Water Without Borders

A graduate program in partnership with McMaster University

Applications are now open for the year 2023–2024

Water Without Borders is a collaborative program between McMaster University and the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH). The primary goal of WWB is to introduce graduate students to the advanced training and research needed by professionals in the field of water-health, broadly defined, to fill a growing global societal need for science, service, policy, and practice, around the fundamental human issue of maintaining water security and water resources now and in the future. Issues of provision, access, quality, equity, conflict, distribution, change, governance, and environmental integrity – are all paramount importance to studying and responding to the water problematique.

This means that highly qualified personnel, from a range of disciplines (including those belonging to natural sciences, humanities, business, social sciences, and health), are required to work together in understanding and addressing the emerging global water crisis. Water issues at all scales are transdisciplinary and WWB offers a distinctive program opportunity to develop transdisciplinary skills, featuring international experience, and engagement with water professionals, at the interface of water policy and research.

The WWB requirements include three courses (WOBORDER 701, WOBORDER 702, and WOBORDER 703), in addition to the requirements of your home program and department. The program will commence with a welcome event in September. All formal WWB requirements will be completed by June 2024. Detailed course activity information will be provided in the welcome package to successful applicants. The program culminates in formal recognition on your transcript of completion from McMaster University and UNU-INWEH.


This is a limited enrolment graduate program, and we warmly invite you to apply by June 30. Successful applicants will be notified by July 31 and must accept their offers by August 8. Registration must be finalized before the closure of the September course change period.

Language requirements

The medium of instruction for the WWB program is English. For students whose native language is not English, English proficiency requirements are the same as for entry into a McMaster graduate program.

Course requirements

The WWB program is completed in conjunction with your McMaster graduate degree, and its requirements include three courses WOBORDER 701, WOBORDER 702, and WOBORDER 703, in addition to the prerequisites of your home department.


Students must accept an offer of admission into a home graduate program at McMaster University, and then apply to the Water Without Borders program. For consideration for admission to the WWB Program:

  • Please complete the application form available through the McMaster School of Graduate Studies website by logging in with your MACID at: https://gs.mcmaster.ca/program/water-without-borders/.
  • Find the “apply now” button, (lower right corner of screen) and click – this should take you to: https://www.mcmaster.ca/ola/grad.html.
  • Enter your MACID and password to enter. (You should have received your MACID based on your home program admission.)

When you are applying please:

  1. Upload a brief one-page statement of interest (maximum 500 words) concerning water and the WWB Program, and why you are a strong candidate for the collaborative program. Include any experience you have in the area of international water policy and development, as well as your career goals and aspirations; and
  2. Email Leigh-Ann Sepe (wwbsec@mcmaster.ca) with the MOSAIC application number of your home graduate program application.  From this our administrator will be able to access your home application to obtain your references and transcripts so you do not need to submit those twice.

Application deadline

Applications are accepted until 30 June for Fall 2023. Admission decisions will be communicated by 31 July.

Please see our frequently asked questions for further Information about the course. 


If you need further assistance with the application, please contact Leigh-Ann Sepe at wwbsec@mcmaster.ca.

For questions about tuition, otherfees or the Water Withouth Borders program in general, please contact

  • Dr Nancy Doubleday
    Director, Water Without Boarders Graduate Diploma Program, McMaster University
    Email: doublen@mcmaster.ca
  • Dr. Lina Taing
    Director, Water Without Borders Graduate Diploma Program, UNU-INWEH
    Email: lina.taing@unu.edu


Participation in UNU-INWEH’s WWB program has given me invaluable insight into the complex challenges surrounding water resource management and their impact on vulnerable communities. The program emphasizes the importance of collaboration across disciplines, including environmental science, urban planning, and health management, in addressing these pressing global water issues. After engaging in meaningful discussions and hands-on activities, I gained a new appreciation for the commitment to advocating for equitable access to clean water and supporting Sustainable Development Goals.
Yin Hoi Lam, WWB 2022-2023
The Water Without Borders graduate diploma was a transformative and educational program. The curriculum covered a wide range of topics including water governance, disease transmission, risk management, SDG 6, and the implications of climate change on water resources from a variety of speakers. The program not only provided a comprehensive understanding of the importance of water issues but also equipped me with the skills needed to make effective change. The learning experience was enriched by working with a diverse cohort of students from different academic backgrounds. I recommend the Water Without Borders program to those interested in water resource management, climate change, and sustainable development.
Brianna Marshall, WWB 2022-23
This program will inspire you to innovate and immerse yourself in an entrepreneurial mindset as well as grow and learn with your peers, who share your passion for water research. It will furnish different approaches to learning and provide students with an opportunity to gain practical field skills to deal with issues surrounding water, environment, and health. Students will have an opportunity to conduct field research in a developing country and will provide students with the necessary steps to tackle some of the world’s most challenging issues. The small class size, combined with a community atmosphere, fosters a unique sense of teamwork among the students and faculty.
Faria Faiz
When it comes to water, I noticed how the human right to access it although fundamental for our existence, was not in everybody’s minds or was not given the proper place in the political debates of our times. This lead me to the program WWB, where a strong line-up of lecturers provides the students with a multidisciplinary approach to deal with the different problems that water-related public policies face.
Jorge Sanchez Perez

Frequently asked questions

Who can I contact regarding tuition and other fees?

Please direct questions about tuition and other fees to McMaster University at wwbsec@mcmaster.ca; or to the WWB Directors listed above.

When are students expected to begin the programme?

Students are expected to enter the WWB program in their first year of graduate studies for a Masters degree and their first or second year for a Ph.D. degree.  In exceptional circumstances, students may be admitted other than in their first (or second for a Ph.D.) year of enrollment in a parent program at McMaster.

How are applications evaluated?

Only complete application files can be considered. Be sure to use your McMaster ID and McMaster email.

A cohort composed of graduate students drawn from all faculties of McMaster University will be sought, in keeping with the complexity of water issues, and in alignment with the goal of advancing a transdisciplinary approach to water, and an integrated understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals through the “water lens” of SDG 6.

What are the language requirements?

The medium of instruction for the WWB program is English. For students whose native language is not English, English proficiency requirements are the same as for entry into a McMaster graduate program.

Are part-time studies available?

The program is not currently offered on a part-time basis.

Does the program offer January admission?

Normally, students are admitted to the program only for September.

When can prospective students apply?

Exact deadlines are updated each year on the applications section of this website.

How long does the program take to complete?

The three courses are normally completed within the first three terms of registration in the WWB program.  All elements of the WWB program, including the capstone research component must be completed prior to, or no later than, the home department’s date of oral defence (for thesis / dissertation) or the home program deadline (if course-based or MRP) [Top]