Interdisciplinary Water and Health Sciences Graduate Certificate


The Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Water and Health Science is available to MS and PhD students. Students who successfully complete the 9 credits of water INTERface coursework will be eligible to apply to receive the certificate. Students may be affiliated with any department but need mentorship agreement from a certificated Water IGEP Faculty (Table 2). The IGEP is a non-degree granting program, thus students will have a home department (i.e., that of their graduate advisor) with specific degree requirements.

Certificate Overview:

Clean water is a common topic discussed in many classrooms and research laboratories around this campus. Yet, the complexity of societal issues related to water shortages, hygiene, and quality, which influence water consumption and its role in human health, highlights the importance of increased interdisciplinary dialogue and problem-solving capabilities. The certificate reflects the acquisition of this interdisciplinary knowledge as related to “water and health.”

This certificate program is available to graduate students who are affiliated with the Water INTERface (WI) IGEP – at either the MS or PhD level. Students who successfully complete the 9 credits of WI IGEP coursework are eligible to apply to receive the certificate. Students may be affiliated with any department with WI IGEP mentorship agreement by a certificated WI IGEP Faculty (see website).

The IGEP is a non-degree granting program, thus students have a home department (i.e., that of their graduate advisor) with specific degree requirements. The water (WI IGEP) graduate certificate reflects the successful completion of the interdisciplinary coursework (including a 2 credit hour independent research project), which includes content related to four interdisciplinary research thematic areas:

  • Public Perception: public perception of technological options and advancements for providing clean water resources (water treatment);
  • Risks: risks (perceived or real) associated with contaminants and water-borne infectious diseases in private homes, public water systems, and commercial food processing facilities;
  • Chemistry: role of water chemistry (e.g., mineral composition) in delivering functional qualities such as flavor and bioavailable nutrients;
  • Health: role of water consumption in health, wellness, and mitigation of mineral deficiencies and diseases.


Admission Requirements:

Certificate applicants must have a baccalaureate degree or the equivalent of a US four-year degree from a regionally accredited institution, and must have been accepted (or are currently enrolled) in a degree-granting graduate program at Virginia Tech.

A minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0 is required to apply for the graduate certificate. Students who wish to apply to pursue the certificate should contact the program director, Dr. Susan Duncan and Dr. Andrea Dietrich (WI IGEP Program Directors and certificate coordinators). The applicant must have approval from WI IGEP Directors and agreement from a WI IGEP faculty mentor who are different from applicant’s home department for the 5974 Independent Study. A formal request for admittance identifies and confirms the approval from applicant’s WI IGEP research mentor (5974 Independent Study) and from applicant’s thesis/dissertation advisor. Application for admittance includes the application for certificate (application form), letter of approval from thesis/dissertation advisor, letter of agreement from WI IGEP faculty mentor, CV, statement of interest, official transcript, GRE score report, and graduation certificates of baccalaureate degree or the equivalent of a US four-year degree from a regionally accredited institution (all materials can be submitted as electronic version).

To apply, please send all the required materials to Aili Wang (


Course Requirements:

Table. Interdisciplinary Water and Health Science Certificate Coursework (9 credits) and Timeline:

Year 1

Year 2

FALL: CEE 5804 Engineering  Ethics and the Public (3 cr.) FALL: GRAD 5134 Interdisciplinary Research: Water for Health (3 cr.)
SPRING: GRAD 5414 Water for Health Seminar(1 cr.) SPRING: *GRAD 5974 Independent Study (2 cr.)

*either GRAD 5974 or a departmental Independent Study (from Water IGEP mentor’s department) may be taken. Whichever course is planned (either GRAD 5974 or the departmental 5974) should be listed on the Graduate Certificate Application form. 

CEE 5804 Ethics in Engineering, Science and Public Policy (3 cr)   Instructors: Edwards (CEE), Lambrinidou (STS).  Description: Drawing from case studies at the intersection of engineering, science, and public policy, this course examines the cultural and moral dimensions of engineering and scientific practice through the prism of ethical theory. It explores professional, institutional, and political values underlying the production of knowledge and shaping regulatory solutions to real-life problems, and identifies tensions that can arise between “expert” and “non-expert” perspectives on matters that can have serious and large-scale societal consequences. 

GRAD 5414 Water for Health seminar (1 cr).  Instructors: Water INTERface IGEP faculty. Description: Emerging interdisciplinary issues related to the chemistry, biology, and engineering of drinking water. Nutritional and aesthetic values of water and its role in controlling disease and promoting good health. Methods of processing poor quality water to drinking water standards; subsequent changes in chemical, biological, nutritional, and palatability characteristics; implications for food preparation, processing, and safety and other consumer uses of water. Comparison of tap and bottled water. Influences on consumer choices of beverages. Implications of engineering treatments and consumer choices for promoting human health and nutrition.

GRAD 5134 Interdisciplinary Research (3 cr)   Instructors: IGEP Core Faculty. Description: This course will address the characteristics, processes, and dynamics of interdisciplinary research teams which facilitate success, as well as strategies to prevent or reduce conflict among research teams. The concepts will be applied throughout the semester, as students work in interdisciplinary teams to complete course assignments. The course will include in‐depth coverage of significant research questions involving WATER that require interdisciplinary expertise, methodologies, and analysis including social/ ecological aspects of water consumption, role of water in controlling disease and promoting optimal health, public perceptions of water quality, and water re‐use.

GRAD 5974 Independent Study (2 cr).  Instructors: Any Water INTERface affiliated or core faculty may supervise this independent study laboratory experience. The course is designed to build skills and knowledge in water research methodology exploration in a discipline outside the student’s primary discipline.  A  departmental  5974 may be substituted for GRAD 5974.



How to apply: Please refer to the Guidelines for Graduate Certificate Students for information on how to apply for the Interdisciplinary Water and Health Sciences Graduate Certificate. Alternatively this information can be accessed in the Graduate Catalog.

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