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Frequently Asked Admissions Questions (FAQ)

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

Ultimately, we admit applicants we believe have the greatest potential to succeed in our graduate programs.  Successful students generally have a sound undergraduate background in these course areas:

  • 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.

What is the admission criteria for your graduate programs?

Admission criteria to our graduate programs is the same as it is for Graduate Admission to Iowa State University.

What examinations are required?

GRE. The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) general exam is no longer required for your application. You may submit your official GRE scores if you feel it will help the admissions committee better understand your academic proficiencies. However, electing not to submit GRE scores will not impact your chance of admission. Note also that our program offers scholarships that can supplement the standard graduate student stipend. Some of these scholarships may still require GRE scores for eligibility. The GRE subject test is also not required, but if taken we recommend a biological sciences subject test.

English Proficiency.  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. 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 test is:

  • Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) 79
  • Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT) 550
  • IELTS 6.5
  • PTE 53
  • DET 105

Effective Spring 2020, Iowa State Graduate Admissions is accepting the Duolingo English Test (DET) on a pilot basis during this difficult time. A score of 105 is required.

All exam or 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 and should be taken at least six weeks prior to the application deadline to ensure timely receipt and processing of results.

Do you offer conditional admission to your graduate program?

No. A completed application is required for evaluation by the Graduate Student Selections Committee, and their positive recommendation leads to an offer of admission to the program.

What percentage of applicants are offered admission to the Ph.D. rotation program each year?

Based on the availability of funding, about 10% of applicants to our graduate degree programs are offered admission, and about 50% of those offered admission generally accept. In fall 2018, we received over 100 applications and admitted eleven new graduate students.

Is financial support provided?

Yes. Almost all degree-seeking students receive financial support in the form of a research or teaching assistantship that includes a stipend, free student health insurance, and tuition scholarship, which is renewable annually based on academic standing and satisfactory research performance.

What kinds of research is being done by the faculty in the graduate program?

Biochemistry and biophysics are the science and technology used to understand the mechanisms underlying biological processes at the molecular level, with an emphasis on the fundamental relationships among the chemical, physical, and biological sciences. BBMB faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for their high-impact research contributions in these areas. To learn more about their current research, visit the People web page.

How many students are currently enrolled in your graduate program?

In Fall 2019, there are 47 biochemistry and biophysics Master's and Ph.D. students. Our students are from all over the United States (57%) and from countries outside the United States (43%), including Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Kenya, Nigeria, China and India.

How do I apply to the M.S. or Ph.D. degree programs and what are the application deadlines?

Application to the Master’s or Ph.D. degree is done by submitting the online ISU Admissions Application, which is used as a screening tool by the Graduate Student Selections Committee.  Their positive recommendation leads to an offer of admission to the degree program.  If a prospective student receives and accepts an offer of admission to the program, the final step is to submit the ISU Graduate Admissions online application for formal admission to ISU, and the BBMB graduate program will pay the application fee.  If the ISU application is submitted first, the application fee cannot be reimbursed.

Application for direct admission to the Master's or Ph.D. degree programs is made at any time during the year by submitting the online ISU Admissions Application.  Prospective students interested in direct admission must have a BBMB faculty request an evaluation of the application by the Graduate Student Selections Committee before an offer of admission can be made.

Application to the Ph.D. rotation program that begins in the fall semester is done by submitting the online ISU Admissions Application by January 7 for full consideration of an offer of admission for the fall semester that begins in August of that year.  The Graduate Student Selections Committee will begin evaluation of all applications starting in February and offers for admission will begin the second week of March and continue to the last week of April.  All applicants will receive final notification of their status by May 1.

Applicants are notified by email of the status of their application.  Due to the high volume of materials received, we are unable to respond to individual inquiries on the status of a possible offer of admission.

I already submitted an ISU application for the Master's or Ph.D. degree.  Will my application still be considered for possible admission?

Yes.  All completed ISU applications for the degree program will be evaluated by the Graduate Student Selections Committee and their positive recommendation leads to an offer of admission. The ISU application fee, however, cannot be reimbursed.

How do I apply to the Graduate Certificate programs and what are the application deadlines?

Application to the Graduate Certificate in Biochemistry is made by submitting the online ISU Graduate Admissions application and can be made at any time during the year.  Applications are evaluated promptly by the Director of Certificate (DOC) for a possible offer of admission.

Application to the Concurrent B.S. / Graduate Certificate and Concurrent B.S. / M.S. Degree programs can be made at any time during the year and that application process is outlined on the Graduate Study web page.

Why do I have to upload copies of my exam reports with the BBMB application if ETS has already reported them electronically to ISU Admissions?

The program does not have access to test results submitted to ISU Admissions until the BBMB application evaluated by the Graduate Student Selections Committee leads to an offer of admission, that offer is accepted, and the ISU application is submitted as a final step in the admissions process.  A copy of test results, therefore, is required by the Graduate Student Selections Committee in order to evaluate a completed BBMB application.

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 order to best represent your research abilities and interests, it is important to be concise and precise in your BBMB application materials. 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 programs based on nationality?

No. BBMB and Iowa State University admit qualified applicants to our programs and do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, disability, or status as a U.S. Veteran.

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 application. It is to the prospective student's advantage to submit the application for prompt evaluation by the Committee.

Still have questions?