M.S. Humanitarian Engineering

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 stream with attention to community engagement practices in order to ground students’ expertise. The HES-Geophysics stream prepares 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. Other affiliated streams are under development.

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 humanitarian@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.

  • Master of Science (thesis based): 30 credit hours, comprised of 24 credit hours of coursework in both humanitarian engineering and an affiliated technical stream, plus a minimum of 6 credit hours of thesis research.
  • Master of Science (non-thesis): 30 credit hours of coursework spanning humanitarian engineering and an affiliated technical stream.
  • Graduate Certificate: 12 credit hours of coursework focused exclusively on humanitarian engineering theoretical foundations and practical applications.
  • Advanced Engineering and Sustainable Community Development
  • Engineers Engaging Communities
  • Risks in Humanitarian Engineering and Science
  • Humanitarian Engineering and Science Capstone Practicum
Humanitarian Geophysics

Broadly defined, Humanitarian Geophysics focuses on applying the principles of geophysics to improve the lives of disadvantaged communities and the natural environments in which they live. Humanitarian Geophysics spans a wide range of topics including:

  • Locating new groundwater resources
  • Groundwater/aquifer management
  • Environmental remediation and monitoring
  • Natural hazards posed by earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides
  • Agriculture development, management and optimization
  • Securing cultural heritage

Practitioners work to develop sustainable socio-technical solutions to these challenges in collaboration with local scientists, communities and government stakeholders.

Humanitarian Geophysics Stream Courses

  • Humanitarian Geophysics
  • Geophysical Data Integration and Geostatistics
  • Applications of Remote Sensing
  • Groundwater Geophysics 
  • Statement of purpose, updated curriculum vitae or resume, and transcripts for post-secondary degrees are required for all students.
  • Background in Engineering or Physical Sciences. For the HES: Geophysics program, we recommend a background in quantitative earth sciences and engineering.
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and three letters of recommendation are required for students pursuing the MS 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 substitute approved electives with courses brought from elsewhere with written permission from the HES program director.
  • Applications are directed through graduate admissions office

Funding and Scholarships

Shultz Graduate Scholarships

The Shultz Scholarship program recognizes and rewards HE students who serve as program ambassadors and seek opportunities for collaboration with faculty, alumni, corporations and NGOs, and other universities.

Program size: Between four and six scholarships will be awarded each year. Each scholarship will be approximately $8,500 per semester (equivalent to the cost of one semester of in-state tuition and fees). Scholarships awarded in Fall semester are reassessed for continuity in the Spring semester based on performance and commitment to the mission and values of the HE program. Preference will be given to students who have not previously received the scholarship but previous recipients can apply and will be seriously considered.

For more information contact humanitarian@mines.edu.

Teaching Assistantships

Apply by March 1 to compete for limited teaching assistant (TA) positions to begin in the following fall semester. We also 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 you enroll at Mines students may search for on-campus positions in Diggernet.

Outside Scholarships and opportunities
For more information on scholarship and funding please contact: Jessica Smith 303.273.3944 jmsmith@mines.edu

Student organizations

Socially Responsible Scientists and engineers (SRSE)
Socially Responsible Scientists and Engineers (SRSE) is the new Humanitarian Engineering student club! Meetings are on Mondays from 12:00-1:00 PM in Marquez Hall 122 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. If you would like the chance to take part in developing this club or just want to learn more, stop by one of our meetings!
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.
International Associations