Frequently Asked Questions About Our Graduate Program

What is the deadline for applying?

January 1 for both US and international applicants.

Do you offer spring admission?

No. All students start in the fall semester.

Do I have to choose a supervisor/research group before applying?

No. We encourage you to identify your general research interests in your application, but you will have the opportunity to meet, talk, and work with different professors and scientists during your first two semesters. Most students choose their supervisor by the start of their third semester.

How much does it cost to apply?

The current fee for applying to Iowa State is $100 for international students and $60 for US applicants.

Do you offer a fee waiver?

A limited number of fee waivers are available for highly qualified students. The application form will be available on the Graduate Study page starting on August 15, and completed forms will be accepted between August 30 and December 15.  Please apply for a waiver before starting your application.

Can I apply for the M.S. degree?

All prospective students are expected to apply for the Ph.D. program. The M.S. degree is primarily offered for current graduate students who are leaving the Ph.D program early.

Do you require the GRE general and Physics exams? 


Is there a minimum GRE score for admission?

No. Your GRE scores are considered along with your coursework, reference letters, and reseserch experience. Low GRE scores can be balanced by an excellent GPA and/or extensive research experience.

I'm having a problem with the application process, who should I contact?

If you have any problems navigating the application process, please contact our graduate secretary, Ms. Lori Hockett

When will I get a decision?

The admissions committee will start reviewing files in early January. Applications are sorted into offer, deny, and hold categories. If you are in the first two categories you should receive a decision by the end of January/early February. Applications in the hold category will receive a notice later in the semester.

How will I be supported financially?

Students in good academic standing usually receive financial support through a combination of research assistantships (RAs) and teaching assistantships (TAs). A TA is the usual financial support for most incoming graduate students. The TA stipend is currently $2,050 per month for the nine months of the academic year. TAs spend approximately 20 hours per week teaching undergraduate recitation sections and/or labs, grading, and staffing our help rooms. For the three summer months support is usually provided through RAs with one of the research groups (as funding allows) or through a TA appointment.  RA stipend rates are similar to TA rates.

Are there English language requirements for international applicants?

Yes, the university requires a minimum scores on standard exams (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE). Please see the English Proficiency section of the International Graduate Application Instructions.  Also entering graduate students whose native language is not English are required by the Graduate College to pass a local version of the Test of Spoken English to be certified for classroom teaching.

How many graduate students are there in the department?

The exact number varies from year to year but typically ranges between 90 and 100 students. Incoming classes range betweeen 10 to 20 students.

Are there students from my country in the department or at Iowa State?

Odds are that the answer is yes to one or both of these questions! Approximately half of our graduate students come from outside of the US. University-wide there are over 4000 international students calling 116 different countries home.

What is the weather like in Ames, Iowa?

If you'd like to know what it's like right now, here's the current forecast. Over the course of the year, we do get to experience all four seasons!

I still have questions! Who do I contact?

The ISU Graduate College has a FAQ page that you may find useful. You can also always contact our main office with any question.