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Banner for Water Studies Certificate showing water flowing in forrest

By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas*. MSU Denver’s online noncredit Water Studies Certificate prepares students to be a part of the solution to protect this precious resource.

The certificate provides an opportunity for students to gain new knowledge in the areas of water law, water concerns in the U.S., the role water plays in the history of the American west, and an optional capstone course to put it all into practice.

The certificate is a great credential for a variety of individuals:

  • Professionals looking to begin, expand, or grow water knowledge, such as: attorneys, engineers, green and/or building construction, agiculture and grounds manintenace, and water operations
  • Lifelong learners that want to learn how to protect our water resources
  • Those working in the green and sustainable industries without advanced degrees
  • People looking for a career change and want to branch out into

The online Water Studies Certificate offers:

  • Flexible schedule – Control your own scheduled with a self-paced format that is 100 percent online
  • One-on-one networking and advisement – Receive a personal advising session with an expert in the Colorado water industry
  • Real-world applications – Develop a capstone project that directly applies to what you’ve learned to real-world situations
  • Career opportunities – Find job demand in a growth industry


Participants are required to complete three courses with an optimal (fourth) Capstone Course: Water Law, U.S. Water Concerns, Colorado Water and the American West and a final capstone project.

Water Law

Water law class being instructed for a lab outdoors

Surveys U.S. water law and administration, why we need laws regulating water use, variations of surface and groundwater law, international and interstate agreements, and a special focus on water management in the west.

U.S. Water Concerns

stock photo of a flooded agricultural crop field

Water is examined as a natural and societal resource using local and national examples in the context of social, legal, political, economic and physical infrastructures. Additional study of landforms and processes related to water, like the hydrologic cycle, watersheds, surface water and groundwater.

CO Water & American West

a stock photo of a river in the Southwest

Students study the rich history of water in Colorado and the American West, with a look at how ancestral Pueblo and other native communities used water, Hispanic water management, and the American approach to water management.

Capstone (Optional)

Professor instructing a class outside at the South Platte river

Provides an opportunity for students to actively integrate and apply what they have learned to a real-world project, problem or organization.


Dr. Elizabeth R. McVicker, Colorado Water Law and Capstone Course

Lisa’s expertise in water law has her in great demand to serve on the board of 6 water-related Colorado entities. She serves as a guest speaker, panelist, and media expert for water-related events. She was also instrumental in developing the One World One Water Center and the Water Studies Curriculum. Lisa is a high-energy professor and brings enthusiasm and knowledge to the classroom. Not only has Lisa earned her JD from the University of Denver, she also has a PhD in Spanish Language and Literature from New York University. Her experience as a business owner and attorney allows her to bring a great deal of knowledge to the classroom. She has developed an excellent online version of business law courses and is a support of business students in the Honors program. Lisa is a recipient of the College of Business, Dean’s Overall Faculty Excellence award.




 Dr. Randi Brazeau, US. Water Concerns

Dr. Randi Brazeau, P.E. received her B.S. and M.E. degrees in Civil Engineering at the University of Florida. After working as an engineering analyst with Kimley-Horn and Associates for two years, she completed a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering – Environmental Water Resources from Virginia Tech under Dr. Marc Edwards. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Metropolitan State University of Denver where she has been for the past five years. She teaches several water courses, introduction to environmental science, and integrated science.  She is also the primary advisor for Environmental Science: Water Management and Hydrologic Sciences majors. Her main research interests include decontamination of premise plumbing and public health after contamination events, surface water quality in response to mining and hazardous waste spills, urban surface water quality, and learner centered pedagogies in undergraduate STEM disciplines.




Dr. Matthew S. Makley, Colorado Water and the American West

Matt is a Professor of History at MSU Denver, where he has taught for over 10 years.  Prior to MSU Denver he taught courses at Arizona State University where he earned a Ph.D. in Native American history, and the history of the American West.  The University of Nevada Press published Makley’s co-authored book, Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts, and a Washoe Indian Sacred Place, in 2010. His current manuscript, The Small Shall be Strong: A History of Lake Tahoe's Washoe Indians, is being published by the University of Massachusetts Press.  Over the past couple of decades Makley has lived in California, Nevada, Arizona, and, Colorado.  This has allowed him to explore the land, its people, its past, and its present.  Each journey down a river canyon, up a mountain top, or upon a city street helps inspire and inform his professional practice.  Water in the West has become an area of particular interest for Makley. He recently helped produce a short documentary film about an Iris farm and its relationship with water in Boulder, Colorado, Long’s Gardens: An Urban Oasis.  

The One World One Water Center (OWOW) is a collaboration between Metropolitan State University of Denver and Denver Botanic Gardens. The OWOW Center strives to prepare an educated, empowered, solution-oriented Colorado citizenry to protect and preserve our precious water resources.


Photo - Tom Cech - Co -Director OWOW

Tom Cech - Co-Director, OWOW Center

Tom Cech was born and raised on a farm near Clarkson, Nebraska, graduated from Kearney State College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Math Education, and later received a Masters Degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He was Executive Director of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District in Greeley, taught water undergraduate and graduate level water resources courses at the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University, and is now the Director of the One World One Water (OWOW) Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship at MSU Denver.


“A good steward learns about our most precious natural resource — water, and reaches out to put that knowledge into action. Colorado’s future will be shaped by our students, and their stewardship will determine the fate of our rivers, lakes and groundwater.”

Tom Cech
Co-Director of the OWOW Center



1 Retrieved from the World Health Organization (WHO)

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