Watershed Sciences

Our Program

The Department of Watershed Sciences combines coursework and research in aquatic ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, and climate science into an integrative interdisciplinary aquatic sciences program. Our degree programs prepare students for careers in natural resources research and management. Our recent graduates have secured employment with federal and state agencies, universities, and private organizations.

Our department offers graduate programs at both the Master and Doctoral levels in:

  • Ecology
  • Fisheries Biology
  • Watershed Science

We further offer graduate specializations in:

  • Conservation Biology

  • Fisheries Management

  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Watershed Ecology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Limnology
  • Watershed Hydrology
  • Watershed Management
  • Geomorphology
  • Earth Surface Processes
  • Climate Adaptation Science

Our Facilities

Department research is conducted in a variety of laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, with research funding coming from federal, state and private sources.


The National Aquatic Monitoring Center is a cooperative venture between Utah State University and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Our purpose is to encourage and foster scientifically sound watershed monitoring programs on public lands. Our goals are to increase the consistency and quality of aquatic resource assessments and provide clear, accurate, and timely information to resource managers and the public. A primary focus at our laboratory is the processing of aquatic invertebrate samples.

Ecology Center

The USU Ecology Center is an interdisciplinary collaboration between eleven departments in five colleges.

Western Center for Monitoring & Assessment of Freshwater Ecosystems

The primary mission for the Western Center for Monitoring & Assessment of Freshwater Ecosystems is to facilitate the development and application of scientifically sound methods for monitoring and assessing the condition of aquatic ecosystems. The Center provides three web-based resources to the ecological assessment community: Bioassessment, Predictive Models, and Data modules. The Center is housed within the College of Natural Resources at Utah State University and staffed by faculty, technicians and students from the Departments of Watershed Sciences and Computer Science.

Center for Colorado River Studies

This center for Colorado River Studies is a nexus for innovative research, teaching, and outreach that informs management of the Colorado River and other major rivers of the American Southwest. We undertake critical studies that inform how different parts of the Colorado River and its tributaries can be effectively managed. We train future researchers and managers who will be responsible for tomorrow’s Colorado River. We provide education and training to stakeholders to support informed and focused decision making. Because the water available to restore the Colorado River ecosystem is increasingly limited, we are especially interested in research and outreach that helps inform the very difficult decisions about priority locations and actions that provide the best opportunity for significant restoration success.

The department also features several faculty research labs; learn more under ‘About WATS’ tab.

Our Faculty

Students are encouraged to explore faculty fields of interests for research opportunities.

Request Information

PDRF Perks

  • Four-year fellowship
  • $10,000 stipend (each year for four years)
  • Full-tuition award (each year for four years)
  • Departmental Assistantship
  • Health insurance
  • Enrollment in Research Certification
  • Exclusive socials, special guests, and trainings
  • One-on-one support from the Vice President

PDRF Application Requirements

Please contact Graduate Program Coordinator Brian Bailey at brian.bailey@usu.edu for more information.

  • Meet all School of Graduate Studies requirements for general admission to USU
  • Apply to the Ph.D. program by mid-March the year you plan to enter to be eligible for PDRF program; final deadline for non-PDRF candidates is June 15