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Collaborative Water Program

The Collaborative Water Program, coordinated and supported by the University of Waterloo Water Institute, includes a suite of 20 master's and doctoral programs with a focus on water.

Join us in interdisciplinary education and thought leadership

Global water issues are becoming increasingly complex and often require a collaborative approach across a breadth of disciplines. Game-changing research on the global water cycle, the blue economy, watershed management, urban water systems and other themes requires a crossdisciplinary mindset and vernacular. The ability to connect dots and creatively problem-solve will distinguish the water thought-leaders of tomorrow.

The Collaborative Water Program advantage

  • Study at the University of Waterloo — Canada’s leading research university.
  • Be inspired to innovate, immersed in the rich entrepreneurial culture of Canada’s leading innovation university.
  • Choose from 20 master’s and doctoral programs in 10 home departments.
  • Gain disciplinary expertise in your home department.
  • Work in interdisciplinary teams with students from other departments in collaborative courses.
  • Join a program that is diverse and collectively comprehensive, creating a dynamic research and learning environment.
  • Be mentored by award-winning faculty, leading the way in water research.
  • Grow and learn with your peers, the brightest from around the world, who share your passion for water research.
  • Access scholarships through the Water Institute’s partnerships with the RBC Foundation.

Programs and admissions

Master's programs

Doctoral programs

Receive inspired teaching and mentorship

Your instructors and mentors will span the over 140 faculty members involved in water research at Waterloo and the Water Institute. They represent international excellence and leadership in their fields and include a Canada Excellence Research Chair, 10 Canada Research Chairs, six fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, two Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Industrial Research Chairs and several University Chairs.

Specialize within your home department

The Collaborative Water Program is offered through ten participating, home departments. Students apply to the program through the home department in which they wish to study.

Degree requirements

  • Meet the requirements of your home department, including any specific courses, thesis or seminar milestones.
  • The Collaborative Water Program portion of your degree requires two core interdisciplinary courses. These provide fundamental multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and complement your specialist courses and water-related research in your home department.
    • Integrated Water Management: Receive an overview of current issues and challenges in water research and management from a variety of disciplines, including water science, engineering, governance and economics. Acquire a broad knowledge base from various water-related fields. Develop connections with your peers, water researchers and professionals in other areas of study. Case studies demonstrate the complexity and opportunities for interdisciplinary water research and innovation, allowing collaborative exploration of ideas. Seminars, presentations and discussions with faculty and professionals from different disciplines introduce current research and practice.
    • Integrated Water Project: Study the Grand River Watershed on a seven-day field trip, followed by one or two seminars. Examine specific watershed components, landscapes, infrastructure and conditions from interdisciplinary perspectives. Travel across the watershed and meet water practitioners, managers, scientists, volunteers and others concerned with watershed health, learning first-hand about watershed issues and management. Sample water, invertebrates and fish to explore how water quality and species assemblages change across watershed gradients. Complete a multidisciplinary group project and identify an approach to investigating an emerging watershed issue.
  • The research seminar is an opportunity for you to make a formal presentation on your research at an annual symposium or other designated event. This gives you the chance to interact with a broad multidisciplinary audience that crosses all areas of research in the collaborative programs.

Watch Taylor describe her experience in Earth Sciences (Water)

Collaborative Water Program Committee

The Collaborative Water Program Committee is comprised of representatives from the participating departments, graduate students and the Water Institute. The committee is chaired by Bruce MacVicar, the program director, and is responsible for developing and delivering the Collaborative Water Program. Current members of the committee are:


Read the CWP brochure

CWP brochure cover


Program contacts

Prospective students

  • Connect with the program contacts listed for the individual programs you are interested in.
  • Kevin Boehmer, managing director of the Water Institute, can also be of assistance.


  • For questions about your application, contact the Graduate Studies Office at

How to apply

Learn more about how to apply at Discover Graduate Studies.