Educational Curriculum Overview

To ensure sufficient depth and expertise in a particular discipline, students in the WSSS program enroll in and obtain a graduate degree from a participating school or department at Tufts, fulfilling all requirements for that program. In addition, WSSS students must:

  1. Attend weekly WSSS meetings.
  2. Take courses selected from our Educational Core Areas.
  3. Participate in the planning and presentation of the annual WSSS Symposium.
  4. Complete the requirements for one of the two tracks outlined below: Interdisciplinary Research ("R Track") or Practicum / Internship ("P Track").


Detailed information about program goals, academic requirements, and necessary forms are included in the WSSS Handbook. Download the Handbook in PDF form here >>

Core Educational Areas

The Core Educational Areas of the WSSS program encompass the disciplines essential to the integrated analysis of water issues. They support our six research areas and in turn are deepened by our research projects.


In addition to the course requirements of the student's own graduate program, students in the R Track must take three courses selected from three of the four core areas. Students in the P Track must enroll in a Practicum, as well as two core courses (see below).


Prerequisites may be excused with the permission of the instructor. In addition, an exceptionally well-qualified student may obtain exemption credit in one core area if the required approvals are obtained (see the Exemption form).


A list of courses that fulfill the WSSS core areas is available on the Courses page >>


Detailed information about the academic core areas and the courses that fall within each area is available in the WSSS Handbook.


The four core areas are:


  1. Water Resources Science and Technology
  2. Biological Aspects of Water, Health, and Nutrition
  3. Water Planning and Policy
  4. Economic and Systems Analysis

R Track: Interdisciplinary Water Resources Research


Courses: Three courses, in one of the following configurations:

  1. Choose three courses from three of the four broad core areas;
  2. Three courses in a single area, if the student's program is broadly interdisciplinary (as determined by the WSSS Steering Committee); or
  3. Other arrangements, if reviewed and approved in advance by the Steering Committee ("in advance" means prior to enrollment in the second of the three courses sought for credit).

Research Project: Students are required to undertake a significant interdisciplinary water resources research project, culminating in at least one of the following:


  1. A proposal for a MS/MA thesis or capstone, or a preliminary dissertation proposal, by the end of year 1;
  2. A completed thesis, directed study, or dissertation by the time of graduation from the WSSS program;
  3. A refereed journal article near completion of publication in a peer-reviewed journal by the time of graduation from the WSSS program; or
  4. A presentation at the annual WSSS symposium and/or a major national or international conference. Partial funding in support of such a conference presentation will be provided by the WSSS program.


Learn more about our six interdisciplinary research areas >>

Look at examples of theses from past WSSS research projects >>

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P Track: Practicum and Interdisciplinary Professional Experience / Internship


In addition to completing courses, students enrolled in the P Track are required to participate in the WSSS Practicum, complete an Interdisciplinary Professional Experience internship, and present a poster at the annual WSSS Symposium.


Courses: Two courses from two broad core areas or from the same broad core area (depending on the student's program of study).


WSSS Practicum: The WSSS Practicum will enable WSSS students to work in a small group on the integrated assessment of a water resources case study. The goal of the Practicum is to expose students to the techniques and thought processes of integrated assessment in order to train them as researchers and professionals. Learn more about the Practicum program and read about this year's WSSS practica >>


Interdisciplinary Professional Experience (IPE): To foster individual student development, students are required to complete a problem-focused, domestic or international field project with a public- or private-sector organization in an area related to their WSSS research topics. Through the IPE—which often takes the form of an internship—students gain professional-level experience and may develop opportunities for future research and subsequent employment. Students may secure their own IPE or seek the advice of WSSS faculty with similar interests. Read about past IPEs that WSSS students have completed >>


IPE requirements include:


  • A minimum of 150 hours, logged at one time or spread over the period in which the student is participating in WSSS.
  • An internship contract between the student and the sponsoring organization. The agreement must be signed by the student, the WSSS coordinator for the student's school or program, the IPE mentor/manager and the WSSS Director. At completion, the student must also submit documentation signed by the intern mentor/manager and the WSSS Coordinator. The internship contract is available on the Forms page.
  • Some students may satisfy this requirement through prior experience. These students should petition to WSSS IPE Committee via the Director.


Some existing internship programs (at UEP and in the AFE program at the School of Nutrition Science and Policy, for example) may satisfy the IPE, provided that they also meet the objectives of the IPE (and submit the required forms). This decision will be made by the IPE mentor.

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