Water Without Borders

UNU-INWEH, Water Without Borders, McMaster University logos

Applications are now closed for the year 2021-2022.

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 an online welcome event in late September 2021. All formal WWB requirements will be completed by June 2022. 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.

COVID-19 Accommodations

We recognize the challenges of both the global pandemic of COVID-19, and of the struggles for global water justice that have been affected by it. We have adjusted our program to meet the expectations of global insight into water challenges by adjusting our online course design and delivery accordingly: while experiential learning about Sustainable Development Goals and international water security remains central to our program, we have planned online and virtual program delivery strategies to meet the WWB Program goals for 2021-2022. These strategies will allow WWB Program Students to immerse themselves in international water policy and program activities without the potential risks of international travel or in-person meetings in the coming academic year.

This programme is only open to McMaster University graduate students, including those who have accepted an offer of admission from their home graduate program. For more information on applying to graduate programs at McMaster University, visit the School of Graduate Studies website.


This is a limited enrolment graduate program, and we warmly invite you to apply by August 7, 2021. Successful applicants will be notified by August 20, 2021 and must accept their offers by August 30. 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. A brief update for 2021-2022 describing adjustments to these courses in response to COVID-19 is given below in the Program Outline section (below).


Tuition fees of $1050CAD apply but the Graduate Studies application fee for WWB is waived.

Recognition of Completion of the Water Without Borders Program

Successful completion of the Water Without Borders Joint Diploma Program is recognized by a formal notation on your transcript of completion from McMaster University and UNU-INWEH.

To Apply

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 2021-2022 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.)

Students must apply for admission to a home graduate program at McMaster University, and acceptance into the Water Without Borders programme will be conditional upon acceptance into McMaster University. To apply to the Water without Borders programme,  please visit this link: https://www.mcmaster.ca/ola/grad.html.

Additional Application Requirements: Statement of Interest

When you are applying please:

  1. Upload a brief statement of interest (maximum 500 words) describing how your research interests fit with those of UNU-INWEH, and why you are a strong candidate for the collaborative program. Include any experience you have in the area of international water, policy, development, and/or 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 Deadlines

Applications are accepted this year from July 14 through August 7 for Fall 2021. Admission decisions will be communicated by August 20.

“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
“The Water Without Borders programme combines educational and practical training that allowed me to seek a challenging, yet rewarding experience. It taught me the importance of integrating the natural, health, and social sciences together to develop sustainable safe water programs on an international level.” – Konrad Lisnyj
“I feel very fortunate to have participated in the WWB program for the opportunity to meet and work with such amazing people. The interdisciplinary nature of the program, the small group size, and format allowed for great learning opportunities and deep discussion on the important challenges of sustainable water management for human health and environmental sustainability. As a water engineer who appreciates an interdisciplinary approach, this program pushed me even further to consider and value perspectives from a wide range of backgrounds that are all working towards the same goal. This experience will be valuable to us all in our future work in this area.”Kim Jusek
“The Waters Without Borders program was an invaluable opportunity to learn about the real world problems within water, environment, and health along with the practical challenges that go into planning and implementation solutions to many of today’s sustainable development problems. The diverse educational backgrounds of the students in the program enabled us to look at these problems through a variety of lenses and develop interdisciplinary and hopefully practical solutions to the questions posed throughout the course of the program. Beyond the academic classwork, the students and faculty in the program were amazing to be around and the experiences, which ranged from eating fresh mangoes on a bumpy bus ride through the hills of Ghana to the numerous potluck socials, were hilarious and a ton of fun.” – Krupesh Patel
<width=”20″> “Our cohort learned a lot of valuable information from each other showing the benefits of interdisciplinary learning. The field course to Uganda provided countless opportunities for experiential learning. It was an incredible opportunity to learn about water and sanitation and the innovative processes the Ugandan people are engaged in to improve the water status of their population. I learned crucial information about the everyday water issues prevalent in some regions; an education that was best served in the field and not the classroom.” – Kerry O’Neill
“My time at UNU-INWEH provided me with the skills-set to form long-term sustainable partnerships and the know-how to working with government agencies. WWB allowed me to connect my scientific research directly to the community, it was a learning opportunity of how engineering and society’s wellbeing interrelate with one another. Today, I support continuously improving production operations and maintenance while balancing environmental and the community’s welfare and understanding how our processes applies to policies from our various stakeholders and internally.” – Ahmed Elganzouri
“The WWB program in collaboration with the Institute on Globalization and Human Condition at McMaster University provided me the opportunity to expand my academic focus both thematically and geographically. Under the guidance of Dr. Corrine Shuster-Wallace of UNU-INWEH, I conducted field research in Uganda to assist in developing a gender-based framework for integrated water, sanitation, hygiene, and HIV/AIDS community development. I believe that the opportunity provided by UNU-INWEH laid the foundation for my present work with the UN in Zimbabwe, and I hope to further the research I began with WWB through Phd. Studies.” – Chris Stanley
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 Program Directors.”

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 the six 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 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).


The application process is straightforward, but if you need assistance with the application, please contact Leigh-Ann Sepe at wwbsec@mcmaster.ca.

For questions about tuition, other fees, or the Water Without Borders program in general, please contact:

Dr. Nancy Doubleday
Director, Water Without Borders 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
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