Best Hydrogeology Graduate Programs

Several universities offer outstanding degree and certificate programs in the fields of geology and hydrology, which can provide an avenue for graduate study within this field.

Hydrogeologists focus on understanding the properties and behavior of surface and ground water in the natural environment, including its movement, storage, and how it shapes the planet. Successful hydrogeologists must understand the applications of a range of scientific disciplines, including physics,and geochemistry. Here, you can learn more about three top-rated programs in this field as well as gain some information about other program options.

University of Texas at Austin

At the University of Texas at Austin, students interested in hydrogeology have the opportunity to focus their research on surface and hydrogeologic processes while working towards a Master of Science (M.S.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Geosciences. The Ph.D. is a research-intensive degree for those expecting to pursue academic careers, while the M.S. can be a springboard to employment in federal and state environmental agencies, hydrogeological consulting firms, or doctoral study. Students can expect to obtain a high-quality education in this field, as U.T. Austin was ranked #1 for graduate geology programs by U.S. News & World Report for 2019. To apply to U.T. Austin, students should provide transcripts, GRE scores, and recommendations. Financial support is guaranteed for two years for students earning the M.S. and five years for those pursuing the Ph.D. Specific courses may include crustal geofluids, digital methods in hydrogeology, and geomorphology/glaciology.

Research opportunities abound at U.T. Austin. The Center for Integrated Earth Systems Science collaborates with the engineering school around issues in the study of atmosphere and water, and the Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security studies subsurface phenomena, including fluids, for the purposes of storing energy byproducts. In addition to research projects in Texas, students may be part of research teams studying in Antarctica, Australia, or other far-flung locales. A range of industry partnerships are available, including UT Geofluids and the Exploration Geophysics Laboratory.

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona, ranked #3 for graduate geology programs by U.S. News & World Report as of 2019, offers the opportunity to earn an M.S. or Ph.D. in Hydrology with a research focus in hydrogeology. M.S. students can pursue a thesis or non-thesis track to earn their degree. To apply for the M.S. program, students should provide transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of professional goals or research interests, and GRE scores. Candidates for the Ph.D. should also possess a master's degree. Undergraduate coursework in geology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and fluid mechanics is required.

Students in the master's degree programs must produce a completed thesis or professional report, depending on their track. Those working towards their Ph.D. are required to complete a dissertation and take both qualifying and comprehensive examinations. Some specific courses taken during the program of study may include subsurface hydrology, natural resource law, and economics. Financial support is typically provided for M.S. students in the thesis track and Ph.D. candidates. Research groups that may be of interest include the surface water hydrology group and the watershed biogeochemistry group. During Earth Week, students have the opportunity to present their research at a symposia called El Día del Auga y la Atmósfera.

Virginia Tech

At Virginia Tech University, students have the opportunity to pursue an M.S. or Ph.D. in Geosciences with a research focus in hydrogeoscience. Before applying, students are encouraged to submit a pre-application and contact faculty members with whom they may share research interests. Application requirements include transcripts and letters of recommendation. The department is able to provide funding for most graduate students through research or graduate teaching assistantships.

M.S. and Ph.D. students engage in a range of geosciences coursework as outlined in their developed plan of study. Courses may cover such topics as fluids in the earth's crust and numerical modeling of groundwater. M.S. students must complete a thesis, while Ph.D. students must complete preliminary exams and a dissertation. Students interested in this field may work with the hydrogeology research group, which uses field and laboratory work to understand a range of issues in hydrology, including groundwater and aquifer mechanics. The student-run geoscience student research symposium offers students the opportunity to present their research, and departmental seminars enable students to hear from and network with top researchers at other universities. The on-campus Museum of Geosciences provides a range of exhibits in the field.

Other Top Hydrology Programs

  • University of Pennsylvania - At the University of Pennsylvania, students can pursue a Master of Science in Applied Geosciences (M.S.A.G) with a concentration in hydrogeology. This practice-based program not only develops strong skills in hydrogeology but also introduces students to principles of project management and environmental remediation.
  • Stanford University - Stanford University offers students the opportunity to pursue an M.S. or Ph.D. in Geologic Sciences with a focus in hydrogeology. Research opportunities are available on all of the Earth's oceans and continents. One specific program of interest may be the Big Earth Hackathon Water Challenge, where students are given seven weeks to develop a solution to a planetary water concern.
  • University of Colorado - Boulder - U.C. Boulder has a hydrologic sciences graduate certificate, which students can pursue in conjunction with a master's or Ph.D. offered through the Geologic Sciences Department.
  • Colorado School of Mines - At the Colorado School of Mines, students can earn a M.S. or Ph.D. in Hydrologic Science and Engineering. Students must enroll in core courses and electives and take a seminar focused on an area of interest.
  • Oregon State University - Students attending Oregon State University have multiple opportunities to earn a graduate degree in this area. They can pursue an M.S. or Ph.D. in Geology with a focus on hydrology and hydrogeology or an M.S. or Ph.D. in Water Resources Science.

Students seeking an in-depth understanding of the properties of water within our natural environment can pursue graduate certificates, master's degrees, and doctorates at several top rated colleges and universities. These schools often provide students with plenty of fieldwork and research opportunities in hydrogeology through their geological sciences programs.


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