movement and contaminants. Upper-level programs may also look into how groundwater is used in engineering.

Water Contaminants Course

Contaminants in different water sources is the focus of this course. Students learn about different contaminants in ground water, streams and precipitation. Protection, removal and treatment methods are covered. Students also learn about the effects of contaminated water on the environment and society. This course usually is in the middle of a graduate or postgraduate program.

Hydrology Modeling Course

Modeling can be used in hydrology to examine water flow, determine solutions to problems and see what may occur in the future. Students learn about creating models, interpreting models and using models in problem-solving. Different types of models are covered. In graduate and postgraduate programs, students may develop their own models in these courses.

Watershed Course

This course is usually found only in graduate or postgraduate programs and comes near the middle of a program. The focus of this course is on the storage of water and movement within watersheds. Students examine the effects of precipitation, melting snow, groundwater and other factors on watersheds. Water quality, contaminant movement and nutrients are also covered. This course may cover watershed modeling and introduce students to watershed manipulation techniques.

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