M.S. Humanitarian Engineering and Science

We offer an interdisciplinary MS in Humanitarian Engineering and Science and an online graduate certificate, each focused on community-based research and design.

About The Program

The Humanitarian Engineering and Science (HES) program educates technical professionals to promote sustainable community development by drawing on a unique mixture of faculty expertise in engineering, applied sciences, and social sciences. HES students engage in direct research and outreach within and alongside the communities they seek to serve. Project experiences prepare graduates for careers in development, corporate responsibility, or further study.

The HES program combines advanced technical or scientific content in an affiliated disciplinary track with attention to community engagement practices in order to ground students’ expertise. Disciplinary tracks in environmental engineering, geological engineering, geophysics, data science, and robotics prepare students to apply knowledge about the Earth to promote more sustainable and just uses of water, energy, and other Earth resources as well as to understand and mitigate potential hazards. Students may also select an interdisciplinary option to customize their coursework.

HES graduates are prepared to become impactful leaders who can harness engineering and science to foster sustainable community development for people around the world.


If you have questions or would like more information about the program, please contact Richard Krahenbuhl, Director of Humanitarian Engineering and Science programs,  rkrahenb@mines.edu.

What is HE?

Harnessing the power of engineering and social science, we work directly with communities to jointly define problems and create sustainable solutions.

Areas of Practice:

  • Sustainable Community Development
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Social Innovation
  • Risk Perception & Mitigation
  • Engineering for Social Justice

Application Requirements
  • Background in engineering or physical sciences. Consult each of the track descriptions below for more specific requirements.
  • Statement of purpose, updated curriculum vitae or resume, and transcripts for post-secondary degrees are required for all students.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required for students pursuing the MS thesis option, but not for students pursuing the non-thesis option.
  • Non-native English speakers must meet one of the following minimum requirements: TOEFL iBT score of 79; TOEFL paper-based test score of 550; TOEFL computer-based test score of 213; IELTS score of 6.5; or have received a prior degree from an English-speaking university.
  • Mines undergraduate students may include up to six credits from their undergraduate program counted toward a combined BS/MS degree. External applicants may transfer graduate credit from elsewhere with written permission from the HES program director.
  • Applications are directed through the graduate admissions office.
Thesis & Professional Masters OptionS

Students choose either a thesis or professional (non-thesis) master’s degree. The thesis option typically takes two years, whereas the professional option can be completed in one year. The professional master’s degree requires 30 credit hours or 10 courses, one of which is a practicum. The thesis degree also requires 30 credit hours, but 6 of them (the equivalent of 2 classes) are dedicated to independent research credit.

Graduate Certificate

The HES certificate is designed for working professionals as well as graduate students who are enrolled in other degrees at Mines but wish to gain knowledge in humanitarian engineering and science. To obtain a graduate certificate, students must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours of the following courses. Students may not double-count courses from their undergraduate degrees. Students who have already taken one of the classes as undergraduates must find a suitable replacement, to be approved by the HES Director. Students are encouraged to take 12 credit hours of coursework if possible.

Required HES certificate courses (9 credits):

required heS courses in engineering, design & society department

Students from all disciplinary tracks take the same required EDNS courses, plus one elective:

  • EDNS 577: Engineering and Sustainable Community Development (3 credits)
  • EDNS 479: Community-Based Research (3 credits)
  • EDNS 580: HES Capstone Practicum (3 credits) — only required for non-thesis/professional master’s degree
  • EDNS 590: Risks in Humanitarian Engineering and Science (3 credits)

Choose From Five Impactful Disciplinary Tracks

And a customizable interdisciplinary option

Humanitarian Geophysics

Humanitarian Environmental Engineering

Andes Colombia

Humanitarian Geological Engineering


Humanitarian data science

Humanitarian robotics

interdisciplinary option

 Funding & Scholarships

HESA scholarships

Humanitarian Engineering and Science Ambassadors (HESA) scholarships of up to $10,000/year for up to two years are available for students who meet particular income and unmet need requirements. Apply to the HES program by March 1 to be considered and email Kevin Moore (kmoore@mines.edu) for more information on HESA-specific application requirements.

SHULTZ fellowships

Apply by March 1 to be considered for a limited number of Shultz graduate fellowships. Email kmoore@mines.edu for complete up-to-date information.

Teaching Assistantships

Prospective students who apply by March 1, as well as continuing students, will be considered for a limited number of teaching assistant (TA) positions to begin in the following fall semester. 

Other Funding Opportunities

We hire students to work as hourly graduate assistants to grade for courses. Faculty members will hire students as research assistants (RA) when research projects are secured. Once enrolled at Mines, students may search for on-campus positions in Diggernet.

Outside Scholarship Opportunities

There are many options for finding support for your graduate studies. Click here for a spreadsheet the HES Program has compiled that may have some items of interest. Some may no longer be active so please check with the primary source for complete details. The Mines Financial Aid office may have other lists of such opportunities, so please check with the Financial Aid office for additional information.


MInes Without Borders

Mines Without Borders combines Engineers Without Borders USA and Bridges to Prosperity. EWB-USA is committed to bringing sustainable development projects to the developing world. Projects include water, waste-water, sanitation, energy, and shelter construction. EWB-Mines helps underserved communities abroad that request specific engineering expertise. EWB-Mines is currently working in Nicaragua to help villages install suspended cable bridges — giving access to schools, hospitals, and markets during the rainy season. B2P builds literal bridges in under-served communities worldwide. On the Mines campus, B2P and Engineers Without Borders have now merged and students can build bridges by joining EWB/B2P at Mines.

Socially Responsible Scientists & Engineers (SRSE)

Socially Responsible Scientists and Engineers (SRSE) is the new Humanitarian Engineering student club!

Are you looking for professional and individual development outside of the classroom in understanding what it means to be a socially responsible scientist and/or engineer? SRSE is focused on just that. With plans to host student and faculty presentations, professional speakers, an annual symposium, and opportunities for networking and attending conferences we can further discuss what social responsibility in engineering is and how we can encourage it in others.

Geoscientists Without Borders

Mines geophysics students have the opportunity to take part in projects supported by Geoscientists Without Borders, founded in 2008 by the Society for Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Foundation.  The program seeks not only to accomplish humanitarian goals, but also to involve next-generation scientists in worthy causes.

Students in the Department of Geophysics have participated in such GWB-sponsored projects as working in an international cohort of students to assist people in Thailand in learning geophysical methods to address local environmental and infrastructural problems.  Most recently, a team of Mines Geophysics students, led by Dr. Jeffrey Shragge, collaborated with students and faculty at a local university, assisting them with building low-cost geophysical instruments to gain a better understanding of and manage water quality in Benin, West Africa.

Learn more about the Geoscientists Without Borders Program

Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists

The Colorado School of Mines Student Chapter of Association of Environmental and Engineering Geology (AEEG) is a professional organization that helps promote personal advancement within the engineering geology profession.

Geophysics Student Organizations
Society of Student Geophysicists (SSG)

The goal of the SSG shall be to promote interest in and knowledge of geophysics and allied sciences, and to promote friendship and cooperation among those interested in the geophysical sciences. We are affiliated with the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and Colorado School of Mines.

Society of Women in Geoscience

The goal of the Society of Women in Geoscience is to foster a supportive community for the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty women of the various geoscience disciplines (Geophysics, Geology and Geologic Engineering, Petroleum, Hydrology, Environmental, Petrophysics, Geochemistry, and more) at the Colorado School of Mines. Through our involvement on campus, we hope to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between geoscientists in different fields of study, while at the same time creating both personal and professional networks for our women on campus. Our club offers regular meetings, networking events, professional development, field trips, and casual meet and greet events for our members.

Society of Geophysics Graduate Students (SGGS)

The purpose of the SGGS is to represent the Department of Geophysics graduate students in the Mines Graduate Student Government, to coordinate and collaborate with the Department on matters of concern to its graduate student body, and to promote goodwill and community among all graduate students.

Learn more about the Geophysics student organizations