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Hydrology and Hydraulics Engineering Graduate Program

Dr. James C.Y. Guo


The Department of Civil Engineering offers graduate study in Hydrology and Hydraulics (H&H) engineering leading to the Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. The H&H Engineering Graduate Program emphasizes engineering planning and design of urban infrastructure to preserve the urban water environment. H&H Engineering applies hydrologic principles and hydraulic engineering technology to analyze water-related problems, to develop feasible alternatives, to evaluate the costs and benefits among various alternatives, and to optimize the operation of a hydrologic system. The H&H program provides graduate course work in the areas of watershed hydrology, groundwater modeling, urban stormwater management, flood mitigation, and river mechanics. Students can focus on the following specialty areas, including:

  •   Flood Prediction and Flash Flood Forecasting Systems,
  •   Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Low Impact Developments (LID),
  •   Urban Stormwater Simulation and Master Drainage Planning,
  •   Floodplain Hydraulics and Modeling,
  •   Highway and Street Drainage Systems,
  •   Laminar and Turbulent Flow Numerical Modeling,
  •   Groundwater Flow Modeling, and
  •   Risk-cost Approach and Optimization Techniques.

Students in H&H Engineering are encouraged to work in the hydraulics laboratory and in the on-campus stormwater detention test site.


(1) A B.S. degree from an accredited engineering program with a GPA of 3.0 or better is required for regular admission. A GPA above 2.75 may allow provisional admission.

(2) All graduate students are required to complete certain undergraduate courses as defined by the Department of Civil Engineering ( Non-engineering graduates may also qualify for admission after completing these courses.

(3) All international applicants must submit additional documents including but not limited to official GRE and TOEFL scores and evidence of financial support. International applicants apply to International Admissions, rather than to the Department of Civil Engineering.

Please visit for complete application instructions.


All graduate students work with faculty for academic advising and research studies. The advisor will help the student formulate a plan for graduate study within the recommended course work in accordance with the student s background and interest.

To fulfill the M.S. degree requirement, a student can choose one of the two plans: Plan I including 24 graduate course credits with a thesis, or Plan II consisting of 27 graduate course credits with a report. The H&H graduate courses are (2011):



Course Title



Course Schedule


Applied Hydrology





Groundwater Hydrology





Vadose Zone hydrology





Urban Runoff Modeling (EPA SWMM)





Open Channel Hydraulics





Sustainable Hydraulic System Design





Introduction to Geographic Information Systems





Water Resources Development and Management





Environmental Fluid Mechanics




Computational Methods for Water Resources




Storm Water System Design (Conveyance system)




Flood Control System Design (Storage system)




River Morphology and Floodplain Management




Colorado Water Rights



CE 5344

Independent Study



Master Thesis



Master Report


(1) Graduate Core and Elective Courses

It is recommended that basic 5 core courses be taken before the higher level of graduate courses. In consultation with the academic advisor, students may take one or two elective courses offered by other programs on both the Denver and Boulder campuses.

(4) Additional Course Work for PhD Study

With an earned M.S. degree in hydrologic and hydraulic engineering or a related area, the course work required for the PhD degree includes additional 2 to 5 graduate courses, with a minimum of 1 to 2 courses to be taken at the Boulder campus. A preliminary exam at the terminal level of M.S. study will be given as soon as the required course work is completed. 

(5) Exam and Presentation

Prior to the graduation, all M.S. students must pass a written comprehensive exam and a presentation of their report or thesis. All PhD students shall work with their advisor and their committee to outline the course work. To fulfill the graduate requirements, a total of 30 credit hours must be enrolled to complete the proposed research study.

For further information, please contact:

  •      Dr. James C.Y. Guo, P.E. Director for H&H Program (Hydraulics, Hydrology, and Fluid Mechanics)
  • Dr. David Mays, P.E. (Groundwater Hydrology and Environmental Engineering),

Faculty contact information is available through

Course Title and Description

Text Books

CVEN-5333 Applied Hydrology. This course covers: (1) precipitation measurement and data analysis; (2) stream flow measurement and water budget analysis; (3) evaporation and evapotranspiration; (4) infiltration and rainfall-runoff relationships; (5) hydrograph properties and unit hydrograph analysis; (6) flood frequency analysis; and (7) flood routing.

Prereq: CVEN 3313, upper division, graduate, or instructor approval

Hydrology and Floodplain Analysis, 4th edition, by Bedient, Huber, and Vieux, Prentice-Hall, 2008 (current Fall 2009)

CVEN-5334 Groundwater Hydrology. This course covers (1) groundwater occurrence; (2) hydrologic cycle and budget; (3) interactions with surface waters; (4) principles of groundwater flow; (5) well hydraulics; (6) well field design; (7) regional flow systems; (8) water and pollutant chemistry; (9) computer modeling; and (10) groundwater management.

Prereq: CVEN 3313, upper division, graduate, or instructor approval

Groundwater Science by Fitts, Academic Press, 2002 (current Spring 2010)

CVEN-5336 Urban Runoff (Quality and Quantity) Modeling This course covers: (1) rain gage operation and data correction; (2) design rainfall distribution, including SCS Types I and II and Denver s curves; (3) statistical models using exponential, Gumbel, log-normal, and log-Pearson III; (4) synthetic unit hydrographs using SCS and CUHP methods; (5) urban drainage system modeling using flow diversion, stormwater detention, and pump stations; (6) event-based flood prediction and continuous stormwater simulation; (7) concept of master drainage planning and alternative analysis; and (8) modeling consistency and sensitivity analyses.

Prereq: CVEN 3323, upper division, graduate, or instructor approval

Urban Hydrology and Hydraulic Design by James C.Y. Guo, Water Resources Publication, Phone: 800-736-2405 / Fax: 800-616-1971

CE5337 Sustainable Hydraulic System Design This course covers (1) basic hydraulic principles (2) Inlet design (2) culvert designs (3) outlet designs (4) forebay design (5) sediment basin design (6) small detention basin design (7) energy dissipater (8) riprap design etc.

Prereq: CVEN 3323, upper division, graduate, or instructor approval


CVEN-5343 Open Channel Hydraulics  This course covers: (1) classification of channel flows; (2) basic principles; (3) gradually varied flow for backwater analysis; (4) spatially and rapidly varied flows for hydraulic jumps and drops; (5) channel design criteria; (6) grade control using drop structures; (7) concrete channel design; (8) grass channel design; (9) riprap channel design; (10) composite channel design; (11) energy dissipation; and (12) inlet and outlet protection.

Prereq: CVEN 3323, upper division, graduate, or instructor approval

Urban Flood Channel Design by James C.Y. Guo, Water Resources Publication, Phone: 800-736-2405 / Fax: 800-616-1971

CVEN-5344 Unsteady Open Channel Hydraulics (Independent Study) This course covers: (1) derivation of basic principles for unsteady flow; (2) flow regime for stability analysis; (3) oblique jumps, roll waves, and bores; (4) flood waves including dynamic, quasi-dynamic, diffusive, and kinematic; (5) river system and floodplain hydraulics using HEC-RAS model; (6) dam and levee break analysis; and (7) flood hazard potential classifications and assessment.

Prereq: CVEN 5343, graduate, or instructor approval

Class notes and technical papers will be provided or assigned.

CVEN-5345 River Morphology and Floodplain Management This course covers (1) Basic principles for river flow and sediment transport; (2) Natural streams (3) definitions of floodplain and floodway; (4) HEC-RAS methods for floodplain delineation; (5) bridge hydraulics; (6) levee hydraulics; (7) flow around islands; (8) regulations of floodplain; and (9) flood insurance rate map (FIRM) revision procedure.

 Prereq: CVEN 5434, graduate, or instructor approval

To be determined

CVEN-5427/4427 Storm Water System Design This course covers: (1) hydrologic analysis for small urban catchments; (2) concept of flood frequency; (3) design rainfall statistics; (4) rational method for peak flow prediction; (5) urban drainage systems and design criteria; (6) street hydraulics for conveyance and storage capacity; (7) street inlet sizing using grates and curb openings; (8) storm sewer system design; and (9) determination of hydraulic grade and energy grade lines.

Prereq: CVEN 3233, , upper division, graduate, or instructor approval

Street Drainage System Design

by James C.Y. Guo, Water Resources Publication, Phone: 800-736-2405 / Fax: 800-616-1971

CVEN-6427 Flood Control System Design This course covers: (1) urbanization impact on watershed regime; (2) preservation of watershed regime; (3) flood control detention volume; (4) outlet structure design; (5) water quality control volume and stormwater BMPs, including bio-retention, sand filters, and wetlands; (6) low impact designs, including porous pavement and landscaping basins; (7) riparian systems and stream restoration; (8) urban re-development and retrofitting stormwater systems; (9) life cycle assessment; and (10) risk and reliability analysis.

Prereq: CVEN 4427/5427, graduate, or instructor approval

Urban Hydrology and Hydraulic Design

by James C.Y. Guo, Water Resources Publication, Phone: 800-736-2405 / Fax: 800-616-1971

CVEN-5393 Water Resources Development and Management  A multidisciplinary exploration of the principles governing water resources planning and development. Emphasis is on (1) rainfall and runoff (2) reservoir operation (3) hydro power (4) optimization technique (5) irrigation projects

Prereq: CVEN-3323, senior or instructor approval.


CVEN-5395 Computational Methods for Water Resources This course covers the two major numerical algorithms used in surface water flow routing. The hydrologic routing method includes linear and nonlinear reservoir operations using reservoir characteristic curves derived from reservoir geometry and outlet structure hydraulics. The hydraulic routing method covers the finite difference numerical schemes for channel flow routing using the kinematic wave and characteristic methods. This course will also focus on derivation and application of the Courant number to numerical stability and sensitivity analysis.

Prereq: CVEN 3323, upper division, graduate, or instructor approval

Class notes and technical papers will be provided or assigned.

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