The School of Professional Studies, in partnership with the Earth Institute and the Columbia Water Center, offers the non-degree Certification of Professional Achievement in Sustainable Water Management, a program that equips professionals with the skills to conduct integrated water management and water systems analysis.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, nearly 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. Skilled sustainability professionals are needed in order to create effective solutions to the world’s water problems. Students of this program leave equipped with skills to guide communities and companies in issues of water management.

The Certification of Professional Achievement in Sustainable Water Management program 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. The program teaches skills applicable to a wide-range of professions including urban planning, manufacturing, sanitation, and NGO professionals domestic and abroad.

Students will gain a fundamental understanding of the science of the hydrological cycle. They will learn best practices in water systems management, identifying who uses water, quantifying how much water is used, and optimizing how that water is used. Students will learn how to develop reliable water supplies given diverse sources and variability in climate and water quality. Water issues are not only a matter of managing systems. They are also economic and political in nature. Students of this program will learn the intricacies of water financing, how it is priced and how large-scale water projects are funded. Other topics that will be covered include policy mechanisms to determine water allocation and water rights, as well as access and privatization.

The Faculty

  • Upmanu Lall
  • Wade McGillis
  • Michael Puma


The Curriculum

Students take four courses focused on the science, policy, and management of water systems. Course offerings include The Science of Sustainable Water, Water Governance, Water Systems Analysis, and Water Resources and Climate. Students can take courses on topics including agriculture, water quality and health, water and energy security, and urban infrastructure.

The curriculum of the Certification of Professional Achievement in Sustainable Water Management program has been designed by experts from the Columbia Water Center.

Courses are offered in the evening to accommodate the schedules of students working full-time. The certification can be completed through full-time or part-time enrollment. Students enrolled on a full-time basis complete the requirements in one semester. Students enrolled on a part-time basis can complete the certification requirements in as few as four semesters.

The Certification of Professional Achievement in Sustainable Water Management program can be taken as a complement to the Master of Science in Sustainability Management, or it can be taken separately as a stand-alone certification.

Students are required to maintain an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 (B). Every course creditable toward the certification must be taken for a letter grade.

Master of Science in Sustainability Management

For more information about this program and how to apply, please visit the program site.