Irrigation Engineering - MS, PhD

College of Engineering

About This Degree

The irrigation engineering program at USU has long been recognized as the best program of its kind in the nation, and possibly the world.

Many of the prominent irrigation engineers in the United States and around the world are graduates of the USU program, and the program’s faculty continues a tradition of leadership in international development projects in several dozen countries across the globe. Projects have been conducted in Latin America, the Caribbean region, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

What You Will Learn

At USU, irrigation engineering students are exposed to classroom instruction, laboratory work in hydraulics, remote-sensing, and more. They also have the opportunity to conduct field work.

Students may study in the following areas:

  • Integrated Water Management: In this area, students study a broad range of topics related to irrigation, including the use of treated wastewater in irrigation, conjunctive use of surface and ground water, water policy, training tools for improving water management, and many others.
  • Crop Water Requirements: Students studying crop water requirements focus on the evapotranspiration (ET) of agricultural crops and other vegetation based on weather station instrumentation and or lysimeter measurements or flux systems, such as eddy covariance and Bowen ratio. It is important to estimate ET to understand water requirements and to lead to improvements in water management. This sometimes also includes measurements and/or estimations of crop production.
  • Irrigation System Operation and Maintenance: This area focuses on the operation and maintenance of irrigation systems, which sometimes includes organizational development and institutional strengthening of water users' associations. Topics include specific procedures, operational plans, maintenance plans, and irrigation system administration.
  • Remote Sensing and Spatial Apps: This is the application of ground-based, airborne, and satellite remote-sensing technologies with Geographical Information Systems for evapotranspiration estimation, irrigation system mapping, crop identification, crop yield estimation, water balance and efficiency estimations, and many others.
  • On-farm Irrigation Methods: Students will learn to design and evaluate on-farm irrigation methods, including surface (furrows, borders, and basins) and pressurized (sprinkler and micro-irrigation) methods. This may also include other topics, such as pressure regulation, water application uniformity, water filtration, chemigation, and many others.

At a Glance

College: College of Engineering

Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

USU Locations:

  • Logan campus

Program Requirements

Career And Outcomes

Career Opportunities

Graduates in irrigation engineering work primarily in the following careers:

  • Irrigation system design, construction, and installation
  • Consulting and technical advising
  • Teaching and training
  • Research

Irrigation engineers also perform various projects, including:

  • Design farm irrigation and drainage systems
  • Design irrigation conveyance, distribution, and drainage systems
  • Manage the operation and maintenance of irrigation systems
  • Develop manuals on operation, design, and evaluation
  • Evaluate and analyze the performance of irrigation systems
  • Build irrigation and drainage systems
  • Design and build center pivots, linear moves, and other pressurized systems
  • On-farm irrigation system sales
  • Develop and apply flow measurement methods and devices
  • Develop automation techniques, devices, and systems
  • Develop and apply mathematical models
  • Develop and apply remote sensing technologies
  • Management transfer of irrigation projects to farmer organizations
  • Train farmers, technicians, engineers, and others working with irrigation systems
  • Teach irrigation engineering courses
  • Perform research in irrigation engineering
  • Agricultural extension
  • Provide guidance to environmental preservation efforts and water sharing
  • Manage fresh-water resources
  • Help develop irrigation development policies
  • Work on agricultural development projects

Job Outlook



Marlo Bailey

Office: ENLAB 211 F
Phone: (435) 797-2783

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Admission Requirements

Students without civil and environmental engineering backgrounds may be required to complete select undergraduate courses prior to admission as a graduate student. This is determined by the committee on a case-to-case basis.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.


The department has the following application deadlines:

  • Fall semester – March 15 for full financial consideration, final application deadline is May 15
  • Spring semester – October 15

Program Requirements

PhD Qualifying Exams:

PhD qualifying exams are written exams on subject areas related to the student's dissertation research topic, usually administered by the student's graduate committee members. Qualifying exams are usually taken after the student has completed most or all of the coursework in their program of study. If the student has a sufficiently high GPA, the committee can recommend an oral exam at a committee meeting in lieu of a written exam, or the committee may require the exam in both oral and written formats. If the student is the main author of a significant research grant proposal, or has published at least one refereed journal article on his or her research topic while at USU, the qualifying exams may be waived by the committee.

Plan Options

Students can receive the MS or the ME by pursuing one of three options:

  • In the MS Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework, are involved in research, and must write a thesis.
  • The MS Plan B option, students complete graduate-level coursework, work on a project, and are required to produce a report.
  • A third option, ME Plan C, does not involve a thesis or a defense meeting and is comprised of coursework only.

Financial Aid

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Take The Next Step

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