Graduate Admissions Review Considering COVID-19 Disruptions
As the state’s land-grant university, Montana State University’s (MSU) mission is to integrate education, create knowledge and art, and engage communities in order to transform lives and serve society. Since graduate education is central to these missions, our faculty are committed to enhance the quality of MSU’s graduate programs. We encourage graduate students who come from diverse backgrounds, have diverse perspectives and possess intellectual curiosity and resilience to apply.
With the global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that potential graduate students now and into the future may be concerned about how their application may be viewed in light of shifts that have occurred throughout the higher education enterprise, particularly the undergraduate experience. We acknowledge that the normal arc of preparation for graduate school may have been upset. As a result, MSU admissions committees will be flexible and take the interruptions and/or anomalies into account when reviewing applications. Admission committees recognize that students may have had more limited opportunities to fully participate in studios, internships, research experiences, field work, human studies, and other experiential learning opportunities, and that for some of these, students may have been accepted only to see the opportunities cancelled. Thus, we invite applying students to use the statement of purpose in their applications to describe their individual experiences during the pandemic, especially as they relate to difficulties and/or limitations you may have experienced. This is optional, you are not required to include these details in your statement of purpose.
We also understand that many universities (including MSU) created and allowed variances to their grading systems during the COVID-19 pandemic; including expanded options for Pass/Fail, Credit/No Credit, Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory among others. Our admissions committees will respect the adoption of those options due to pandemic disruptions. We recognize that the impacts from the COVID-19 disruptions may last multiple years, so these policies will be in effect for multiple admissions cycles, not just one.
In addition, many departments have changed their requirements for standardized testing, e.g. some are no longer requiring GRE scores. Please contact the department you are applying to for specific requirements.
We would like to acknowledge Cornell University and the University of California - Los Angeles for providing their thoughts and approaches to managing graduate applications during this time.