Credit: 2 graduate 
Instructor(s): Robert Payn

Course Description

The goals of this course are to provide a graduate level review of physical field measurements commonly used in environmentalmonitoring.Students will gain theoretical and practical experience in an end-to-end survey offield sciencework flow. A primary goal in training graduate students is to raise their competence in field measurements to a level where they can successfully defend the data that they collect, following the logic of derivation from fundamental principles and not simply taking published methods at face value. This requires a proper understanding of the inferences necessary to make the measurements, the potential sources of error, and the analysis needed to determine if error affects conclusions. This course is designed for entering master’s students or PhD students with limited field experience. Theoretical experience will be gained throughlecture anddiscussionbased onpeer-reviewed primary literature focused on methodology and informatics. Practical experience will be gained through field and lab exercises with commonly used dataanalysis andlogging equipment.  Much of the lab focuses on coding in R.

Meeting Place and Times

Participants log in to the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. This course is a mixed course, meaning there is one synchronous time when students are required to be at their computer;  a Thursday discussion from 8:00 - 8:50 am MST.  It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week and spend 8 - 10 hours per week while the course is in session, either online or offline working on course related assignments, to stay current and to successfully complete this 2 credit graduate course.


Dr. Robert Payn, Associate Professor

Dr. Payn studies the role of water movement in the structure and function of watershed ecosystems; integration of biogeochemical and hydrologic models; inference of watershed ecosystem behavior from spatially distributed stream water quantity and quality; influence of valley floor hydrologic systems on whole-watershed behavior and on stream-riparian ecosystem behavior.

Ph.D. 2009, Colorado School of Mines

M.S. 2004 Virginia Tech

B.S. 1993, Ohio State University


Must have a Bachelors degree

Time Commitment:

8-10 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

See the Online Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid page.

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Required Books/Materials

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

For More Information

Marni Rolston 

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.