Certification in Sustainable Water Management

Certification in Sustainable Water Management

According to the United Nations Development Programme, just under 900 million people lack access to safe water and over 2.7 billion lack access to basic sanitation. As the world’s population continues to grow in excess of 7 billion people, the demand for access to water has risen. At the same time, the impacts of climate change are making it more difficult to ensure the supply of safe water to the populations that need it most. Severe weather events ravage some parts of the world with floods, while devastating others with droughts.

The Program

Together, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the School of Continuing Education and the Columbia Water Center have developed a Certification in Sustainable Water Management. This new certification equips professionals with the skills to conduct integrated water management and water systems analysis. These professionals— ranging from urban planners for local governments to operations managers for large supply chains to NGO workers focused on issues of health in developing communities— can benefit from gaining the skills necessary to improve water access, delivery, and quality.

The Certification in Sustainable Water Management will cover concepts of hydrology, water policy and regulation, economics, finance and conflict resolution. It is designed to provide sophisticated and multidisciplinary training in water issues—the nexus of natural science, social science and public policy.

Join the Certification in Sustainable Water Management Program and become a skilled sustainability professional who can help develop effective solutions to the world’s water problems.

The Faculty

The Curriculum

The curriculum of the Certification in Sustainable Water Management has been designed by experts from the Columbia Water Center.  Students will complete three required courses focused on the science, policy, and management of water systems as well as one elective course, with elective offerings including water in agriculture, water quality and health, water and energy security, and urban infrastructure.

The Science of Sustainable Water (Required): The hydrological processes studied in this class allow students to investigate a wide range of sustainable strategies for water resource management affected by a wide range of challenges including climate, population, and economic growth.

“This course provides a fundamental understanding of key hydrological processes and management strategies to tackle real-world environmental issues and policy decisions facing water managers"
- Wade McGillis

Water Governance (Required): Students will learn about the relationship between water and society by examining the various systems, political, social, economic, and administrative, that affect water management at the local, national, and international levels.

"In my 'Water Governance' class, we explore the complex relationship between water - a multifaceted and critical resource - and the political, social, economic, and administrative systems that affect water use.  We look at intriguing and often contentious water issues ranging from the Indus Waters Treaty to the privatization of water resources."
– Michael Puma

Water Systems Analysis (Required): Topics addressed will include the consideration of climate variability and the change in developing system operation rules and infrastructure planning as students experience a structured introduction to the integrated analysis of physical and institutional systems for water management and development.

“Multiple scales and settings, from developing country villages to a US city water supply to regional watershed restoration o national planning are considered.  The emerging global water crisis driven by rapid population growth and its relation to agricultural water use will be a recurrent theme through the class.”
– Naresh Devineni

Students will complete one elective course, with elective offerings including water in agriculture, water quality and health, water and energy security, and urban infrastructure. The following elective courses are offered by graduate schools across the university, including the School of International and Public Affairs, the Mailman School of Public Health, and the Fu Foundation Graduate School of Engineering:

INAF U6068: Economic Analysis-Environment Policies
CIEN E4133: Capital Facility Planning and Finance
INAF U8912: Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Goals
PUAF U6411: Global Food Systems
EAEE E4257: Environmental data analysis and modeling
EHSC P8304: Public Health Impacts of Climate Change
ECIA W4100: Management and development of water systems
EAEE E4951: Engineering systems for water treatment and re-use
CIEE E4252: Environmental Engineering
EAEE E4255: River and Coastal Hydrodynamics
EAEE E4350: Planning/Management-Urban Hydrologic System
EAEE E6240: Physical Hydrology
EESC W4925: Introduction to Physical Oceanography
EEEB W4195: Marine Conservation Ecology
EESC W4930: Earth's Oceans and Atmosphere


The Certification in Sustainable Water Management can be taken as a complement to other graduate degree programs, or it can be taken separately as a stand-alone certification. Courses are conveniently offered in the evening to accommodate the schedules of students working full-time. The certification can be completed through part-time enrollment in as few as four semesters.

To Apply

Prospective students interested in learning about the program are encouraged to contact Allison Ladue, assistant director.
For more information about tuition and fees, please visit the School of Continuing Education website.

Office of Admissions

203 Lewisohn Hall
2970 Broadway, Mail Code 4119,
New York, NY 10027-6902.
(212) 854-9666


Allison Ladue
Assistant Director
(212) 851-9361