Student Resources

Welcome to the Colorado School of Mines!  You are starting a journey through one of the best Hydrologic Science and Engineering Programs in the world.  This webpage is 1) a summary of important information on your degree process and 2) a guide to efficient navigation of your graduate degree. Our program administers M.S. (thesis and non-thesis option) and Ph.D. degrees in Hydrology, and details on our programs are found in the Graduate Catalog.


The Hydrologic Science and Engineering (HSE) Program at Mines is an interdisciplinary graduate program designed to provide an environment in which students can develop a solid background in quantitative water science, engineering and/or policy, with particular emphasis on areas of expertise of the participating faculty. We offer programs of study in fundamental hydrologic science and applied hydrology with engineering applications. Our Program is designed around a shared fundamental core of aqueous chemistry, surface and subsurface hydrology, and chemical transport in hydrologic systems.

Graduate-Student Responsibilities

You have been admitted to HSE.  This probably means that you excelled in your undergraduate program, and many of you were at the top of your class. Our students are among the best in the country and we are very proud of this reputation.   Now, you are embarking on a new challenge.  Graduate study is different from the undergraduate educational experience.  Successful completion of the program requires self-motivation and independent study to prepare you for a lifetime of learning.  To earn your degree, you must complete coursework, but the primary challenge is associated with the research you must complete for your thesis or dissertation, or design-based courses for a non-thesis student.

Being accepted to the program does not assure that you will earn a degree, or if you do earn a degree that you will do it within a specific time period.  At the graduate level, the student (not the instructor) is responsible for advancing the student’s education.  Rather than “going along for the ride,” you, as the student, are steering and have your foot on the accelerator.  At lower levels you do as you are instructed, attending class, reading the material assigned, submitting homework and taking exams. Now, you need to develop the skills to guide your own study, think beyond the obvious concrete items presented in each class, and read beyond what is assigned.  If you focus and take charge of your program, you can complete the degree promptly.

If you are fortunate enough to have a research or teaching assistantship, this is your top priority.  Research projects usually have legal contracts between Mines and the project sponsor.  Thus, an assistantship is a job and the professor in charge of the project is your boss.  Your work must meet project/course deadlines.  The report that you produce for a project may not be sufficient for a thesis, which is an academic product.  Be sure you work with your advisor to determine what is needed to constitute your thesis and work to advance that while completing the requirements of your assistantship.

The best way to control your program is to get familiar with the requirements and timetable in the catalog and discipline yourself to accomplish each step. Professors are a resource and will provide advice when you ask questions.  Of course, you will need to obtain approval for your plans.

Checklists for graduation and a flowchart for courses are available for you to help, although check the catalog for up to date information

Degree Program vs. Home Department

Students apply to—and get a degree from—the HSE program, but sit in a particular home department. Students are usually placed in the same department as their advisor, but follows the academic program (course requirements, committee requirements, etc.) of HSE. Most of the logistical support (offices, keys, mailboxes, student contracts, computer accounts) is provided by the department.  The current participating faculty and departments for HSE are outlined here.

Who Signs Paperwork for an HSE Student?

The student’s advisor signs nearly every form that an HSE student encounters.  In addition, Program- or department-level approval is required for almost every form.

Academic paperwork is signed by the Director of the HSE program.  This includes forms related to coursework, advisor assignments, thesis committee assignments, admission to candidacy, work completion form, and the thesis signature page.

Administrative paperwork is signed by the Head of the home department. This includes travel forms, RA and TA contracts (with the exception of an HSE fellowship), etc.

If you are on an RA or TA with multiple funding sources, then the principle investigator (PI) or fund manager for each account must approve it.

If you are confused about this issue, or just generally need some help on academic or administrative forms, ask Tim VanHaverbeke, our HSE administrative and academic specialist.  Tim is located in the CEEN Main office in Coolbaugh 206,, 303-273-3467.

For copies of Graduate Office Forms see –

Additional Expectations

The HSE program provides a venue for a shared educational experience with several dozen like-minded graduate students and teachers.  The HSE program hosts a few events throughout the year, and you are expected to participate.  Please block off your calendar as soon as these dates are known.


The HSE student orientation is held the first week of Fall classes.  All HSE students are expected to attend, so that they can be introduced to new students and any changes to the program that have occurred.

HSE Colloquia

A few times each semester, the HSE program will sponsor or co-sponsor a visiting speaker.  You are expected to attend each talk.  First, our reputation depends on visitors’ impression of our program size and commitment to learning, and this is the tangible source of good public relations.  Second, these sorts of talks are the best way to embrace the latest in scientific research.  Journal articles are always a year or two older than the talks.  These talks are not regularly scheduled because we are beholden to the schedules of the invited speakers. Typically, you will receive an e-mail at least a week in advance of the talk.

Student Leadership Positions

We have the HSE Club, which looks to expand the community, organization, and visibility of the HSE Program at Mines through creating social activities, maintaining an online presence, and fostering academic and professional events. The purpose of HSE Club is to provide a comfortable and fun environment in which the study of hydrological science and engineering is promoted. They coordinate potlucks, guest lectures, recreational events and entertainment for HSE students and faculty. The HSE Club Elections are held at a general meeting in April of the spring semester unless otherwise scheduled. Impromptu elections are held within a month of a resignation being accepted. Terms last one year, but officers elected in impromptu elections only serve until the next official HSE Club Election.

In the past, we have also had a student representative to the selected HSE faculty meetings.  This student brings student issues before the faculty, and relays programmatic issues to the students for potential votes (curriculum changes, etc.).   We have also hired an editor for the newsletter. Our newsletter is scheduled to come out twice a year.  These positions seem to come and go, but we are interested in making them more regularly filled.