Watershed Science is the interdisciplinary study of the natural processes and human activities that affect freshwater resources. Water is a critical component of Earth’s ecosystems and is used for human consumption, agriculture, energy production, transportation, and recreation. Sustainable management of freshwater resources is an increasingly important and complex challenge in Colorado and worldwide. The major in Watershed Science focuses on the physical, chemical, social, and biological factors that affect the quantity, quality, and flux of water through learning and engagement in the field, laboratory, and classroom. Students begin their program by building a strong foundation in the physical and natural sciences in preparation for upper-division coursework in land use hydrology, snow hydrology, water quality, and watershed problem analysis. The program emphasizes field-based learning and technical skills, with core classes focusing on watershed measurements, data analysis, modeling, and research.

Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate:

  • An understanding of the key concepts in watershed science including surface and subsurface hydrology and water quality.
  • An understanding of land use effects on fresh water resources.
  • Skills in collection and analysis of meteorological, hydrological, and water quality data.
  • Skills in watershed problem analysis, including the use of watershed models.
  • Strong critical thinking, writing, and oral communication skills.

Potential Occupations

Completion of the undergraduate degree qualifies students for a wide variety of careers in hydrology and water resources management. Examples of possible careers include: watershed scientist, hydrologist, water quality analyst, watershed manager, environmental consultant, watershed use specialist, and water conservation specialist. Employment opportunities for graduates are found in consulting firms, governmental agencies, international development and resource management agencies, non-profit organizations, and private industry. Graduates will be well positioned for advanced science degrees.

Effective Fall 2016

Freshman
AUCCCredits
Select one course from the following: 3-4
Business Computing Concepts and Applications  
Personal Computing  
Select one course from the following: 4
Principles of Animal Biology (GT-SC2)3A 
Principles of Plant Biology (GT-SC1)3A 
Biology of Organisms-Animals and Plants  
Select one group from the following: 5
Group A:
  
Fundamentals of Chemistry (GT-SC2)3A 
Fundamentals of Chemistry Laboratory (GT-SC1)3A 
Group B:
  
General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)3A 
General Chemistry Lab I (GT-SC1)3A 
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2)1A3
ESS 130System Theory and Information Management 1
Select one course from the following: 3-4
Exploring Earth: Physical Geology (GT-SC2)3A 
The Blue Planet: Geology of Our Environment (GT-SC2)3A 
Geology of Natural Resources (GT-SC2)3A 
Physical Geology for Scientists and Engineers3A 
Select one course from the following: 4
Calculus for Biological Scientists I (GT-MA1)1B 
Calculus for Physical Scientists I (GT-MA1)1B 
Arts and Humanities3B3
Global and Cultural Awareness3E3
 Total Credits 29-31
Sophomore
 
Select one course from the following: 3
Writing in the Disciplines: Sciences (GT-CO3)2 
Professional and Technical Communication (GT-CO3)2 
Specialized Professional Writing2 
ESS 210/GR 210Physical Geography 3
GR 304/WR 304Sustainable Watersheds3A3
Select one course from the following: 3
Foundations in Ecosystem Science  
Ecology  
Select one course from the following: 4
Calculus for Physical Scientists II (GT-MA1)1B 
Calculus for Biological Scientists II (GT-MA1)1B 
NR 322Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 4
Select one course from the following: 5
General Physics I (GT-SC1)3A 
Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (GT-SC1)3A 
SOCR 240Introductory Soil Science 4
 Total Credits 29
Summer 
NR 220Natural Resource Ecology and Measurements 5
 Total Credits 5
Junior
 
AREC 342Water Law, Policy, and Institutions 3
ESS 330Quantitative Reasoning for Ecosystem Science 3
SOCR 470Soil Physics 3
SOCR 471Soil Physics Laboratory 1
STAT 301 or 315Introduction to Statistical Methods
Statistics for Engineers and Scientists
 3
WR 4182Land Use and Water Quality 3
WR 419Water Quality Laboratory for Wildland Managers 2
Watershed Science Department List selection (select 3 credits from list below)3 3
Arts and Humanities3B3
Historical Perspectives3D3
Social and Behavioral Sciences3C3
 Total Credits 30
Senior
 
Select one couse from the following: 3
Principles of Microclimatology  
Snow Hydrology  
WR 4162Land Use Hydrology4B3
WR 4172Watershed Measurements 3
WR 440Watershed Problem Analysis4A,4B,4C3
WR 486Watershed Field Practicum 2
Watershed Science Department List selection (select 9 credits from list below)3 6
Electives4 5-7
 Total Credits 25-27
 Program Total Credits: 120

Watershed Science Department List

Earth Sciences
ATS 350Introduction to Weather and Climate2
ATS 351Introduction to Weather and Climate Laboratory1
CIVE 322Basic Hydrology3
CIVE 413Environmental River Mechanics3
CIVE 423Groundwater Engineering3
CIVE 425Soil and Water Engineering3
CIVE 440Nonpoint Source Pollution3
GEOL 452Hydrogeology4
GEOL 454Geomorphology4
GR 323/NR 323Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation3
NR 422GIS Applications in Natural Resource Management4
SOCR 322Principles of Microclimatology3
SOCR 440Pedology4
WR 406Seasonal Snow Environments3
WR 474Snow Hydrology3
Ecology
BSPM 445Aquatic Insects4
BZ 440Plant Physiology3
BZ 441Plant Physiology Laboratory2
BZ 471Stream Biology and Ecology3
BZ 472Stream Biology and Ecology Laboratory1
BZ 474Limnology3
CIVE 330Ecological Engineering3
ESS 311Ecosystem Ecology3
ESS 411Earth Systems Ecology3
RS 478Ecological Restoration3
Sustainability
AREC 442Water Resource Economics3
ESS 400Sustainability and Ecosystem Science3
NR 310Ecosystem Services and Human Well-Being3
NR 320Natural Resources History and Policy3
NRRT 330Social Aspects of Natural Resource Management3
NRRT 362Environmental Conflict Management3
SOC 461Water, Society, and Environment3
1

LIFE 102 or equivalent is required to take LIFE 103.

2

Partially satisfies requirements of the Water Resources Interdisciplinary Studies Program.

3

Select courses not taken elsewhere in the program from the Watershed Science Department List, for a program minimum total of 9 credits.

4

Select enough elective credits to bring the program total to a minimum of 120 credits, of which at least 42 must be upper-division (300- to 400-level).

Distinctive Requirements for Degree ProgramThis program assumes that students will either test out of or take the prerequisite Mathematics courses (MATH 117, MATH 118MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126) prior to the courses listed in this plan.
 

Freshman
Semester 1CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
Select one course from the following:   3-4
Business Computing Concepts and ApplicationsX   
Personal ComputingX   
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2) X1A3
Select one from the following:   4
Principles of Animal Biology (GT-SC2)X 3A 
Principles of Plant Biology (GT-SC1)X 3A 
Biology of Organisms-Animals and PlantsX   
Select one course from the following:   3-4
Exploring Earth: Physical Geology (GT-SC2) X3A 
The Blue Planet: Geology of Our Environment (GT-SC2) X3A 
Geology of Natural Resources (GT-SC2) X3A 
Physical Geology for Scientists and Engineers X3A 
 Total Credits   13-15
Semester 2CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
Select one group from the following:   5
Group A:    
Fundamentals of Chemistry (GT-SC2)X 3A 
Fundamentals of Chemistry Laboratory (GT-SC1)X 3A 
Group B:    
General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)X 3A 
General Chemistry Lab I (GT-SC1)X 3A 
ESS 130System Theory and Information ManagementX  1
Select one course from the following:   4
Calculus for Biological Scientists I (GT-MA1)X 1B 
Calculus for Physical Scientists I (GT-MA1)X 1B 
Arts and Humanities  3B3
Global and Cultural Awareness  3E3
CO 150 and AUCC 1B (MATH) requirement must be completed by the end of Semester 2. X   
 Total Credits   16
Sophomore
Semester 3CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
ESS 210/GR 210Physical GeographyX  3
Select one course from the following:   4
Calculus for Physical Scientists II (GT-MA1)X 1B 
Calculus for Biological Scientists II (GT-MA1)X 1B 
NR 322Introduction to Geographic Information Systems   4
SOCR 240Introductory Soil Science X 4
 Total Credits   15
Semester 4CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
Select one course from the following:   3
Foundations in Ecosystem ScienceX   
EcologyX   
Select one course from the following:   5
General Physics I (GT-SC1)X 3A 
Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (GT-SC1)X 3A 
WR 304/GR 304Sustainable Watersheds  3A3
Select one course from the following:   3
Writing in the Disciplines: Sciences (GT-CO3)X 2 
Professional and Technical Communication (GT-CO3)X 2 
Specialized Professional WritingX 2 
SOCR 240 must be completed by the end of Semester 4.X   
 Total Credits   14
Semester 5CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
NR 220Natural Resource Ecology and MeasurementsXX 5
 Total Credits   5
Junior
Semester 6CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
SOCR 470Soil PhysicsX  3
SOCR 471Soil Physics LaboratoryX  1
Select one course from the following:   3
Introduction to Statistical MethodsX   
Statistics for Engineers and ScientistsX   
Arts and Humanities  3B3
Historical Perspectives  3D3
WR 304/GR 304 must be completed by the end of Semester 6.X   
 Total Credits   13
Semester 7CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
AREC 342Water Law, Policy, and Institutions X 3
ESS 330Quantitative Reasoning for Ecosystem ScienceX  3
WR 418Land Use and Water QualityX  3
WR 419Water Quality Laboratory for Wildland ManagersX  2
Watershed Science Department List selection (See Department List on Requirements tab).   3
Social and Behavioral Sciences  3C3
 Total Credits   17
Senior
Semester 8CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
WR 416Land Use HydrologyX 4B3
WR 417Watershed MeasurementsX  3
WR 486Watershed Field PracticumX  2
Select one course from the following:   3
Principles of Microclimatology    
Snow Hydrology    
Watershed Science Department List selection (See Department List on Requirements tab).   3
 Total Credits   14
Semester 9CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
WR 440Watershed Problem AnalysisX 4A,4B,4C3
Watershed Science Department List selection (See Department List on Requirements tab).X  3
ElectivesX  5-7
The benchmark courses for the 9th semester are the remaining courses in the entire program of study.X   
 Total Credits   11-13
 Program Total Credits:   120