Humanitarian Engineering and Science

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

About The Program: What Is humanitarian engineering and science?

Humanitarian Engineering and Science (HES) is an interdisciplinary, sociotechnical graduate program where student scientists and engineers work directly with communities to jointly define problems and create sustainable solutions.

HES students choose from disciplinary tracks, including environmental engineering, geological engineering, geophysics, data science, and robotics. Students take a balance of track-specific courses and HES courses in the social sciences. Classroom, research, and project experiences prepare students to be leaders in a variety of fields.

 Graduates have gone on to diverse careers in places like:

  • Local startups and consulting
  • United Nations
  • US Geological Survey
  • National Academy of Engineering
  • Higher education and further graduate studies


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

Choose From Five Impactful Disciplinary Tracks

And a customizable interdisciplinary option


Environmental Engineering

Geological Engineering

Data Science



Degree Options: Thesis or professional

Two Master’s Degrees: Students choose either a thesis or professional (non-thesis) master’s degree.

Thesis: This option typically takes two years, and:

      • Requires 30 credit hours (equivalent to 10 courses), 6 of these credit hours dedicated to independent research
      • Prospective students interested in the thesis option are encouraged to reach out the HES Graduate Program Director, Richard Krahenbuhl,, prior to submitting an application to learn more about this option, investigate projects and potential advisors

Professional: This option can be completed in one year, and:

      • Requires 30 credit hours (equivalent of 10 courses), 3 of these credit hours dedicated to a practicum course
      • Requires practicum instead of thesis research

Required Courses from the Engineering, Design, and Society Department (EDS): Students from all disciplinary tracks take the same core EDS courses, plus one elective

      • EDNS 515: Introduction to Science & Technology Studies (3 credits)
      • EDNS 577: Engineering and Sustainable Community Development (3 credits)
      • EDNS 579: Community-Based Research (3 credits)
      • EDNS 580: HES Capstone Practicum (3 credits) — only required for professional master’s degree

Graduate Certificate Option

The HES graduate 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 core HES courses, most likely those listed below. Courses not listed below that align with the student’s needs and interests can be substituted in consultation with the HES Director. 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.

  • EDNS 515: Introduction to Science & Technology Studies (3 credits)
  • EDNS 577: Engineering and Sustainable Community Development (3 credits)
  • EDNS 579: Community-Based Research (3 credits)
Application Requirements for Master's Degree
  • Background in engineering or physical sciences. A degree in these fields is not required. However, courses will require prerequisites. Consult each of the track descriptions for more specific requirements.
  • Statement of purpose, curriculum vitae or resume, and transcripts for post-secondary degrees.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required for students pursuing the thesis option, but not for students pursuing the non-thesis option.
  • Non-native English speakers must prove language proficiency. Please review requirements provided by the graduate admissions office.
  • Mines undergraduate students may include up to 6 credits from their undergraduate program counted toward a combined BS/MS degree (4+1). External applicants may transfer graduate credit from elsewhere with written permission from the HES program director.
  • Applications are directed through the graduate admissions office.

 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 ( 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 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