Current Announcements

For a list of current or recent announcements, please visit the Recent Graduate School Announcements page.

Archived Announcements

Information given in the archived announcements below may be out-of-date. Email the Graduate School at [email protected] if you have any questions.

Health Insurance Navigator Reminder

Dear Graduate Students,

The enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act health insurance open until Dec 15. 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.

Graduate students may be eligible for subsidies that may assist in paying monthly premiums. If you or a family member have questions about coverage options or financial assistance you can contact a Montana Navigator at (406) 430-0005 or visit them online at

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.

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.

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Informational Workshop

There will be an informational workshop on Tuesday, September 8 at 5:10pm via WebEx on the NSF's GRFP.

Dear Students,

Are you interested in applying to the NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)?

This is one of the nation's most prestigious graduate fellowships and the stipend is $34K/year for 3 years (in a five year period).  Current graduate students in their first year or beginning of their second year in a broad range of STEM programs are eligible. NSF includes many social science areas as well. Undergraduate seniors and bachelor’s degree holders may also apply before enrolling in a degree-granting graduate program.

If you are interested, please attend our informational workshop on Tuesday, September 8 at 5:10 pm via WebEx cohosted by the Graduate School and the Honors College.

The event will be led by Profs Abbie Richards and Sarah Codd who have reviewed GRFP applications nationally and will share their insights. There will also be some current GRFP holders who can  share their advice as well as Writing Center staff who will let you know how they can help you write your application.

P.S. if you are getting this email and already hold a GRFP fellowship, congratulations!

Meeting number (access code): 120 957 4910


Meeting password: h7qT9m792fM

First day of Fall semester!

Graduate Dean Craig Ogilvie welcomes you to the Fall semester!

Dear Graduate Students,

It is the first day of the Fall semester!

During this first week, if you need any help or assistance – please reach out to our team [email protected].

Or you may find answers on different sections of our web-site:

I do hope this first week goes well for you,

Your Graduate Dean

Craig Ogilvie

Fall 2020 Completion Grants

The Graduate School is now accepting applications for the PhD Completion Award as well as the newly expanded COVID-19 Completion Award for master's and doctoral student. These can be found on the Funding page.

The Graduate School is now accepting applications for completion grants for Fall 2020. The PHD Completion Award is eligible to PhD candidates who will be in their final term during Fall 2020.

Additionally, the completion grants have expanded to include a COVID-19 Completion Award for master’s or PhD students who are in the final term and whose research has been impacted by COVID-19.

The PhD Completion Awards and COVID-19 Completion Awards for master’s or PhD students can be found on our Funding & Fellowships page, under Student Initiated Opportunities for MSU internal funding opportunities.

The application deadline for these awards is Monday, June 29.

Inner Mountain Leadership Program

The Inner Mountain Leadership program is open for applications.

Dear Graduate Students,

Now more than ever we need to work together to build a more just society. Hence, I invite you to apply to be part of the founding cohort of our new Inner Mountain Leadership program for graduate students. The goal is to prepare Montana State University graduate students for equitable and inclusive collaborative leadership. The deadline for applications is June 26th, 2020.

Completing your summer projects in light of the earlier Fall semester start

A message from the Graduate Dean on summer projects and the earlier Fall semester start.

I hope you and your family are well. President Cruzado announced on Friday May 15 that the Fall 2020 semester will start earlier, on August 17, and will finish by Thanksgiving. This is to support our goal of keeping all our community as healthy as possible.

The earlier start could be causing you to worry about how to complete your summer scholarship, research, or creative projects, especially if you are working in the field. Please be assured - there will be a lot of ways that you can both complete your summer field research or offsite creative work and have a successful start to the Fall semester. Since each situation is likely different, I encourage you to talk with your adviser to develop a plan that works for you.

Your Graduate Dean

Craig Ogilvie   

Spring 2020 Virtual Celebration with Updated Link

We look forward to celebrating our Spring 2020 graduates with a virtual celebration on May 9 at 9am. It will be hosted on Facebook Live.

Fall 2020 and agency

Updates on what is known for the Fall 2020 semester, and insights about agency,

Email communication from 4/22/20.

I hope you and your loved ones are well.

I want to update you on what I know about Fall 2020.

  • MSU is currently planning on a face-to-face learning experience for undergraduates and graduates.
  • The details of this are being developed, including scenarios of what physical distancing could like in classrooms, research labs, field experiences, social gatherings, and what would happen if a covid-19 outbreak occurs on campus etc..
  • The priority in these scenarios is your safety and health - this summer the university will most probably practice some new procedures including testing, contact tracing etc.
  • Currently the Fall enrollment projections for undergrads are comparable to last year, and graduate numbers are currently trending towards a 5% increase from last year.
  • This is good news, including for continuing graduate assistantships.
  • It also means that the university could be OK financially, but I am sure that you will hear in the next weeks that each department will be asked to develop plans for budget cuts, and the availability of some courses, just in case. This seems prudent.

For you, the most important task at the moment is your health and the health of our community. I know this pandemic is likely affecting you financially  – please apply for the student emergency funds provided by our donors if there is anything you need. Food is also available at Bounty of the Bridges. 

I am also learning from experts on how we can all recover. One lesson is that agency is important – the sense that we have some control over some aspects of our world. I encourage you to think what this might mean for you, especially staying true to our mission as a university community;

  • How do I create a more inclusive learning and research environment so we stay true to our mission of open access to students and peers from all backgrounds and income levels?
  • Can I work with my major professor to develop a revised Level-2 research plan to get research back on track?
  • How do I take the knowledge and skills that I am gaining to make a difference in my workplace and in our society?
  • And how can I reach out to my peers and stay connected socially, even if virtually?

Thanks for all that you doing, and stay well

Your Graduate Dean

CPS - Virutal support space for parents

CPS is starting a virtual support space for students who are also parents, as they are experiencing some unique challenges during this covid-19 crisis.

Graduate student research

MSU is currently under Research Level-2. Students can resubmit research plans with faculty. Protocols are being developed for late Spring/Summer research.

Email communication sent out 4/15/20.

Dear graduate students,

With social distancing practices affecting all our lives, VPREDGE and the Graduate School wants to clarify what will be happening with graduate student research.

Montana State University is currently under Research Level-2, which means that essential research is being conducted. Plans for this were submitted by your faculty a few weeks ago, and it is certainly possible for a revised proposal to be submitted and reviewed. If you think it would be helpful if your Research Level-2 proposal is updated, please work with your faculty advisor for them to submit an updated plan for review.

Students expecting to do field research during late Spring/Summer can be assured that university-wide protocols are being developed to keep people safe and get the essential research done. These protocols will be sent to graduate students and faculty, likely within the next 2 weeks. After these protocols are released, you and your faculty will need to submit a plan for review.

Community building ideas

Listed are some virutal socializing ideas for students to try out. Let the Graduate School know if you are organizing an event to be shared!

Email communication sent out 4/10/20.

Community building ideas

In this time of social distancing, people are exploring new ways to bring communities together. We love hearing about how our graduate school community has been reaching out, sharing, and socializing in inventive ways. We want to share some of the ideas we have heard and encourage our graduate students to look for and organize such events.

Here are some virtual community building ideas that we have heard about and suggest trying:

  • Pair something fun with your regularly scheduled meetings, such as having a happy hour or remote trivia together before a weekly Zoom call.
  • Host an online game tournament. This could be with a multi-player video game such as Gang Beasts or Human Fall Flat or a Tabletop Simulator to play cards and board games.
  • Find workshops that have moved online, such as Rocky Mountain Data Science’s workshops.
  • Try hosting a meditation session with friends. This could be a guided meditation, shared silence, or mindfully eating a meal together.
  • Enjoy a remote craft night – find crafts you can do with the materials found at home, such as papercrafts or homemade bath bombs.
  • Find new workout buddies – try one of Rec Sports online live classes for some real time workout motivation.

We are in awe of the innovative ways people are connecting in this new and challenging time. If you are organizing an event to be shared with your fellow graduate students, please let the Graduate School know, and we may post it on our social media – through our Facebook and Twitter.

Wellness Blog by MSU Office of Health Enhancement

MSU Office of Health Advancement is introdcuing a new Wellness Blog. Find them at OHA.Health.Blog.

"Zoomboming," one-credit extensions, and deadlines

Information for graduating students on how to have a successful video meeting, notes on the one-credit extension, and deadline updates for Spring 2020.

Email communication sent out 4/6/20.

There have been news reports of “zoombombing” across the country, where groups of people disrupt educational meetings. This could include intentionally overloading the system by external parties to bring the system down or trolling using offensive language or images.

While we have not yet heard of any reports of this happening during video meetings at MSU, the Graduate School wants to provide tips for ensuring a successful remote defense:

  • These reports focus on disruptions caused through Zoom. Consider using WebEx as your primary meeting method.
  • The host of a meeting, often the chair, can remove disrupt individuals or unwanted guests. Consider having a third party moderate the public so that the chair can focus on the defense.
  • Avoid sharing meeting links on public if possible – limit link sharing to internal uses.
  • If using Zoom, consider utilizing the “waiting room” feature.
  • In Zoom, you can Lock the Meeting if you want no new participants to join after it has started.

One-credit extension

If your research advisor cannot cover the tuition for the one-credit extension after Spring semester, the Graduate School will cover it via a tuition waver. In order to utilize a one-credit extension, students must withdraw their current Spring graduation applications online, if submitted, and reapply with a new graduation application indicating a one-credit extension.

Note that the deadline to apply for the one-credit extension is May 8, and the deadline to complete the requirements for the one-credit extension is May 18.

Deadline Extension reminder

The deadline for comps/defenses and ETD submission for the Spring 2020 semester has been extended from April 21 to May 1.

For other recent communications and updates from the Graduate School,
please visit our Announcements page.

Pass/Fail grading option follow-up

Follow-up information on the Pass/Fail grading option, originally sent 2/24/20.

Email communication sent 4/6/20.

Dear Graduate Students,

The Graduate School would like to follow up on an email you received on 3/24/20 regarding MSU's Pass/Fail (P/F) grading option. The Graduate School, with support of the Graduate Council, will follow the same implementation described in the Provost letter that will be used for undergraduate students. 

For students who request a P/F grade at the end of the spring 2020 semester, the MSU Registrar will record the P/F designation using a rubric in which all grades of C- or higher earn a Pass.

Neither the P nor an F in converted grades will impact your GPA.

Just as a reminder, the converted Spring 2020 P/F credits will not be included in the count of your P/F credits and you have 5 business days from when grades post to request this P/F conversion. There will be a form on the Registrar’s webpage for this, but this form is currently under development.

Virtual Graduation Celebration

The Graduate School will be putting together a virtual celebration for graduate students finishing their degree this Spring on May 9, 2020 from 9am-11am.

Email communciation sent out 4/3/20.

Due to the postponement of May commencement, the Graduate School will be putting together a virtual celebration for those graduate students finishing their degrees this Spring. It will happen at the same time as the original ceremony – May 9, 2020 from 9am – 11am. This time slot will just be for graduate students – undergraduates will be having their own celebrations with their colleges at different times.

This celebration will be optional and not an official conferring of the degree – just a way to celebrate your accomplishments. The time slots have been arranged so that you can attend both the virtual Graduate School celebration with your fellow graduate students, your college celebration jointly with undergraduates in the same college, or either.

More details will follow, along with instructions to the graduates and major professor(s) about how they can participate. In the meantime, it would be very helpful if your current address is up-to-date in MyInfo.

The Graduate School knows how hard you have worked to complete the requirements of your degree especially in this unprecedented situation. We look forward to celebrating your accomplishments with you!

For recent communications and updates from the Graduate School,
please visit our Announcements page.

Mindfulness in times of stress

During this challenging time, we encourage students to explore how mindfulness can help with increased stress and anxiety.

Dear Graduate Students,

During this challenging time, we encourage students to explore how mindfulness can help with increased stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness is a practice of focusing on your awareness in the present moment. This can take many forms. You can set aside time for mindfulness practice, in which you engage in mindful breathing, guided visualization, yoga, meditation, and more, or you can simply think about what’s happening in the present moment, such as the sensations you feel while eating a meal. These free guided meditations can help you get started on a mindfulness journey.

There are even mindfulness apps available to help you get started, including Welltrack (which also has other self-help tools), Stop, Breathe, & Think or Headspace.

Many people are feeling challenged right now, and many resources exist free of charge to students. For more information on dealing with stress during this unique time, visit Counseling & Psychological Services Tools for coping with COVID-19 or call them at (406) 994-4531.

Student Emergency Fund

Emergency funding for student success is available through Student Emergency Fund (SEF).

Email communication sent out 3/31/20.

Dear Graduate Students,

We hope you are doing well. We wanted to let you know about the Student Emergency Fund.

Emergency funding for student success is available. The Student Emergency Fund assists Montana State University students by providing limited emergency financial assistance to currently enrolled students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses due to an unexpected emergency. For more information on possible expenses covered by the Student Emergency Fund (SEF), please visit the SEF webpage

Students may complete the Student Emergency Fund application to submit a request or faculty and staff may submit a request on behalf of students. 

April 2020 Newsletter

Follow the link to the April 2020 Grad School Help Desk Newsletter sent out 3/27/20.

Tips on video conferencing comps, defenses, meetings

Tips are given for successful video conferencing.

Addendum: In order to be compliant with the Governor's stay-at-home mandate in place until April 10, 2020, you cannot be in the same room as your committee. Video conferencing is the recommend mode for a defense during this time.

Email Communication sent out 3/26/20

With an increased amount of video conferencing taking place for classes, comps, defenses, meetings, and so on, the Graduate School wants to share tips to provide the greatest chances of tech-success for your virtual defense.

Virtual meeting software

WebEx – WebEx is an MSU supported video conferencing software. For more information, visit UIT’s webpage on WebEx for students to utilize this software.

ZoomZoom is another video conferencing software. The basic account has temporarily lifted the 40-minute time limit for educational purposes. We encourage students to create an account ahead of your defense in case it becomes needed.

We suggest having a back-up plan for video conferences. For example, you can initially plan to meet via WebEx. Then, in case of technical problems, you can contact your committee members to meet through Zoom. We encourage you to plan for a secondary meeting method in case of systemwide downtime or other unforeseen situations, and to be sure to have an alternate way to contact committee members.

Working with a public audience

You can ask the public to mute themselves or shut of their own cameras to save bandwidth in order to have a smoother event.

You can also let the public know how the event will go. For example, you can let them know if there will be a presentation and then the floor will be open for questions, or if questions will be permitted throughout, or if the public will be dismissed at the end for a private committee examination.

Presentations and screen sharing

Video conferencing software such as WebEx and Zoom have screensharing technology for you to share your screen with video participants to see. This is great for sharing presentations; however, we encourage you to plan for the possibility that it may not work or may not work for all members. Be sure to send copies of your presentations to your committee members ahead of time.

Booking a Room on Campus

If you are in an area with inadequate internet connection, you can book a room on campus. You can contact your department to inquire about which rooms are open and may be available.

Modified Pass/Fail grading option for graduate students

Details provided on MSU's modified Pass/Fail grading option for Graduate Students.

Email Communication sent out 3/24/20

The Graduate School wants to provide details on MSU’s modified Pass/Fail (P/F) grading option and how it is applicable to graduate students. Graduate students may also choose to receive a P/F grade in place of a letter grade for a course, five calendar days after final grades have been posted by the Registrar. Any course that you receive a letter grade for is eligible for this option.

This temporarily updates current Graduate School policy, which had a previous credit limitation of a maximum of 3 Pass/Fail coursework credits that can be included on a Graduate Program of Study form. With the updated policy, Spring 2020 P/F credits will not be included in this limit. For more information on the modified P/F grading option, please read the attached message [MSU message linked here] from the Office of the Provost sent out on March 23, 2020.

Loaner laptops and accessing journals remotely

Some loaner laptops may be available for special circumstances. Informatiion is given on how to access Library materials online and remotely.

Email Communication sent out 3/23/20

Dear graduate students,

The Graduate School is seeking ways to help graduate students work from home. Below is information on loaner laptops and accessing Library resources remotely.

Loaner laptops

Some laptops are available from UIT to loan to graduate students under special circumstances. For example, for GRAs and GTAs who need the use of a computer to help fulfill their assistantships. If you are in need of a laptop, send an email request to [email protected] to arrange pickup and sign out.

Accessing journals remotely

Here are some tips for accessing Library resources off campus for all students.

Starting research on the Library website

The most reliable way to see what the Library has access to is to start at the Library website. Use the Library website as normal, and when you try to access a resource that requires authentication, you will be asked for your NetID and password.

Starting research elsewhere

If you prefer not to start your research directly via the Library website, a great starting point is Google Scholar. You can connect the Library directly to Scholar so that they do not need to look up the article separately in both locations.

If you select the 'Check MSU Availability' link, this automatically searches the Library's access - if the Library has it, the catalog link is configured to ask the students to login and give them access.

The tool LibKey Nomad is a browser extension for Chrome, and it takes about 30 seconds to install. Install it, select Montana State University as your institution, and when you're out doing an open-web search, if the extension recognizes something we have access to, it will show a pop up window in the corner with a direct link to the PDF. If we do not have access, it will point you to the Library and you can submit an interlibrary loan request. 

Grad Fair with the MSU Bookstore postponed

The Grad Fair with the MSU Bookstore has been postponed until April 15, and will be online due to social distancing. A link will be available on the Commencement website starting April 15th for graduation and commencement-related information.

Food Security Scholarship

The deadline for the Food Security Scholarship is March 31, 2020.

Email Communication sent out 3/20/20

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 for the fall of 2020. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2020.

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

If you are looking to refer a student to this scholarship, please fill out the referral form.

Questions can be addressed to [email protected]

Bounty of the Bridgers Food Pantry

The Bounty of the Bridgers Campus Food Pantry will reopen March 23. Services will be altered slightly so that they are appointment based. During that time, items will be distributed rather than selected. Visit the Bounty of the Bridgers website for more information and hours.

Wellness during social distancing

The Graduate School encourages you to care for your mental health during social distancing.

Email communication sent out 3/18/2020

Your health and health of our community is paramount, and currently, social distancing is one way to maintain that health. However, as we practice social distancing, feelings of isolation and loneliness can take its own toll on your mental health.

This article by Scientific American, describes ways to prevent loneliness during social distancing – what we can do as individuals and what we can do for others, such as our families, friends, and fellow students.

Suggestions include:

  • Video chatting let us see facial cues, body language, and other nonverbal forms of communication
  • Showing kindness to others online
  • Finding a digital community of people with common interests
  • Getting in touch with someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile
  • Finding new tools and apps that help optimize social interactions

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Montana chapter published a message on mental health during this time, and lists reliable resources for information on COVID-19 and suggests ways to work on your mental health regimen.

MSU’s Counseling & Psychological Services has created a handout on coping with stress and supporting mental health during this time, which is attached [CPS information linked here]. The WellTrack app is provided for MSU students and has general self-help information and modules for managing mental health.

Additionally, If you need a confidential resource to talk about domestic violence, sexual assault, or other interpersonal violence please text or call the Voice Center ​at 406-994-7069.

We encourage you to explore these options to find ways to connect with others and watch over your mental health. We are in this together as a community.

Testing Services temporary closed

The testing companies ETS/Prometric are temporarily closing all test centers in the United States.

The testing companies ETS/Prometric are temporarily closing all test centers in the United States and Canada for a period of 30 days, starting March 18 and with plans to reopen on April 16. Candidates with appointments to complete CPA, GRE, Praxis and TOEFL exams at MSU Testing Services will be contacted by the test companies with information about no-fee rescheduling. The April 4, 2020 Subject GRE administration is also cancelled. Examinees with questions should contact MSU Testing Services at (406)994-6984 or [email protected].

Defense and deadlines updates

Spring 2020 deadlines have been updated due to the disruption of classes and research. One credit extensions, form submission, videoconferencing for defenses, and the Writing Center are also discussed.

Addendum: In order to be compliant with the Governor's stay-at-home mandate in place until April 10, 2020, you cannot be in the same room as your committee. Video conferencing is the recommend mode for a defense during this time.

Email communciations sent out 3/16/20

Dear graduate students,

We understand that this is a stressful time. First we wanted to recognize the efforts you are putting towards finalizing your degree during this turmoil. It is truly an amazing accomplishment.

The Graduate School wants to streamline processes for graduating students as much as possible. Here is an outline of graduation steps during this time of remote work:

Virtual Resources

The Writing Center has online appointments you can make with a tutor.

There will be a daily, virtual office hour with the Dean from 11-noon for any questions:


The defense/comprehensive exam deadline is extended and is now 5pm on May 1, 2020 if you need the extra time. Edits and revisions are typical after a defense. Allow yourself time to make these changes before the deadline. For any graduation questions, email [email protected].

ETD Formatting

Your thesis or dissertation must be approved by The Graduate School by 5pm on May 1, 2020. Video tutorials are being made to help you with the formatting process. It should be submitted for review at least a week prior to that deadline. Email [email protected] for more information.


Exam forms can be submitted by the department via Box at: Look for the blue box text with a link to Grad School’s new Box submission folder.

One Credit Extensions

The Graduate School wants to make sure you are supported. If you need to use a one-credit extension after the Spring semester, we will cover the tuition via a tuition waiver.


As was sent out last week, defenses are recommended to be held via videoconference. All members are allowed to video conference, but be aware other aspects of this policy must still be followed, i.e. an audio/video connection that all members can participate through

  • A public defense is still required and is a great opportunity to connect with peers. You can make your WebEx available to the public by providing a public link. See for info on student WebEx. Meetings can have up to 1000 participants!

Advertise your defense on the MSU calendar. Instructions available in defense policy at either level. Here is the doctoral link; see section Advertising the Defense.


Sending graduate forms electronically

Graduate forms are encouraged to be sent electronically through Box, found on the Forms webpage.

Email communication sent out 3/13/20

Dear graduate community,

The health of our graduate students, staff, and faculty is paramount. As such, the Graduate School is working to provide as much flexibility in turning in graduate Forms electronically.

A few options to send forms/working electronically:

  • Emailed forms should be directed to the Office Contact listed on the Forms page.
    • For example, Programs of Study and Committee related forms should be sent to the [email protected] address.
  • DocuSign is an electronic signature (e-signature) platform that you can use to sign and send your documents securely to the appropriate signor/recipient.
  • Adobe Acrobat can be used to collect signatures electronically and sent via email.
  • Scanned and photograph copies will be accepted via email.
  • Forms that normally come in through Campus Mail can be sent electronically to the listed office contact, as well, or to [email protected] if not listed.
  • A “Chat with us” function pops up on the Graduate School homepage and can be used to answer questions about turning in forms or for other inquiries.

Important: Please note that if sending forms electronically, use the last four digits of your Student ID on the form, instead of the full Student ID number. Per UIT Data Stewardship Standards only “Partial GID (last 4 numbers) can be sent through email with the name of the individual to whom it belongs.” 

We appreciate the care and safety the MSU community is taking to help each other out and support our students, staff, and faculty in reaching their goals.

Accommodating graduate work during upcoming deadlines

Guidelines for graduate work during transition to remote instruction.

Email communications sent out 3/12/20.

Dear graduate community,

Your health is of paramount importance, hence the Graduate School is implementing the OCHE guidelines for graduate work.

The Provost’s email sent to faculty about adapting to online instruction applies to GTAs as well, i.e. GTAs should work with their supervisors to understand the plan for how the instruction can be delivered online. For GRAs the students should work with their supervisors to develop a modified research plan that keeps everyone’s health a priority.

We encourage departments and committees to schedule more video conferences for meetings, thesis defenses, comp exams, etc.

In particular, the Graduate School will for the remainder of the Spring semester waive its requirement of people being present in the same room for thesis and dissertation defenses, for all parties. We will allow all members to connect via video conference. The other aspects of video conference policy still apply, e.g. technical requirements, interruptions, etc. See our policy on Video Conferencing.

More information about transition to remote instruction has been released by the Office of the Provost, which is attached.

If the MSU campus should be affected by the Coronavirus, we will update you with any accommodations made to deadlines or procedures that may be put into place as the situation develops. We want to ensure that the health of campus is prioritized while still supporting students and their committees in reaching their goals.

 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

 Update on Coronavirus as of March 3, 2020 from the Graduate School. MSU communications can be found at the MSU Cornoavirus (COVID-19) update page.

Email Communication sent out 3/3/20

Dear MSU Students,

We are following the news on the Coronavirus and how it has and may affect the lives of our students and their families. While this illness has not yet come to our area, we encourage you to take extra care in following the usual precautions for flu prevention. This includes:

  • Keep hands clean by washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing, preferably with a tissue or your elbow instead of your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Sanitize all commonly used objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home if you feel sick but call and visit a clinic if it becomes serious.

If you are a GTA and become ill, contact your department for teaching replacement. If you are a GRA and become ill, contact your supervisor so your duties can be covered. Remember to prioritize your health, and by doing so, you help strengthen the health of our community.

To find out more about the Coronavirus and MSU’s response, please visit the Coronavirus update page via the University Health Partners.


The Graduate School