Current Students

Understanding graduate requirements is the responsibility of the student. The Department of Geosciences Academic Performance policies are more rigorous than the MSU Graduate School policies. Make sure you are aware of important policies, deadlines, opportunities, etc. Use the following information to stay informed.

Registration Assistance

Useful Links

Academic Performance 

Graduate students with more than two grades of C or a grade of D, F, or U will be dismissed from the program/University. A GPA below 3.0 will result in either probation or dismissal. A student in the Broadcast Meteorology concentration who earns a C in the first year of graduate study will be required to take a proficiency exam in the summer before the second year. Unsatisfactory performance on the exam will result in dismissal from the program.

Graduate Scholarships and Awards

The Department of Geosciences awards four scholarships annually to qualified graduate students. 

  • The George H. Bishop Endowed Scholarship in Geology is awarded to a undergraduate or graduate Geosciences major on the basis of the following criteria: (1) Must be a full-time student; (2) must be a Geology student; and (3) incoming Freshmen are eligible with an ACT score of 30.
  • The Sistrunk Endowed Scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate or graduate geology major on the basis of the following criteria: (1) Must be a full-time student; (2) Must maintain a 3.0 on a 4.0 GPA scale; (3) Must demonstrate leadership abilities.
  • The Geosciences Endowed Scholarship is awarded on the basis of the following criteria: (1) Must be a full-time Geosciences graduate student; (2) Must incorporate the State of Mississippi into his/her thesis or dissertation research; (3) must use data physically collected in the state and not from a database.

Departmental Undergraduate Scholarships 

Graduate Student Travel or Research Assistance Award

The Department has a competitive award for to help with travel or research. The award is up to $500 for Master’s students and up to $750 for PhD students. The guidelines and application process are described below. Many of the guidelines are based on University travel policies. These guidelines are also applicable to faculty. Thus, this experience has a secondary objective to be a ‘teachable moment’ for what it is like to be faculty. 

  • Graduate students may apply for only one award during a fiscal year (July 1 – Jun 30).
  • Only current MSU Department of Geosciences graduate students are eligible for the award.
  • The money should be used for travel or for research, one or the other.
  • Travel has to be for an official academic purpose, such as participating in an academic conference or collecting data for a research project. For travel to a conference, the student must be presenting a paper or poster (same rule applies to faculty as well).
  • Purchased research equipment, software, supplies, etc. belong to MSU and must remain at MSU even after graduation.
  • Purchased research equipment, software, supplies, etc. must be for the thesis or the dissertation. This award is not intended to support research other than what is needed for the student’s degree.
  • The award is given out on a first-come-first-serve basis and will be available as long as the graduate award fund is solvent. Once the graduate award fund has become depleted during a particular fiscal year, no more awards will be given out until the next fiscal year.
  • Students are required to submit a proposal (see below), and the proposal must be reviewed (see below) before any award money is allocated.
  • No later than one month after purchase, receipts for expenses should be submitted to the department head to show how the money was used. The student is liable for any accrued costs not related to what was described in the proposal.
  • No later than one month after the travel has occurred or one month after the research equipment, supplies, or software have been used, the student must write a ½ page summary that explains the contributions of this award towards their degree. The summary should include at least one photograph and both the summary and photos should be submitted to Dr. Athena Nagel for posting on departmental social media outlets. For conference travel, an ideal photograph would be showing the student giving the presentation or standing by the poster. For field work or for research equipment/supplies/software, the photograph should show the student collecting data.
  • In total, the proposal for the graduate award will include a justification and a budget. 
  • The budget should be a table that itemizes all the expected costs (realistic values) and has a requested total. 
  • The justification should be no longer than 1 page. The first paragraph should be a statement about the contribution of the research (e.g. providing a means to detect a harmful agent, protecting lives from storms) and how the award will facilitate the contribution (e.g. disseminating knowledge, purchasing needed equipment, etc.). The justification should also justify the requested expenses, meaning it should demonstrate what the money will be used for. A strong justification will provide data on specific costs, such as listed prices and item number, Delta Airlines ticket costs, etc. The justification should also include the statement:
    • “I have read all the Graduate Research Award guidelines and by submitting this proposal I acknowledge that (1) I will comply with all Graduate Research Award policies, (2) I will submit receipts to justify how I spent the money, (3) I am financially responsible for any undocumented (no receipt) charges or charges not related to the proposal, and (4) I will submit the summary/photograph upon completion of the travel or completion of the research”.
  • Submit the justification and budget to the appropriate Team Leader at least one month before :
    • Meteorology - Dr. Andrew Mercer
    • Geology - Dr. Adam Skarke
    • Geospatial/Geography - Dr. Shrinidhi Ambinakudige
  • Proposal review – the proposal will be evaluated using the accompanying rubric. Note that progress towards degree is a major factor in the award decision process. This measure is meant to reward students that are making progress towards their degree. Yet, progress is not the only deciding factor

Once the student has been notified that the proposal was successfully funded:

  • See the department head for how the award will be distributed
  • If using the award to travel, student must submit a travel request authorization form. See the Office Administrator Cynthia Bell for instruction.
  • Travel: Students must submit receipts for reimbursement to show how the money was spent. Students are liable for any cost that is not documented or that is outside the purview of the proposal. Note that MSU has several policies that must be met before being reimbursed. Airfare - The University requires that we use the Starkville travel agent Travel Leaders to purchase airfare. If using Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak or other online travel agent there must be a quote from Travel Leaders and an explanation for how the online price is better than the travel agent. This policy also applies to any MSU employee including faculty. Hotel – If going to a conference, MSU requires that travelers stay at the conference hotel unless the traveler can document that their hotel is less expensive. To document, include a copy of the conference hotel price when submitting receipts. If staying at a hotel when flying, travelers must use Travel Leaders to make hotel reservations. Or travelers must have a quote from Travel Leaders and show that their lodging was a better price than the travel agent’s. Meals – all meal receipts should be submitted, and the meal receipt should include an itemized list of what was bought along with any credit card receipts. The university only allows up to 18% gratuity and in no way shape or form should there be any costs associated with alcohol. The award money cannot be used to buy alcohol or any illicit substance. Taxi – must have a signed receipt from the taxi driver indicating the taxi fare and the driver’s name.
  • Research: For research equipment, supplies, or software provide either a quote or a documented cost (e.g. an screen shot of the items) are needed.

If there are any questions about this award or you need more clarification, please email Dr. John Rodgers.

Evaluation Rubric in PDF format

Geosciences Graduate Student Fund Form in Word format