Grad lab

CBE graduate students acquire valuable experience by designing and performing research that crosses traditional academic discipline boundaries and has direct impact on current environmental, industrial, and medical issues. Students work on projects that range from fundamental to applied topics. In addition, the CBE’s Industrial Associates program brings students into working relationships with potential employers. CBE graduate students are encouraged to develop their communication and leadership skills by presenting at research conferences, mentoring undergraduate students, organizing the CBE’s seminar series, and assisting with outreach efforts. The CBE’s standing in the international research community attracts visiting students and faculty from all parts of the world, providing a culturally diverse and stimulating academic environment.

How the CBE graduate program works

Graduate students pursue their degree in a discipline offered through one of the science, agriculture, or engineering departments at Montana State University—while they conduct their research in CBE laboratories. Doctoral students in engineering have a choice of seven options. Masters students pursue a degree directly from their home department. Student graduate committees are typically interdisciplinary. The student and graduate committee members select coursework appropriate for the student’s interests and degree program. Engineering students are encouraged to take microbiology courses; science students are encouraged to take relevant engineering coursework.

Over 300 masters and doctoral students have earned their degrees in the CBE’s graduate program since the CBE was founded in 1990.

In the school year 2022–23, 68 students from 9 departments were enrolled in the CBE graduate program: 51 were doctoral candidates, 17 were masters candidates. 563% of the graduate students were female.

Expectations of CBE graduate students

CBE students are expected to participate in our annual Montana Biofilm Meeting (MBM), which involve company representatives from industries that offer technical and financial support for Center research, as well as graduate internships and fellowships. This conference provides graduate students with unique opportunities to interact with industry representatives, to learn about biofilm problems that face industry, and to design research applicable to industry. 

Center graduate students are encouraged to take Environmental Engineering (ENVE) 546: "Biofilms," which covers the fundamentals of biofilms, and ENVE 534, "Environmental Engineering Investigations," which involves students in the application of biofilm technologies to a relevant field problem. Graduate students are required to attend and participate in the CBE’s weekly Seminar Series, featuring speakers from various industry and academic backgrounds.

How to apply for graduate study at the CBE

Students interested in participating as a Graduate Research Assistant with the Center for Biofilm Engineering should:

  1. apply for admission through MSU's Graduate School and the appropriate academic department, and
  2. submit an essay discussing your research interests and why you want to work at the CBE to:
    Sarah Huth
    366 Barnard Hall, MSU
    Bozeman, MT 59717-3980   or

MSU graduate degrees and certificates webpage