Graduate Admissions and How to Apply

Apply to BBMB

Preparation for Graduate Study

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.


We require all applicants take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) prior to applying. Arrange with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to have the test scores reported directly to the Iowa State University Admissions Office (Institution Code = 6306) during the period they are valid.

We require all applicants whose native language is not English and who have not received a college/university degree in the United States to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test.  Please arrange with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to have your test scores reported directly to the Iowa State University Office of Admissions (Institution Code 6306) during the period they are valid.   IELTS is another accepted form of testing of English proficiency.

Applying for Admission

Timing of the Admissions Process

BBMB application process begins in late August at the start of Iowa State University fall semester, one year prior to anticipated fall admission.

The deadline for receipt of the full BBMB application is January 15 for consideration for fall admission in that year.

Letters of recommendation not already included in the application package should arrive no later than February 1.

A status report of the application (complete, under review, or incomplete) will be sent to the applicant by email by the first week in February.

Timing of an Offer of Admission

The graduate student selections committee will only review an application once it is complete.

Offers of admission for the fall semester 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.

Step 1.   Initiating the Application Process

Submit the BBMB Application or send an email to to request the BBMB Application.

Complete the BBMB application and return it to the BBMB Graduate Programs office address noted below.

Do not apply to ISU Admissions online at this stage in the BBMB admissions process.  There is no application fee to submit the BBMB application directly to our program for evaluation by the BBMB graduate student selections committee.  Direct application to the BBMB department establishes reliable communications and accelerates review of your application by the committee.

For full consideration for fall admission and financial support, the completed application, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, should be received no later than January 15 for consideration for fall admission in that year.

The BBMB Application includes a checklist and all checklist items must be completed before returning the BBMB Application package.  Checklist items include:

  • Application for Graduate Assistantship
  • Statement of Purpose.  This statement should include areas of research interest and career goals following graduation.  Any pertinent professional or technical experience should be included.  This statement is important in evaluating the applicant and in beginning to identify potential home laboratories for each new student.
  • Research Interest Questionnaire
  • CV or resume listing honors, awards, skills, full citations of any publications, and information pertinent to the application for graduate study.
  • Letters of recommendation from three individuals familiar with applicant’s qualifications and scientific potential.  (see BBMB Application Instructions for how to send letters of recommendation.)
  • Originals or copies of all official academic records and statements of all degrees earned from all instititions attended after high school.  If applicant has attended more than one institution, transcripts from each institution are required.  Academic records from non-US institutions are expected to be in an official language of the country in which they were earned.  If transcripts are in a language other than English, a literal (not interpretative) English translation from any qualified translator should be sent in addition to the official academic record.
  • Copy of GRE Test Report.  To avoid delay in formal admission to ISU, if offered admission to our program, have ETS report test scores to Iowa State University Admissions Office (School Code 6306) during the period they are valid.
  • Copy of TOEFL or IELTS Test Report.  To avoid delay in formal admission to ISU, if offered admission to our program, have ETS report test scores to Iowa State University Admissions Office (School Code 6306) during the period they are valid. NOTE: The English Proficiency Requirement for ISU is being revised, and this will effect students who will be entering ISU in Summer 2017.

Do not send copies of awards or publications as these materials will be recycled and not included for evaluation by the graduate student selection committee.

Mailing address for the BBMB Application Package:

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

Step 2.  ISU Graduate Admissions Application

If you receive and accept an offer of admission from BBMB to our graduate program, your acceptance of our offer is conditional upon formal admission to Iowa State University.

The final step in the admissions process after you accept our offer is to complete the online ISU application.  Instructions will be sent to you by our Graduate Program Office on how to complete the ISU online application. If you follow the instructions we provide, we will pay your application fee, and you will not be charged this fee. If you do not follow the instructions and pay the application fee yourself, we cannot reimburse you.

To complete your formal admission to our program, ISU Admissions will require you to have ETS report your GRE and/or TOEFL test scores to ISU within the period they are valid or the tests will have to be retaken, which could delay formal admission to our program.

ISU Admissions requires official university and/or college transcripts to complete formal admission.  Official, certified English language translations are required in addition to the official transcripts if transcripts are in a language other than in English.