Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences

Montana State University
334 Leon Johnson Hall
P.O. Box 173120
Bozeman, MT 59717-3120
406-994-7060  Email:

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Graduate student research projects are related to the diverse interests of LRES faculty members. The department conducts research projects in land rehabilitation, restoration ecology for land and streams, watershed science, hydrology, biogeochemistry, land-atmosphere exchange, plant and soil ecology, environmental microbiology, cropping systems and sustainability, environmental risk assessment, integrated pest and weed management, and insect behavior and ecology.

Department Head

Dr. Tracy Sterling
334 Leon Johnson Hall
406-994-7060 Email:

Academic Programs Coordinator

334 Leon Johnson Hall
406-994-3090 Email:


Students seeking admission to graduate status in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences must hold a B.S. or M.S. degree, have a record of high scholarship in areas closely related to land resources and environmental sciences and show significant promise for success in a graduate program. They are expected to present evidence of college level training and mastery in biology, chemistry and mathematics sufficient to provide a good background for further study at the advanced level. Students with deficiencies may be required to take background courses to make up these deficiencies before or after being approved for acceptance.  All applications are evaluated by a departmental review committee and the Department Head for final recommendation to The Graduate School.  Successful applicants are accepted into both the Department and The Graduate School.  A GPA of 3.0 for the last two years, three letters of recommendation (must be from persons other than the potential advisor or committee members) and a letter of application (personal statement) describing the applicant’s research interests and career goals in pursuing graduate training are minimum requirements for acceptance to the LRES graduate program.

An appropriate faculty mentor must agree to serve as the student's major adviser as a condition of admission.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination) exams are to be taken before applying for admittance and are part of the required application materials.  The Educational Testing Service must send official scores directly to The Graduate School. The sum of the verbal and quantitative scores should be at least 1000 for GRE scores before July, 2011. The sum of the verbal and quantitative scores should be a minimum of 288 for the current GRE tests.  Generally the scores should not be more than five years old, but exceptions have been made.

For international applicants, a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 550 for the paper based test, 213 for the computer based test and 80 for the internet based test is required for international students whose first language is not English. English proficiency exam scores are not required if English is the first official language of the applicant’s country of citizenship or if the applicant has received an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution in the United States. These scores must be submitted directly from the testing agency to MSU.

Graduate Assistantships

Assistantship awards are dependent on availability of funding. In general, assistantships are awarded through a faculty adviser. In the event that financial aid is not available, you must have your own financial resources. Other financial assistance is awarded on a competitive basis, with prior academic performance serving as a major criterion

Application Deadlines

U.S. and Canada

  • Fall - May 15
  • Spring - October 1
  • Summer - February 1


  • Fall - April 15
  • Spring - September 1
  • Summer - January 1

Departmental Facilities

LRES faculty members conduct cutting-edge investigations in state-of-art laboratory facilities, the modern Plant Growth Center, and in the many outstanding and diverse natural laboratories within and beyond the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We utilize public and private lands across the state and region, as well as the MSU Agricultural Experiment Station facilities. Our faculty are participants and collaborators in many centers and institutes within and outside MSU. LRES faculty advisers work with national and international scientific collaborators, and are internationally recognized for their research and instructional excellence.

Environmental Sciences Analytical Laboratory

The department boasts a modern shared analytical facility that houses many state of art instruments for soil, water, air and plant analyses. The facility supports faculty and graduate student research programs, and provides outstanding hands-on experiences and instruction with diverse analytical measurement techniques.

Spatial Sciences Center

LRES faculty and staff are key members of the MSU Spatial Sciences Center. The Global Positioning System (GPS) Laboratory provides GPS base station data for determination of accurate location coordinates for field mapping projects. The Remote Sensing Laboratory offers a state-of-the-art facility with extensive abilities to analyze both digital and analog imagery. Equipment and support for both laboratories facilitate teaching, cooperative research, and land resource inventory and management activities.