Frequently Asked Questions



Top 20 Commonly Asked Questions From Prospective Graduate Students

  1. Does Iowa State have an application deadline?
    Our various academic programs have different deadlines and requirements for supplemental information requirements, so please review the important program specific instructions located in program requirements.

  2. Do I have to take the GRE?
    There is no university-wide requirement that graduate applicants submit results from the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT); however, many programs do require the GRE.

  3. Who’s the best person for me to talk to about my interest?
    You may contact the director of graduate education for your program of interest or feel free to contact an individual member of our faculty with whom you share research interest.

  4. Can I apply to more than one graduate program?
    Yes, however, you must pay the fee for each application.

  5. If I apply to more than one program, will three letters of recommendation be sufficient?
    Yes. Only three letters are required regardless of the number of applications you submit.

  6. Is it okay to contact a professor directly about my graduate interest?
    Yes, it is perfectly okay.

  7. Do you offer fee waivers for McNair scholars? If so, what do I need to do to receive a waiver?
    Yes. Please remember to check the box on the application asking if you are a McNair Scholar. Further, ask your program director or other staff to submit the appropriate document affirming your participation to .

  8. How well do I need to score on the GRE?
    Most programs do not enforce strict cut-off scores. Rather, they review an applicant’s complete application package and credentials before making a decision.

  9. Does Iowa State have a GPA cutoff?
    At minimum, a cumulative undergraduate grade point average equivalent to at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (B grade) is required for unrestricted admission. Please see explanation of ISU three categories of admission in the Graduate College Handbook.

  10. If I graduate from a college or university in Puerto Rico, am I required to take the TOEFL exam?
    Yes. The TOEFL is required if English is not your primary language. The minimum requirements of both the Graduate College and the graduate program to which you are applying must be met.

  11. Am I required to complete a FAFSA to receive an assistantship?
    No. Funding for tuition and for graduate assistantships is based on merit rather than need.

  12. If I’m not a resident of Iowa, will my tuition be assessed as out-of-state?
    If you have an assistantship and have to pay any of your tuition, it will be assessed at the in-state rate regardless of your residency.

  13. Are graduate students on assistantship paid monthly or every two weeks?
    Graduate students are paid the last working day of the month.

  14. Is family housing available on campus?
    Yes. Please visit the Department of Residence website.

  15. How can I find out about off-campus housing?
    Visit the Department of Residence website.

  16. If admitted and I’ve accepted the offer, how soon should I plan to move to Ames?
    You should plan to arrive in time to get settled before classes begin. If you will have an assistantship, you should arrive prior to your official start date, which will be indicated on your Letter of Intent. This is usually about two weeks before the start of classes.

  17. What’s an average course load for graduate students?
    From 9 to 11 credits per semester is common.

  18. How can I find out how many graduate students are in my program?
    If the information is not published somewhere on the program website, you can ask the director of graduate education or the professors with whom you are communicating.

  19. What’s the graduate student enrollment?
    Approximately 5,000. For additional data, visit Office of Institutional Research.

  20. What’s the population of Ames?
    Approximately 65,000. Population data as well as other pertinent information can be found on the City of Ames website.