Jul 23, 2019  
2019-2020 General Catalog 
2019-2020 General Catalog

Watershed Sciences

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Department Head: Peter Wilcock
Location: Natural Resources 210
Phone: (435) 797-2459
FAX: (435) 797-1871
WWW: http://www.qcnr.usu.edu/wats

Undergraduate Advisor:
Shelly Kotynek, Natural Resources 120, (435)797-2473, shelly.kotynek@usu.edu

Degrees offered: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences; BS in Management and Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems; Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Watershed Science; MS and PhD in Ecology; MS and PhD in Fisheries Biology

Graduate specializations: MS, PhD in Ecology—Aquatic Ecology; MS, PhD in Fisheries Biology—Conservation Biology, Fisheries Management; MS, PhD in Watershed Science—Geomorphology and Earth Surface Processes, Watershed Ecology, Watershed Hydrology, Watershed Management, Climate Adaptation Science

Full details of the learning objectives, assessment plans, student outcomes, and evidence of continuous improvement for these programs of study can be found at qcnr.usu.edu/wats/about/assessment/.

Undergraduate Programs


Watershed science is the study of the physical, chemical, and biological processes associated with the movement of water across the landscape. Clean and adequate water supplies are essential elements of human societies. Understanding the interaction among water, earth materials, plants, and animals is essential to the management of wildland, agricultural, and urban ecosystems. The Department of Watershed Sciences offers comprehensive educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students interested in fisheries science, aquatic ecology, and the understanding of watershed ecosystems. Departmental faculty provide expertise in fish biology, the management and conservation of aquatic ecosystems, geographic information systems, and the analysis of the water cycle. Degree programs within the Watershed Sciences Department help students learn how water links the physical, biological, and geographic aspects of watersheds. Knowledge of this linkage process is necessary for understanding and managing water supply, water quality, and ecosystem health.

Career Opportunities

Watershed scientists work throughout the United States, as well as in the developed and developing world, performing the tasks of understanding, managing, and restoring water supplies, water quality, and ecosystem health. Graduates of programs within the Watershed Sciences Department become scientists and managers for natural resources agencies, professionals with consulting and nonprofit environmental firms, and teachers and researchers at major universities. Degree holders often work as environmental scientists, hydrologists, fisheries biologists, or specialists in geographic information analysis and remote sensing. With experience and/ or advanced degrees, graduates of programs within the Watershed Sciences Department may do natural resource assessment, management planning, and resource impact analysis.

Federal agencies, such as the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Marine Fisheries Service, hire graduates of the Department of Watershed Sciences academic programs. Graduates also find employment with state natural resource agencies, nongovernmental conservation organizations, and private consulting firms.


Departmental Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the department are the same as those described for the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources  

Academic Advisement

Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor each semester prior to enrolling for courses. Students should contact the Department of Watershed Sciences (NR 210) or the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources Academic Service Center (NR 120) to be assigned an advisor.

Recommended Four-year Plans

Recommended semester-by-semester four-year plans for students working toward bachelor's degrees are available in the Department of Watershed Sciences.

Students should consult with their advisor to develop a plan of study tailored to their individual needs and interests.

Financial Assistance

The main sources of undergraduate financial assistance include University scholarships, grants-in-aid, work-study, and loans. In addition, more than 65 scholarships are offered for eligible students in the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources.

Scholarships are awarded for scholastic and professional achievements at the department, S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, and University level. For more information, contact S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources academic advisors. Grants-in-aid and work-study are available from the Financial Aid Office. In addition, departmental faculty often employ undergraduate students to assist in research, extension, and outreach projects. These projects often involve field and laboratory data collection, data management and analysis, and report preparation.

University Honors Program

The University Honors Program offers students in all colleges and majors the unique opportunity to deepen their educational experience with hands-on practical applications of their academic knowledge. The Honors Program admits incoming, transfer, and existing USU students based on application. High achieving students with at least one year remaining are encouraged to apply.  See the University Honors Program catalog entry and website (honors.usu.edu) for more information.

Additional Information

For additional information about the Bachelor of Science requirements, course sequencing, and departmental specialization options and their related coursework, as well as updated information describing current programs and courses offered by the Department of Watershed Sciences, visit the Watershed Sciences main office, Natural Resources 210, or visit http://www.qcnr.usu.edu/wats. Major requirement sheets may be obtained at the departmental office.

Graduate Programs

Admission Requirements

General admission requirements apply, in addition to the requirements which follow. Although admission to the graduate program is treated on an application-by-application basis, the following are usually required: (1) a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university; (2) a GPA of 3.2 or better (out of 4.0) for the most recent 60 credits of academic coursework; (3) combined verbal and quantitative GRE scores above the 40th percentile; and (4) a letter of "interest and purpose" detailing the applicant's reasons for seeking an advanced degree. Foreign students should have a TOEFL score of at least 550. The written statement of interest helps match applicants with faculty advisors. A faculty member must agree to serve as the major professor in order for an applicant to be accepted. Prospective students are encouraged to contact faculty members early in the application process to investigate mutual interests, projects, and prospects for financial support.

Previous training in the field is not a prerequisite for admission, although a sound background in the physical and biological sciences is recommended. Successful applicants without the necessary background will be expected to obtain it in the course of their studies for the advanced degree.

Master of Natural Resources

In addition to its Master of Science and doctoral programs, the department also participates in the Master of Natural Resources. This is a nonthesis master's degree program designed for students and practicing professionals seeking advanced training in natural resource management, with an emphasis on collaboration and interdisciplinary teamwork.

Financial Assistance

General aspects of financial support for graduate students at Utah State University are listed in the School of Graduate Studies in the Graduate Financial Assistance  section. This includes important information on the University-wide policies and terms of reference for research and teaching assistantships, graduate tuition obligations and benefits, Western Regional Graduate Programs, and competitive University-wide fellowships and scholarships.


Research assistantships are available through individual faculty members who hold research grants or contracts. Occasionally, teaching assistantships are available through the department. Recipients of teaching assistantships are usually selected from among PhD students.

Western Regional Graduate Programs

The MS and PhD in Watershed Science are Western Regional Graduate Programs. For more information, see the School of Graduate Studies  

FACULTY - S.J. and Jessie W Quinney College of Natural Resources  

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