Water Security Research at the U of S, ranked #1 in Canada for water resources research.

The Master of Water Security (MWS) is for the prospective student that wants to study in one of the strongest water security research communities in North America. This cross-disciplinary, project and course-based master's degree trains students to investigate concerns such as drought, climate change, flooding and water quality using a holistic approach that incorporates not only the sciences, but also the study of social dynamics and public policy. Practical application of skills is further facilitated through a major project or placement. SENS is in the process of developing international project and placement options in China and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The University of Saskatchewan is the #1 institute for water resources research in Canada and #18 in the world, according to the ShanghaiRankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2017. The MWS is a joint initiative between SENS and the Global Institute for Water Security. GIWS is a world-leading centre focused on research that addresses issues such as climate change and water resources, flooding and drought and the social and policy environment surrounding water management. It is led by world-renowned hydrologists and SENS faculty members Jay Famiglietti and Jeffrey McDonnell, and includes faculty expertise that spans the fields of hillslope and watershed hydrology; ecology and lake biogeochemistry; water quality; groundwater resource management; First Nations water and health; and, water resource management and planning. GIWS is also home to the $140 million Global Water Futures program. 

Study in Canada or China

The Master of Water Security can be completed at either the University of Saskatchewan (uSask) in Saskatoon, Canada or at Beijing Normal University (BNU) in Beijing, China. If you would like to earn this uSask degree while studying at BNU, then please indicate this in your statement of intent when you apply for the program.  

Beijing Normal University (BNU) is a key university directly under the Ministry of Education. The predecessor of the school was founded in 1902. After more than 100 years of development, the school now has 23 colleges, 10 research institutes, three faculties, and two departments. Due to its comprehensive strength, BNU ranks among the top universities in the country. In the 2017/18 World University Rankings published by the UK Higher Education Survey (QS), BNU ranked 256th and ranked 8th among Chinese universities.

The BNU College of Water Sciences was formally established in 2005. Presently, there are four departments: Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Department of Groundwater Science and Engineering, Department of Water Ecology and Environment, and Department of Water Security. BNU also has one Key Lab of Ministry of Education (MOE) and one Key Laboratory of Beijing. 

According to ShanghaiRanking's 2018 global ranking of universities for the academic subject of water resources, uSask ranked #1 in Canada and BNU ranked #1 in China.


The 2016-17 MWS Cohort (from left): Nicholas Phelan, Carley Coccola, associate professor and MWS director Andrew Ireson, Maggie Norris, Alannah Grande, Kaitlyn Bell, Herbert Mkandla.

MWS students must complete a research project as part of their degree requirements to foster project management and critical thinking skills. The project provides an opportunity for students to investigate applied topics in water security. They are interdisciplinary in scope and may include scientific, technical, social, economic, cultural, institutional or other appropriate attributes of water security challenges.

The project engages students in active, hands-on learning by having individuals work with a partner organization. These partners include non-profit and charitable organizations, municipal and provincial governments, and crown corporations. If students already have a partner in industry or the consulting sector and wish to gain practical experience by partnering with them, this option may also be available. Students work with the partner organization for a 250-hour placement from May to July.

Potential Project Topics

This field involves the study of the surface water cycle and the availability, distribution, movement, quality and quantity of water. Related course material focuses on water resources management, modelling, and planning in an era of climate change.

This field involves the study of the distribution and movement of groundwater. Related course material focuses on examining groundwater and its properties from a geochemistry, engineering, or soil science perspective.

This field involves the study of the dynamics between human use, control, value, and culture related to water and its place in the global community. Related course material focuses on health, community, Indigenous peoples, and policy.

Tuition and Scholarship

Tuition rates for the 2019-2020 MWS program offered at the University of Saskatchewan campus are listed here, under the heading "Graduate studies: special tuition programs".

In addition, students are required to pay these applicable student fees.  Students who do not complete the MWS program in a 12-month period will continue to pay tuition at the regular rate until the degree is complete.

Additional Fees: ENVS 806 (Field Skills in Environment and Sustainability) has an additional fee of $400 CDN plus GST to cover the field component of the class. This fee is subject to change by year. Payable when tuition is due. 

Applicants who receive admission to the MWS program are required to submit a deposit to hold their spot in the limited capacity program. Successful applicants will receive a notice of acceptance and must mail the completed notice with their deposit. The notice of acceptance and the deposit must be received by SENS by the deadline specified in the letter or this offer will automatically lapse. The deposit will be applied as partial payment of tuition fees at the time of registration and is non-refundable if a student subsequently decides not to enter the MWS program.


There are minimal scholarships available for professional program students. Applicants will be assessed for scholarship funding based on merit. 

Visit for more information. 


ENVS 806.3: Field Skills in Environment and Sustainability

The MWS students visit the Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation water treatment plant, September 2017.

This core course of the MWS program exposes students to field methods in water security-related subjects, including hydrology, environmental science, water resources management, water and communities, and water and health. The course learning objectives include fundamentals of hydrology, fundamentals of social engagement, field skills in hydrology, and data collection and management.

In Fall 2017, the course involved the following: 

  • Visited Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation to learn about floods and droughts, drainage issues, water treatment and distribution issues, and First Nation water governance. The trip was hosted by Brenda and Brian Seesequasis (Director of Lands, Beardy’s and Okemasis Band).
  • Visited the Saskatoon Water Treatment Plant for a tour.
  • Conducted two hydrological experiments at the U of S Mine Overlay Site Testing Facility involving rain runoff and evaporation.
  • Preformed a social engagement activity at Petrofka Orchard and Laird, SK led by Thomas Abe with the North Saskatchewan River Basin Council. Students learned about the issues faced in small communities with regards to source water protection, water resource management, and treatment and distribution. 
  • The final two days of the field course were spent at the Hannin Creek Field Camp near Candle Lake, SK, which is a camp run by the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and Saskatchewan Polytechnic. There, they learnt a variety of field techniques including stream and groundwater monitoring and hydro-meteorological observations. 

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