Freshwater Sciences

The Earth is called the "blue planet" because of the abundance of water covering its surface. However, less than one percent of that is available freshwater, a precious resource we need to survive. Freshwater scientists study the health of freshwater systems—lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands—gathering critical information such as the impact of invasive species, changing levels of biological diversity, and the effects of climate change and pollution. Their work is at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to the complex challenges facing our freshwater resources.

In our unique partnership program, you’ll earn your bachelor’s degree at Carroll and go on to complete your master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in as little as five years.

“I’ve always been passionate about sustainability and ecology.”
— Emily Koster '20

Read Emily's story

About the Freshwater Sciences Program

The health and availability of freshwater resources in relation to human and natural impact is a global issue that affects everyone. How can we ensure there is enough clean and available drinking water to sustain a growing world population? What are the ways in which we can maximize our use of freshwater resources without causing damage to habitat? Can we find ways to restore and protect biodiversity? Our 3 + 2 freshwater sciences program prepares you for a career focused on improving the environment and providing a better quality of life for us all.

Innovative Partnership with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Our innovative 3 + 2 partnership with UWM gives you a strong foundation and allows you to finish your advanced degree faster.

Carroll University partners with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences to offer an innovative, integrated 3+2 bachelor's and master's degree program that leads to your advanced degree in as little as five years. You’ll spend three years at Carroll, completing your Bachelor of Science degree in either Environmental Science or Biology. You’ll transfer to UWM your final two years, earning your Master of Science in Freshwater Science.

You’ll benefit from an education that offers you the best of both worlds – a premier, private school focusing on small class sizes and personal attention and a large, nationally-recognized research institution. You’ll study in a variety of natural habitats—from Carroll’s Greene Field Station and Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center, offering 75 acres of rare wetlands in the glaciated landscape of the southern Kettle Moraine—to Milwaukee’s Lake Michigan, the sixth largest freshwater lake in the world.

Start at Carroll University

Choose from Carroll's Environmental Science LINK program, which integrates the Earth Sciences, Chemistry and Ecology with opportunities to customize the curriculum to your interests; or the Biology LINK program, where you’ll focus on living systems, animals, plants, microbes and human life.

Undergraduate program highlights:

  • Access to the diverse freshwater and terrestrial habitats of the Kettle Moraine region
  • Ability to investigate water resource issues relevant to the urban-suburban environments in southeastern Wisconsin
  • Opportunities for involvement in undergraduate research projects with hands-on guidance from faculty
  • Cross-cultural curriculum that prepares students for work in a global economy
  • Off-campus research and study at the Greene Field Station, the Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center and Paul Fleckenstein Research Laboratory

Finish at UWM

UWM is the only graduate school in the nation dedicated solely to the study of freshwater, preparing future scientists and professionals with the skills needed to address the critical challenges facing the world's freshwater resources. The UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences is located in Milwaukee's harbor district on the shores of Lake Michigan, the ideal location to study water. The facilities are equipped with an Aquatic Robotics Lab, Analytical Core Facility, DNA Sequencing Lab, Fish Research Labs and more.

Choose from the M.S. in Freshwater Science: Thesis Track, which focuses on completing original research and prepares you for advancement toward a Ph.D, or the Professional Science Track, a program that develops marketable skills for working with agency, industry and non-profit partners in a wide range of careers.

Master’s Program Highlights

  • Work alongside scientists and faculty who produce internationally-recognized research in human and ecosystem health, freshwater system dynamics, technology, policy and economics
  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities, including a dockside teaching lab, aquaculture and aquaponics teaching labs and a marine operations building currently under construction

Partnerships and internship opportunities open doors for students to work with leaders in aquatic industries, agencies and non-profit companies.


We help you build real world experience, explore careers and network with professionals through internship opportunities. Recent placements include the following companies:

  • Milwaukee Health Department
  • The Society for Marine Mammalogy
  • Tall Pines Conservancy
  • Retzer Nature Center
  • Urban Ecology Center
  • Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District
  • Local environmental consulting firms
  • Waukesha Green Team
  • Carroll University Greene Field Station 
  • Waukesha Land Conservancy


College is a big investment in a bright future. Learn more about the industries and careers our majors pursue, and the workplaces and experiences of the alumni from our program. See where yours may take you.

Career Insight

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Panoramic View of campus