Do you want to protect the world’s most valuable resource? Are you interested in marine biology, aquatic ecosystems or environmental science? Explore a freshwater sciences bachelor’s degree.

Join our community of students and scientists who value freshwater resources and are using their science to solve problems and address challenges in areas such as sustainable fisheries, water-related climate change issues, water pollution and invasive species.

You will acquire a valuable skill set through diverse hands-on opportunities, such as collecting samples aboard our research vessels on the Great Lakes and three urban rivers; conducting field research in Laguna Bacalar, Mexico; and collaborating with regional stakeholders to address freshwater policy challenges. 

Gain real experience that employers are looking for through a rigorous aquatic science and water policy curriculum paired with undergraduate research opportunities and a senior project addressing current freshwater and environmental problems.   

Dive in and discover your path to making a difference. 

Program Type

Major, Minor

Program Format

On Campus
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Career Outlook

Water is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global economy, and employers are looking for skilled people. Here are a few examples of how you can use your degree:

  • Work with a local water utility to ensure safe drinking water.
  • Monitor waterways and beaches for contaminants.
  • Create safer and more efficient water infrastructure.
  • Manage invasive species to protect entire ecosystems.
  • Advocate for better water policies.
  • Restore and conserve habitats.
  • Educate the community about water issues.
  • Attend graduate school to expand your expertise and leadership skills.

From the start, you’ll do more than get your feet wet. Our freshwater sciences undergraduates experience:

  • Small class sizes taught by leaders in freshwater sciences.
  • Access to state-of-the-art labs and equipment, a genomics center and research vessels that provide opportunities to develop skills in the latest scientific techniques. 
  • The ability to explore a variety of water systems, including the Great Lakes and a confluence of three urban rivers.
  • A flexible aquatic science and water policy curriculum tailored to your interests.
  • Opportunities to study water ecosystems statewide through UWM’s participation in the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin.

Attending an info session is your next step.

Focus your freshwater sciences bachelor’s degree on aquatic science or water policy. Both tracks combine core classes in natural sciences, mathematics, economics and computer science with topic-specific electives in areas such as sustainability and environmental law. You’ll also have access to undergraduate research experiences, including opportunities with the School of Freshwater Sciences faculty at the Great Lake Research Facility.

Curriculum Requirements

Our degree programs focus on acquiring relevant job skills through hands-on experiential learning, undergraduate research opportunities and internships. The final capstone experience allows you to apply classroom learning toward real-world problems.

Sample Four-Year Plans

A minor in freshwater sciences will help you prepare for your water-related career in ecological and environmental sciences, natural resources, technology, policy or business.

The freshwater sciences minor requires 18 credits within the School of Freshwater Sciences, including six foundational credits.

Curriculum Requirements

The school requires that students attain at least a 2.0 GPA on all credits in the minor attempted at UWM. In addition, students must attain a 2.0 GPA on all minor credits attempted, including any transfer work.

Faculty and scientists in the School of Freshwater Sciences are nationally known for their expertise in ecosystem health, emerging contaminants, freshwater technologies, invasive species, aquaculture and water policy. They also enjoy mentoring and training students who are passionate about freshwater ecosystems.


School of Freshwater Sciences
Great Lakes Research Facility
600 E Greenfield Avenue,
Milwaukee, WI 53204

Phone: 414-382-1700