Water, Society & Policy Graduate Program

The water, society, and policy master’s degree program combines graduate coursework in social science, policy, and hydrology with professional skill development activities. You’ll study human and environmental processes as they affect water resources and watersheds, and observe, monitor, and model processes for management of water ranging from local to global scales.

About the M.S. in Water, Society & Policy

Graduate students in this non-thesis degree program complete a plan of study and project proposal in their second semester. You’ll complete a project or internship, produce a report, and give a final presentation.

Students in this program develop their skills to communicate with decision makers; conduct and understand scientific research; write research reports, proposals, and policy evaluations; and make effective public presentations. Graduates have an enhanced understanding of the principles of hydrology, social science, water management, law, and policy, in order to make informed decisions about water resources.

This M.S. program requires a minimum of 32 units, including policy and science core courses; a water, society, and policy seminar; elective courses; and a master’s project. If you're an out-of-state student from a participating Western Regional Graduate Program state or territory, you may be eligible to pay in-state tuition rates when enrolled in this program.

Program Requirements

There is no application deadline for domestic students (rolling admissions); international students must apply four months prior to the start of the semester in which they wish to begin.

Minimum admission requirements:

Degree requirements

This is a non-thesis master of science degree. You much complete a project or internship and produce a report and give a final presentation.

Required coursework

  • Must complete 32 units
  • 12 to 13 units from core courses
  • Complete RNR 696W Water, Society, and Policy Seminar (two units)
  • 12 to 14 units from elective courses
  • Complete MS Project, which include six units of RNR 909
  • View course list

Additional Information

  • No minor required
  • Your committee consists of your faculty advisor who must be a member of the Graduate Faculty. 
  • A plan of study must be completed in your second semester
  • A project proposal must be approved by your faculty advisor in your second semester
  • You must file an annual report each year by April 15
  • You will be enrolled in RNR 696W your first and second semester in the program

Questions? Contact Graduate Coordinator Debbie Cross at debbiecross@arizona.edu 


Advising faculty can serve as committee chairs for Water, Society, and Policy students. Although you don't need an advisor to be admitted to the program, it is a good idea to contact faculty prior to applying. Affiliated faculty do not advise students in the program but teach several key classes.

Advising Faculty




Elizabeth Baldwin

Assistant Professor, School of Government and Public Policy


Gregg Garfin

Associate Professor and Associate Extension Specialist, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Deputy Director for Science Translation & Outreach, Institute of the Environment


Andrea Gerlak

Associate Professor, School of Geography and Development


David Quanrud

Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Natural Resources and the Environment


Phillip Stoker

Assistant Professor, College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture


Tom Meixner

Professor and Associate Department Head, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources


Affiliated Faculty




Karletta Chief

Associate Professor, Soil, Water, and Environmental Science and Extension


Bonnie Colby

Professor, Department of Agriculture and Economics Resources


Ben Colombi

Professor, American Indian Studies


Kirsten Engel

Professor, Rogers School of Law


Sharon Megdal

Director, Water Resources Research Center


Jose Soto

Assistant Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment


Connie Woodhouse

Professor, School of Geography and Development


Dual Degree Programs

Three dual degree programs are available with this water, science, and policy master’s degree. When paired with the following programs, you may earn two graduate degrees within three years, saving you time and money and increasing your professional career options:

School of Natural Resources & the Environment Graduate Program Handbook