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Program Structure

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Program Structure:

The online Master of Environmental Science: Hydrology & Water Security program is a 32-credit hour program designed to be completed in 21 months while working full-time for students who start in the Fall semester. 

Three Program Tracks:

Water Quantity: This track offers a quantitative technical degree for those working with hydrology, weather, climate and data science within governmental or private sectors focused on surface and ground water resource management, water-related hazards, and hydroclimatic extremes.

Prequisites:

  • B.S. in a STEM major
  • Coursework (C or higher) in the following areas:
    • Calculus I (equivalent to MATH 1823 at OU)
    • Calculus II (equivalent to MATH 2423 at OU)
    • Chemistry
    • Physics (calculus-based)
    • Biological or Physical Science course

 

Water Management: This track offers a qualitative degree in hydrologic sciences and its implications for those working on water policy and management as related to governance, business, and society.

Prerequisites:

  • B.S. or B.A. degree; relevant to hydrology preferred
  • Coursework (C or higher) in the following areas:
    • College Algebra (equivalent to MATH 1503 at OU)
    • Biological or Physical Science course

 

Water Quality: This track offers a quantitative degree in the fate and transport of water quality constituents as they move through the hydrologic cycle for those working in environmental quality, waste load allocation, water reuse, and geo-environmental/health impacts. 

Prerequisites:

  • B.S. in a STEM major
  • Coursework (C or higher) in the following areas:
    • Calculus I (equivalent to MATH 1823 at OU)
    • Calculus II (equivalent to MATH 2423 at OU)
    • Chemistry I
    • Chemistry II
    • Physics (calculus-based)
    • Biological or Physical Science course

 

Program Courses:

The curriculum is composed of six core courses common to all tracks and five specialty courses within a track.  Course titles and a description of the topical content are given below.  

Core Curriculum for All Tracks:

Fundamentals of Project Management

This course develops a foundation of concepts and solutions that supports the planning, scheduling, controlling, resource allocation, and performance measurement activities required for successful completion of a project. The course introduces project management from the standpoint of a manager who must organize, plan, implement, and control tasks to achieve an organization's schedule, budget, and performance objectives. Tools and concepts such as project charter, scope statement, work breakdown structure, project estimating, project network diagrams, responsibility assignment matrices, and scheduling methodologies are studied.

Hydrometeorology

Hydrometeorology is the part of meteorology that directly addresses water into, through, and out of the atmosphere.  As such, the fundamental material of the course includes evaporation, water vapor transport, and the physical processes that drive the generation of precipitation. Additional topics and applications focus on forecasting and observational tools for heavy precipitation and floods and an introduction to drought.

Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems

Designed to help students learn introductory to intermediate concepts of geographic information science (GIScience) and become proficient users of geographic information systems (GIS). The course covers a variety of topics but focuses on GIS data models, data structures, and spatial analysis.

Hydroclimatology

Overview of the fundamental processes that drive the hydrologic cycle from local to global scales with a specific focus on critical variables in the water budget: precipitation, evaporation, runoff, and storage. Additionally, topics including drought, pluvial dynamics, and atmospheric teleconnections are examined within both the theoretical and practice frameworks.

Water Security

This class will look at the topic of water security through multiple perspectives, including historical to current day examples of water security challenges, water security at the nexus of water quality, water quantity and water equity considerations, water security in the face of competing demands and threats, and water security planning.

Water Law

The system of water rights; riparian, appropriation, and prescriptive rights; stream, surface, and groundwater; transfer and termination of rights; injuries caused by water; development of water supplies; federal-state, interstate, and intrastate conflicts; water pollution control; federal and Indian rights and federal water resource problems.

Water Quantity Track Courses:

Hydrology

An applied course in quantitative hydrology dealing with environmental water problems; hydrologic principles, the global water cycle and its components, rainfall-runoff hydrography, flood frequency analysis, flow routing, urban stormwater design, hydrologic models and their application for hydrologic design and water management.

Water Resources Management

Interdisciplinary course to study human decision making in the context of effective water management, with the goal of optimizing social, economic, ecological and environmental benefits, security and equity, and natural yields, which are all intimately tied to water. This course is designed to educate and foster future water managers and planners, and to equip them with fundamental theory and knowledge on how to manage surface water resources.

Ground Water and Seepage

An applied course dealing with properties of soil and aquifers, fundamental principles of groundwater flow, modeling of groundwater systems, groundwater hydrology and its interrelation with surface water, well hydraulics, pumping tests, and safe yield of aquifers.

Quantitative Hydrometeorology

Hydrometeorology is a rapidly changing discipline with new techniques for monitoring hydrologic stores and fluxes across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. It enables multi-resolution modeling and updating of decision-making practice. The course provides students with an in-depth study of precipitation estimation as well as data analysis and computational methods for hydrometeorology, including disaster prevention and decision making under uncertainty. The overarching goal is to train students to conduct critical thinking across atmospheric science and hydrology and across water science and engineering.

Watershed Science and Management

Watershed Science and Management is a broad field, so this course is offered in the form of a graduate seminar.  Topical content will cover some of the most important technical and policy aspects of dealing with environmental issues in watersheds, specifically: background information on watersheds and their role in the hydrologic cycle; the physical responses of watersheds to flowing water and some practical aspects of stream restoration; water quality and ecosystem aspects of watershed management; an overview of the National Flood Insurance Program and floodplain analysis; and an overview on some of the regulatory and policy aspects of watershed management.

Water Management Track Courses:

Fundamental Hydrology

Provides students with a qualitative introduction to atmospheric, surface and subsurface hydrology. The course presents the science-based management tools needed to assess how human activities affect the natural water cycle, and how these activities can either protect or threaten water security, which is the ability to access sufficient quantities of clean water to provide for local needs."

Natural Hazards

This course examines the concepts of risk, vulnerability and resilience in natural hazards, including how this relates to policy choices, mitigation techniques, and the allocation of resources. The course combines physical and social/cultural perspectives to examine preparedness and mitigation decisions for hydrology-related hazards, including floods, droughts, and coastal threats. The course involves hands-on case studies of federally-declared disasters to examine the causes, impacts, and means to reduce future risk. By taking a holistic view of hazards beyond the physical causes and impacts, we can work to prepare our communities for the challenges they face.

Water Policy and Institutions

This course examines the evolution of water policy in the United States and the substantive roles that federal and state water resource institutions play. Students who take this course will study the types of information, criteria and policies used to craft decisions germane to water projects, and the efforts undertaken at the federal and state levels to mitigate unanticipated environmental and social impacts, and improve prospects for a more resilient water future. In addition to exploring federal activities, including the U. S. Army Corps and Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, both active in the planning and construction of the dams, waterways, flood control and irrigation systems throughout the nation, water policy will be discussed through case studies of California, Florida and Texas, three states that offer a range of water resource issues of significant contemporary concern.  In sum, students will gain a better understanding of the legal and institutional frameworks within which water resources are managed, the current policy issues that govern water use, and the broader implications of climate change for future water security.

Climate Change and Water Sustainability

This seminar style course provides an integrative understanding of the components of Earth's climate system, natural climate variability, external drivers of climate change, climate extremes, and water sustainability. With an overview of the climate change’s causes, effects, and solutions, this course further examines how climate change impact on multiple sectors, with focus on water, agriculture, energy, natural hazards and environmental sustainability.

Watershed Science and Management

Watershed Science and Management is a broad field, so this course is offered in the form of a graduate seminar.  Topical content will cover some of the most important technical and policy aspects of dealing with environmental issues in watersheds, specifically: background information on watersheds and their role in the hydrologic cycle; the physical responses of watersheds to flowing water and some practical aspects of stream restoration; water quality and ecosystem aspects of watershed management; an overview of the National Flood Insurance Program and floodplain analysis; and an overview on some of the regulatory and policy aspects of watershed management.

Water Quality Track Courses:

Hydrology

An applied course in quantitative hydrology dealing with environmental water problems; hydrologic principles, the global water cycle and its components, rainfall-runoff hydrography, flood frequency analysis, flow routing, urban stormwater design, hydrologic models and their application for hydrologic design and water management.

Hazardous and Solid Waste Management

This course is focused on hazardous and solid waste management, including federal and state legislation; sources and types of wastes; identification and classification of hazardous wastes; waste handling, transportation, treatment and disposal techniques; and environmental and health effects. Course objectives include introducing practical aspects of solid and hazardous waste management for environmental scientists and engineers, becoming familiarized with appropriate and relevant solid and hazardous waste regulatory information, and becoming familiarized with sources, fate and transport pathways, environmental receptors and design applications for waste management.

Water Quality Modeling

Introductory course in water quality modeling as a tool for water quality management.  The course will survey the dominant physical, biological, and chemical processes that influence the water quality of marine and fresh waters for common water quality variables, such as bacteria, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, phytoplankton, toxic substances (e.g., heavy metals), and temperature.  Simple deterministic models will be introduced that can be used to predict the response of lakes, rivers, and estuaries to various point and non-point loads. Principles of water quality management, waste load allocation and engineering controls in these contexts will be discussed.

Special Topics in Water Quality - Health Impacts and Water Reuse

This course is designed to introduce current and future water resource professionals to the application of water quality principles in two important areas – i) the health impacts of water and wastewater, and ii) the potential of water reuse and reclamation. The course begins with the public health principles of epidemiology and research study designs. Water-based diseases are examined, which include infectious diseases and zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. Engineering and prevention methods are discussed, especially in regard to proper sanitation and the control of wastewater. The students then learn how to describe and quantify human health risk assessment by understanding the source release of contaminants, their movement through the environment, and the exposure of these contaminants to the human receptor. Finally, water reuse is presented as an alternative water supply in times of water stress or scarcity. The various types of potable and nonpotable water reuse are described, as well as the principles of advanced water treatment, the costs, and the challenges of implementation.

Aqueous Geochemical Modeling

This course is designed to reinforce and expand on fundamental skills and knowledge to improve our understanding of complex biogeochemical reactions and processes in natural systems. Both conceptual and numerical models will be developed and implemented as part of this course. This course covers the mathematical and thermodynamic basis for widely used geochemical modeling programs including PHREEQC, Visual MINTEQ, and Geochemists Work Bench (GWB). Various types of modeling approaches will use real geochemical data sets ranging from groundwater to contaminated streams. Students in the course will set-up models to perform speciation calculations, water-rock reactions, cation exchange and sorption, acid-base equilibrium, organic matter interactions with metals, 1 and 2-D transport, and numerous other applications. At the conclusion of this course students will be able to successfully apply geochemical models to the following: Surface water (streams and lakes) chemistry; Groundwater chemistry; Hydrogeochemistry of contaminates; Rock-water interactions and Organic matter – solute interactions. The skills and knowledge developed from this course are commonly deemed essential by employers in the geologic, environmental, and engineering industry.