B.S. in Hydrology and Water Resources

Water is one of our most vital natural resources and the source of all life on earth, yet its future is anything but certain. The Hydrology and Water Resources major teaches students the physical and chemical principles underlying Earth’s water cycle, preparing them to solve water resource challenges all over the world.

Why hydrology?

Hydrologists focus their studies on Earth’s most precious resource: its water. With this degree, students interested in protecting water resources and the environment will learn the geological principles that inform how water flows through the subsurface, soils, and rocks, and the foundational knowledge that can be applied to a wide range of environmental problems.

What do hydrologists do?

Hydrologists help maintain safe and secure water resources for society and ecosystems. They work in areas such as flood forecasting, groundwater management, and contaminant remediation and analyze water quality and quantity.


Career and graduate school opportunities

The Hydrology and Water Resources degree gives students a quantitative understanding of how water flows through the environment and how water quality evolves. They’ll be prepared for technical roles that help protect the environment and people, such as assessing water quality and prior contamination, flood forecasting, water resource allocation, sustainable land use, law, and policy.

Graduate school disciplines students will be ready for:

  • Hydrology
  • Geoscience
  • Planetary Science
  • Public policy
  • Law

Industries hiring hydrologists include:

  • Environmental consulting
  • Government agencies
  • Civil engineering
  • Public policy
  • Law
  • Public health

Wage data for related jobs


Natural Sciences Managers

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Conservation Scientists

Median annual wage data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Research opportunities

All students in this major will participate in a three-week immersive field course specifically focused on hydrology research. Students use state-of-the-art equipment to collect and analyze real-world samples. These field courses are open only to hydrology majors.

Jackson School faculty members are conducting a wide range of hydrology-focused research right here on campus. Undergraduate students can join research teams studying everything from coral reef preservation to flood forecasting, from urban hydrology to forests’ response to drought and wildfires.

All Jackson School undergraduates have an abundance of research opportunities at their fingertips. Explore more on our Undergraduate Research page.

Degree requirements

Every Jackson School undergraduate is required to take foundational courses that cover the breadth of the geosciences, along with advanced courses specific to their major. Students will explore these fields, advancing their quantitative reasoning skills, developing computational literacy, applying geospatial tools, and learning how to manage, evaluate, and visualize data.

Hydrology foundation courses

These are the courses every hydrology and water resources major is required to take.

Hydrogeology component

These upper-division courses prepare students to understand the flows and fluxes of water, bridging time and spacial scales. Take 11 credits (all three classes).

  • GEO 476K: Groundwater Hydrology
  • GEO 476M: Aqueous Geochemistry
  • GEO 376S: Physical Hydrology

Immersion learning

This is an intensive three-week course where you will learn by doing. Take three credits (this class).

  • GEO 376L: Field Methods in Groundwater Hydrology


  • Water, climate and environmental fundamentals component
    Take six credits (two classes).
    • GEO 370E: Ecohydrology and Biometeorology
    • GEO 371T: Topic in Vadose Zone Hydrology
    • GEO 371T: Topic in Physical Climatology
    • GEO 371T: Topic in Global Warming
    • GEO 320S: Introduction to Atmospheric Sciences
    • GEO 371T: Topic in Paleoclimatology
    • GEO 377K: Applied Karst Hydrogeology
    • GEO 371C: Topic in Glaciology
    • GEO 349C: Introduction to the Cryosphere
    • Coastal Change
    • Geomorphology
    • Atmospheric Dynamics
  • Component electives
    Take 9 credits (three classes) of any upper division geological science courses that are not already required in the hydrology and water resources degree. This can include any additional water, climate and environment fundamental courses. Explore all upper division GEO courses in the university’s course catalog.
  • Disciplinary fundamentals
    You will dive deeper into the fundamentals of the topics and sub-disciplines you are most interested in. The courses can be either inside or outside of the geosciences department. Take 12 credits (four classes).

Geoscience courses

These are the courses required of all Jackson School undergraduates. They will typically be completed within the first two years of study.

Introduction to earth and planetary science

Learn if geosciences is right for you, and choose any class you like. Take at least three credits (one class).

  • GEO 401: Physical Geology
  • GEO 302C: Climate: Past, Present, Future
  • GEO 302D: Dinosaurs
  • GEO 302E: Earth, Wind, and Fire
  • GEO 302G: Earth Science/Sustainability
  • GEO 302J: Crisis of Our Planet
  • GEO 302M: The Age of Mammals
  • GEO 302N: National Parks
  • GEO 302Q: Gems & Minerals
  • GEO 303: Introduction to Geology        
  • GEO 303C: Intro Solar System
  • GEO 303E: Earth in 2100

Experiential learning

Hone your skills in observation, data gathering, and interpretation. Take at least six credits (two classes).

  • GEO 405: Life Through Time
  • GEO 310T: Geodata
  • GEO 315L: Earth from Lab to Planet
  • GEO 420K: Introduction to Field and Stratigraphic Methods

Disciplinary breadth

These courses span all aspects of the geosciences, and provide you the foundation for more advanced study in your area of interest. Take 12 credits (all three classes).

  • GEO 416E: Solid Earth Processes
  • GEO 416S: Integrating Earth & Planetary Processes Through Time
  • GEO 416W: Climate, Water, and the Environment

Computational learning

Develop your skills in the quantitative analysis of geosciences data and theories. Take at least 6 credits (two classes).

  • GEO 325G: Computational Applications in the Geosciences
  • GEO 325M: Numerical Modeling in the Geosciences
  • GEO 352P: Python for Geoscience Research
  • GEO 366M: Mathematical Methods in Geophysics
  • GEO 378D1: Introduction to Machine Learning and Geosciences
  • PGE 338: Geostatistics and Data Analysis

Building block requirements

These courses take place outside of the Jackson School and are required of all hydrology and water resources majors. The hydrology major requires a robust understanding of mathematics, physics, and chemistry to prepare students for advanced classes specific to the degree.


Take at least 12 credits (three classes).

  • M 408C: Differential and Integral Calculus
  • M 408D: Sequences, Series, and Multivariable Calculus
  • M 408L: Integral Calculus, M 408M: Multivariable Calculus, or M 408K: Differential Calculus


Take 8 credits (two classes and two labs).

Option 1:

  • PHY 301: Mechanics
    • PHY 101L: Laboratory for Physics 301
    • PHY 316: Electricity and Magnetism
    • PHY 116L: Laboratory for Physics 316

Option 2:

  • PHY 303K: Engineering Physics I
    • PHY 103M: Laboratory for Physics 303K
    • PHY 303L: Engineering Physics II
    • PHY 103N: Laboratory for Physics 303L


Take at least six credits (these two classes; labs are not required).

  • CH 301: Principles of Chemistry I
  • CH 302: Principles of Chemistry II

Read more about these courses in the University of Texas course catalog. The 2024-2025 catalog will be available soon.

The 2024-2026 hydrology and water resources degree plan is coming soon.

Past degree plans: 2022-2024 | 2020-2022 | 2018-2020 | 2016-2018 | 2014-2016

Complementary minors

Hydrology majors can select any minor available to University of Texas undergraduate students. Here are a few that we recommend pairing with a hydrology degree in order to further your expertise in policy, sustainability, renewable energy, or risk management.

Next steps: Applying and transferring

Ready to start changing the world? If you’re a high school student interested in applying to the Jackson School to be a hydrology and water resources major, please select Geological Sciences during the process of your undergraduate application to The University of Texas at Austin. Additional application information can be found on the UT Office of Admissions website and the Jackson School’s Admissions page.

Thinking of transferring to the Jackson School to be a hydrology and water resources major? If you’re an undergraduate student already enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin, you may enter the Jackson School through an internal transfer process which occurs twice a year. Please visit the Jackson School’s Internal Transfers webpage for details about the internal transfer process, deadlines, and upcoming information session dates to learn more about our school and programs. We also encourage you to contact academic advising before you start this process.