Graduate Program Overview

Graduate Application Deadline: January 15th For Fall Admission

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 dominantly in the fall semesters, however requests can be made for spring or summer admission.

Although we are a small department, our expertise spans many subfields of Earth Sciences. Our Geography specialties span settlement geography through bioclimatology to GIS and snow science, while the interests of our Geology faculty range from petrogenesis to paleobiology and from dinosaur taphonomy and stratigraphy to geomorphology. Our greatest faculty strengths are in human geography, surficial geology, 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, for fall admission.

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. GRE scores should be reported on the online application, and official scores must be received by the deadline for timely review of your application.

3. Transcripts from all universities and colleges attended are required. Unofficial transcripts must be uploaded to the online application. Official transcripts should 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. Letter writers will upload their letters to the application system once students have entered their contact information (letters should not be mailed or emailed directly to the department).

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 should 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 reach out to potential advisors or contact our graduate coordinators, David Varricchio ( or Jean Dixon (