Water and Environmental Science Program Overview

The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers a unique program for graduate study in environmental engineering and science, administered within the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. The Water and Environmental Science (WES) program will be effective Fall 2016.

MS WES Thumb

After restructuring programs in 2015/2016, the former Environmental Quality Science program has been expanded to the WES program that now includes a hydrology concentration area. The department is proud of its success in attracting women and other underrepresented groups into the field of environmental engineering and science. The Environmental Engineering MS program has been merged into the MS in Civil Engineering, where a concentration area in Environmental Engineering is offered. 

Doctoral degrees are offered either through the Ph.D. in Engineering Program (for students with background and research interests in the area of engineering) or through the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program, which is designed to provide the student with a broad, interdisciplinary base.

The blend of laboratory, classroom and research experience provides a strong, interdisciplinary program, which prepares students to work for consulting firms, industry, academia, or government agencies. Our graduates are working in environmental decision-making, and engineering design, assessment, and implementation throughout Alaska, the continental United States, Canada, and several foreign countries. Career opportunities for our graduates include hydrology, water supply, treatment and distribution, waste treatment, water and air pollution, solid waste disposal, hazardous and toxic waste management, pollution prevention, environmental impact evaluation, administration of environmental programs, and regulatory compliance.

Within the WES master's program, students can choose one of four specialization areas:

  • Hydrology
  • Water Supply and Waste Treatment
  • Environmental Contaminants
  • Environmental Science and Management

Any of these specializations also leave room for elective courses matching the individual interest and research topic of the student.

How to apply for environmental graduate programs

You should start as early as possible to check out our website and contact faculty members of our program in order to find an advisor, thesis topic and funding. Your complete application documents have to be submitted to the admissions office of UAF in time for your intended begin of studies. While the MS in Civil Engineering is primarily designed for students with an engineering background, students with a background in the sciences can also be admitted, but will have to complete additional deficiency courses to be awarded an engineering degree.

Progress towards graduate degree

Each student progresses towards their degree at their own pace, however, there are a few mandatory steps that must be accomplished during the progress towards a degree. The following are the main steps in your progress towards the degree.

  • Selecting a thesis topic
  • Advisory committee selection
  • Graduate Study Plan
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Thesis preparation
  • Thesis defense