Tracks & Curriculum

The Sustainable Water Management (SWM) program is an intensive one year professional Master of Science degree which addresses the growing international demand for interdisciplinary water management experts. Through its curriculum of four core classes, four track-specific classes, a seminar, and a summer practicum, students develop the skills, expertise, and experience needed to address the challenges and opportunities of sustainable water management.

SWM graduates are multidisciplinary water experts with a skillset that encompasses water policy, the economics of water, leadership, quantitative analysis, and water science and systems. Our program prepares water leaders for future professional careers at the forefront of driving sustainable water management solutions for global challenges.

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Four tracks. Limitless paths.

All of our students build a foundation of core competencies that include water policy, the economics of water, leadership, quantitative analysis, and water science and systems. Students specialize in one of four tracks, each of which has its own core classes and electives

Our unique interdisciplinary focus is enabled by close collaboration with graduate schools across Tufts University. Based on their chosen track, SWM students are able to take core classes and electives at multiple Tufts’ graduate schools, including The Friedman School of Nutrition, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Tufts Medical School, Tufts School of Arts and Sciences, and the Tufts School of Engineering.

Water Diplomacy

Examine how water diplomacy is central to preventing conflict and supporting equitable water management practices around the globe.

Water, Food, and Energy

Discover the dynamic nexus of water, food, and energy, and learn how these vital systems interact and contribute to human well-being.

Water Infrastructure for Human Settlements

Explore water infrastructure challenges around the world, with an emphasis on the development of sustainable and resilient communities.

WASH in International Development and Humanitarian Response

Study how water management is applied in international development and humanitarian emergencies to improve public health.

Program Structure

What makes the SWM program unique is our holistic approach to water management, which combines rigorous professional preparation with deep analysis of water challenges from the scientific perspective, the engineering perspective, and the social sciences perspective. SWM students complete 10 credits. Four core classes (four credits) are taken by the group as a cohort, enabling them to build a foundational skillset applicable to every facet of water management. The next four credits are based on a student’s chosen academic track, and are a combination of required courses and electives. The ninth credit is a two-semester seminar built around real-world case studies and simulations, giving students the opportunity to apply their learning to real world water management challenges. The tenth and final credit is a summer practicum supported by a stipend of up to $3,000. Leveraging the SWM program’s network of experts and professionals, students are able to pursue water projects and field experience around the world. This ensures that SWM students are able to shape the degree to match their individual career goals and develop as multidisciplinary water professionals.

*Note: Due to COVID-19, the program will delay its start to January 2021. Fall courses will resume in Fall 2021. 

Core Class Overview

In addition to the seminars, every student takes four core classes to build a foundational skillset as water management professionals:

Water Science and Systems Analysis

This course focuses on hydrology, water resources engineering, water quality analysis, and systems thinking aspects of water. Students gain a broad understanding of the scientific theories and principles related to processes governing water availability and quality and the practice of applying this theory, along with data and models, to address a range of problems of water resources engineering and management. The course is structured around model applications to case studies, which facilitates exploration of issues related to uncertainty, model complexity, and scale.

Environmental Statistics

Environmental data present unique challenges for water professionals. Often environmental data sets are small, and contain censored, threshold, or missing observations. Environmental data are also often skewed with extreme observations and can be multivariate with complicated temporal and spatial correlation structures. The objective of this class is to provide students in engineering and environmental science with the data analysis tools needed for their research but not taught in introductory statistical courses. The aim of the course is to provide a rigorous treatment of the topics to move beyond the ‘cookbook’ approach of introductory statistics courses to understand the basis for statistical techniques so that they can be properly adapted for environmental data. The course will lead from the analysis of hydrologic data.

Water Economics and Policy

This course provides an overview of the economic principles that affect water management, including market dynamics, efficiency and welfare analysis, economic externalities, valuation of water resources, and cost-benefit project analysis. The course ties water economics directly to water policy, focusing on the management of water as a common resource, water pricing as a conservation tool, private-public water management, and the role of water in sustainable development.

Water Leadership and Impact Management

To drive positive impact towards the sustainable management of water resources, effective leaders must both grasp technical aspects of water challenges and balance competing demands from multiple stakeholders with differing levels of power and influence. They need to develop both the mindset and the skillset to analyze complex socio-political contexts, work with diverse actors to identify specific problems and opportunities, create practicable solutions, and to persuade, negotiate, and lead others to achieve objectives. This course focuses on developing, in an integrated manner, the creative thinking and planning skills to identify and innovate solutions to tough challenges. It covers systems and problem analysis, budget preparation, donor relations, and effective teamwork.