Last updated 11/2/20

MSU Coronavirus update page

Student resource list

General information for current students

Faculty & Staff resources

You can contact the Graduate School using the "Chat with us" function found on the bottom of this page and our homepage. Staff emails can be found on our Staff Contact page.


Montana Virtual Trivia Game Day on Dec 18!

Join us for a Montana Virtual Trivia Game Day!

The Graduate School is hosting a HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW? Montana Trivia virtual game day - on December 18th. Twelve trivia questions will be posted at the top of each hour. Teams will be able to submit their answers within a 15 minute window. Join the fun and win prizes!

You will need to:

  1. Start a team and come up with a team name
  2. Assign a team captain
  3. Team captains register their teams no later than December 17th: Registration link

More details will be shared with team captains prior to December 18th.

We hope you will join us!

Fall 2020 Virtual Commencement & Graduate School Celebration

For students graduating during the Fall 2020 semester, there will be a campus-wide virtual Commencement on Sunday, Nov 22 at 11; and a Graduate School Celebration on Saturday, Nov 21 at 10 am.

Dear Degree Candidates,

We are looking forward to you and your loved ones joining us to celebrate your years of hard work. There will be two celebrations in your honor: a campus-wide virtual Commencement ceremony for the entire university and the Graduate School’s specific program to celebrate your achievements. The Graduate School celebration will include a message from your department’s graduate support staff as well as the Graduate Dean.

Graduate School Celebration

Our short, Graduate School specific program will take place on

Saturday, Nov 21 · 10 a.m.

The web link to the celebration will be provided at:

MSU’s Virtual Commencement

The virtual Commencement ceremony for the entire university will be aired online on

Sunday, Nov 22 · 11 a.m.

That ceremony will also be aired at:

 Regalia Return Policy: If you purchased graduation regalia August 13th - November 6th, 2020, the last day to return is November 20th with original receipt. All sales are final on regalia items purchased on or after November 6th.

Follow the link for Diploma Information and time frames.

Congratulations graduates! All of us at the Graduate School are wishing you the very best and health and safety for you and your loved ones. 


Health Insurance Navigator Info

The Affordable Care Act health insurance is now open, and the non-profit agency ACA Navigator can help you find affordable health insurance.

Dear Graduate Students,

The enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act health insurance is now open. The state of Montana has a new, non-profit agency, the ACA Navigator, who can help any person living in Montana find affordable health insurance. This non-profit has a federal grant to provide free navigation services.

If you are curious about your health insurance options and how to combine the services of University Health Partners at MSU with insurance, feel free to contact the ACA Navigators.

Virtual Graduate School Recruitment Fair

The Virtual Graduate School Recruitment Fair is coming up on Oct 29 and 30! MSU Graduate School is excited to host a Virtual Graduate Fair for all interested students.  This free and virtual event is taking place over the last two days of the month, October 28 and 29. The fair will feature most of the graduate programs at MSU in individualized WebEx Meeting platforms. For more information, visit the Virtual Graduate School Recruitment Fair page.

Updated Spring 2021 dates and deadlines

The Graduate School's Dates & Deadlines for the Spring 2021 have ben adjusted due to the change in the academic timeline. The Spring semester starts on Jan 11 and ends Apr 30.

Food Security Scholarships

The deadline for the Food Security Scholarships is Oct 23, 2020.

Dear Graduate Students,

Montana State University Campus Food Security Scholarships are available. If you are a graduate student with barriers to accessing enough food or nutritious food, please consider applying. The Graduate School is a proud contributor to the MSU Food Security Scholarship.

The MSU Food Security Scholarship provides a limited number of commuter meal passes (25-meal pass) in the form of a scholarship award. The application is open until Oct 23.

If you are interested in applying, follow the link to the application.

Fall 2020 MSU "CATalyst" Gap Fund Opportunity Annoucement

The MSU Technology Transfer Office announces the availability of technology commercialization “gap funds,” to support the pre-commercialization activities around faculty inventions exhibiting strong market potential. The Invitiation to Submit Proposals for Fall 2020 is due October 15, 2020. Visit the Technology Transfer Office's website for more information on the Fall 2020 MSU "CATalyst" Gap Fund Opportunity.

MSU international graduate student scholarship

International graduate student scholarships are available for Fall 2020.

Dear Graduate Students,

A generous donor has provided funding to help MSU international graduate students with some of their unexpected costs during the pandemic. Degree-seeking, international graduate students are eligible to apply for this one-time-only $500 scholarship for Fall 2020.

The application form will ask you to write a short statement which describes your financial needs and how they are impacting your graduate studies (less than 250 words).

The deadline for applications is 5pm, Wed 14 Oct.

Childcare assistance graduate scholarships available

Childcare assistance scholarships are available for the Fall 2020 semester.

If you have a child (or children) and are incurring childcare costs, please consider applying for a childcare assistance graduate scholarship. Degree-seeking graduate students are eligible to apply for this $500 Fall 2020 scholarship. Only one parent in a family can apply.

The application form will ask you to write a short statement, describing your childcare needs and adding any information that may be relevant to your application (less than 250 words). The application will also ask you to  upload a copy of a recent childcare receipt, ideally showing your name and your dependent's name(s).

The deadline for applications is 5pm, Wed 14 Oct. We anticipate that a 2nd round of scholarships will also be available for Spring 2021 and will require re-applying.

Spring 2021 Completion Grants

The Graduate School is now accepting applications for the PhD Completion Award, eligible to PhD candidates who will be in their final term during Spring 2021.

Information on the PhD Completion Awards and application link can be found on our Funding & Fellowships page, under Student Initiated Opportunities for MSU internal funding opportunities. The application deadline for this award is Monday, October 5.

DegreeWorks will be unavailabe from October 3 through October 19

DegreeWorks will be unavailable, for scheduled maitenance, from October 3rd through October 19th. Please plan accordingly.

Graduate Admissions Review Considering COVID-19 Disruptions

A statement on how graduate admissions committees recognize and will consider disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This information is also found on the Graduate Admissions Review Considering COVID-10 Disruptions page.

As the state’s land-grant university, Montana State University’s (MSU) mission is to integrate education, create knowledge and art, and serve communities in order to transform lives and communities. 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.

It takes a village

Connect with your support network in times of need.

It takes a village.

Yes, I know this is a well-worn phrase, but there are so many ups and downs as you do your graduate work – during the more challenging times we all need to draw on our support network.

This can be close friends, family, colleagues or mentors. As I write this, I keep on coming back to two thoughts;

  1. It is OK and normal to reach out for help, I know I do.
  2. In this stressful time of a pandemic, we all need to be somewhat inventive and committed to investing time into these relationships. You never know when you will be able to help others. Part of this may be being bold in fostering new connections if you’re just starting out in your graduate education.

For many families and friends, the terminology of graduate education can be foreign. Here is a glossary (adapted for MSU from University of Nebraska) and for a more irreverent look at graduate education, there is always the PhD Comics series.


Ps we plan to pause these “Monday” message series for a bit, though we may return to them later in the semester. We’ll keep you up-to-date via our ~monthly newsletters and social media posts. 

Academic engagement and community

Dear Graduate Students,

One of the most rewarding parts of graduate education are the connections that you make with faculty and peers. During this pandemic, this may look and feel different but may be even more important.

Each week can you join a virtual event? Either study groups in your graduate courses (always better to learn together), or join a writing group led by our Writing Center, or a virtual seminar hosted by your department, or nationally by a professional society in your discipline, or an MSU-wide event such as this Wed’s discussion on “Spillover: Understanding the Origins of Pandemics”.

There may even be some advantages to this compared to face-to-face – online chat discussions during seminars provide an easy way to ask questions, and can be very interactive.

Another option is to build community with your peers through informal gatherings. This is why the Graduate School is once again offering Community Building Mini-Grants.

Each $500 award will fund graduate-student initiated projects that bring students together. The deadline for submission is Wednesday, September 2. We hope you use this opportunity to brainstorm ways to strengthen your community of peers.

Cooperatives for grad-students with school-age children

Information on the opportunity for short-term cooperatives for graduate families looking for childcare during the school year.

The Graduate Student Union in consultation with some MSU faculty and staff is working to solve a variety of childcare issues for graduate student parents. One of these is that some K-12 school districts have gone to a reduced schedule, e.g. 2-days-on 3-days-off.

Some graduate student families may be in a position where they can stay at home with their school-aged children when the K-12 school is not in session. If this is likely difficult for you, one option is a set of short-term cooperatives, e.g. sets of three graduate families, who each take a turn of looking after the children of the other two families. That way any one graduate student family needs to be at home for one day a week.

If you are interested in this option, please fill in this survey:

We will close the survey on Friday 21 Aug and then form proposed cooperatives with parents that are in the same group of school days and live close to each other.

The Writing Center will be facilitiating online writing groups for graduate studios.Online writing studios with the MSU Writing Center

Are you looking to for ways to make the socially-distanced thesis or dissertation writing process more social? At least . . . virtually?

The MSU Writing Center will be facilitating writing groups for graduate students, but like everything else this year, they will look different than they have in the past. The goal, however, remains the same: to create a supportive writing community of fellow graduate students who give feedback on one another’s written work, regardless of what stage of draft it is. Writing groups are collaborative, non-evaluative spaces.

Writing groups this year will operate as online, asynchronous writing studios. Studios consist of up to five students who collaborate with each other and a facilitator each week for four weeks using Microsoft Teams. At the end of the four-week session, participants can decide to continue their work as a group, without the guidance of the facilitator.  

A total of fifteen students will be accepted for each four-week session; students placed on the waitlist will be contacted if a spot becomes available. 

If you are interested in joining an online writing studio, please complete this registration form. If you have further questions about the process, see the explanation below, or contact the MSU Writing Center’s Graduate Program Coordinator at or (406) 994-5314.

Online Writing Studios

Online writing studios are asynchronous. Instead of meeting at the same time and place, we will have multiple days to engage with each other’s work through comments on drafts. The goal in that time is to enter into conversation about the work, as we might if we were sitting together in a room talking.

Studio members should aim to ask questions and engage with ideas to help the writer see how readers are understanding what they have written. Of course, because we are in different disciplines, we won’t understand everything. That’s okay. Asking questions about the content creates and opportunity for the writer to explain the concepts to a non-specialist audience and that can help them to refine and clarify their thinking and writing.

The studio cycle looks like this:

Studios open every Monday by noon and close by Thursday at 5:00 pm.

Monday by noon: Studio opens with a post from the facilitator.

Tuesday by noon: Each group member posts a draft for the group along with questions and concerns they’re having, explaining what help is being requested. 

Wednesday by 5 pm: Everyone, including the facilitator, reads and responds to each group member’s work/questions.

Thursday by 5 pm: Everyone reads through everyone’s responses, asks follow-up questions, offers clarifications; the facilitator will close the discussion by 5 pm.

You got this!

An inspirational message from your Graduate Dean, Craig Ogilvie.

Dear Graduate Students,

You’ve got this!

As we get closer to the start of semester, we all get nervous (and excited) – at least I know I do. But I want to express my utmost confidence in your abilities, skills, and dedication. You were selected as a graduate student at MSU for a reason – I know you’ve got this.

Our graduate students are doing amazing work; researching volcanic activity in the Yellowstone, developing leadership skills as nurses, investigating gravitational waves caused by collisions of black holes, increasing knowledge as teachers in K-12 schools, and understanding the biology of viruses such as COVID-19. Your work is inspiring.

I realized I should have started this note with “We’ve got this!”. While I do not know what the semester will bring, I do know that thriving as a graduate student is a community effort. Thanks for all that you do to support your peers. These connections and collaborations will last a lifetime.

I’d like to end with a quote from the poet Clarissa Pinkola Estes, We Were Made For These Times. “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”

Thanks for all that you do,

Your Graduate Dean


Wellbeing Initiative

The Graduate School and affiliates across campus are launching a wellbeing intiative for Fall 2020, including newly developed events.

Are you seeking a more balanced work/life experience as a graduate student? The Graduate School, together with a team of colleagues and graduate students from across campus, are launching a powerful wellbeing initiative for Fall 2020. This initiative is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic and during the important discussions on racism in our society.

The initiative has four areas of focus

  • Support for Basic Needs
  • Physical & Mental Wellbeing
  • Community & Mentoring
  • Career Fulfillment

We hope you will take part in well-being events this Fall. These will be a mixture of existing well-being services (e.g. counseling, outdoor recreation, Family Graduate Housing) along with newly developed events. The goal is to build community and to support each of you in your well-being and your studies.

We are also looking to hire graduate student wellness champions who will advocate and organize well-being events in their departments. The compensation will be $500 for organizational work during the academic year. If you are interested, please read the position description (PDF).

GradCat 360: a Professional Development Program

GradCat 360 is a new professional development program for graduate students, based around 9 focus areas.

I hope you and your families are well.

All of you are preparing to make a difference in your communities by obtaining advanced knowledge and skills. A complementary aspect of graduate education is dedicating some time to your broader professional development – for example your communication skills, leadership, ethics and equity, etc.

The Graduate School has built a comprehensive framework for professional development – GradCat 360. GradCat 360 is built around nine focus areas. This Fall our partners will be offering workshops and resources in these areas – I hope you can take advantage of these opportunities.

The other key part of this is agency – in these very uncertain times where so much is happening, my mentors remind me to take action in areas that I can make a difference. For you, is professional development in one or more of these areas something you can commit to?

As always, let me know how I can help. I will host our second open hour via webex on Friday 31 July, 11am MDT, to discuss GradCat 360 or any other question you may have

Your Graduate Dean,

Craig Ogilvie  


Return to Fall Semester

What fall classes and life on and off campus might look like.

Dear Graduate Students,

I hope you and your family are well. We are excited about your return for the Fall 2020 semester, which is starting early this year on August 17. Committing yourself to your graduate education and advancing your knowledge and skills, is truly inspiring to all of us in the Graduate School.

While the Graduate School might not have all of the answers on what graduate education will look like this fall, as the situation regularly changes, we want to keep you informed and up-to-date to the best of our abilities.  Our plan is to send out weekly emails to you through to the start of semester.

Today’s email follows the President’s communication about classes. I encourage you all to look at the class schedule available in MyInfo. Select the department and then scroll to 500/600-level graduate courses. There, you will find notes indicating if a class is "Internet/Online" or "Blended." Listings without these added notes will be offered in-person in at the time and the classroom listed.

Some details on how classrooms will be configured can be found in MSU’s Roadmap for Fall 2020.

As always, work with your graduate advisor and department to select classes for the Fall.

For those graduate students on campus, dining halls, the MSU Bookstore, Library, and Fitness Center are expected to be open, although with limited hours and safety measures such as face coverings required. Clean ‘Cat Kits will be provided to all students, which include a cloth mask, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies, and will be available for pick-up in outdoor tents during the first week of classes.

We want to address your concerns as they come up. Craig Ogilvie, Dean of the Graduate School, invites you to bring your questions and comments to an open-hour via WebEx  occurring every Friday between July 24 and August 28 from 11am and noon MDT.  The discussion will start with the topic of this email, in this case classes, but can free range.

Your Graduate Dean

Emergency funds still available

Under the CARES Act, MSU has emergency funds still available to students.

Dear Graduate Students,

Under the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, Montana State University has given $3.5 million in federal emergency relief grants to undergraduate and graduate students. At this time, there are still funds for students who were enrolled in the spring term and are continuing their education. To find out if you are eligible, check out the Student Emergency Fund webpage. To apply, you will need to complete the Student Emergency Fund application and the 20/21 FAFSA form.

The Graduate School would like to encourage eligible students to fill out the FAFSA, even if you are not applying for these emergency funds or seeking a loan. The FAFSA form is used to determine eligibility for a variety of funding in addition to federal loans. You do not need to accept a loan if you are offered a loan.

For more information, the Financial Aid Office at MSU can be reached at or (406) 994-2845.


The Graduate School

Face mask requirement

Face masks will be required during the upcoming Fall 2020 semester. More details to be released.

Dear Graduate Students,

As announced by President Waded Cruzado on July 8, the Montana University System’s Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force has recommended a face mask requirement on all Montana University System campuses.  More details about this policy and implementation plan will follow.

The Graduate School is committed to keeping our students, staff, and community as healthy as possible, and we support the actions taken to achieve this goal. We want to thank you for all that you do in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.


The Graduate School

The Fall 2020 deadlines have been ajusted according to the new academic timeline.Fall 2020 Dates & Deadlines

Dear colleagues,

The Graduate School has adjusted our Dates & Deadlines for the Fall 2020 semester according to the new academic timeline. The goal is to make sure that our students have as much time as possible to finish their degree. The new dates are attached below.

A few major notes:

  • Students utilizing the One-credit Extension beyond the end of the Summer 2020 semester will still have until August 31 to complete their degree requirements.
  • Orientation for new students and new GTAs is being developed to be online, and will be shared with students in early August.
  • Fall 2020 GTA and GRA appointments will run from Aug 1 through Dec 31; over this time period, students will work the average number of hours per week specified in their appointments.
  • The comp/defense deadline for students graduating in Fall 2020 has been moved to Nov 24.
  • The ETD approval deadline has been split from the comp/defense deadline and will be Dec 2.
  • The One-credit Extension beyond the Fall 2020 semester provides students up to Jan 11 to finish their theses/dissertations. If a student and their advisor elect to enroll in the One-credit Extension the comp/defense or the ETD can be finished before the Spring semester starts on Jan 11. If this option is elected, the student will be a Spring 2021 graduate.


New Graduate Student Orientation. Orientation is being developed to be online, and will be shared with students in early August


GTA Orientation for new GTAs. Orientation is being developed to be online, and will be shared with students in early August

Aug 17

Classes begin

Last day for non-degree applications to be submitted

Aug 31

One-credit Extension deadline

Sept 4

15th class day. Unconfirmed students dropped from classes

Sept 6

Last day for graduate students to file Graduation Application

Sept 7

Labor Day (no classes; offices closed)

Nov 3

Election Day (no classes; offices closed)

Nov 11

Veteran’s Day (no classes; offices closed)

Nov 22


Nov 19-25

Final examinations

Nov 24

Last day for master’s and doctoral comprehensive examination or thesis/dissertation defense (PDF) if the student plans to graduate Fall 2020

Nov 24

Last day to withdraw Graduation Application and file for One-credit Extension

Nov 25

Fall semester ends

Nov 26-27

Thanksgiving Holiday (No classes; offices closed)

Dec 2

Last day for approval of thesis, dissertation, or professional paper (if the professional paper is to be submitted to the Library) by the Formatting Advisor with signed Certificate of Approval (PDF) form

Archived Announcements

For a list of older announcements, please visit the Announcements Archive page.