PhD in Natural Resources with Emphasis in Water Resources

The Water Resources emphasis area is an interdisciplinary graduate degree program encompassing all fields of natural sciences and, through collaboration, involves expertise from throughout the University of Missouri (MU). The geographic location of MU allows directed research to better understand water movement, biogeochemical cycling, biological and ecohydrological processes of flowing and impounded waters in forested, prairie, agricultural and urban landscapes of the midcontinent.

The Water Resources graduate emphasis area offers a Ph.D. degree program specializing in the occurrence, circulation, distribution, chemical and physical properties, and environmental interaction of atmospheric, surface and subsurface waters. Specific areas of investigation often include (but are not limited to) precipitation floods and drought regimes, lakes and reservoirs, groundwater, water use, water quality, water contamination, plant water use, environmental measurement methods, hydrologic modeling and International water resources. 

Participating faculty in the Water Resources emphasis area are engaged in both scientific understanding of water resources (physical, chemical and biological) and its management, and the decision-making processes used to address competing societal values (social, economic and legal). The program has no geographic boundaries but benefits from a distinct midcontinent climate, and physiography. Multi-use watersheds (e.g. forest, agriculture, urban), streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands and subsurface waters are ideal areas for basic and applied research that is easily transferable to other regions. The program provides Global impact by graduating highly qualified internationally aware water resource professionals.

Water Resources program applicants must meet the program requirements of the University of Missouri Graduate School for Ph.D. programs and meet any additional application criteria of the Water Resources graduate emphasis area. Water Resources graduate students are often supported by grant-funded research assistantships, scholarships or fellowships, teaching assistantships, or are self-funded. Other opportunities may be available to eligible students.

Upon successful completion of the School of Natural Resources Water Resources graduate program, students will possess strong technical skills in water resources and related sub-disciplines. Graduates will have developed a holistic understanding of the hydrologic cycle related to ecosystem processes and the interdisciplinary background necessary to understand and address contemporary water resources problems.

Degree Requirements

  • A minimum of 72 hrs beyond the Baccalaureate degree for the Ph.D.
  • A maximum of 30 hours of post baccalaureate graduate credit from an accredited university can be transferred toward the Ph.D. degree program.
  • The program must include a minimum of 15 hours of 8000 level course work, exclusive of problems, readings and research.
  • Ph.D. students are required to publish at least three articles in the primary literature stemming from their dissertation; at least one prior to graduation (requirements may vary by advisor).
  • Ph.D. students are required to present their research at two or more professional conferences during matriculation.
Must take at least 9 credit hours from the following:
Aquatic Ecosystem Science
F_W 8460Wetland Ecology3
F_W 8520Stream Ecology3
F_W 7400Techniques for Fisheries Management and Conservation3
F_W 7100Limnology3-4
F_W 8450Advanced Limnology3
F_W 8550Advanced Waterfowl Ecology3
Climate and Climatology
ATM_SC 7400Micrometeorology3
ATM_SC 7520Environmental Biophysics3
ATM_SC 7590Radar Meteorology3
ATM_SC 8400Atmospheric General Circulation3
ATM_SC 8600Advanced Climate Dynamics3
Environmental Chemistry
ENV_SC 7318Environmental Soil Chemistry3
ENV_SC 8500Chemistry of the Vadose Zone3
F_W 7800Environmental Toxicology3
Hydrologic Science and Water Quality
ATM_SC 7520Environmental Biophysics3
ATM_SC 7550Atmospheric Physics3
FOREST 8390Physical Hydrology3
ENV_SC 7320Hydrologic and Water Quality Modeling3
ENV_SC 7305Environmental Soil Physics3
ENV_SC 7306Environmental Soil Physics Laboratory2
ENV_SC 8400Solute Transport in the Vadose Zone3
Water Management Technology
NAT_R 8290Hydrologic Measurement and Synthesis2
ATM_SC 7510Remote Sensing for Meteorology and Natural Resources3
ATM_SC 7590Radar Meteorology3
Watershed Science and Management
FOREST 7390Watershed Management and Water Quality3
FOREST 8620Plant-Water Relations3
FOREST 8625Plant-Water Relations Laboratory2
Elective Courses
AG_EC 7356Environmental Law and Policy3
AG_S_M 7420Surface Water Management3
AG_S_M 7440Water Quality and Pollution Control3
AG_S_M 7460Irrigation and Drainage3
BIOL_EN 8150Natural Systems for Wastewater Treatment3
BIOL_EN 8250Water Management Theory3
CV_ENG 7230Introduction to Water Quality3
CV_ENG 7240Water Quality Analysis3
CV_ENG 7290Wastewater Treatment and Process Design3
CV_ENG 7700Hydraulics of Open Channels3
CV_ENG 7703Applied Hydrology3
CV_ENG 7710Soil and Water Conservation Engineering3
CV_ENG 7720Watershed Modeling Using GIS3
CV_ENG 7792Analysis of Water-Resource Systems3
CV_ENG 8200Water Quality Modeling3
CV_ENG 8210Groundwater Pollution Evaluation and Modeling3
CV_ENG 8215Environmental Transport Phenomena3
CV_ENG 8225Aquatic Chemistry3
CV_ENG 8270Design of Water and Wastewater Treatment Facilities3
CV_ENG 8280Engineering Aspects of Water Quality3
CV_ENG 8740Hydrodynamics3
GEOG 7630River and Stream Dynamics3
GEOL 7100Groundwater Hydrology3
GEOL 7110Karst Hydrology3
GEOL 7130Groundwater Modeling3
GEOL 7210Marine Geology3
GEOL 7300Introduction to Low-Temperature Geochemistry3
GEOL 7318Environmental Soil Chemistry3
GEOL 7400Geomicrobiology and Microbial Biogeochemistry3
GEOL 7500Organic Geochemistry3
GEOL 8210Advanced Aqueous Geochemistry3
GEOL 8230Groundwater and Subsurface Geomicrobiology3
GEOL 8240Hydrolgeologic Processes3
GEOL 8400Ancient Greenhouse Climate3
GEOL 8550Stable Isotope Geochemistry3
PLNT_S 7720Aquatic Entomology3

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Qualifying Process

The qualifying examination determines whether the student's background is adequate to enter the Ph.D. program, as a candidate. It also is intended to ascertain if there are areas of weakness in which a candidate will be required to gain background through appropriate course work. Therefore, it is advisable that the student work with their advisor to select a committee and complete the qualifying exam within the first 2 semesters of matriculation.

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Comprehensive Examination Process

The comprehensive examination is taken following the completion of most if not all, the course work requirements established by the graduate committee. 

The objectives of the comprehensive examination are twofold:

  1. To determine if a student has acquired sufficient depth and breadth of knowledge in selected areas of concentration; and
  2. to evaluate the candidate's capacity to apply that knowledge in solving applied or theoretical problems.

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Dissertation Requirements

Every candidate should review the Dissertation & Thesis Guidelines from the Graduate School and should consult the Director of Graduate Studies for academic program style requirements.

Dissertation Defense Seminar

The DGS must be informed of the dissertation defense seminar at least two weeks in advance of the seminar. It must be well advertised and open to the public.

Ph.D. Committee Meeting Minimum Requirements

Ph.D. Students must meet with their committee at least three times during their degree seeking program.

  • First Meeting: Present a written research proposal, provide a proposal presentation to the committee and present the D1 and D2 for approval and signing.
  • Second Meeting: Comprehensive exam committee meeting.
  • Third Meeting: Often following public dissertation defense. Defend dissertation, present D3 and D4 for approval and signing.

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Admission Contact Information

School of Natural Resources
Water Resources Emphasis Area
203-Q Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building
(573) 884-7732

Director of Graduate Studies:

Dr. Jason A. Hubbart
203-Q ABNR Building
(573) 884-7732

Applicants are required to meet two sets of minimum qualifications for admission: the requirements of the PhD in Natural Resources with emphasis in Water Resources program and the minimum requirements of the Office of Graduate Studies.  Because requirements vary, you must refer to a degree program's graduate admission page to learn about specific admission criteria, application deadlines, eligibility and application process.  Your application materials will be reviewed by both the Office of Graduate Studies and the degree program to which you've applied before official admission to the University of Missouri.

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