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An interdisciplinary graduate program with a focus on excellence

The Freshwater and Marine Sciences Program (FMS) is an interdisciplinary graduate training program that offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees to students interested in the science of freshwater and marine ecosystems. Our graduate program emphasizes limnological studies and is based on the premise that the freshwater and marine sciences are integrated fields requiring a broad base in the fundamental disciplines. The FMS program is administered by the College of Engineering and sponsored jointly with the College of Letters and Science. Interdisciplinary in nature, each student's program of study provides graduate training in aquatic sciences and integrates related sciences. Freshwater and Marine Sciences graduate faculty come from many departments throughout UW-Madison, including Agronomy, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Botany, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Entomology, Geology and Geophysics, Veterinary Medicine and Zoology.

Meeting our needs for water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy production, and natural ecosystems in the face of population growth and climate change is one of society’s grand challenges. Developing resilient water systems that include agricultural, natural, and built environments requires an interdisciplinary perspective. The FMS program establishes a formal linkage among pillars of water expertise in the College of Engineering, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and College of Letters and Science which has facilitated interdisciplinary collaboration addressing this grand challenge.

On a national scale, the program is unique in its emphasis on the science of freshwater and marine systems from a physical, chemical, and biological perspective. Few parallel programs exist, although several other universities support programs emphasizing some subset of these interests (for example, marine or freshwater biology, hydrological sciences). The program is designed to highlight its interdisciplinary scientific strength, and thus core course requirements are limited so that course work can be tailored to student needs and interests. The 2010 NRC’s A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States ranked our program in the top 15% of field of Oceanography, Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology programs.