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Water Science

The problem: A global water crisis

Our water science majors are ready to step up to the plate and address the complex issue while working towards sustaining water, improving quality, and studying ecosystem impacts. This major is perfect for students wanting to combine many interests like sustainability, math, chemistry, research, and ecology. The work you do is innovative and crucial.

Nebraska is the only Big Ten University to offer an undergraduate water science major, and is one of only a handful of universities who offer this major nationwide. Our program is known for getting students out in the field early on. We also encourage well-rounded students by adding classes in communications, decision making, policy, and technology.

You will have the opportunity to work in the field, conduct your own research, study abroad, and join clubs with other students like you — all from day one.

Study Water Science

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Water Science Emphasis Areas

Each water science student will choose at least one emphasis area to focus in. These emphasis areas help students specialize their course work based on individual career goals.

4-year plan example

Aquatic Ecology

The aquatic ecology option is designed for students interested in lake, river, stream, or wetland ecology. Students are prepared for careers as research scientists or technicians with public agencies, private consulting firms, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

Course Examples: Ecosystem Ecology, Limnology, Wetlands, Stream & River Ecology


The hydrology option trains students in the quantitative aspects of hydrologic sciences and is designed for students considering careers as a professional hydrologist, research scientist, or consultant (among others).

Course Examples: Groundwater Geology, Soil Physics, Surface Water Hydrology, Hydroclimatology

Water Law & Policy

Under the law and policy option, students gain expertise in water issues pertaining to water quality, quantity, allocation, and planning. Careers in this rapidly emerging field of water include lobbyists, community planners, public and tribal liaisons, and policy makers.

Course Examples: Water Law, Environmental Planning & Policy, Public Policy: Concepts & Processes

Water Quality

The water quality option trains students with a desire to pursue a career examining water chemistry or quality within lakes, streams, rivers, and groundwater.

Course Examples: Water Quality Strategy, Water in Geosciences, Groundwater Geology, Chemistry of Natural Waters

Watershed Management

Watershed management is the management of water, land, and biological resources to achieve a desired water quality and water quantity. This option is designed for students considering careers as water resource managers working for local, state and federal agencies and private consultants.

Course Examples: Water Quality Strategy, Water in Geosciences, Groundwater Geology, Chemistry of Natural Waters

The future awaits

Our graduates go on to become leaders in their field. With a degree in water science, your job title could be:

  • Wetland Hydrologist
  • Environmental Chemist
  • Water Economist
  • Community Planner

We want to help you find your dream career. That’s why we utilize our job board, Handshake and send out weekly job update emails.

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Go beyond the classroom with these opportunities

Emilee Lachenmeier

Meet Emilee

" It's been really cool that I get to do a cross collaboration between the two colleges, " Emillee said. Lachenmeier realized she liked the processes that occurred after the big storm more than the actual storm. With hydrology, Lachenmeier uses math to look at water flow amounts and values and runoff from different systems.

Student Stories

Celeste Kenworthy

Meet Celeste

" I decided on my major before I decided which university I wanted to attend. I knew I wanted to study water science. I researched and toured several universities, but UNL was the only one that had a major in water science. I competed at State for Science Olympiad for 6 years, which is hosted on UNL’s east campus. Being able to come to a place that was familiar to me made my transition experience all the better. "

Student Stories

Alec Weisser

Meet Alec

" I decided to attend Nebraska because it is one of the few colleges that offer a water science major. Water science with an emphasis in hydrology is a unique major that combines my passion for water, natural resources, math, and physics. With such a good program in my home town why go anywhere else? "

Student Stories

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Contact TBD

Undergraduate Recruiter

School of Natural Resources
102a South Hardin Hall
3310 Holdredge Street

Lincoln, NE 68583-0981 US