River Studies & Leadership Certificate

You can chart your path as a river professional!

Get started by earning a River Studies and Leadership Certificate.


Fishing the Nooksack River - Scott Willison

Western is partnering with the River Management Society to offer the River Studies and Leadership Certificate (RSLC), awarded upon completion of river-focused coursework and a river-related professional project. The RMS is a national organization whose mission is to support professionals who study, protect and manage North America's rivers.

To learn more about what river professionals do, please view this video from #TheRiverIsMyOffice

The River Studies and Leadership Certificate offers a foundation of knowledge, skills and experience in river-based science, policy, conservation, education, and recreation for undergraduate students who aspire to be river professionals.

As an RSLC student, you'll collaborate with your faculty advisory to design and complete a personalized academic program that provides a strong basis for addressing real world challenges facing our nation's rivers. RSLC requirements include core courses, an emphasis area, and hands-on river-related experience via an internship, professional employment or independent study.


Note: Students responsible for completing required prerequisites

Core Courses

One approved course in each of the following: Geographic Information Systems, River Science, River Policy and River Safety Training.

Emphasis Area

Two approved courses in one of these areas:

  • River Science
  • River-based Policy and Management
  • River-based Recreation, Education and Tourism

Professional Experience

Credit-earning internship, paid internship, paid professional experience, independent study or course-related professional experience equivalent to two (2) credit hours.

Oral/Written Presentation

Aspect of student's work presented at a River Management Society (RMS) Symposium or sponsored conference, or an article written for the RMS Journal about RSLC-related experiences.


Each RSLC student receives a one-year membership to RMS, which includes a subscription to the RMS Journal and access to national and regional chapter events such as chapter floats, workshops, and the RMS Listserv. Students also have a number of exciting opportunities for professional networking and collaboration.

River Studies and Leadership Interest Form

Supporting Materials

Western Approved Courses

RSLC Application Form

RMS Certificate Guiding Document


Rafting on the Nooksack River - Thomas O’Keefe

John McLaughlin
Environmental Sciences Department
Western Washington University
Environmental Studies 434