NRT Coursework

NRT students receive their master’s or doctoral degrees from their home department and receive graduate training in Adaptive Management or in Agricultural Complex Systems through the NRT. Students are funded through the NRT but must complete all requirements of their home department, the Office of Graduate Studies and the NRT. Students can view departmental course offerings through the Office of Graduate Studies Course Catalog at The Office of Graduate Studies also offers an online course in the responsible conduct of research, and all NRT students take this course.

To meet the requirements of the NRT, students take the following coursework:

  • Two core courses
  • 3 to 6 credits of interdisciplinary placement electives from courses with a track record of facilitating broad skills, concepts or products
  • 3 minicourses

They also take part in related activities:

  • Weekly meetings and an annual two-day retreat
  • Field trips
  • Conferences and seminars
  • Workshops
  • Thesis or dissertation research and advising

They have the opportunity to take part in real-world experiences, such as a three-week training course in the Netherlands, career training and vocational counseling, externships and work with the Science Education Partnership Award science camps.

Core Courses

  • Foundations of Resilience
  • Complexity Science at the FEWS Nexus

Interdisciplinary Placement Electives

Examples of Pathways to Agriculture and Natural Resources for nonmajors:

  • Agroecology
  • Great Plains Ecosystems
  • Hydroclimatology

Examples of Pathways to Social Sciences for nonmajors:

  • Environmental Planning and Policy
  • Public Policy Analysis Methods and Models
  • Resource and Environmental Economics

Examples of Pathways to Engineering and Computer Science for nonmajors:

  • Introduction to Informatics, Data Mining or Machine Learning
  • Introduction to Python or Matlab
  • Data Analysis
  • Data Modeling for Systems Development
  • Multiagent Systems

Two- to Four-Day Minicourses (1-3 credit hours each)

  • Applied Adaptive Management 
  • Communication, Conflict Resolution and Leadership
  • Modeling Complex Systems
  • Governance and Policy

Weekly Meetings and Annual Two-Day Retreat

Students spend one day a week in the NRT lab (Room 234) to collaborate and develop their research and ensuing products. 

They attend an annual two-day retreat with faculty members to present their research; assess their progress, program design, and implementation; and take short courses. The retreat may include field excursions to water management and agricultural sites, dams, aquatic habitats and power production sites to discuss cross-cutting issues in the field.

Field Trips

Once a year, students take a water tour to observe irrigation and hydraulic structures, irrigation plans and the manufacture and use of irrigation equipment. Students also visit research facilities and meet with water supply and regulatory organizations.

Conferences and Seminars

Students help host the national water conference held at the university annually and meet with speakers for in-depth discussions related to water science, law, technology and policy.

Students participate in one or more of the seminars or summer water tour sponsored by the university’s Water Center. Through such activities, they have the chance to speak with resource managers, state and federal agencies, citizens and scientists about water problems.


Doctoral students take part in grant-writing workshops or the Preparing Future Faculty series of workshops. The series covers topics such as vita preparation, job search skills, teaching statement development and mentoring and advising. The grant-writing workshop includes the opportunity to learn about funding trends and meet program officers and may include a research fair. Master's students may also choose to take part in the grant-writing workshop.

Thesis or Dissertation Research and Advising

Research projects must embody the interdisciplinary themes of the NRT and be jointly supervised by a major advisor from the primary department and a coadvisor from another academic unit. Students should have both advisors on record by the end of their first semester. By the end of their first year, students should have a proposal for their thesis or dissertation and they give a presentation about their project to the rest of the NRT. Ph.D. students (who may be funded by the NRT for up to three years) give a presentation at the end of their second year also. The first five NRT students admitted present on their projects in December. Later cohorts are all expected to be hired with August start dates so will present at the end of the following July.

Collaborating agencies