Program Overview

Program Overview Image


Land and water are essential resources required to sustain:

  • human needs for food security and all forms of usable energy,
  • healthy and productive ecosystems,
  • and thus, LIFE!

Managing land and water as an integrated system provides a framework to aid society to achieve the goals of an improved quality of life, a healthy environment and human equity in an era of global climate change and urban expansion.

The innovative Master of Land and Water Systems (MLWS) program provides the credibility and recognition of a professional degree that can serve practicing resource managers and the informed public. The program is aimed at graduates from cognate undergraduate academic programs to provide the necessary credentials to address the emerging global concerns of land and water resources conservation and management to meet both human and environmental needs.

In the MLWS program, students develop science-based skills, training, knowledge and communication strategies to address the challenges of food security, urbanization, sustaining ecological services, restoration of degraded lands, adapting to climate change, and resource conservation. The program complements academic and professional expertise in disciplines including earth sciences, biology, soil science, hydrology, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, forest sciences and more. The program provides recent graduates and practicing professionals the academic qualifications to aid in the quest for a livable planet.

Degree Requirements

Pocket agriculture in the West Kootenay, BC. (Photo: Rachael Roussin)

Pocket agriculture in the West Kootenay, BC. (Photo: Rachael Roussin)


Students must hold a recognized baccalaureate degree (minimum) in science, applied natural science (agriculture/forestry) or engineering. For more information, visit Admission Requirements.

The MLWS degree is a 12-month program that includes 33 credits of coursework, consisting of 21 credits of required courses plus 12 credits of  electives. Of the 33 credits, 6 credits may be at the 300 – 400 level, and 27 credits must be at the 500 – level or higher.

The MLWS program is offered on a full time or part time basis. Full time students will normally begin in September and complete their program at the end of August in the following year, thus completing the degree in 12 months of intensive study. The full time option is encouraged. Part time students can proceed at their own pace, except that they must complete, as a minimum, two academic terms at UBC Vancouver campus. Please review Tuition information below to clarify the costs for these two options.

Each student will be required to register for LWS 548 (6 credits) and complete a “major project”. This may be conducted off-campus and will be co-supervised by a recognized professional (for example, a Professional Agrologist, Biologist, Forester, Geoscientist, etc.), and a UBC Faculty member.

Required courses (21 credits)

*If you have any questions, please email us at

LWS 510 (3) Land and Water Seminar Series (Term 1-2)
LWS 501 (3) Advanced Soil Processes (Term 1)
LWS 550 (3) Professional Communication Strategies (Term 2)
FRE 302 (3) Small Business Management (Term 2)
LWS 548 (6) Major Project (Term 1, 2, 3)
AT LEAST ONE of: LWS 515 (3) Watershed Science (Term 1) OR LWS 517 (3) Land and Water Resource Evaluation (Term 1)
(Note: Student can get credit for both towards the degree)
Because this is a professional degree, a Master’s thesis is not required. Instead, students carry out a major project throughout the 12-month duration of the program under the co-supervision of a UBC Faculty Member and a Professional Advisor. There is no designated classroom time.

Elective courses (12 credits)

*Note: Not all elective courses listed below are offered every academic year. We try to keep our website up to date, but double check the UBC Course Calendar to see if the course is offered during the duration of your program. Check that you have course prerequisites or equivalents.

  • SOIL 502 (3) Advanced Sustainable Soil Management (Term 2)
  • SOIL 503 (3) Advanced Soil Sampling, Analysis and Data Interpretation (Term 1) (not offered in the 2018/2019 Winter Session)
  • SOIL 514A (3) Biometeorology (Term 2) (not offered in the 2018/2019 Winter Session)
  • SOIL 516 (3) Urban Watershed Management (Online, Term 1) (not offered in the 2018/2019 Winter Session)
  • SOIL 518 (3) Water in International Development (Online, Term 2)
  • SOIL 520 (3) Agricultural Watershed Management (not offered in the 2018/2019 Winter Session)
  • EOSC 329 (3) Groundwater Hydrology (Term 1)
  • EOSC 330 (3) Principles of Geomorphology (Term 2)
  • EOSC 474 (3) Marine Pollution (Term 1)
  • EOSC 429 (3) Groundwater Contamination (Term 2)
  • EOSC 533 (3) Advanced Groundwater Hydrology (Term 1)
  • FRE 385 (3) Quantitative Methods for Business and Resource Management (Term 2)
  • APBI 444 (3) Agroforestry (Term 2)
  • FRST 495 (3) Biological Diversity and Forest Management (Term 2)
  • CONS 505 (3) Ecological Restoration (Term 2)
  • FRST 523 (3) Forest and Environmental Policy (Term 1)
  • FRST 551 (3) Landscape Planning for Sustainability (Term 2)
  • CONS 495 (3) Principles of Managing Problem Wildlife in Forests & Agricultural Environments (Term 2)
  • GEOB 370 (3) Advanced Geographic Information Science (Term 1)
  • GEOB 373 (3) Introductory Remote Sensing (Term 2)
  • GEOB 406 (3) Watershed Geomorphology (Term 1) (not offered in the 2018/2019 Winter Session)
  • GEOB 407 (3) Vegetation Dynamics: Disturbance, Climate and Human Impacts (Term 2)
  • RES 500T (3) Global Food Security and Sustainability (Term 2)
  • RES 520 (3) Climate Change: Science, Technology & Sustainable Development (Term 1)
  • RES 542 (3) Integrated Assessment of Global Change (Term 2) (not offered in the 2018/2019 Winter Session)

Other courses may be substituted with permission of the MLWS Academic Coordinator. To register for courses, visit the UBC Student Service Centre (SSC).


Upon completion of the program requirements, students will graduate with a Master of Land and Water Systems degree. The MLWS degree complements existing (provincial) professional accreditation such as:

The MLWS program allows students to gain credit towards accreditation in an existing professional organization (for instance, articling, PD or interning requirements) and does not propose any new professional accreditation.



Based on the costs to deliver this new program, the tuition levels for the MLWS degree program in the 2018/19 academic year are:

  • $19,737.63 plus student fees for domestic students (permanent residents and Canadian citizens) and
  • $34,205.37 plus student fees for international students

The proposed tuition levels for the degree are consistent with what UBC and other universities are charging for professional programs in related areas.

The tuition levels for the MLWS degree apply to the 12-month period (from the beginning of September to the end of August) required to complete the degree. During this period, it is expected that students will complete the 33 credits of required course work. Tuition levels do not vary with the number of credits taken.

Tuition fees and student fees are divided into 3 installments due in September, January and May. The domestic and international tuition fees for the next academic year are forthcoming. For students who become ill and request a leave or are required to leave for a term (or two), the regular domestic and international graduate student On-leave fee will apply.

Continuing Tuition (after the first 12 months)

Although the MLWS program has been designed to be completed in one 12-month period, there may be cases where students need to take courses in a subsequent Academic Year in order to complete the requirements for the degree. These students will continue to pay regular tuition installments as outlined above due in September, January and May.

Scholarships and Awards

  • Affiliated Fellowships Masters Program Award: The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers approximately 50 Affiliated Fellowships each year to meritorious students for full-time study and/or research leading to a graduate degree. Awards are made on the basis of academic excellence, with applications open to current and prospective full-time UBC graduate students regardless of citizenship or visa status. Fellowship values range from $175 to $16,000. Please note that the deadline for applications is on February 1, 2019.
  • MasterCard Foundation Scholarship: Full scholarships are available for academically promising graduate students from Sub-Saharan African countries (i.e., Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, etc.). Please note that the deadline for Admissibility Submissions is on November 16, 2018 and completed Application Packages are due January 1, 2019. For more information about applying, visit
  • Canadian Water Resources Association Scholarships: The CWRA annually offers five scholarships awarded to graduate students whose programs of study focus on applied, natural, or social science aspects of water resources. The scholarships range from $1500 to $5000. The next deadline for application is January 31, 2019.
  • BC Institute of Agrologists Scholarships: To support future agrologists in achieving their career in agrology, the BC Institute of Agrologists (BCIA) will award up to two $1500 scholarships annually. The deadline for application is October 15, 2018.
  • Scholarships and Housing Available at Green College: Green College is a graduate residence on the UBC campus, with a mandate to promote exchange between academic disciplines at the graduate and postdoctoral levels. Students may apply for residence at the College at any stage of their UBC academic career and, on admission, sign standard UBC 12-month housing contracts. Applicants for admission to Green College who will be beginning their UBC degree programs in 2018-19 will automatically be considered for graduate entrance scholarships. There is a separate application process for those wishing to become resident members of the College.
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Graduate Awards


MLWS Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will:

  1. Have the necessary background and analytical skills to address the issues related to land and water systems based on an understanding of the integration of the ecological, carbon (energy), hydrological and pedological cycles and the impacts of human activity.
  2. Obtain proficiency in developing analytical frameworks for the identification, articulation and analysis of land and water resource issues and concerns.
  3. Develop skills to develop, apply, evaluate, and adapt alternate practices through scenario frameworks.
  4. Develop professional communication skills.