Columbia University in the City of New York offers the world’s foremost graduate degree programs in applied sustainability studies.  The certification focuses on the science, policy, and economics of sustainable water management. Students who complete the certification will be able to develop and manage reliable water supplies given diverse sources and variability in climate and water quality.

This 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 staff focused on issues of health in developing communities – need new skills to create effective solutions to the world’s water problems.

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, the demand for access to water is rising. 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. The Sustainable Water Management Certification addresses concepts of hydrology, water policy and regulation, economics, finance and conflict resolution. The program is designed to provide sophisticated and multidisciplinary training in water issues – the nexus of natural science, social science and public policy.

Students will learn the science of the hydrological cycle; best practices in water systems management; the economics of water; how large-scale water projects are financed; how water is allocated and the principles of water rights, access and privatization. Students will also learn how to develop reliable water supplies given diverse sources and variability in climate and water quality.

The Certification may be taken as a complement to other graduate degree programs, including the Master of Science in Sustainability Management, or it can be taken as a stand-alone program.


Dr. Upmanu Lall, a leading expert on hydroclimatology, climate change adaptation, risk analysis and mitigation, directs the program. Course instructors include both expert faculty and leading practitioners in the fields of hydrology, environmental management, economics, and water policy.


The Sustainable Water Management Certification is designed for a broad range of professionals whose careers involve water-related issues. The certification is applicable to a variety of fields and industries, including financial services, government, international development, manufacturing, risk management, supply chain management and utilities.


The Certification in Sustainability Analytics requires the successful completion of four courses or 12 points. All courses are offered in the evening to accommodate the schedules of students working full-time. The certification is available through part-time enrollment. Students enrolled on a part-time basis can complete the certification in as few as two or as many as four semesters. Students choose four 3-point courses, including the following course offerings:

  • Water Governance: The course provides an overview of the political, social, economic, and administrative systems that affect the use, development, and management of water resources, including sustainable development, integrated water resource management, water rights and pricing, corruption, and equity for marginal groups.

  • Water Systems Analysis: This course offers an analytic framework for operating, managing, and planning water systems, considering changing climate, values, and needs.


  • Elective Courses: Subjects include but are not limited to: science of sustainable water, planning and finance for hydrologic systems, environmental data analysis, climate-water hazards, water quality, and water security, environmental engineering


Certification students are members of the Earth Institute and the School of Professional Studies communities. The Earth Institute is affiliated with more than 30 academic programs at Columbia University and has 30 research centers and programs — including the Columbia Water Center — which conduct and apply interdisciplinary scientific research to address cross-cutting issues associated with sustainable development.

The Columbia Water Center focuses on the assessment, understanding and resolution of the global crisis of freshwater scarcity. The Center’s mission is to tackle the issue of global water scarcity through innovations in technology, public policy and private action. The Center designs reliable, sustainable models of water management and development that can be implemented on local, regional and global levels.

Certification students are an integral part of a growing network of emerging sustainability professionals and are encouraged to take advantage of all university and Earth Institute co-curricular events and resources.



Application Type: Master's Affiliated CPA Program

Application Deadlines

Spring enrollment: November 1st

Fall enrollment: May 15th

Need help applying? Click here.


Samantha Ostrowski

Associate Director

M.S. in Sustainability Management and M.S. in Sustainability Science

The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Mariví Perdomo Caba

Senior Program Manager

M.S. in Sustainability Management and M.S. in Sustainability Science

The Earth Institute, Columbia University


Office of Admissions

Mail Code 4119

203 Lewisohn Hall

2970 Broadway

New York, NY 10027-6902




Notice on Campus Visits

In light of the evolving Covid-19 situation and the University’s guidelines for on-campus activity, Columbia University SPS Admissions has suspended all in-person campus visits. We invite prospective students to drop by our virtual walk-in hours with general admissions questions.


Weekly virtual walk-in hours 

Tuesdays (10:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT)

Thursdays (12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT)


Admissions Counselors can connect you directly to students, alumni, faculty, and facilitate virtual class visits. You can also register for an information session. Our virtual events allow you to interact with our admissions staff and learn more about the Columbia SPS community.  If you have any questions, please contact our office at or 212-854-9666. 


If you would like to receive more information about the M.S. in Sustainability Management program, please contact Samantha Ostrowski, Associate Director, at

Campus Visits, Graduate School Fairs & Company Presentations

We are eager to host you on the Columbia University campus or to meet you at one of our information sessions.

Our program offers a part-time option for working professionals. If your company would like to host an information session, please contact us. For more information about the graduate school fairs that we attend throughout the United States, please contact Chandler Precht, Program Manager at


Program Contacts

Samantha Ostrowski

Associate Director

Mariví Perdomo Caba

Senior Program Manager


Office of Admissions
School of Professional Studies
203 Lewisohn Hall





Fall 2021: May 15, 2021

Spring 2022: November 1, 2021

For more information about the HBCU Fellowship, 

please visit this website or contact

If you would like to receive more information about the M.S. in Sustainability Management program, please submit your contact information below.

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