Chapter 8 - Opportunities and Services Provided by the Graduate College

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8.1 - Advising and Mentoring Opportunities for Graduate Students

8.1.1 All Students

Students are encouraged to make an appointment with an Assistant Dean to discuss issues or problems that may arise concerning their graduate student experience at ISU.

8.1.2 Underrepresented Students

The Graduate College offers financial assistance and educational support through cooperative ventures with all graduate programs involved in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students. Through direct connections, the Graduate Collegemakesan effort to address the needs of students from the time they accept the offer of admission through to the completion of their degree. 

The Annual George A. Jackson Research Symposium, an event planned for graduate students by graduate students, is fully supported by the Graduate College.  Each year, students gather to present their scholarship orally and in poster format to their peers, faculty, staff, and administrators.More information available at

The Graduate College fully supports the mission of the Black Graduate Student Association and the Latina/o Graduate Student Association asthey work to enrich the university community for their members.

8.1.3 Nondegree-seeking Graduate Students

Iowa State provides the opportunity for qualified students to take graduate courses without being admitted to a specific degree program. Graduate College staff serves the role of faculty advisor for such students. Students are encouraged to discuss their future educational plans with Graduate College staff. When non-degree seeking students have academic difficulty, the students must present an acceptable plan for improving their grades to the Graduate College before they will be allowed to register for additional courses.

8.1.4 Future College Teachers

The Preparing Future Faculty Program provides advice, mentoring, credentialing and invaluable experience for students who plan to enter a career involving college teaching. For more information on the program, see the website for the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

8.2 - English Skills Improvement

8.2.1 Non-Native English-speaking Students

Non-native English speakers who do not have a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree from ISU or a US institution, or who do not meet the exemption TOEFL or IELTS score level are required to take the English Placement test their first semester at Iowa State. For more information, see Graduate English Requirements for Nonnative Speakers of English
Native English-speaking Students

Iowa State does not test native English speakers for English skills. Use of the English language is expected to improve for all students as they progress toward their degrees. Students are expected to seek out opportunities for oral and written presentations and, if needed, to take formal coursework in these areas.

8.3 - Graduate and Professional Student Senate

The Graduate College works closely with the Graduate and Professional Student Senate. A member of the Graduate College staff serves as advisor to the Senate, and the Graduate College provides funds to augment student travel awards made by the Senate.

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) is a representative body that provides a formal channel for the expression of graduate student concerns and disperses significant funds derived from the graduate student activity fee. GPSS convenes at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union on the last Monday of each month. Meetings are open to observers. Based on the enrollment figures for the previous fall semester, each program offering graduate study may elect one senator for each fraction of fifty graduate students enrolled, to a maximum of five senators.

All graduate students are encouraged to contact the GPSS about any problems relating to their studies at Iowa State. The GPSS has an office in G44 Memorial Union (515-294-8725), which is equipped to take phone calls twenty-four hours a day. It provides the following services for graduate and professional students:

  • Grant supplements available to graduate and professional students for research and travel to professional meetings through the Graduate College Professional Advancement Grant Program.
  • Grants to graduate student organizations.
  • Publication of a graduate student newsletter.
  • Sponsorship of graduate student social activities.
  • Joint sponsorship with the Graduate College of orientation programs for new graduate students and new teaching assistants at Iowa State.
  • Sponsorship with the Graduate College of the Graduate Achievement Program, which recognizes outstanding research and teaching by graduate students.
  • Information exchange with graduate student organizations across the nation through affiliation with the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS).
  • The GPSS website,, provides much useful information.

8.3.1 Professional Advancement Grants

Limited funds from GPSS are available for supporting graduate students with their professional travel. Travel PAGs are divided into two categories depending on the student's involvement at the meeting: Presenters and Non-Presenters (attending only).  

For additional information on funding requirements and for the complete application process, browse the GPSS website at Student travel requests (PAG forms) must reach the Graduate College (1137 Pearson Hall) at least two weeks prior to departure. One travel request per graduate student will be funded per fiscal year (July 1 to June 30).

8.4 - Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies

Iowa State University offers an interdisciplinary master’s program that appeals to students who need greater than normal flexibility in the design of their master’s education. The Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Program (IGS) offers a nontraditional alternative to conventional graduate programs. Rather than focusing on a single discipline or field of study, IGS emphasizes synthesis through interdisciplinary learning, centered on issues and concerns identified by individual students.

Within their areas of specialization, students enrolling in IGS take courses in three different graduate subject areas. Each subject area contributes a minimum of nine credits toward the total; research contributes another three to five credits toward the total 35 credits required for the degree. For further information contact the program's chair in the Graduate College at 294-4531.

Students in IGS may also select a 36-credit area of specialization in Community Development. The Community Development area of specialization, offered in collaboration with six other universities in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA), is offered exclusively through courses on the Web. For information about this specialization, please call the Great Plains IDEA coordinator at 294-6250.

8.5 - Mediation of Student Grievances

When students and postdoctoral fellows become involved in disputes with their mentors and/or departments that cannot be resolved at the departmental level, the Graduate College will serve as informal or formal mediator depending on the particular circumstances. See Chapter 9 for detailed information.

8.6 - Non-departmental Home for Postdoctoral Fellows

At Iowa State, postdoctoral training is considered part of the educational mission of the university. The Graduate College serves as non-departmental home for all postdoctoral fellows. The Graduate College is the lead unit for establishing postdoctoral benefits and provides a place for postdoctorals to come when employment and mentoring problems arise that cannot be resolved within the home department.

8.7 - Oversight of Interdepartmental Graduate Programs

The Graduate College provides oversight and assistance to interdepartmental graduate programs, and serves as the administrative home for certain programs. For those programs administered by the Graduate College the Dean of the Graduate College serves the same role as the department chair for departmentally administered programs. The Graduate College promotes interdepartmental education, monitors the programs, and provides resources when possible.

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