Graduate Students in Yellowstone National Park

Graduate Application Deadline:  January 15th For Fall Admission
If you have questions regarding our Graduate Program, please contact our Graduate Program Coordinators: Dr. Jean Dixon, or Dr. David Varricchio .

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 semester.

Our collective expertise crosses many subfields of Earth Sciences, including fields in both Geography and Geology. Specialties include settlement geography, bioclimatology, GIS, snow science, volcanology, paleobiology, dinosaur taphonomy, stratigraphy, and geomorphology. 

Theses produced by successful M.S. and Ph.D. students span these diverse fields. Recent graduates in our graduate program have conducted groundbreaking research in Geology and Geography, and have expanded our knowledge of issues from GIS-based assessment of landslide 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 January 15th, 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. 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 Earth Sciences Department and are required if admitted:

Department of Earth Sciences
Montana State University
226 Traphagen Hall, Box 173480
Bozeman, MT 59717-2580

4. Three letters of recommendation are required. Letters are managed solely 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 are outlined by the Graduate School. International students may require evidence of english language proficiency. The department minimum scores for the TOEFL test are of 237 (computer), 580 (paper) or 93 (internet). For the IELTS test a 7.0 total band score is required.

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

8. Students should identify at least one prospective advisor on their online application and essay, based on their intended field of study. 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 (