Master of Advanced Studies ETH in Sustainable Water Resources (MAS ETH SWR)

General information

The Master of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Water Resources (MAS ETH SWR) advocates an integrated vision of sustainable water resources management, with a focus on technical training and high level research. It is an interdisciplinary and research-oriented programme.

It focuses on understanding key issues pertaining to sustainability and the environment, with special attention given to the impacts of development and climate change on water resources. General research topics include: water quality, water for agriculture and for the environment, adaptation to climate change, integrated water resources management, and natural hazards.

The study program is designed to fit the needs of individual students and is subject to approval by the MAS director. The program is interdisciplinary and is defined based on the student's selected research topic.

Programme structure
The study programme is completed full-time in 12 months. Based on the student's research topic and specialization, an individual study programme is developed for each participant. The study programme includes master level courses at the Institute of Environmental Engineering, as well as master courses at other institutes at ETH Zurich. In addition to these graduate courses, the participant attends three specialized courses on water resources, sustainability, and participatory & integrated water resources planning, all of which deal specifically with issues of water resources and sustainability. The participant is also required to write a thesis based on a supervised research project which takes place for the duration of the programme.

The MAS curriculum includes the following:

  • Compulsory courses 12 ECTS (fall semester) and 7 ECTS (spring semester), selected from MSc courses at the Institute of Environmental Engineering
  • Electives 6 ECTS each semester, selected from ETH MSc courses at other departments (eg. at the Department of Environmental Systems Science)
  • Specialized MAS courses 3 ECTS (fall semester, Water Resources Seminars), 5 ECTS (spring semester, Participatory and Integrated Water Resources Planning Theory & Lab course), and 3 ECTS (June block course, Sustainability and Water Resources). 
  • thesis of 24 ECTS, topic to be approved by the MAS study director. 
Compulsory Courses
Autumn Semester Spring Semester
Hydrology II Water Resources Management
Fluvial Systems Watershed Modelling
Numerical Hydraulics  Groundwater II
Systems Analysis and Mathematical Modelling in Urban Water Management Process Engineering II 
Process Engineering I (Biological Wastewater Management) Infrastructure Systems in Urban Water Management
Concepts and assessments of sustainable development Environmental Sanitation Planning and Infrastructure in Developing Countries
Implementation of environmental and other sustainability goals Fluvial Sedimentology
Seminar on Transdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Development Applied Time Series Analysis
Geographic Information Systems


Program philosophy & Main content

The MAS program is designed to generate collaboration between water resources engineers & scientists in the Global South and in Switzerland. The program consists of lectures within the regular MSc courses at ETH and specialized seminars with invited experts. The philosophy of the MAS is that students propose relevant research topics from their home countries, around which individual study programs are devised, and about which they write their thesis. The MAS thesis is supervised by scientific staff at ETH and collaborating institutions. 
The target audience is 10 students per year.

Excursions. During the course of the MAS program, students are introduced to a selection of Swiss research activities through excursions. Dependent on student interests, excursions take place to the following locations:

Learning outcome:

Participants will gain multi- and interdisciplinary knowledge. They will be able to tackle and solve complex problems independently due to their solid theoretical background. In addition to environmental and technical competence, participants will develop communication skills among different disciplines. The programme will prepare the participants to be leaders in promoting sustainable water resource management policies worldwide.


The MAS programme is designed to advance the education of scientists and policy makers on the importance of water availability and water scarcity in a changing world, at the same time preparing them to face the challenges of the future, e.g. climate and land use change, increased water use and population growth. Successful participants will enhance their technical skills and scientific background in water resources, and they will develop a broad and integrated vision of water resources management within a changing environment. 

Contact Person: D. Molnar (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0312 - Policy and governance", "0732 - Near- and offshore constructions", "0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology", "0532 - Marine Geology", "0731 - Marine spatial planning


Venue: ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich)
Zurich, Switzerland

Institute of Environmental Engineering
Wolfgang-Pauli-Str. 15
8093 Zurich, Switzerland


Open from
1 Jan 2017 to 31 Mar 2017


The tuition fees are 5’000 Swiss Francs (approximately $5'000 or 4'500 Euro), not including living expenses. The fees are payable in two parts: half is due in October, the second half is due in April.


Applicants are expected to have educational backgrounds inenvironmental or civil engineering, or related fields.
In general, a Master's degree is required for acceptance to the Program.
Highly qualified applicants with a relevant Bachelor degree may be admitted, if they provide evidence of sufficient professional experience and additional qualifications in the required fields.

The following requirements MUST be met:

  • Educational background in environmental or civil engineering, or a related field.
  • Acknowledged university degree at the Master's level or equivalent achieved through job experience.
  • A good knowledge of English (see language requirements).

Application Procedure:

Email the MAS Coordinator at to express your interest in attending the Programme. Include the following documents with your email:

  1. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  2. University Transcripts (Bachelor and Master Degrees)
  3. Letter of motivation
  4. Research interests (for a MAS thesis)

Upon receipt of your documents, your qualifications will be assessed. If you meet requirements for the MAS, you will be asked to apply online.

Application deadline: March 31st

Grant Opportunities:

A limited number of scholarships are available for students from Latin America and Africa. Scholarship Information.

Scholarship Information. Some scholarships are available to support MAS studies at ETH Zurich. Please follow the links below for further details.

International students

  • Swiss Foundations scholarships: a few merit based scholarships are available through Swiss Foundations. ETH will submit your applications to the foundations, who will then select the scholarship recipients.
  • Swiss Scholarships for University Studies: applications must be submitted to your local Swiss embassy by OCTOBER in order to participate in the MAS the following year. Details can at Swiss Government Scholarships
  • Your Ministry of Education: contact your local ministry of education for scholarship information relevant to your country.

Swiss students

  • Swiss Foundations scholarships: information available here

Other possibilities

  • WWF Prince Bernhard Scholarships for Nature Conservation: Details can be found here 
  • UNESCO Fellowships Programme: See details available here  All applications MUST go through the National Commission of the candidate's country.
  • Aga Khan International Scholarship Programme: Scholarships are awarded on a 50% grant : 50% loan basis to applicants from certain countries. Details at here
  • Global Environment Projects (GEF): Support may be avalaible through specific projects, see the GEF project database
  • World Bank Projects: Support may be avalaible through specific projects, see World Bank Projects and Operations


The MAS ETH SWR is a postgraduate programme, worth 66 ECTS, and completed in 12 months. As such, it is not equivalent to a MSc. in Environmental Engineering, which requires 120 ECTS and is completed in 4 semesters.


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