Freshwater Science and Sustainability

Freshwater is our most precious natural resource, but high demand and limited supply threaten freshwater ecosystems and ensure that human societies will be increasingly challenged by water scarcity and impaired water quality. Western Michigan University's freshwater science and sustainability program provides the broad interdisciplinary training that will enable graduates to effectively help solve problems involving the quality, availability and use of freshwater.

As a student in the program, you will gain the scientific knowledge and skills to:

  • Understand and research freshwater ecosystems, including biology, chemistry, hydrology, limnology, resource management and flow processes.
  • Integrate scientific research with the environmental, social and economic issues of sustainable management.

WMU's program fosters an understanding of both the core principles within and the intersections between the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic systems, with a particular emphasis on freshwater sciences. The degree will prepare you to address the complex regional, national and global challenges related to the sustainability of freshwater resources.

As a freshwater science and sustainability major, you will take 92 credit hours of required coursework, the final two years of which is available in an online and hybrid (mixed online and face-to-face) format. Courses are designed to be completely transferable as well as flexible and include field experience. No minor is required because much of the general education requirements are embedded in the required coursework.

Beyond the classroom

Students are encouraged to gain valuable experience outside the classroom by taking part in cutting-edge research projects with a faculty mentor or pursuing an internship. These opportunities will be available in both the Traverse City area and at WMU’s main campus in Kalamazoo. Research programs and internships provide real-life, hands-on experience in subjects you learn about during class, and may help identify specific career paths.

Student organizations such as Students for a Sustainable Earth also offer ample opportunities for you to get involved and gain real-world experience.

After you graduate

Career opportunities for graduates of WMU's freshwater science and sustainability program include:

  • Freshwater quality analysts
  • Watershed managers
  • Sustainability coordinators
  • Environmental and resource managers
  • Corporate social responsibility coordinators
  • Environmental consultants or advocates

The degree will also prepare you to pursue graduate studies in a wide variety of disciplines such as freshwater biology and ecology, hydrology, and water resource management, policy, and law.

Where is this program offered?

  • Kalamazoo
  • Northwestern Michigan College and WMU-Traverse City