Explore our Programs

We are the nation’s only graduate school dedicated solely to the study of freshwater: the ideal place to explore water in all of its complexities.

Prepare to be part of the next generation of scientists, researchers, and policymakers committed to exploring, protecting, and preserving one of our most vital natural resources.

From the shores of Lake Michigan, we study the largest freshwater system on Earth, as well as urban rivers, storm- and wastewater infrastructure, groundwater and inland lakes, aquaculture and fisheries, robotic systems, human and environmental health, and interdisciplinary solutions to freshwater conflicts. Our research-rich environment gives students the chance to engage in cutting-edge work, working alongside some of the best freshwater scientists in the world. We’re equipping future scientists and professionals with the interdisciplinary skills and expertise needed to address the critical challenges facing our freshwater resources.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

  • Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) A paid summer internship sponsored by the National Science Foundation for UWM and non-UWM undergraduates to engage in research with UWM faculty and scientists.
  • Undergraduate Aquatic Biology and Mathematics (UBM) A two-year paid research fellowship for UWM freshman and sophomores interested in mathematical modeling and analysis of aquatic ecosystems. Fellows conduct research under the guidance of a UWM faculty member while completing for-credit courses and seminars.
  • Office of Undergraduate Research For-credit research projects conducted under the guidance of UWM faculty or scientists.

Upper Level Undergraduate Courses


Freshwater U/G courses are open to qualified upper-level undergraduates, provided the prerequisites are met. Check with your advisor to make sure the courses will count toward your major for degree credit. Students enrolled in SFS courses held at our building on Greenfield Avenue may use the convenient, no-fare shuttle from campus. Find information on U/G courses offered on the UWM schedule of classes site.

Freshwater Degree Program Prerequisites


An undergraduate bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, public policy or other appropriate natural science, social science or engineering discipline is required. The following prerequisite courses ensure that you have sufficient background to understand the terminology, theory, and practical applications of the required courses.

  • At least one college-level semester of each of the following: chemistry, biological sciences, physics, and calculus.
  • One additional semester of chemistry, biological sciences, or physics.

Students lacking prerequisites are often unable to complete courses in the recommended sequence and find it difficult to complete the required courses for graduation within the normal time frame of study. Fulfilling prerequisites is usually demonstrated through pertinent coursework; however, relevant professional experience that demonstrates knowledge of these concepts may be considered.

Selecting a Major Advisor


We strongly recommend you reach out to faculty members whose interests align with your own early in the application process to discuss potential research and funding opportunities.  Meet our faculty and explore their research. Students in the PhD and MS Thesis program must be accepted by a faculty member who will serve as the major professor, and be primarily responsible for matriculation. Professional Science track MS students are paired with an advisor whose interests most closely align with their own.

Evening, Weekend, and Online Courses


Several courses are being offered each semester in a blended/hybrid format or in the evening.  Check out the current schedule of classes.

Experiential Learning Requirement for Professional Science Master’s


The Professional Science Master’s program requires an experiential learning component prior to graduation. This can be fulfilled through an internship or a group project with a water-related organization, agency, or business. Students often secure full-time jobs at their internship organizations.

Scholarships and Financial Aid


Review UWM financial aid options and check out the UWM Graduate School financial information. Find information about School of Freshwater Sciences scholarships, Research Assistantships and Fellowships for incoming and current students here.

Tours and Visits


Each semester we offer monthly visit days for prospective students. The visit days include a tour of the facilities; the opportunity to chat with staff, faculty, and students; and we also provide information packets about our programs. Please check our events page for upcoming School of Freshwater Sciences Visit Days.

School Location


The School of Freshwater Sciences is located directly on Milwaukee’s Inner Harbor giving us access to the waters of Lake Michigan. The School is about 5 miles south of the main campus in the Walker’s Point neighborhood just south of downtown Milwaukee, at 600 E. Greenfield Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53204. A shuttle bus provides transportation to and from the main campus during the academic year, and we are located just 2 blocks away from Milwaukee’s Green Line bus route. Join  several of our students and faculty who bike here almost every day!

Jobs and Careers


There are a wide variety of jobs available for freshwater graduates.  Graduates from our programs work in environmental consulting, environmental advocacy, academia, water resource management, and natural resource management.  They are project managers in water industry, sustainability managers, and researchers for government agencies or private companies. The School of Freshwater Sciences career services works closely with area employers and is dedicated to helping students with career planning, skills development, and applying for jobs.