Chapter 1 - Admissions

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1.1 - Admission with a Declared Major

All degree-seeking graduate students must have graduated with a bachelor’s or post baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or from a recognized foreign institution where the requirements for the bachelor’s degree or its equivalent are similar to those at ISU.

Applicants must be deemed admissible by the Office of Admissions and accepted by the Graduate College.  Degree- or certificate-seeking applicants must also be accepted by a graduate program.  See Appendix A for the structure and role of the Graduate College.

1.1.1 Admission 

Admission may be granted by the Graduate College to an applicant who has achieved one of the following:

  1. Undergraduate degree with GPA greater than 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale)
  2. Completed 9 to 14 credits of graduate coursework with grade B or better in all courses
  3. Completed 15 or more credits of graduate coursework with GPA above 3.00 and no F grades
  4. Graduate program justification for admission

English requirement:  Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English in addition to meeting one of the criteria above.  See English Examinations 1.1.2 below. 

Graduate programs may require entrance examinations, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), the Graduate School Foreign Language Test (GSFLT) or the Test of Spoken English (TSE). Information about each program’s requirements can be found at the Graduate College’s website here.

Distance Education Courses.  Admission requirements are the same for on-and off-campus courses that are used for a degree-seeking graduate program. Detailed information is available in the Iowa State University Catalog or on the Distance Education website at  

1.1.2 English Examinations

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English equivalent to a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 550 on the paper-based test, or 79 on the internet-based test as a part of the admissions process.

International students may also submit IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores in lieu of the TOEFL. The ISU Graduate College minimum is 6.5. Individual graduate programs may require higher TOEFL or IELTS scores for admission.

After admission, students whose native language is not English need to meet the Graduate English requirements. (See Chapter 4.4.3 Graduate English Requirements for Nonnative Speakers of English

1.1.3 Admission as a Nondegree Graduate Student

Students who have received the baccalaureate degree and meet the requirements for graduate admission must register as graduate students if they wish to take graduate-credit courses, but they may register without declaring a major.

Students who do not intend to seek an advanced degree at ISU may:

  • transfer graduate credits earned at ISU to other institutions,
  • use graduate credits earned for professional certification,
  • enroll for personal satisfaction, or
  • enroll occasionally in off-campus graduate courses.

A student seeking admission in nondegree graduate status must submit the appropriate application form from the Office of Admissions and be admitted by the Graduate College, graduate students pay an application fee. Nondegree graduate students may not be awarded an assistantship.

A nondegree graduate student who subsequently seeks admission to a degree program must apply to and be accepted by the appropriate department or program and the Graduate College for degree study with a declared major.

  • A maximum of 9 semester hours of credit earned under the nondegree option may be applied to an advanced degree.
  • Once admitted to a degree program, the student’s Program of Study (POS) Committee will recommend which courses, if any, earned under the nondegree option may be included in the program of study (maximum of 9 semester hours of credit).

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