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Want to save the world? Have a great career? Make a difference? Start here.

Set yourself up for success with a Bachelor of Science in Freshwater Sciences.

Our BS in Freshwater Sciences degree program gives undergraduates access to the same exceptional facilities, faculty and hands-on learning experiences that have prepared our graduate students for successful careers in research, industry, advocacy or government.

Choose a focus for your undergraduate studies: Aquatic Sciences or Water Policy. Both tracks combine core classes in natural sciences, mathematics, economics and computer science with additional coursework in areas such as sustainability and environmental law.

We are pleased to introduce the Friends of Water Scholarship for new freshmen and transfer students majoring in Freshwater Sciences. These $500 awards are for full-time undergraduate students starting in Fall 2021. In addition, if you are a first-generation student, hold military or veteran status, or are a member of a racial or ethnic minority group underrepresented in higher education in UW System, you are eligible to receive an additional $500.  For more information, please visit the SFS Scholarship and Financial Aid page.

Fact Sheet

Why You Should Study Freshwater Sciences Here

Tackle climate change, ensure safe drinking water, protect our lakes and beaches, advance sustainable fisheries…whatever path you want to take, your journey begins here. Get your hands dirty and your feet wet with unparalleled access to world-class facilities and diverse field opportunities.

Hands-on Learning
Get real-world skills that will prepare you for the job you want

Learn from Leaders
Study with faculty who are recognized as experts in their fields

Chart your Course
Train for your tomorrow with the region’s top research fleet and facilities


The Bachelor of Science in Freshwater Sciences program requirements are comprised of 120 credits, of which 42 are UW-Milwaukee general education requirements. Students will be required to complete 31 credits in foundational natural sciences, mathematics, economics, and computer science courses; 32 credits of core courses of which 29 are in Freshwater Sciences; 27 credits of program option requirements (Aquatic Science or Water Policy); and elective courses. Coursework will be primarily offered on the main campus.

General education courses required for graduation (42 credits, 12 of which are satisfied through Required Foundational courses)

Oral and Written Communication levels A and B 6 credits

Quantitative Literacy levels A and B (B satisfied by MTHSTAT 215) 6 credits

Foreign Language 6 credits

Arts 3 credits

Humanities 6 credits

Social Sciences (partially satisfied by ECON 103) 6 credits

Natural Sciences (satisfied by BIOSCI 150, 152) 6 credits

Cultural Diversity 3 credits

Required Foundational courses (31 credits)

BIOSCI 150 Foundations of Biological Sciences I (NS) 4 credits

BIOSCI 152 Foundations of Biological Sciences II (NS) 4 credits

CHEM 102 General Chemistry 5 credits

CHEM 104 General Chemistry and Qualitative Analysis 5 credits

COMPSCI 250 Introductory Computer Programming 3 credits

ECON 103 Principles of Microeconomics (SS) 3 credits

MTHSTAT 215 Elementary Statistical Analysis (QLB) 3 credits

MATH 231 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 4 credits

Required Core courses (32 credits)

FRSHWTR 101 Elements of Water 3 credits

FRSHWTR 120 Preparing for a Career in Freshwater Sciences 1 credit

FRSHWTR 201 The Water Environment 3 credits

FRSHWTR 202 Life in Water 4 credits

FRSHWTR 392 Water-Energy-Food-Climate 3 credits

FRSHWTR 391 Water and Natural Resource Economics 3 credits

FRSHWTR 361 Intro to Environmental Data Systems 3 credits

FRSHWTR 464 Chemical Hydrogeology 4 credits

FRSHWTR 660 Undergraduate Capstone or FRSHWTR 662 Undergraduate Research and Thesis 3 credits

FRSHWTR 661 Professional and Capstone Planning or FRSHWTR 663 Thesis Research Planning and Proposal Development 1 credit

FRSHWTR 690 Undergraduate Seminar in Freshwater Sciences 1 credit

GEOG 215 Intro to GIS 3 credits

Aquatic Science Option (27 credits)

  • Required Courses (7 credits)
    • PHYSICS 120 or PHYSICS 209 4 credits
    • BIOSCI 512 Limnology 3 credits
  • Electives (9 credits, from the following, at least 3 FRSHWTR credits)
    • FRSHWTR 321 Exploration of Inland Seas 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 341 Sanitation and Sustainability 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 322 Ecology and Evolution of Freshwater Organisms 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 362 Calculating Nature 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 342 Water Pollution, Technology, and Management 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 471 Introduction to Sensing Networks 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 421 Molecular Level Tools to Understand Larger Scale Change 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 511 Ichthyology 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 512(Topic) Brew City Aquaponics 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 513 Field Experimentation and Analysis in Freshwater Science 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 514 Analytical Techniques in Freshwater Sciences 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 522 Aquatic Organic Biogeochemistry 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 524 Aquatic Isotope Biogeochemistry 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 562 Principles of Aquaculture Systems 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 563 Finfish Aquaculture and Nutrition Principles 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 564 Water Quality in Aquaculture 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 565 Fish Health 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 621 Benthic Ecology 3 credits
    • ATM SCI 240 Introduction to Meteorology 3 credits
    • BIOSCI 310 General Ecology 4 credits
    • BIOSCI 406 Marine Biology 3 credits
    • BIOSCI 505 Conservation Biology 3 credits
    • CES 651 Principles of Stream Management and Restoration 3 credits
    • CIVIL 311 Intro to Energy Environment and Sustainability 3 credits
    • GEOG 403 Remote Sensing: Environmental and Land Use Analysis 4 credits
    • GEOG 411 Physical Climatology 3 credits
    • GEOG 415 Hydrogeography 3 credits
    • GEOG 455 Applied Climatology 3 credits
    • GEOG 515 Watershed Analysis and Modeling 3 credits
    • GEOG 525 Geographic Information Systems 4 credits
    • GEOSCI 400 Water Quality 4 credits
    • GEOSCI 463 Physical Hydrogeology 4 credits
    • MATH 305 Introduction to Mathematical and Computational Modeling 3 credits
    • PH 303 Climate Change, the Environment and Human Health 3 credits
  • Additional Electives chosen in consultation with advisor 11 credits

Water Policy Option (27 credits)

  • Required Courses (6 credits)
    • FRSHWTR 393 Water Law, Policy and the Environment 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 510 Economics, Policy and Management of Water 3 credits
  • Electives (9 credits, from the following, at least 3 FRSHWTR credits)
    • FRSHWTR 584 Aquatic Ecosystem Valuation 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 583 Cost-Benefit Analysis for Environmental Resource Decision 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 461 Politics and Policy of Sustainability 3 credits
    • FRSHWTR 585 Applied Water Statistics and Data Manipulation 3 credits
    • POLISCI 216 Environmental Politics 3 credits
    • GEOG 525 Geographic Information Science 4 credits
    • GEOG 625 Intermediate Geographic Information Science 4 credits
    • ECON 210 Economic Statistics 3 credits
    • ECON 301 Intermediate Microeconomics 3 credits
    • ECON 310 Research Methods for Economics 3 credits
    • HIST 432 North American Environmental History 3 credits
  • Additional Electives chosen in consultation with advisor 12 credits

Click here for the Freshwater Sciences course catalog.

Sample Four Year Plans

There are hundreds of courses that satisfy various requirements, and courses can count towards more than one requirement. For example, Biological Sciences 150 counts towards both natural science and freshwater sciences major requirements. Required foundational and core classes in BOLD.

Aquatic Sciences coming soon

Water Policy coming soon

View complete list of Freshwater Courses


An undergraduate degree in Freshwater Sciences can be the foundation for success in a broad range of careers within government, industry, advocacy, academia and other fields.

Water is the fastest-growing sector of the global economy, and employers are looking for people with the skills and experience you’ll develop here at the School of Freshwater Sciences.

Here are just a few of the areas where our graduates succeed:

  • environmental consulting
  • aquatic biology
  • public health
  • habitat restoration and conservation
  • field and laboratory research
  • resource management
  • water policy and advocacy
  • water treatment and technology
  • science communication and education
  • community outreach

Minor in Freshwater Sciences

Beginning Fall 2021, our school will offer a new minor in freshwater sciences. Visit the program’s page for more information, including required courses and electives.