The Graduate Program in
Water Resources Engineering at
Texas A&M University

Information for Current Students

This page is organized as answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).  The FAQs are indexed immediately below and color coded (general requirements and deadlines, courses, and finances, procedural issues).

Where do I find the rules that govern my graduate degree?
What if the above sources conflict with one another?  Which rules do I follow?
Of what deadlines should I be aware?

What courses are taught in the Water Resources Engineering group?
Are there required courses for students doing a M.Eng., M.S., or Ph.D.?
What courses are taught in the Summer?
How do I make sure I'm a full-time student in the Summer when 1 course meets in the May "mini-mester" period and another is in the second 5 week session (or 1 class in the 10 week term and another in a 5 week term, or one of many other possible combinations)?

Can I get a fellowship?
Can I get a research assistantship (RA)?
Can I get a teaching assistantship (TA)?
Can I get an out-of-state tuition waiver?

How many people and who do I need to list as the "committee" on my degree plan?
Can I change my committee's membership?
Can I change the courses listed on my degree plan once it has been approved?
Do I have to take a "Qualifying Exam"?
Do I have to take a "Preliminary Exam"?
Do I have to take a "Final Exam"?

Where do I find the rules that govern my graduate degree?
In order of precedence (highest to lowest) graduate degree rules are specified by:
     (1) TAMU Graduate Catalog -- the catalog published in the academic year you start your degree is the one you should follow
     (2) TAMU's Office of Graduate Studies (OGS)
     (3) Requirements issued by the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering
     (4) Requirements specified by the Water Resources Engineering Program

     (5) Requirements specified by a student's particular advisory committee, particularly the committee chair (advisor)

What if the above sources conflict with one another?  Which rules do I follow?
In general, all of the above sources have been harmonized to avoid conflicts, but they do occasionally happen.  What is more frequent are ambiguities and gaps (e.g., the deadline to file a change of program is not specified anywhere that I've found).  If you find a conflict or gap, talk with your advisor immediately.  You can also ask me.

Of what deadlines should I be aware?
OGS publishes a calendar of deadlines each semester (online here).  OGS also maintains pages on "Required Steps" for each degree and "Graduation Steps."  Please see below for my attempt to organize all the required information in a better, more user-friendly way.

Flowcharts for:
                                 M.Eng. Students
                                 M.S. Students
                                 Ph.D. Students

I applied as an M.S. student.  Can I now switch to M.Eng.?  (Or vice versa)
To be honest, all Masters-level students are effectively considered to be "M.X." (undesignated Masters) until they file degree plans.  The program indicated at the top of your degree plan defines whether you are M.S. or M.Eng.  If you haven't yet filed a degree plan, don't worry about it.  Just indicate the appropriate program you wish to complete in your submitted degree plan.

I have already submitted my degree plan to pursue the M.S. degree.  Can I switch to M.Eng.?  (Or vice versa)
Yes, you can switch between Masters-level degrees.  You will need to fill out the "Petition for Change of Major, Department, or Degree Program" form available from the OGS website Petition Documents page.  All members of your advisory committee will need to sign this form.  You may then submit it to the CVEN Graduate Advising Office (CE Building Room 106).

 

What courses are taught in the Water Resources Engineering group?
This page outlines the courses we teach, when we teach them, and how they relate to another.  

Are there required courses for students doing a M.Eng., M.S., or Ph.D.?
The only required course in any degree program is CVEN 681 "Seminar in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering," which is required for all students. The Water Resources faculty do not have other course requirements as a global policy.  This allows each student to work with her/his advisor to determine a coursework plan that suits her/his long-term goals.  However, it is expected that all students will have some study in the important subjects comprising water resources engineering; thus, faculty will make sure that students have a broad exposure to these subjects at TAMU or in previous studies.  

What courses are taught in the Summer?
In most years, the WRE group does not offer its own graduate courses in the Summer term.  Students pursuing the 12 month M.Eng. need to take 2 courses in the Summer.  Unfortunately, almost no departments have "guaranteed" offerings every Summer. There are some suitable courses that are typically offered, including:
        ACCT 640                                      RLEM 440
        FINC 635                                       STAT 6xx
        MGMT 655                                    MATH 601
        MKTG 621
We never know until approximately February or March of each year what exactly will be offered in the Summer, but we've never been unable to find at least 6 hours of suitable courses for a student to take in a Summer term.  As with most things, discuss these courses with your advisor.

How do I make sure I'm a full-time student in the Summer when 1 course meets in the May "mini-mester" period and another is in the second 5 week session (or 1 class in the 10 week term and another in a 5 week term, or one of many other possible combinations)?
Summer term courses are offered in three different sessions: (1) 10 week session [a.k.a., Summer 10], (2) 5 week session #1 [a.k.a., Summer I], and (3) 5 week session #2 [a.k.a., Summer II].  The sum of all hours taken in the three sessions determines whether you are full-time (6 hours or more) or part-time (5 hours or less) regardless of how the hours are taken.

 

Can I get a fellowship?
The WRE group has a limited pool of funds from which to award fellowships to graduate students each academic year.  The primary purpose of these funds is to recruit students who will work to advance the research program in WRE, especially at the Ph.D. level.  On occasion, fellowships are awarded to continuing students.  All fellowships are awarded by group decision of the entire WRE faculty.  Students wishing to be considered for a fellowship award should speak to their advisor.  Unlike RA or TA positions, fellowships do not require a student to meet further requirements or work expectations other than remaining a full-time student in good academic standing. 

There are also many external fellowships available.  Among these opportunities are awards from the Texas Water Resources Institute, ASCE-National, and ASCE-Texas Section.  Students should check these organizations for more details.

Can I get a research assistantship (RA)?
RA positions are funded by research grants received by individual faculty.  Each faculty member is responsible for hiring students into RA positions as they become available.  Students should contact a professor with whom they wish to work and ask if any RA positions are available.  Research grants are awarded to faculty throughout the year, so a position may become available in the middle of an academic year (for example, in April).  Students should be aware that RA's are expected to contribute significantly to the accomplishment of research project goals.  Leaving a project before its completion is frowned upon unless the RA and professor agree to that arrangement when the RA is hired.  

Can I get a teaching assistantship (TA)?
The WRE group can place students in a small number of TA positions that changes year-to-year.  Requirements to be a TA at TAMU are very high: students must have taken the class for which they TA, and they
 must be a native English speaker or have passed the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE).  TA positions awarded by the WRE group are generally used to recruit new students.  It is very rare for TA positions to become available mid-year.  For further information, you can ask me.

Can I get an out-of-state tuition waiver?
Students who receive RA or TA positions or competitive fellowships of at least $1,000 are exempted from out-of-state tuition in the academic year in which they hold the award or position.  A fellowship, RA, or TA in one academic year does not carry over a tuition waiver to the next year.  Out-of-state tuition waivers can be granted for other cases that tend be uncommon; more information on those cases can be found on this page.

 

How many people and who do I need to list as the "committee" on my degree plan?
All students have their committee defined on the degree plan.  There is no paperwork to define the committee members prior to the degree plan.

M.Eng. students need only list their advisor as the chair of the committee. 

M.S. students will need 3 committee members.  Two members should be faculty in the civil engineering department, and the third member must be faculty outside of the CVEN department.  The committee chair is your advisor, and she/he is one of the 2 in-department members.  You should consult with your advisor to discuss the composition of your committee.

Ph.D. students will need 4 members.  One member is your advisor (the committee chair).  At least one member must be faculty outside of CVEN.  Beyond those 2 members, you have flexibility to choose.  You should consult with your advisor to discuss the composition of your committee.

A member of my advisory committee is on sabbatical, died, hates me, has left TAMU, etc.  Can I change my committee's membership?
To change the membership of your committee for any reason, you should file a "Petition for Change of Committee" (download from this page) after you have discussed the change with your advisor.  All members of your newly constituted advisory committee will need to sign this form.  You may then submit it to the CVEN Graduate Advising Office (CE Building Room 106).

A course that I listed on my degree plan wasn't offered...  A course on my degree plan has a time conflict with another course... I realize that I want to swap some courses on my degree plan because my interests have changed... I got a D or F in a course on my degree plan... Can I change the courses listed on my degree plan once it has been approved?
It is very common for students to change the courses on their degree plans for the above reasons, among others, so don't panic.  You should file a "Petition for Course Change" (download from this page) after you have discussed the change with your advisor. 
All members of your advisory committee will need to sign this form.  You may then submit it to the CVEN Graduate Advising Office (CE Building Room 106).

Do I have to take a "Qualifying Exam"?
Qualifying exams are only required for Ph.D. students.  M.Eng. and M.S. students do not need to take the qualifying exam.  The qualifying exam is taken between the first and second semesters as a Ph.D. student.  It covers fundamental knowledge in water resources engineering and one minor subject of the student's choice.  It consists of an 8 hour long written exam followed by a 1 hour long oral exam about a week later.  For further information, see Dr. Brumbelow.

Do I have to take a "Preliminary Exam"?
Preliminary exams are only required for Ph.D. students.  M.Eng. and M.S. students do not take a preliminary exam.  The practice in the WRE program is to have a student present his/her dissertation proposal to his/her advisory committee as the preliminary exam.  "Passing" the preliminary exam is synonymous with approval of the dissertation proposal.

M.S. students generally do not have a formal thesis proposal defense in our program.  Rather, students generally meet in an informal setting with committee members (either as a group or individually) and discuss the thesis proposal.

Do I have to take a "Final Exam"?
M.Eng. students are not required to take a Final Exam in the WRE program.  However, M.Eng. students will need to prepare, have signed, and submit the "Request for Exemption from the Final Examination" (download from this page).  There is a definite deadline for filing this form; be sure to consult the OGS calendar for the semester you wish to graduate. 
All members of your advisory committee will need to sign this form.  You may then submit it to the CVEN Graduate Advising Office (CE Building Room 106).

For M.S. and Ph.D. students, the Final Exam is also know as the "Thesis Defense" (M.S.) or "Dissertation Defense" (Ph.D.).  The defense includes a public oral presentation of the student's research and a closed-door oral exam on the research with only the student and Advisory Committee present.