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Graduate Admissions FAQ

The questions below are commonly asked by prospective graduate students to the Statistics Department at Iowa State University. In addition to the responses below, additional information can be found on the Prospective Graduate Student page, the Statistics Department Program page, and the Graduate College Admissions FAQ


When can I apply for admission? 

Generally, the application portal opens in September for admissions for the following fall. To guarantee full consideration, applications for fall semester should be received by 15 January of the same year. 


Are you admitting students for the coming fall?

Yes, we admit 20+ graduate students every fall including domestic and international students.


Can I apply and be admitted for the spring or summer? 

The graduate core curriculum involve two course sequences that are designed to begin in the fall semester: STAT 500/510 and STAT 542/543.  If you have sufficient background to cover the content in STAT 500 and STAT 542, then you could start in the spring semester with STAT 510 and STAT 543. If you do not have sufficient background, then there would be no courses for you to take in the spring semester and thus you would not be admitted. Please take a look at STAT 500 and STAT 542 in the course catalog to determine if you have sufficient background. 

We do not admit students in the summer. 


Will my application be successful?

Students who are successful in our graduate program generally have the following statistics when they apply:

  • GRE scores: Quantitative >163, Verbal >148, Analytical Writing >3
  • GPA (on 4.0 scale): Undergraduate >3.5, Graduate >3.6
  • Grades in Calculus I-III, Linear Algebra: B+ to A

Many students also have undergraduate or graduate research experiences in statistics or other disciplines that often result in published manuscripts. 

We evaluate each application as a whole package and do not enforce strict cutoffs in any of these or other categories. 


Do I need to submit GRE scores? 

GRE scores are not required during the application. The department would generally appreciate GRE scores as it is the only metric that is consistent across all candidates. Thus, it is generally beneficial to the applicant to include GRE scores. Please send GRE scores directly to ISU using GRE Institution Code 6306.


Do I need to provide TOEFL scores? 

International students must demonstrate proficiency in English. This demonstration could be through TOEFL or another English test, see Section 1.3.3 of the Graduate Student Handbook. Students whose first language is English or those who earned a degree from countries where the only official language is English are exempt from the language proficiency requirements. For additional information, please see the Graduate College English requirement page. If you have questions about the policy, it is best to email the Graduate College directly using the email address on that page.


How many reference letters do I need?

We require three reference letters. 


Are assistantships available? 

PhD applicants are automatically considered for financial support through a graduate assistantship (teaching, research, or administrative) unless the applicant indicates they would do not need to be considered on their application.  These assistantships involve a 20 hour per week time commitment, provide a monthly stipend, tuition scholarship, and individual health benefits. 

Funding for MS students is not automatic, but will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 


Should I contact individual faculty members?

No, you do not need to contact individual faculty members. Admissions decisions are made by the department and then, once you have matriculated, you can talk with faculty about research interests and, possibly, research assistantships.


Can I apply to the Ph.D. program without a Masters degree?

Yes, you absolutely can. Many of the students in our Ph.D. program do not have Masters degrees. These students typically earn their Masters degrees on their way to obtaining a Ph.D. 


Can I get an application fee waiver? 

We are now using a delayed application fee process. So you can apply without paying a fee.