Graduate Certificate in River-Coastal Science and Engineering

Can you envision yourself working to solve some of the critical issues associated with river or coastal systems? Does your job involve stream restoration, bank stabilization or flood risk reduction? Or maybe beach renourishment, seawalls for flood protection, and offshore dredging?  Located near the banks of the lower Mississippi River and atop the Mississippi delta, Tulane University is uniquely suited to offer programs that address river and coastal science and engineering. At the same time, the US Army Corps of Engineers has gained immense practical experience as it has discharged its broad responsibilities for the management and operation of river systems across the United States since the birth of our country.

In an effort to combine this wealth of knowledge and experience, Tulane University and the US Army Corps of Engineers (through the Engineering Research and Develop Center’s Graduate Institute) have teamed up to offer a group of courses which explore many river science and engineering topics for university students and practicing water managers.  As the program has broadened, we have also begun to expand into coastal topics of interest to government, NGO and for-profit entities.

Since our first offerings in the Spring 2018 we have (as of the Spring 2022 semester) had 255 student class enrollments and a total of 20 students have completed the coursework for the certificates. The target audience are early career government and industry employees from across the nation, but the graduate certificate program is also available and is being pursued by Tulane graduate students in other SSE departments as an additional educational building block to improve their employability on top of their primary degree program.  

All graduate level courses for graduate degree seeking students are also made available for certificate students.  Many are offered in a hybrid distance learning format – self-directed modules are assigned, followed by a topical weekly webinar which can be attended in person, online, or by watching the recording. The webinar is used for live online class discussions, the review of case studies, laboratory demonstrations, student presentations, and even live-streamed field work. Students from any location can participate, as long as they have access to the internet. Significant efforts are made to accommodate the schedules of working students, thus making the program well-suited to full-time employees working to enhance their knowledge and skills. The introductory course (RCSE 6800 - Introduction to River Science) is a prerequisite for more advanced courses in river mechanics, stream restoration, numerical modeling, and riverine field data collection that can lead to a Certificate in River in River Science and Engineering from the new Tulane River-Coastal Science and Engineering Department.

Since all graduate classes taught in RCSE are available to certificate students, prospective students can examine the course list: 



What is a Graduate Certificate?

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, certificates are the fastest-growing form of post-secondary credentials. 

A graduate certificate is a short program focused on a particular topic, in this case river and coastal science and engineering. Within this Department, the certificate requires the completion of 15 hours of specified graduate course work. The certificate program has been fully accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The certificate may be a stand-alone educational accomplishment which allows students to gain considerable knowledge about river systems that will be immediately applicable to current or future employment, or it may be “stacked” into a future graduate degree at Tulane. Both Masters, including a non-resident option, and Ph.D. degrees in River-Coastal Science and Engineering are described fully on this website and are now fully SACS accredited.

The graduate certificate is “individually customizable” by the student.  That is, the certificate was originally developed to educate in the science and engineering of rivers, but, as the department and program and instructor base have grown, there has been a need to expand our reach into developing coastal expertise—reflecting also the twin foci of RCSE.  Rather than develop two certificates or “tracks” within the certificate, we have modified the certificate name to Graduate Certificate in River-Coastal Science and Engineering.  If a student choses to take 15 hours of “river” or “coastal” classes because it is more fitting for job skills they require, that is one option.  Or a student may blend coursework across the disciplinary spectrum.  Prospective students are encouraged to discuss what works best for them with the Program Coordinator at the time of application into the program.

What should you do if you are interested in the program? If you would like to ask more questions or receive more information, please use the Inquiry Form. If you are ready to apply, please click on the “Apply Now” button below.  After your application has been reviewed, you will be notified of acceptance into the program, and granted non-degree Tulane graduate student status.  You will also be provided with information on how to access the Tulane online registration website when the course registration period opens.

Apply Now

Most successful applicants for the program will be have an undergraduate degree in a field of science or engineering. However, students in other fields who have a keen interest in rivers may seek special permission to enter the program from the Department Chairman, Dr. Mead Allison at

Program costs for part-time students (government and non-government) are $985 per credit hour plus an academic service fee for the 2023-2024 academic year.  Government employees should follow the training regulations appropriate to their agency, and not complete registration until permissions have been granted.

If you have additional question about the program, feel free to contact the Program Coordinator, Dr. Barb Kleiss at