Montana Tech Receives Approval from Board of Regents to Offer New Degrees


The Montana Board of Regents met on the campus of the University of Montana-Western on March 5 and 6, 2020. Montana Technological University presented two items for approval at the meeting. The university received approval to offer a doctor of philosophy in Earth Science & Engineering. The Earth Science & Engineering Ph.D. will be Montana Tech's second Ph.D. The Earth Science & Engineering doctoral program will increase enrollment in graduate-level courses among several departments, enhance peer learning among students bringing different backgrounds to the program, and enrich synergies with other degree programs in the Montana University System. It will make Montana Tech and the state more competitive for federal and industrial research funding. Montana Tech's first Ph.D. in Material Science was approved by the Board of Regents in 2016 and has achieved significant success matriculating 25 doctoral students and generating some $17 million in research grants since inception.

Montana Tech also gained final approval to offer a master's degree in Ecological Restoration. The new MS degree provides advanced training and practical skills to students seeking to apply ecological and engineering principles to restore damaged environments. It is structured to complement and bridge between several sciences, engineering degree programs, and the currently offered restoration certificate. This program will position graduates for numerous career pathways for which there is a growing demand locally, throughout Montana, nationally, and globally. Robert Pal, Associate Professor, Director of Restoration at Montana Tech, noted, "This master's degree is offered right in the center of the world's greatest living laboratory for ecological restoration." This is the first master of science degree in Ecological Restoration in the Montana University System. The program will complement and fill a gap between bachelor's degree programs in Biology, Environmental Engineering, Mining Engineering, Geological Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, and Chemistry at Montana Tech. It will also complement a few undergraduate programs and would be a stepping-stone to doctoral education. Montana Tech Chancellor Les Cook added, "We're the greatest show on earth when it comes to restoration ecology.”

In 2017, Montana Technological University was designated a "special focus" institution. With this designation, Montana Tech is responsible for providing a small number of doctoral programs that span natural resources, energy, and materials. Cook commented, "We are incredibly pleased with the Regents support of both of these new degrees and their affirmation of programs that align with our special focus designation."

In addition to these degree programs, the Board of Regents also approved Montana Tech moving forward with a new Nursing Simulation Center to be built on campus. The addition of the SIM Center will provide opportunities for a significant increase in the number of nursing students at Montana Tech. Construction is slated to begin in late summer.