Frequently Asked Questions - For Non U.S. Citizens

Regarding Admission

What are the admission requirements?

The Graduate College requires at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA on your degree. Also, your degree must have been received from a college or university that is either recognized by the Ministry of Education of a foreign country, or by a US regional accreditation body. If you have attended a non-US institution, your undergraduate degree will be reviewed by the Office of Admissions to determine if is comparable to a US bachelor's degree. NOTE: The new European Bologna-compliant degrees will be reviewed on an individual basis. 3-year undergraduate degrees from other countries-i.e., Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Nepal, Sri-Lanka, Pakistan-have been reviewed and are not considered comparable to a US bachelor's.

Note for applicants from India: Iowa State REQUIRES annual mark sheets (showing all attempts, retakes, and failures) and degree statements issued by the university awarding the degree, and certified by the University Registrar or Controller of Exams. Consolidated mark sheets are not accepted. College-issued transcripts are not accepted unless from an autonomous college.

How do I apply to the chemistry graduate program?

Use our departmental online application process. Online application is free! Begin by following the reviewing the Application Instructions.

What additional materials are required and where do I send them?

We require the following materials:

1. Official transcripts from all universities attended. These can be sent EXPRESS mail to:
Chemistry Grad Admissions
Iowa State University
1605B Gilman Hall
2415 Osborn Drive
Ames, IA 50011-3111

2. Electronic copies of your GRE and TOEFL scores can be attached to the application directly. NOTE: International students on a VISA who have received a degree in the US are exempted from providing a TOEFL score. You may submit a GRE score if you wish but you are not required to.

3. Three letters of recommendation are now received through our online system. Once you put in the email address for your letter writer, they will be contacted by our system to upload their letter to your application.

Do you offer a MS degree?

No. Our program is offers only a PhD. Our MS degree is a terminal degree for those who cannot complete the PhD degree.

What is the application deadline?

The application deadline for international applicants is January 15 of the year you wish to be admitted. We do not offer spring admission.

Is there an application fee?

No, provided you apply online to the Department of Chemistry.

Do I need to apply to the Graduate College now?

No. If you decide to accept our offer, we will ask you to complete the Graduate College application to the point of payment and we will pay your application fee.

After my application and materials have been received, how long before a decision is made?

All applications are reviewed when complete.The review process begins in November and may take up to four weeks to complete. Additional time may be needed due to University holidays.

Students who are offered admission are notified by both express mail and email.

How will I know that my application is complete?

You can log into your application anytime and see what your status is.

What are the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) requirements?

As a minimum, we require a total of 89 iBT and HIGHLY RECOMMEND you take this version of the TOEFL exam. TOEFL scores are valid for two years. The minimum score for the paper version is 570. A majority of the students admitted to our program have significantly higher scores. You can upload a photocopy of your scores to your application. We cannot review you application without it.

This requirement may not be waived except for students whose native language is English (Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand et. al.) If you are offered admission and accept, The Graduate College requires an official copy be received by ISU BEFORE you can be registered for classes.

Are GRE scores required?

Yes. The Department of Chemistry requires GRE general scores for all international applicants. You can uplaod a photocopy of your scores to your application. We cannot review your application without it.

Although the GRE Chemistry subject scores are not required, we do recommend you take this test as the results are helpful in determining your knowledge of chemistry.

What are the codes for the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?
Iowa State University 6306 General chemistry 0301
Analytical Chemistry 0302 Inorganic Chemistry 0303
Organic Chemistry 0304 Physical Chemistry 0306
Must I obtain an MS degree before the Ph.D.?

No. You can be admitted to our program directly after you complete your BS/BA degree. Exceptions: anyone with a three year degree must also have at least one COMPLETED year of a MS program. Also, Chemistry Education requires a MS degree as a prerequisite.

What about financial assistance?

All students in good academic standing receive tuition and a stipend with a teaching or research assistantship. The stipend amount for  2017-2018 is $25,824 or about $2152 per month before taxes.

Am I paid during the summers?

As long as you remain a student in good academic standing, you receive a research or teaching stipend for the entire calendar year.

What about health insurance?

Single coverage health insurance is a part of your assistantship and is paid 100% by the department.

How long does it take to obtain the chemistry Ph.D.?

Iowa State's average is 5.5 years.

How does Iowa State's Chemistry Program help me get a job?

The Department will assist you with your job search as will the Office of Career Services in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The Department of Chemistry maintains an active file of open academic positions. Many companies come to the campus to interview chemists. Your major professor may also assist you finding job opportunities.

What are the requirements to transfer to Iowa State

In addition to the regular application materials, the Department of Chemistry REQUIRES a letter from the chairperson of your present department if you will not be receiving a degree before your planned transfer. This letter should state that, in the event you receive an assistantship offer from Iowa State, you will be released from further obligation to that department, and that you are a student in good standing. Your application materials will not be reviewed until receipt of this letter. We also REQUIRE a letter from your current research advisor or the professor with whom you have worked the most closely with.

Will there be a problem with my admission and assistantship if I do not have my BS (MS) certificate before I come to the United States?

No. If you cannot provide your certificate of graduation and final transcripts before you arrive, have them sent as soon as possible. You must provide official copies of your transcripts before the end of your first semester. You will not be allowed to register for your second semester without these official documents.

How soon after I am accepted will I receive my I-20 and SEVIS paperwork?

The time may vary but usually it takes about three to four weeks to process your file after you have returned your acceptance letter to our department.

How do I pay my SEVIS fee?

You will be responsible for paying the SEVIS fee. There will be instructions with your I-20 paperwork on how to do this. Make sure you take the payment receipt with you to your Visa interview.

Planning Ahead

When should I arrive on campus to begin graduate study?

The training program for teaching assistants and the orientation program for new graduate students admitted for the fall semester begins two weeks before the start of classes. Your admission letter will give you the exact date when orientation activities begin. You should plan to arrive in Ames with plenty of time to make housing, financial and other personal arrangements.

How do I find a place to live in Ames?

Once you have accepted our offer, a package of information about on-campus housing will be sent to you by the Department of Residence. See their web page for more information:

If you prefer to live off-campus, a list of housing options is available through Rent Smart Ames

Information about the city of Ames can be found on these web pages:
City of Ames:
Ames Visitors and Convention Bureau:

How much in tax is taken out of my paychecks?

Actual dollar amounts are difficult to determine but both federal taxes and State of Iowa taxes are withheld from each paycheck. Social Security taxes are not withheld. If your country has a tax treaty with the United States, then a portion of your salary will be exempt from taxes.

When do I register for classes?

Class registration will be completed on-campus during your orientation prior to the start of the school year.

When do I select a major professor?

First-year students attend lectures given by faculty members and meet with them individually. The selection process ordinarily concludes by mid-November.

What should I bring to the U.S.?

Clothes, and incidental items.
A majority of the students on campus dress informally, for example: t-shirts, jeans, shorts, sweaters, sport shoes, etc. we also recommend bringing at least one formal type outfit.

Gifts, CDs, musical instruments.
You will be finding new friends here. If you play a musical instrument and it is possible for you, bring it along. CDs, photos or any other personal items that will help you feel a connection with your own home are encouraged. You will find they are very good mediums for communication with people, even those from a different cultural background.

You should plan to bring at least $3000 to cover your rent, phone, utilities and housing deposits. As a result of ongoing changes to the SEVIS program you will not receive your first paycheck until the end of September.