Graduate Program Overview


Graduate Program

We offer Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Earth Sciences with areas of specialization in Geography and Geology. Both areas stress independent thesis research with some supporting course work. All diplomas will say Earth Sciences, regardless of specialization. We strongly recommend that prospective students learn about the research interests of the faculty and contact potential research advisors directly. Admission into the department of Earth Sciences is only in the fall semesters.

Although we are a small department, our expertise spans most of the subfields of Earth Sciences. Our Geography faculty includes specialties from settlement geography through bioclimatology to GIS and snow science, while the interests of our Geology faculty range from petrogenesis to paleobiology to applied hydrogeology and from dinosaur taphonomy and stratigraphy to geomorphology. Our greatest faculty strengths are in surficial geology/physical geography, dinosaur paleontology and snow science. Theses produced by successful M.S. and Ph.D. students span these diverse fields. Recent graduates in our graduate program have conducted research in Geology and Geography which have expanded our knowledge of issues from GIS-based assessment of rockslide hazards to exotic species assessment in Grand Teton National park.

If you would like to be considered for entry to our graduate program, your completed application including all required materials must be received by February 1.

Admission Requirements for M.S. and Ph.D. Programs in Earth Sciences:

1. Complete the MSU Graduate Application. All application materials are handled via the online application, with the exception of GRE scores.

2. GRE scores in verbal, quantitative, and analytic measures are required; a verbal GRE of 150 is generally required to be eligible for a Teaching Assistantship. Use these codes to send GRE scores to the Graduate School, MSU Code: 4488, Geology Code: 0504, Geography Code: 2203. Revised scoring found here.

3. Transcripts from all universities and colleges attended are required. An unofficial transcript should be uploaded to the online application, however official transcripts are to be sent to the Graduate School:

The Graduate School
Montana State University
108 Montana Hall, Box 172580
Bozeman, MT 59717-2580

4. Three letters of recommendation are required. Letters will be managed via the online application.

5. A Personal essay should clearly and concisely communicate your objectives for pursuing the curriculum and degree for which you seek admission. The essay should also include a statement regarding why you wish to enroll in Earth Sciences at Montana State University and who you wish to work with. The essay will be uploaded to the online application.

6. The graduate admissions process for International students can be found here. International students must have a TOEFL score of 237 (computer), 580 (paper) or 93 (internet ) for admission. For the IELTS test a 7.0 total band score is required. Financial certificate information is found here.

7. All students must achieve a 3.0 GPA or higher unless there are unusual mitigating circumstances. 

8. Students are strongly recommended to contact potential advisors in advance of applying for graduate admission.

For additional information, please contact our graduate coordinator, Jean Dixon at