Admissions Deadlines and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What courses should I take in preparation for your graduate programs?

  • Training in chemistry: one year each of general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry; and one semester of analytical chemistry and one semester each in general, organic, analytical and physical chemistry laboratories.
  • A breadth of coursework in the sciences: one year of general physics, three semesters of calculus, two semesters of general biology, and two to three semesters of upper-division biology.
  • Concentration in biochemistry: one year of general biochemistry, one semester of biochemistry laboratory, one semester of molecular biophysics, and, in most cases, a research experience.
  • Ultimately, we offer admission to applicants we believe have the greatest potential to succeed in our graduate program.

What is the admission criteria for your graduate programs?

Admission criteria to our graduate program is the same as it is for admission to the Graduate College at Iowa State University.

  • Iowa State requires a degree it considers comparable to a US bachelor’s or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to beginning graduate studies. (For foreign institutions, that would be recognition by the Ministry of Education.)
  • 3-year degrees from India, Bangladesh, Canada (excluding Quebec), Nepal, and Pakistan are not accepted. 3-year degrees from other countries are reviewed on an individual basis.
  • At minimum, a cumulative grade point average equivalent to a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (B grade) is required for unrestricted admission.
  • The English proficiency requirements must both be met prior to enrollment.

What does an online BBMB application consist of?

  • Provide your official name and contact information
  • Copies of examination reports
  • Transcripts. Copies of your academic records, or transcripts, should be submitted with the BBMB application. Transcripts should be in the official language of the country in which they are earned. If it is not English, a copy of the literal (not interpretative) English translation from any qualified translator must be submitted in addition to a copy of the foreign language transcript.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA). Provide your cumulative GPA at the undergraduate level (and graduate if appropriate) using the grading system used at your institution, and provide the maximum attainable score as well. For example, for U.S. schools, one would write “3.0/4.0.” Students graded on percentage systems might write 80/100%. Examples of other systems include: 2nd Class Upper/1st Division; 7/10; 13/20, etc.
  • Statement of Purpose and Past Research Experience. Please explain your interest in graduate study in our program and your goals after completion of your advanced degree. Indicate science-related professional or technical experience, including participation in hypothesis-based research, and conclusions (if any) drawn from the conduct of such research. Indicate full citations of publications. Review the research interests of the faculty, and identify at least three professors in whom you are interested, given reasons for your choices. Please include any additional information that may aid us in evaluating your aptitude for graduate study in our program.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (LOR). You will be asked if you wish to voluntarily waive your right to review your LOR, which means if you enroll at Iowa State, you are giving up your rights to see the recommendations written on your behalf. You may refuse to give such a waiver. Before doing so, however, please understand that recommenders will be more candid in their recommendation if they know the recommendation will be kept confidential. Some recommenders will refuse to submit a LOR for an applicant that does waive their right to view it. Once you submit your application, you cannot change your response to that question.
  • Curriculum vitae (c.v.) or resume. Attach a copy of your c.v. or resume to the BBMB application.
  • Do not upload documents not requested, like a copy of your passport, bank information, award certificates, or copies of publications, as they will not be considered as part of the evaluation of your application and will be discarded

What examinations are required?

The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) general exam is required for all applicants and an English Proficiency test is required for all non-native English speakers who have not earned their undergraduate degree in the United States or whose official language of their home country is not English. A copy of all test reports should be uploaded with the online BBMB application, even if the testing service has reported the results to ISU Admissions, because the BBMB graduate program does not have access to test results until the ISU online application has been submitted. Test results should be reported electronically by the testing service to ISU Admissions (School Code 6306) during the period the results are valid to be considered official. All examinations should be taken at least six weeks prior to the application deadline to ensure timely receipt and processing of results.

GRE. The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) general exam is a requirement for the BBMB master’s and PhD degree programs. The GRE subject test is not required, but we do recommend a biological sciences subject test. There is no minimum GRE test result required to apply to the graduate program.

English Proficiency. Non-native English speakers must meet the ISU Admissions proficiency requirements. The minimum score accepted by the Graduate College for those having to take the English proficiency test is:

  • Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) 79
  • Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT) 550
  • IELTS 6.5
  • PTE 53

Is there an application fee to apply to your graduate program?

There is no application fee to submit the online BBMB application for evaluation by the BBMB graduate selections committee. If you receive an offer of admission to our program, the final step is to complete the online ISU Admissions application to the Graduate College and we pay the application fee. If, however, you submit the ISU application before submitting the BBMB application, the application fee cannot be reimbursed.

What are your application deadlines?

A complete BBMB online application for the Ph.D. rotation program that begins in the fall should be submitted by January 15 for full consideration of an offer of admission in the fall 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. Application for direct admission to the Master's or Ph.D. degree programs can be made at any time during the year. Applicants interested in direct admission must have a BBMB faculty request an evaluation of the application before an offer of admission can be made. The graduate student selections committee only evaluates a completed application.

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. 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.

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.

What percentage of applicants are offered admission each year?

How many students are currently enrolled in your graduate program?

In Fall 2017, there were 50 biochemistry and biophysics students in our Master's and Ph.D. graduate programs. A third of our students are from the United States and the rest are from other countries, including Africa, 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 our graduate program 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 contact Connie Garnett, the Graduate Program Coordinator or our student admissions assistant