Frequently Asked Questions
From the application period to graduation, the path to a graduate degree has many steps. The Graduate School staff is committed to helping students at all points along the way. Below are answers to many frequently asked questions. If you can't find what you are looking for, please contact the Graduate School at 406-994-4145.
Click on the links below to see frequently asked questions in specific areas.
The Graduate School website is an excellent resource to help you identify a potential graduate program (see link to Graduate Degrees & Certificates Offered). Once you have chosen a particular program, please look at the department website for specific information about the degree. If you need assistance with general guidance on degree-granting programs, contact The Graduate School Admissions Office ([email protected] or 406-994-4125).
All international graduate applicants to MSU are required to take an English Proficiency exam, except for those who have earned a college degree from a United States or other native English-language school or institution. (See International Admissions Guidelines).
Montana State University offers the following interdisciplinary degree programs:
- Ecology and Environmental Sciences (Ph.D.)
- Environmental Engineering (M.S.)
- Health Sciences (M.S.)
- Land Rehabilitation (M.S.)
- Materials Science (Ph.D.)
- Molecular Biosciences (Ph.D.)
- Optics Engineering (M.S.)
- Science Education (M.S.)
- Science and Natural-History Filmmaking (M.F.A.)
Many departments allow interdisciplinary courses to be included on a graduate degree program. (See individual programs for information on the Graduate Degrees & Certificates Offered page.)
For a graduate degree application to be reviewed for admission, all required application documents must be submitted prior to the department’s posted deadline. To determine if all of your required documents have been received, The Graduate School recommends that you check your application portal. You can also use this portal to remind references to submit letters or even to change a reference. If you are still uncertain about whether or not the documents have been received, contact your intended admitting department. For more information on admissions, see The Graduate School’s Admissions Policy.
Departments will typically begin reviewing applications after a department deadline, unless otherwise indicated on the department website. The review process can take up to a couple of months. Once the department reviews the application and documents, a recommendation is communicated to The Graduate School. The Graduate School will review the department’s recommendations and issue a formal decision. If you have completed a non-degree application, admission typically takes up to five (5) business days from the time an application is submitted.
If you are currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at MSU, please contact The Graduate School ([email protected] or 406-994-4125) for guidance and information on changing degree programs. In some cases, this process will require applying to the new program.
The requirement for graduate students to take the GRE is department or program specific. Please contact the department to inquire about whether the GRE is required. In very rare circumstances, a GRE will be waived by a department, typically when a GRE score has been on file but is older than the five (5) year limit or when a master’s degree which required a GRE has been earned by the applicant.
The application fee will not be waived, deferred or refunded for any reason. The application fee must be paid before the application will be processed (see Board of Regents Policy). Two circumstances may lead to an application fee being paid by a department on campus. First, a department may choose to pay for a student's application fee, however this is not a common practice; second, a McNair scholar may receive a waiver.
Deadlines vary from department to dependent; contact the department and program to which you are applying for specific deadlines. International applications must be submitted approximately seventy-five (75) days prior to the start of the intended term to allow for the issuance of an I-20. For department deadlines, see Graduate Degrees & Certificates Offered.
Deadlines for Non-Degree Applications:
Domestic Applicants: Domestic applications must be received by The Graduate School by the first (1st) day of classes, see Dates & Deadlines.
International applicants: Applications must be submitted approximately seventy-five (75) days prior to the start of the intended term to allow for the issuance of an I-20. For non-degree international applicants, deadlines are as follows:
- Fall Term: May 15
- Spring Term: October 1
- Summer Term: February 1
All applications are now processed almost entirely electronically. The new application system allows unofficial documents (e.g. statement of purpose, resume, unofficial transcripts or score reports) to be uploaded by the applicant during the online process. Official documents, such as transcripts or test results, can be mailed or sent electronically via email from the university/testing agency to the program/department to which you are applying. Applicants are encouraged to contact the department of their intended area of study prior to applying, as department requirements and deadlines may vary.
Admission decisions are made on an individual basis. The application is first reviewed by the admitting department’s review committee and then by The Graduate School to determine if an applicant's academic history and preparation are satisfactory before a decision is made. All applicants will receive a formal decision.
Note: Every applicant who applies for admission to MSU and completes an application will receive a formal decision by The Graduate School, whether they have or have not been admitted.
The initial application fee is valid for no more than one (1) year from the term of the initial application. An applicant who has not been offered admittance will have the opportunity to reapply within this time frame without incurring an additional application fee. If an applicant would like to reapply to the same — or a different — department during this time, contact The Graduate School ([email protected]) with the request. If an applicant waits longer than one (1) year, it will be necessary to reapply and pay the application fee again.
Upon admission to MSU, The Graduate School will send you information on how to register. Registration times are different each term; see the Registration Handbook provided by the Office of the Registrar for actual dates.
Every student is assigned a Banner ID. This is your student ID; you will use this to log into MyInfo before you begin to register for class.
Your Banner ID consists of eight numbers and begins with a hyphen. MSU does not use your social security number for security and privacy purposes. Be sure to include the hyphen before your Banner ID when accessing information or registering online.
The Montana Board of Regents Residency Policy (for tuition purposes) has many requirements; a residency decision is not based solely on property ownership. See the Montana Board of Regents Residency Policy for more information.
The Graduate School reviews the residency status of each newly accepted graduate student. A non-resident domestic graduate student who would like to be considered a Montana state resident for tuition purposes can find more information by contacting The Office of the Registrar.
Several types of holds may be administered during the admissions process and also during the course of the student’s graduate career. Holds are listed in the graduate student’s MyInfo portal.
See The Graduate School Holds policy for more information about the types of holds that can be placed on a new graduate student and who to contact for each type of hold.
DegreeWorks is a web-based degree planning tool. It is a tool to track completion of your degree or certificate and is not a substitute for consultation with your graduate committee chair.
As a new student, you will see the general degree or certificate requirements established by your department and the advisor assigned to you. Once your Program of Study has been approved by The Graduate School, DegreeWorks will be customized to reflect your individualized program of study and your graduate committee chair.
Staff at The Graduate School enter program of study information into DegreeWorks. If there are errors (typos, omissions, etc.), please contact The Graduate School's Software Specialist (406-994-7518 or [email protected]).
A note about your graduate committee chair/advisor: Upon admission, your department will assign you an advisor. You will consult with this individual until your graduate committee has been established. DegreeWorks stores this information in the “Advisor” field.
Your record will feature general requirements for your academic program.
The top portion of the screen will list requirements for your degree or certificate. It will direct you to the Major section to see specifics for that program.
Below that will be requirements for your major.
If your field of study has a concentration, this will be a separate section and you will be directed to it from the major section.
You will know when your DegreeWorks record has been updated with your program of study as your GID will appear in the blue box. Your DegreeWorks record will look like this:
(Note that your full GID will be displayed, but is blacked out here to protect privacy.
Below the program of study are additional classes. Categories include Electives, In-Progress (currently being taken or to be taken next semester), Not Counted and Insufficient.
To understand the status of the requirements listed in the program of study, use this legend, which appears at the bottom and on the lower left-hand side of the screen.
Complete and submit the Program of Study Revision form (PDF). There is no fee associated with changing a program of study.
Complete and submit the Committee Revision form (PDF) found on our website. There is no fee associated with revising a committee.
The Graduate Representative is an optional member of a doctoral committee. The first time that this option can be exercised is at the time that the Program of Study & Committee form (PDF) is submitted for approval. Grad Reps are assigned when a student submits their program of study.
The primary responsibility of the Graduate Representative is to ensure that examinations and defenses are conducted in a fair and satisfactory manner.
Review the Optional Graduate Representative Policy