Montana Tech Graduate School: Where Opportunity meets Innovation!
The Dean of the Graduate School explains why Montana Tech Grad programs are unique.
Explore 22 master’s degree programs and specializations, and three Ph.D. programs.
Montana Tech is home to world-class laboratories and facilities.
Orediggers learn by doing. A graduate education a Montana Tech will take you into the field for hands-on experiential learning.
Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowships, consist of a one year scholarship payment of $10,000, with a full tuition waiver.
Research Assistants are funded on accounts allocated for research. A Graduate Teaching Assistant assists with student instruction.
An Accelerated MS degree allows current undergraduates to simultaneously earn a graduate degree and qualify for special scholarships.
The Sloan Fellowship will provide a qualified Native American graduate student a stipend and opportunity for additional funding.
Prepare to Come to Campus ✓
- Housing Options: Explore housing options for residence hall living or apartment housing living. Housing options are limited. Apply early!
- Parking Pass
Meet with your Advisor ✓
- Discuss/finalize classes to take your first semester
- Understand what keys are needed
Check-in with the Graduate School and Understand Your Upcoming Degree Requirements ✓
- Register for Classes
- Finalize your paperwork for Graduate Teaching or Research Assistantships.
- Orientation: An orientation for new on-campus students is held the first week of classes. This is a chance to get to know other students and build your network.
- Required Training and Certifications (Mandatory): You will be added to an on-line Moodle Course for required training.
- The Graduate Student Handbook: Our handbook clarifies our expectations for our students, and what they can expect from us.
- Thesis Deadlines
General Campus Info ✓
- Pick up your DiggerCard
- Apply for a Parking Pass
- Buy a Meal Plan to Eat in the SUB
- Purchase your Textbooks
- Physical Facilities to get your Keys
- Student Health Services at Montana Tech
- Insurance Information for Students
- Graduate School Library Orientation
Graduate Program Form ✓
The Graduate Program Form is intended to help you chart the course toward your degree, and serve as a memorandum of understanding between you and your advisor. It is recommended that you begin working on this form your first semester and finalize it your second semester or ~15 credit hrs. Please provide a copy of this form to the Graduate Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Moodle.
Graduate Committee Appointment Form ✓
Most graduate products require a committee to review your work and serve as a mentor for you in completing this work, you will need to complete a Graduate Committee Appointment Form. Please see the Graduate Student Handbook for more information on the composition of committee members required when completing this form.
Thesis Deadlines ✓
View a Timeline for your degree.
Special Instructions (Non-thesis) ✓
MPEM – Graduate Advisory Committee and Final Presentation. The Committee will comprise the examining body for the student during the final semester at the completion of the course requirements. The Chair should be the Program Director but may, at the student’s discretion, be selected from the faculty instructing MPEM courses. At least three members are required. The student is responsible for asking committee members to serve and attaching verification from the committee members to this form, either as an email or written acceptance. At the beginning of the semester in which all degree requirements will be completed, the student must submit an MPEM Application for Degree to the Graduate Studies Office. At the beginning of the final semester, the student is also responsible for contacting the committee members and asking for exam questions. The answers are then sent to the committee for review. The program director will compile the responses and provide feedback to the student. The student will schedule a convenient date to meet with the committee on Tech’s campus when the student will give a 40-45 minute capstone presentation. The student should schedule the presentation; contact the department administrative assistant for assistance with room scheduling.
The format for the Power Point (preferred) presentation is as follows:
- Give your bio-profile.
- Discuss your reasons for being in the program and how you have benefited.
- Summarize the answers for the exam questions.
- Give comments and input regarding ways to improve the MPEM program.
The presentation should be scheduled only after the completion of 21 credits. Three committee members should be selected to review the presentation, and the list of members should be received by the Graduate office at least one month prior to the final examination via the Graduate Committee Appointment Form. DUE: After the completion of 21 credits.
Masters Industrial Hygiene – MS IH Distance Learning/Professional Track. A Graduate Advisory Committee is established for IH 5986 – Written and Oral Comprehensive Exam during the semester that a student is enrolled in the capstone course. The Chair is the faculty member teaching the course, and an additional faculty member is assigned by the Chair. At least two members are required. At the successful completion of the written and oral exam for IH 5986, a Committee Signature Form is used to document the outcome. DUE: By the end of the completion of 20 online course credits.
Masters of Engineering – A final examination is required.
- Petition to Transfer Credit Form [PDF]: You may transfer a limited number of pre-approved classes.
Master of Science (MS) ✓
It is recommended that you meet with your committee at least once per year. The committee is in place to provide you mentoring and resources towards your degree. Please see the Graduate Student Handbook for more information on your committee composition.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) ✓
Check with course requirements for your specific degree. More information can be found in program-specific handbooks, found here:
The PhD degree is a research degree consisting of both classroom instruction at an advanced level and execution and completion of a research project, i.e. dissertation. To track the progress and receive academic credit for the latter, you should register for research credits during your PhD. Prior to the candidacy examination, register for pre-exam dissertation credits; after, register for dissertation credits. Dissertation credits can typically be used to fulfill credit hour requirements necessary to maintain full time student status and be eligible for assistantships.
Typically, you should finalize your PhD advisor and thesis topic as soon as possible. The thesis topic should be an intersection of your interests, your advisor’s interests, and (if applicable) availability of funding to complete your project. You are also encouraged to form your research committee as soon as possible, as they provide additional resources and additional expertise and tools with which you can complete your dissertation. You should begin working on your research as soon as possible, meet regularly with your advisor, and periodically with your committee.
Qualifying Examination (QE) ✓
The Qualifying examination is typically taken at the end of the 4th semester (for ESE) or August after the first year (for Material Science) of your PhD Program.
Material Science (PhD): The Qualifying Examination in Materials Science is a proctored written examination at a predetermined date, taken in partnership with our ‘sister site’ at Montana State University. Check with the program director and/or program staff for the schedule of the examination. Please refer to the handbook for additional details on scores required to pass the examination, conditionally pass the examination, and information on criteria by which a retake of the exam is required. In general, passing the qualifying examination requires class attendance and good study habits related to course material. Follow up with the instructor on points of uncertainty during the semester in which you are enrolled in the class; approaching a professor a couple of weeks before the QE to provide clarification as to “what I did wrong on problem 3 of the mid-term examination” or for a compendium of problems and solutions is not a productive study strategy. Also, forming a study group that meets regularly throughout the summer seems to benefit most students. Additional study tips for the QE, combined with format of the examination change periodically, and can be found here.
Earth Science & Engineering (Ph.D.): The Qualifying Examination in ESE is an independent research proposal unrelated to the dissertation research with an oral defense. The Qualifying Exam tests the student’s ability to be an independent thinker and scholar, as well as demonstrate knowledge breadth and depth in earth science and engineering. The student will write an independent research proposal unrelated to their dissertation research topic and present and defend it to their dissertation committee. During the oral defense, the student will be questioned on their proposal as well as breadth of knowledge in earth science and engineering.
- To prepare and complete the ESE qualifying examination, the recommended steps are as follows:
- Confirm that your independent proposal topic is different from your dissertation research with your committee.
- Prepare a research proposal and submit to your committee.
- Present your proposal to your committee.
- Your committee asks you questions about your proposal.
- The committee asks you questions about your Earth Science and Engineering knowledge based on the classes that you have taken.
Paperwork (all Ph.D. degrees): You will need to complete the following forms to demonstrate you have successfully completed the qualifying examination:
Candidacy (Material Science and ESE) Examinations ✓
After the qualifying examination, the next formal examination in is either the comprehensive (ESE) or candidacy (MatSci) examination. Although these have different names for the different programs, they are of similar structure with the same goal. The purpose of this examination is three-fold. First, the examination demonstrates that the student can conceive, plan, and design an original and creative research project on a topic important to advancing understanding in the field. Second, the examination demonstrates the student can communicate effectively both orally and in writing. Lastly, the examination serves as a means by which to lay a specific plan on what is needed to finalize your thesis, present a timeline for meeting these goals, and get committee feedback and approval on this plan.
The MatSci Candidacy Examination is typically taken before the start of a student’s third year.
The examination typically consists of both: (1) a written proposal describing the student’s intended dissertation research; and (2) an oral defense of the proposal to the student’s doctoral committee. The defense will include an open seminar followed by a closed interview/examination by the Committee that can cover a broad range of topics related to the proposed dissertation research. Check with your advisor and/or program chair for best practices in your degree program on length of both the written and oral portions of the examination. You are encouraged to schedule a pre-meeting with your committee to briefly discuss the proposal, and provide your committee members sufficient time (e.g. >1 week) to review the written proposal prior to the oral defense.Required paperwork: Comprehensive/Candidacy Examination (All Ph.D. degrees)
You will need to complete the following forms to demonstrate you have successfully completed the candidacy/comprehensive examination:
After you have passed your candidacy/comprehensive examination, you become a PhD candidate. You may register for research dissertation credits to fulfill credit hour requirements necessary to maintain full time student status and be eligible for assistantships. Continue to meet regularly with your advisor and periodically with your committee. Once you have complete the work and benchmarks that were agreed upon in your candidacy/comprehensive examination, and your advisor agrees, work to write your dissertation and schedule your defense. Complete this form to notify the graduate school of your progress:
See the next section for steps in finalizing your dissertation.
In order to participate in the Commencement Ceremony, you must: ✓
- Be on schedule to complete your coursework, as approved in your Graduate Program Form.
- Successfully defend your thesis or present your publishable paper, according to the Timeline. Your product must be approved by the committee by the deadlines given, please plan accordingly to ensure sufficient time for your advisor, graduate committee, and Graduate School staff to review.
When you are on track to complete all of the above tasks in the following semester, please submit an application to graduate. The application is to alert the staff that you plan to graduate, so that they may perform a preliminary check that you are on track to graduate. The application to graduate is DUE the semester PRIOR to your intended graduation.
View Commencement Ceremony Information here.
The following steps will ensure that Graduate Students successfully finish all graduate product requirements for graduation within all required deadlines.
1. Write the thesis and/or prepare the product ✓
All graduate students are required to have a graduate product (i.e. thesis, dissertation, publishable paper, or project). This product must be submitted, copied, bound, processed, approved, and published by the Graduate School. Completion and publication of the product is typically completed the semester you intend to graduate, with deadlines outlined in the Graduate Student Handbook.
All students must use the templates provided, with no exceptions. Utilize the entire template in its exact format. Thesis students are encouraged to do a format pre-check of the thesis/ dissertation. This will ensure students are on track to meet required deadlines and ensure the final format check runs smoothly. For the format pre-check, please send a word document of your thesis/dissertation to email@example.com; it does not need to be in final form.
- Masters of Science Option A: Thesis
- Dissertation Template [Word]
Non-Thesis based degrees:
Masters of Science Option B: Product or Published Paper
- Montana Tech does not have a required format for the publishable paper or non-thesis project. The student can submit this as a PDF.
- Students must complete a final presentation.
- Students will be examined by a committee at the completion of the course requirements. The Chair should be the Program Director but may, at the student’s discretion, be selected from the faculty instructing industrial hygiene courses. At least three members are required. The student is responsible for asking committee members to serve and attaching verification to the Degree Application – IH Distance that the committee has agreed to serve.
Master of Engineering Degree
- Candidates must complete a 1-credit hour final examination by registering for ENGR 500. This examination constitutes your final product.
2. Defend the graduate product ✓
- Work with your advisor and committee to schedule a date for the oral presentation and defense of your graduate product.
- Students completing thesis-based degrees should provide their committee ample time (typically 1-2 weeks) to review the written product prior to the defense. Check with your committee on their expectations and requirements.
- Customize your signature page by downloading and using the required template. A signed signature page will be used by the Graduate School for documentation that you have successfully complete the defense.
3. Finalize and publish the Thesis/Dissertation (not applicable to non-thesis degrees) ✓
- Make all changes required by the committee.
- Thesis format check: To ensure consistency in publication of the thesis in the library and other electronic resources, all theses are checked for format. Use the appropriate template provided in Step 1 for a successful format check. It is recommended you submit your thesis for format check 2-3 days prior to the final deadline to provide staff sufficient time to complete the review.
- Submit the thesis in word format to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In your correspondence, note whether you are submitting for pre-check or final review.
- Respond to any corrections requested by the e-thesis manager.
- The e-thesis manager will convert the word document to pdf, and send to the student for final review.
- Include any supplemental materials in digital format (if applicable).
- Publication: In addition to any publication requirements from your advisor, your thesis/dissertation will be published in various digital media, including the Montana Tech library and other electronic media. The following forms are required. If there is a need for a publication delay (e.g. publication embargo by sponsor, submission of provisional patent, etc.) this can be accommodated. Please fill out this section on the below forms. A publication delay will not delay your graduation, provided you complete the other steps below.
- Order hard copies of your thesis: The Graduate School pays for our copies of the bound graduate product (Library archival copy, program director copy, advisor copy, and student copy). Students desiring additional copies of the bound graduate product can order copies directly from ProQuest. An email will be sent to the student after the graduate product is submitted with an URL for ordering. Bound copies are mailed to Montana Tech within 3-4 months, then distributed to the department, and subsequently to the student at the address on the student’s graduation application.
Here are summarized steps described in the previous section, 'Finalizing your Required Graduate Product'.
Please ensure the Graduate School has the following documents for your graduate product: ✓
- MS students return the Signature Page Form
- MIHP students return the Oral Comp Exam Signature Sheet
- Ph.D. students return the Results of Dissertation Defense
- Final thesis/dissertation after format check sent to email@example.com.
- Graduate Product Rubric (for all exams)
- Graduate Student Product Publication Agreement (MS - Option A, Ph.D.)
- E-Thesis Authorization Form (MS - Option A)
- Dissertation Authorization Form (Ph.D.)
In addition, you must complete the Checkout Form: ✓
What health services are provided to graduate students? ✓
- Student Health Services at Montana Tech
- Insurance Information for Students
- No insurance options are available for Distance Learning students.
Are there emergency services available for housing, food, etc.? ✓
An emergency fund is available for financial emergencies in limited situations. This is limited to extreme circumstances and administered by the Vice Provost and Dean of Students.
Montana Tech Food Pantry is located in the SUB basement.
Policies: Students who cannot financially provide themselves with appropriate nutrition may utilize the Montana Tech Food Pantry. Students may take up to two packages of food per week. The student will record the number of packages taken and their student ID number before leaving the Food Pantry. The Montana Tech Food Pantry is managed by the ASMT Food Pantry Committee.
What tutoring services are available for graduate students? ✓
There are not typically tutoring services available for graduate classes. However, if refreshers are needed in undergraduate subjects that are often prerequisites for graduate students, students may contact the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) for on- campus tutoring services. Montana Tech students also have access to 2 hours of online tutoring per month through Tutor.com.
Where do I go if I’m struggling with my advisor? ✓
Professional relationships can be hard, and conflicts and disagreements can be a normal – yet unfortunate - part of any professional relationship. Many graduate student – advisor relationships can resemble those in the workplace, with a number of notable exceptions (e.g. a notable end point that ends in a degree!) Many of the graduate processes such as the Program form and committee form are designed to help establish clear expectations in the student-advisor relationship.
If you have made a fair effort to resolve a conflict, and you feel you need assistance in mediating an issue or even a sounding board, you may contact the firstname.lastname@example.org . An additional resource for you is your thesis committee. These faculty, in agreeing to serve on your committee, have agreed to be your mentors and act as a resource. Use them for this as you feel comfortable.
What is the difference between a thesis committee and a program committee? ✓
The thesis committee is meant to serve as a board of experts to advise you in progress towards your thesis. In best cases, you should be able to derive slightly different skill sets from each, such that you have resources beyond a single individual with which to complete your degree.
For the interdisciplinary degrees offered at Montana, the Program Committee is the student’s surrogate department and will meet frequently with the student to assist in keeping the educational goals in order.
In both cases, the student must take responsibility for convening the committee. This committee is meant to be a resource for you, but only if you use it.
As a resource, it behooves you to form your committee as early as possible. Please inform the Graduate School of any changes in your committee or academic program using the forms found on the graduate school website.
What does it mean to be a GRA/GTA? ✓
Both GRAs and GTAs are employment contracts, i.e., payment (including tuition waiver) in exchange for assigned duties as tasks.
As employment, here are the formal definitions used by student employment:
Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs): (0.25 or 0.50 FTE; Stipend Grade I-III) This classification is reserved specifically for those Graduate Students who are funded on accounts allocated for research (e.g., external grants, contracts, internal accounts originating in return of indirect costs).
Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs): (0.25 or 0.50 FTE; Stipend Grade I only) A GTA assists with course duties and student instruction.
Examples of GTA duties include (but are not limited to) assistance with laboratory set up, leading organized student help sessions, assistance with development of student assessments, delivery of class lectures on an occasional (~monthly) basis, and grading. GTAs are allocated to the department, selection is made by the Department Head, and the award is made through the Graduate School.
The Graduate Student Handbook states additional rules on a number of credit hours and maximum hours per week. In brief, an important point is that the maximum number of credits that can be worked on a GRA/GTA per week is 20, if you are on a 50% appointment (this assumes a 40-hour work week). GRA/GTA appointments at 25% (10 hours/week) are also available. This condition (which is based on national guidelines) is in place to emphasize that these GRA/GTA positions are reserved for students, and your job is to be a student and make progress toward your degree.
Duties on a GRA appointment are set by the funded research grant or contract. It is important to realize that GRAs are employees on a contract to the University and are part of the task force in place to ensure the University completes the expectations of the sponsor that is providing the funding.
Lesser appointments receive a proportional stipend. The minimum GRA stipend level is equal to the GTA stipend. GRA stipends may be higher, depending on the responsibilities of the appointment, the level of the student, and the budget available in the funding source. (typically, a research grant).
I should only work 20 hours a week? ✓
(The answer below considers only the 20 hours/50% case. If you are a 10 hour/25% case, the answer still applies, just substitute 10 for 20 in the answer below.)
It should be clear that the 20-hour maximum (for a 50% appointment) is the condition of your GRA/GTA, not your condition of being a student. 20 hours per week should also be considered an ‘average’. You may have some hours you work more, some less. For example, you may find that as a GTA you will hold extra office hours the week before the exam or have extra grading duties the week after the exam. If you find that you are spending way more than 20 hours per week, please discuss with your advisor ways in which you may be more efficient. There may, for example, be things you are doing that are not expected by your supervisor.
It is not a condition of being a student that you only spend 20 hours per week on a GTA and 20 hours per week on classes. After you complete the hours required by your GRA/GTA, the additional time is yours as a student. For GRAs, in many cases (and if you are lucky!) the duties assigned to you as a GRA will directly overlap with work that will be included in your thesis. This is not always the case and is not the condition of having a GRA. As the GRA is made possible by a sponsored contract, it is the responsibility of your advisor to make sure the expectations of the sponsor are being satisfied. This is critical to make sure contractual obligations are met, and funding continues. (The latter will generally help to support additional students). As in the GTA example noted above, there may be some weeks as a GRA you work more than 20 hours and some you work less than 20; the average should be 20 hours per week. GRAs are meant to be professional positions – and are certainly preparation for such – and it is generally expected that you will work the hours needed to complete the task.
Any time you spend above/beyond your 20 hours (on average) is your time as a student. Think of this like studying for a test. In this analogy, the test is both the oral and written components of your thesis. No one is ever going to dictate to you how many hours to study for that test. That is yours alone to decide. However, in this case, the hours you spend studying for your test will determine whether you pass/fail, what you are able to get out of that examination. In this case, the “course” is self-paced, and the time you spend “studying” will ultimately determine the time in which you complete the course.
As noted above, GRA duties and what goes into your thesis are aligned in the best-case scenario, but this is not always the case. That being said, if you feel that your GRA/GTA duties are conflicting with your ability to complete your degree, you should first discuss this with your advisor, and as needed, with the Dean of the Graduate School. Your first and foremost responsibility as a GRA/GTA at Montana Tech is to make progress towards your degree, as a student.
I have a discontinuity in my planned fellowship/assistantship. What can I do? ✓
If you have an unforeseen discontinuity in funding, please contact your advisor, department chair, and/or the Dean of the Graduate School. When/if you must contact the Dean, she is likely to check your academic progress and discuss the issue with your advisor. The Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship was also founded with the intent to accommodate a limited number of cases in which there is a discontinuity in funding. As they are limited, prior to using a CDF, the Graduate Dean is likely to explore other GRA/GTA funding opportunities with your department or program chair.
My research project has just changed unexpectedly. What recourse do I have? ✓
Talk to your advisor and/or the Graduate School Dean about your concerns. After hearing your concerns, they can help you chart a path forward.
How do I change my committee? ✓
In situations where the Graduate Committee membership must change, due to changes in the thesis/dissertation, interests/goals of the student, the non-availability of members, or an irreconcilable difference, the appointment and approval of new committee requires the same form and the same approvals as the appointment of the original committee. Direct any questions about the Graduate Committee to your Advisor or to the Graduate School. You are encouraged to request and establish your Graduate Committee as early as possible, as this committee provides important advice and guidance and can help you complete your degree program efficiently (Graduate Student Handbook pg. 11).
Are there resources available to present my work at a conference? ✓
Please contact your advisor or program chair about this opportunity, as well as his/her expectations for presenting work at a conference. Presenting your work at a conference can be an important aspect of professional development, but funding is often limited. Whereas funding for graduate student travel has been made available in the past, this is currently being handled by disbursement by the graduate school to program chairs, as it allows for a more thorough analysis of need/opportunity. Thus, in some cases, your graduate program chair may have funds available. Opportunities for funding from the graduate school for student travel will typically be announced to all students, with stated prioritization of how the funding will be distributed.
What are the publication expectations for my degree? ✓
The Graduate School requires all graduate student projects including non-thesis projects, reports, and publishable papers be submitted to the graduate school for publication in Montana Technological University’s Digital Commons as a part of graduation requirements. Handbook pg. 23 Your advisor may have additional expectations for publication in peer-reviewed journals or conference proceedings. You are strongly encouraged to discuss this issue with your advisor and include this in your degree plan.
How do I know when I am done with my research project? ✓
For specific timelines and steps, please reference the topic, “Finalizing your Required Graduate Product”, on the Graduate School Home Page , as well as the Published Timeline established by the Graduate Council.
As to when you are “ready to defend” or “ready to start writing” this is a conversation you should have with your advisor as you develop your degree plan. It is reasonable to discuss benchmarks and/or milestones that are expected to be completed before you defend or write. Expectations and benchmarks should be adjusted for whether you are completing an MS or Ph.D.
What if my research includes human subjects? ✓
Human subject research requires approval from the IRB. IRB approval is approved by the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.
Please contact your advisor or the Dean of the Graduate School for additional information.
What Graduate School Programs are offered at Montana Tech? ✓
Graduate School Programs offered at Montana Tech can be found here.
How do I know who my advisor is? ✓
You should be given the name of your advisor in your acceptance letter. Generally, this is based on matchmaking between advisor expertise and student interest during the admission process. Advisors often recruit students that are aligned with either their own professional interests and/or funded projects.
Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Dr. Jessica Daignault attended the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt.
Associate Professor Robin Bullock shared her expertise as a past project manager in mine closure with the Department of Energy.
Montana Tech students commanded the competition at the conference of the Pacific Northwest International Section (PNWIS) of the Air and Waste Management Association.