Program | WSSS | Tufts University

Educational Program Requirements

To ensure sufficient depth and expertise in a particular discipline, students in the WSSS Program enroll in and obtain a graduate degree from a participating school or department at Tufts, fulfilling all requirements for that program. In addition, students in the program must:

1. Attend weekly WSSS meetings
2. Participate in the planning and execution of the annual WSSS symposium, and
3. Complete the requirements for one of the two tracks outlined below.

Track R: Interdisciplinary Water Resources Research

Courses: Three courses, with one of the following options:

1. Three courses in each of three borad core areas (of the four broad core areas)
2. Three courses in a single area, if the student's program is broadly interdisciplinary
3. Other arrangements, if reviewed and approved in advance by the Steering Committee ("in advance" means prior to course enrollment that violates either of the first two options, above)

Research Project: Students are required to undertake a significant interdisciplinary water resources research project, culminating in (1) by the end of year 1, an MS/MA thesis or capstone proposal or a preliminary dissertation proposal, (2) a thesis, directed study or dissertation, (3) a refereed journal article 90% ready for submission by the time of graduation from the WSSS program, and (4) a presentation at the annual WSSS symposium and/or a major national or international conference. Partial funding in support of such a conference presentation will be provided by the WSSS program.

Track P: Practicum and Interdisciplinary Professional Experience (IPE)/Internship

Students are required to participate in the WSSS practicum, complete an Interdisciplinary Professional Experience(IPE)/Internship, and present a poster at the annual WSSS symposium.

Courses: Two courses from two broad core areas or from the same broad core area.

WSSS Practicum: The WSSS Practicum will enable WSSS students to work in a small group on the integrated assessment of a water resources case study. The goal of the practicum is to expose students to the techniques and thought processes of integrated assessment in order to train them as researchers and professionals. The practicum is headed by Rusty Russell of the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department with input from other participating WSSS faculty.

Internship: To foster individual student development, a problem-focused, domestic or international field experience with a public- or private-sector organization--the Interdisciplinary Professional Experience (IPE)--is required of WSSS students choosing Track P. The goal is for students to work in an area related to their WSSS research topics and thereby to further integrate training, practice, and research. Students and their faculty mentors, however, may select other IPE placements tailored to the student's interests. Through the IPE--which often takes the form of an internship--students gain professional-level experience and may develop opportunities for future research and subsequent employment. Students may secure their own IPE or seek the advice of WSSS faculty with similar interests. Ineed, WSSS faculty offer an impressive array of potential opportunities in a wide range of international and domestic organizations.

IPE requirements include:

- A minimum of 150 hours, logged at one time or spread over the period in which the student is participating in WSSS.
- The student and the sponsoring organization must have an agreement specifying the purpose and location of the internship, duration, number of hours expected, and intern mentor/ manager. The agreement must be signed by the student, the WSSS coordinator for the student's school or program, the intern mentor/manager and the WSSS Director. At completion, the student must submit documentation signed by the intern mentor/manager and the WSSS Coordinator. An internship contract for this purpose is available here.
- Some students may satisfy this requirement through prior experience. These students should petition to WSSS IPE Committee via the Director.

Some existing internship programs (at UEP and in the AFE program at the School of Nutrition Science and Policy, for example) may satisfy the IPE, provided that they meet the objectives of the IPE noted above. This decision will be made by the internship director Rusty Russell.

Possible IPE Sites:

International: AGRHYMET (a regional agro-meteorology organization in the Sahel-Sudan); Agricultural Research Institute of Burkina Faso; Center for Development Studies, Bonn, Germany; Environmental Change and Security Project, Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars; Ghana Water Resources Commission; Global Water Partnership; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Mekong River Commission; Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security; several United Nations agencies (e.g., World Food Program, UNEP, UNDP, FAO); International Food Policy Research Institute; World Bank; World Health Organization; World Meteorological Organization; World Wildlife Fund; World Watch Institute; World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Assessments of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change (AIACC, START Secretariat), IWMI, Corporación Ecuatoriana de Biotecnología, Polytechnical University of Bobo-Dioulasso.

U.S. Federal and Local Governmental Agencies: Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Management, Environmental Protection, Public Health; Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs; Massachusetts Water Resources Authority; US Agency for International Development; US Army Corps of Engineers; US Coast Guard; US Environmental Protection Agency; US Geological Survey; Office of Global Programs (NOAA), US Federal Emergency Management Agency, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

U.S. Nongovernmental Organizations: Howard University, Salish Kootenai College, Alternatives for Community and Environment; American Water Works Association; Boston Green Space Alliance; Charles River Watershed Association; Clean Water Action; Eagle Eye Institute; Ecologic Development Fund; Environmental Partnerships, Inc.; Mass Bays Program; Mystic River Watershed Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; National Rural Water Association; Save the Harbor/Save the Bay; Snake River Alliance; Neighborhood Association of Affordable Housing; The Nature Conservancy; Trust for Public Land; Union of Concerned Scientists; Urban Ecology Institute; Pacific Institute

From the Student's Perspective: Redefining Water Resource Education at Tufts (click to download PDF) by WSSS student Janice Snow, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning


Participating Schools

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Graduate School of Engineering

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

School of Medicine

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine


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The Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) program is a graduate research and education program that provides Tufts students with interdisciplinary perspectives and tools to manage water-related problems around the world.

617.627.3645 | | WSSS, c/o Tufts Institute of the Environment | 210 Packard Ave | Medford, MA