About the program

Minnesota Watershed Specialist Training is for professionals who. . .

  • Are dedicated to improving and protecting water resources.
  • Want to strengthen their ability to integrate technical, policy, and social science aspects of water issues for effective water restoration and protection.
  • Want to share experiences with other water resource professionals around the state.
  • Want to show potential employers their high level of professional skills and an understanding of watershed science in a political and social context.
  • Work in rural or urban settings, large or small offices.

"Watershed Specialists" are. . .

. . . professionals specializing in water resource planning and implementation. They understand the interconnection between water and land. They integrate knowledge from technical, policy, administrative, and social science disciplines to address water resource challenges. They are part-managers and part-technicians who help develop and implement stormwater plans, TMDL plans, county water plans, and watershed plans. They are key to healthy waters in Minnesota.

The course is. . .

Online, interactive, and 14 weeks long. Six to eight hours of work is required each week. No travel is needed, and yet you learn from colleagues around the state and from topic experts.


Syllabus (PDF)

The course has seven modules:

  • Institutions and Policy
  • Watershed Science
  • Civic Engagement
  • Communications
  • Assessment, Evaluation and Monitoring
  • Implementation Activities
  • Project and Program Implementation

The activities for each module have three goals: (1) describe the scope of the topic, showing how it integrates with other aspects of water resource work; (2) build skills that can be applied immediately; and (3) provide resources and foundational knowledge to support future learning.

The Experts behind the Program

The course was developed by a team of water resource management veterans from Watershed Districts, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the University of Minnesota, the Pollution Control Agency, Board of Water and Soil Resources, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Click the following link for a list of the course development teams (PDF).


The course is designed for local government staff who are currently or anticipate coordinating, managing, planning or leading activities to restore or protect water resources. The course is also suitable for private consultants and non-profit organizations who work with local governments, and for students near the end of their degree program. Educational background may be in any natural resource, technical, or social science discipline.


Participants pay either the Continuing Education fee or University of Minnesota tuition.

  • Continuing Education fee: $880
  • University of Minnesota undergraduate or graduate credit: tuition for 2 credits

How to Apply

Applications are not currently being accepted.

By applying and then registering you agree to the following:

  • Participate for the full 14 weeks of the course, participating in online discussions and completing weekly assignments and feedback surveys.
  • Plan for an estimated work load of 6 to 8 hours each week. You may submit a single missed assignment as late as two weeks after the end of the course.
  • Pay the registration fee before the start of the session.

Course size is limited. Participants will be admitted based on application date.


The program relies on diverse partners from local and state agencies, and is led by the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center.

Funding is from participant fees and in-kind support from partners including

Development and delivery of the first two sessions were funded primarily by the Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Program.


Ann Lewandowski, WST Program Coordinator
University of Minnesota Water Resources Center
1985 Buford Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108