Admissions FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What courses should I take in preparation for applying to your graduate programs?  We value,

  • Training in chemistry, specifically general chemistry (1 year), organic chemistry (1 year), physical chemistry (1 year), analytical chemistry (1 semester), and laboratories (1 semester each) in general, organic, analytical and physical chemistry.
  • Breadth in science [general physics (1 year), calculus (3 semesters), general biology (2 semesters), upper-division biology (2-3 semesters)].
  • Concentration in biochemistry, specifically general biochemistry (1 year), biochemistry laboratory (1 semester), molecular biophysics (1 semester), and in many cases a research experience.
  • Ultimately, we accept students who we feel have the greatest potential to succeed in our graduate program.

What are your deadlines for application?

The full BBMB Application should be submitted by January 15 for full consideration of an offer of admission for fall semester of that year.   Letters of recommendation, not included with the application, should arrive no later than February 1.  A status report of your application (complete, under review or incomplete) will be sent out by the first week of February. The departmental committee reviews only complete applications.

Offers for fall admission begin the second week of March and may continue to the last week of April.  All applicants receive final notification of their status by May 1.

May I have the application fee waived?

Yes.  If you submit the BBMB full application and are offered and accept an offer of admission to our graduate program,  we will send instructions about how to waive the application fee when you do the final step in the application process to our graduate programs, which is to submit the online application to ISU Graduate Admissions. If you do not follow the instructions and apply online and pay the application fee yourself, we cannot reimburse you.

Should I send application materials directly to your office or to ISU Admissions?

Send application material directly to our office prior to receiving and accepting an offer of admission to our program and submitting the ISU online application.  Do not send application materials to ISU Admissions office because those materials will not be forwarded to our office or matched to your application until the application fee is paid, and will only waive the application fee for applicants admitted to our graduate programs.

What is the mailing address for submission of application materials?

All materials requested in the BBMB full application should be sent directly to:

Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB)
Graduate Programs
Iowa State University
1210 Molecular Biology Building
2437 Pammel Drive
Ames, IA 50011-1079

Do you require a GRE subject Test?

We require that applicants take the General Graduate Record Examination only.  We recommend a biological sciences subject test, but do not require one.

Are English proficiency tests required for non-native English speakers?

Yes, unless you received your undergraduate degree in the United States or English is the official language of your home country. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required for prospective students whose native language is not English.

May I send copies of the TOEFL, IELTS and GRE score results rather than originals?

Yes.  BBMB requires self-reported and a copy of your test scores to evaluate the BBMB application.  However, if you are offered admission to our graduate program, the final step in the admissions process is the ISU online application and ISU Admissions will require your official test scores as reported by ETS during the period they are valid.

The TOEFL score remains valid at ETS for two years from the date the test was taken, and since the online Iowa State University Graduate Admissions application is the last step in the BBMB applications process, we recommend you have ETS report your official test score to Iowa State University within the two year period it remains valid. Once Iowa State Admissions receives an official score report from ETS, the score remains valid throughout the application process.

What is the TOEFL and GRE Institution Code for Iowa State University?

  • Institution Code = 6306 (same code for both GRE and TOEFL)
  • IELTS registration and testing information can be found at

May I apply for a Master's degree through your program?

We strongly prefer to admit students directly into the Ph.D. program. Applications for the M.S. degree program, however, can be considered.

What is the timeline for an admissions offer to your graduate program?

Offers of admission begin in the second week of March and continue as circumstances dictate up to the last week of April. All applicants receive final notification of their status by May 1, except in specific circumstances in which the department and applicant have agreed to an alternative schedule. Due to the high volume of materials received in our office during the peak application review season, we are unable to respond to individual inquiries on the status of a possible offer of admission.

May I begin the graduate program in the spring semester?

Spring admission is permitted only in unusual circumstances. Fall semester is the recommended starting point for applicants to our graduate programs. The coursework builds from the fall semester on. The department offers an extensive orientation program in the Fall semester only.

What can I do to increase my admission chances?

We follow the Iowa State University Office of Admissions degree requirements when evaluating an application to our graduate program.  In addition, it is important to be concise and precise in your BBMB application materials to best represent your research abilities and interests. If you have published the results of your research in a scientific journal, be sure to highlight this information as a full citation in your resume.

Are there any restrictions on admission to your graduate program based on nationality?

No. The Department of BBMB and Iowa State University admit qualified applicants to our programs regardless of nationality.

Is financial support provided?

Yes. At this time, all applicants who are admitted to our Ph.D. Graduate Program receive a Graduate Assistantship with a yearly stipend of $26,000. Ph.D. students also receive complete tuition remission.

How many students are currently enrolled in your graduate program?

In Fall 2015, there were 69 students in our M.S. and Ph.D. graduate programs, with about one-third of our students from the United States, and the rest from other countries, including China and India.

Still not sure if you qualify for admission to our graduate programs?

The Graduate Student Selections Committee cannot make a determination about whether a prospective student is likely to succeed in the biochemistry or biophysics graduate programs until they can evaluate a completed BBMB application. Since the BBMB application does not require an application fee, it is to the prospective student's advantage to submit the application for prompt evaluation by the Committee.  Go to BBMB Application Request

Additional questions?

Please e-mail