Admissions FAQ

Learn more about the admissions process, how to apply, and how your application is processed with these frequently asked questions—

Please read this information carefully if you are applying or have already applied to our program. We respectfully ask that you refrain from calling or sending e-mail unless it is absolutely essential. The time we spend responding to these inquiries greatly slows our applications processing.

If you have more questions after exploring our website, contact our graduate programs assistant, Amy Carver, at megradinfo@iastate.edu. She also can be reached via instant message at ISUmegradinfo on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m.

  • Complete your Iowa State Graduate Application online (paying by credit card).
    Contact the institution(s) you have attended and have them send your official transcripts to
    Office of Admissions
    100 Enrollment Services
    Iowa State University
    Ames, IA, 50011-2011 USA
    Note: Once you click the Submit button on your online application, you have officially completed the process and will receive a confirmation page.
  • Select three people with whom you have worked, either professionally or educationally, to complete letters of recommendation for you.
  • Submit a current résumé and a one-page statement of purpose that highlights your ability, motivation, and experience related to your chosen research field as well as your career goals. Submit these documents electronically to megradapp@iastate.edu.
  • Submit your official GRE scores directly to us through the Educational Testing Service. Our school code is 6306. If you need more information about taking the GRE, visit www.ets.org. You can submit all application materials prior to submitting your GRE scores.

Iowa State has a shared application process, which means certain items are sent to the Iowa State Office of Admissions and other items are sent to the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Programs Office. Get more information regarding the application process.

Submit these materials electronically:

  • Application
  • Application fee
  • Official GRE scores (sent by testing services)
  • Official TOEFL scores (sent by testing services)
  • Letters of recommendation
    We prefer you use the online letter of recommendation process. Include your recommenders’ names and e-mail addresses on the application form, and they will be sent instructions on how to submit their letter electronically.

Submit these materials by mail:

Mail admissions envelope to
Office of Admissions
100 Enrollment Services
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2011 USA

For us to promptly consider your application, please do not send any paper documents.

  • Upload a current résumé or vita (two pages or less) that describes your related project or work experience, honors, awards, publications, membership in professional societies, and extracurricular activities as supplemental material at the end of your application.
1. Download the PDF copy of the Letter of Recommendation form, complete Sections 1 and 3, and save the completed form.

2. Send the form to your recommender. You must include the megradapp@iastate.edu e-mail address so your recommender will know where to send the form once completed.

Graduate programs staff members answer e-mail messages and phone calls regarding your admission, but they do not determine admissions criteria and are not involved in admissions decisions. Admission into the program is determined by our Graduate Studies Committee (consisting of faculty), which reviews your completed application package. (For more information on the review process, please see “Have I been admitted?” below.)

Note: Individual faculty cannot comment on an applicant’s chances for admission, so we ask that you do not contact faculty directly regarding your admission status.

Graduate programs staff members answer e-mail messages and phone calls regarding financial assistance, but they do not determine financial aid criteria and are not involved in financial aid decisions. Your financial assistance opportunities cannot be determined before our Graduate Studies Committee reviews your completed application package and faculty reviews your complete application. (For more information on the review process, please see “Have I been admitted? below”)
Fall semester applications must be received by January 1, and spring semester applications must be received by August 15. We do NOT recommend that you wait until the deadline date to submit your online application as this may delay the process.
The application fee is required in order for us to process your application. Unfortunately, we cannot waive or defer the fee.

Note: If you are a U.S. citizen AND are a member of an underrepresented minority group, please contact our graduate programs assistant, Amy Carver, at megradinfo@iastate.edu to ask about fee deferral options. She can also be reached via instant message at ISUmegradinfo on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m.

After March 1, if you wish, you may inquire with the admissions office regarding the status of your application at http://www.admissions.iastate.edu/forms/statuscheck/gr_statuscheck.php.

Due to the high volume of applications received in the Office of Admissions and our Graduate Programs Office during December through February, you may not receive acknowledgement that we have received your applications or supporting materials.

However, if we do not receive the necessary academic records (and graduate examination scores, if required) within a reasonable time after your application is received, we will send you an e-mail notifying you that your application is incomplete and prompting action. If you receive this e-mail, you must complete this action to be considered for admission into our program.

There are no cut-off scores for the GRE examination, as the scores are evaluated within the context of your entire application package. Because admission is competitive, we have provided the recommended guidelines below based on our experience.

  • TOEFL score: Guideline is a minimum of 570 (paper-based) or 79 (iBT).
  • GRE score: Guideline is a minimum of 700 (quantitative) and 3.5 or 700 (analytical).
TOEFL scores are required of international students whose native language is not English. This university requirement cannot be waived.

Note: For the purpose of applying to Iowa State, English may be considered your native language if you have been raised in an environment where English is the only official language of your locality and nation and English is the language used in your home. If your native language is not English, you must submit scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

This requirement is waived if you have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a country where English is the only official language.

The university requires official results be sent directly by the Educational Testing Service. You can find out more information about and register for the GRE at www.ets.org. Our school code is 6306.

Note: All official GRE and TOEFL scores come to the Office of Admissions, so you do not need a department code.

We highly recommend you arrange to have your scores sent before the application deadline. However, it is acceptable for your GRE and TOEFL score reports to arrive after the application deadline as long as it is during the review process, which is one to two weeks after the application deadline. If your reports arrive within the above timeframe after the deadline, your chances of being admitted or receiving financial assistance will not be affected unless final admission decisions have all been made. You can send an inquiry to the Office of Admissions regarding the status of your application.

Note: The Office of Admissions uses only official scores to process your application. Copies of scores will not be considered.

In most cases, this means that we have not yet received your official GRE and/or TOEFL score report from ETS. If you have already requested ETS to send your official scores, you need not take any further action.

Note: The Office of Admissions uses only the official scores to process your application. To expedite your application’s processing, we request that you send photocopies of your official GRE and TOEFL results.

On the application, you are asked to indicate your GPA at each institution attended. You should provide the GPA attained and the maximum grade attainable in the grading system used at your institution.

For example, most U.S. schools have a 4-pt. grading system where A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0. If your GPA score on that scale was 3.00, you would list it as 3.00/4.00. Other examples of GPAs on grading scales used in other countries are 80/100; 8/10; 2nd Division, Upper/1st Division; etc.

A simple conversion to the 4.0 scale would be useful for application processing—it does not have to be exact; an estimate is acceptable. Note that while the department committee will use this estimate to review applicants, the Admissions Office will evaluate your grades based on the information on your official transcript.

Once your application package is complete, the contents are cataloged and forwarded to our Graduate Education Committee. All applications are held for review until after the application deadline—there are no early decisions. Please contact megradinfo@iastate.edu if you have an extenuating circumstance that requires an early decision.

The application packages of applicants who are deemed qualified for admission by the committee will be forwarded to the faculty for admission and assistantship consideration. Offer letters will be sent electronically around the first two weeks of March for fall semester applications and around the first two weeks of October for spring semester applications.

Your completed application may be reconsidered for the next concurrent semester after your original application semester (for example, if you applied in fall, you can be reconsidered in spring). You will be sent an e-mail asking if you would like to be reconsidered. You may also send additional information at this time. For example, additional transcripts from other schools you may attend prior to admissions.

Note: Your application is valid only for one year.

If you are already committed to a research-oriented career (industry or academia) then you should considering applying directly to the PhD program. For the purposes of flexibility you can let faculty know in your Statement of Purpose that you would be willing to be considered for admission to the master’s program.