Dillon Montana Geology Field School

Add geological and historical value to your degree at this popular field site.

This field school takes students to one of southern Montana's most well-known sites for geological fieldwork. Dillon is an area popular for its variety of rock types and emplacement processes. The field area exposure offers superb examples of sedimentary successions, providing an opportunity for students to practice the description of sedimentary lithologies and sedimentary structures. 

Students will learn to describe rock units in the field and map and document contacts between rock units, including orientation measurements, in order to ascertain the nature of folding and faulting in the field area. This will include thorough practice with the recognition and definition of sedimentary facies successions. 

Key information




Summer 2021

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status

Admission paused

Application deadline



This program is limited to Geology majors with previous field school experience. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

Session #1: October 28 at 4PM on zoom:


Session #2: November 2 at 4PM  on zoom:


Student experience

Image of students working inside cottage

Housed in quaint rustic cottages (originally barracks dating to the 1930s and depression-era USA), this field school is a great opportunity to add both geological & historical value to your degree!

Information session

If you missed the information session, check out the recording!

Have questions?

For program information, please contact professor Rudi Meyer at rmeyer@ucalgary.ca

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at group.study@ucalgary.ca

Other useful links:

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in one course:

    GLGY 435: Field Methods (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    Geology 323, 337 and 381; one of Geology 311 or 333; one of Geology 341 or 343; admission to the Geology or Applied and Environmental Geology programs and consent of the department.

  1. Pre-departure

    August 16, 2020, University of Calgary: Mandatory safety briefing and pre-departure orientation facilitated by Group Study Programs.

  2. In-field

    August 17, Depart Calgary: Leave Calgary in the morning. Drive to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (southern AB) for a warm-up field exercise and interpretation of sedimentary structures. "Ice-breaker" dinner at the Writing-on-Stone campground.

    August 18, Birch Creek Center, near Dillon MT: Arrive at University of Montana-Western. Drive to location of field accommodation (includes 3 stops at road outcrops). Brief evening lecture.

    August 19, near Dillon MT: Reconaissance field trip to examine the regional context of the area to be mapped in the following days. Brief lecture/group meeting in evening.

    August 20, Block Mountain Field Area: Introduction to stratigraphy in the field area. Brief lecture/group meeting in evening.

    August 21, Block Mountain Field Area: Mapping day 1.

    August 22, Block Mountain Field Area: Mapping day 2. Brief lecture/group meeting in evening.

    August 23, Block Mountain Field Area: Mapping day 3.

    August 24, Block Mountain Field Area: Mapping day 4. Brief lecture/group meeting in evening.

    August 25, Block Mountain Field Area: Mapping day 5.

    August 26-27, Birch Creek Center, near Dillon MT: Final visit to mapping area (if needed). Completion of map, cross-section, stratigraphic column, and report.

    August 28, Return Calgary: Drive back to the University of Calgary (estimated arrival in early evening). 

    For a comprehensive program itinerary, please click here

  3. Post Field

    Written assignment due August 28

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Dillon Montana Geology Field School Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. The program cost is $2121.

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary.

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    IDEAS Fund: All undergraduate students who are in good standing and enrolled in programs offered by the Faculty of Science are eligible to apply for financial support from the IDEAS Fund. find out more here.

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email group.study@ucalgary.ca to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

One night while on the drive to Dillon will be spent camping at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. Students are encouraged to bring their own food/beverages for the travel days. 

Upon arrival at the field site and for the remainder of the program, students will be housed in historic cottages, originally constructed as barracks during depression-era USA. Students will be provided three meals a day while at the field site.

All accommodations will be arranged for students and more details will be available prior to departure. 

This program is open to Geology Majors. Participants must have completed a previous field school (either domestic or international) in order to be eligible.

Applications will be considered after your application and unofficial transcript have been received by Study Abroad.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected.

    The Statement of Purpose is submitted within your online application (max 500 words).

    Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.

  2. Unofficial Transcript

    Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre and submit it by email to group.study@ucalgary.ca.

    Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.


Program-Specific FAQs

Q: What do I need to know about travelling to our field site?
A: You will be driven from Calgary to your field site. A valid passport is required in order to cross the border to the U.S. and return to Canada. Please ensure that your passport is valid at least three months beyond your intended return to Canada. If you are traveling on a Canadian passport, you do not require a visa. If you are not traveling on a Canadian passport, you may need to apply for a tourist visa. It is your responsibility to know what you need. You are welcome to contact group.study@ucalgary.ca for visa support.

Q: How physically demanding will this trip be?
A: Students will be required to hike in and out of the field site, which will include crossing uneven terrain and moderate hills. A typical field day may last 7-8 hours and cover up to 9 km. This location in Montana is at a higher elevation and has a more extreme temperature range from day to night than Calgary. You are welcome and encouraged to contact the instructor at any point before or after applying for this program if you wish to discuss concerns regarding your physical limits. 

Q: What about equipment and safety?
A: The instructor will demonstrate proper techniques for any tools used (e.g. rock and masonry hammers). Protective eyewear will be required whenever there is risk of rock chips or dust; you may bring your own or use the eyewear provided. Note that field school participants are never asked nor allowed to work alone. Students will be required to stay in sight of their partners, which will not be difficult as most areas covered in this program are on open ground. A full safety orientation will occur on campus prior to your departure from Calgary to go over other safety details, clothing requirements, etc.

Q: What kind of food will be available?
A: Students will be provided three meals a day while in Dillon. The drive down will include one overnight camping stop, for which students are encouraged to bring food/beverages. Please contact the instructor if you have strict dietary restrictions and are concerned about your ability to procure suitable food during the trip.

Q: Will there be much opportunity for leisure time?
A: Like all field schools at the University of Calgary, your time away from the field site is expected to be largely oriented around completing work assignments. This is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged, and facilities will be provided at the hotel for the group to work together on mapping. While it is not guaranteed, participants keen on exploring Dillon may find opportunity to do so. It will not be permitted for you to stay in Montana after the program; you must return to Calgary with the group in order to finish this course.

The course content was interesting and very helpful in allowing us to gain greater field experience in more complex areas.

Past Montana Field School Participant

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

Please scroll up to the top of this page to view the info sessions for this program.

We also recommend watching Global Learning 101 for general information.

Watch Global Learning 101

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Group Study Advisors by emailing group.study@ucalgary.ca or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select #2, "Study Abroad Advising", to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.