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How to Apply

Requirements and Recommendations

We offer both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. We do not require an M.S. degree for Ph.D. applicants. Recommended prerequisites for graduate study include a sound undergraduate background in biology, including microbiology, genetics, and some exposure to molecular biology, as well as chemistry and mathematics. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test is not required, but the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all applicants from countries where English is not the official language and who have not received a college or university degree in the United States. Previous research experience is preferred but not required, and visits to Iowa State University and with faculty representatives of the Interdepartmental Microbiology program are encouraged.

To apply

Applications are welcome at any time. To guarantee consideration for Fall admission, and for Fellowships, all materials must be received by December 1. Follow this link to the Graduate College website to complete an application.

Financial Information

Students receive a stipend to cover living expenses, and a partial or full tuition scholarship, depending on the degree program.


Upon acceptance to the program, students may be offered the opportunity to perform short-term research projects (i.e., rotations) in several laboratories in their first year to help them select a faculty advisor (Major Professor), or may be offered admission directly into a laboratory. Except for fellowship awardees, rotation students are supported in their first year by the Program, and thereafter by research grants of their Major Professor. Non-fellowship direct admit students are supported by their Major Professor's research grants from the start. When choosing a major professor, it is important to discuss available funding.

Students may also be supported in part or in full by a teaching assistantship. Teaching assistantships require service as a TA, offering students the opportunity to develop their teaching skills.


All applicants are considered for various fellowships, contingent on availability and eligibility. For best funding opportunities, please submit your complete application to be received by the IM program by January 1 for fall admissions.


Although the University charges tuition and fees for graduate students, currently all PhD students on assistantships receive a tuition scholarship of 100% of the cost of tuition and all MS students on assistantships receive a tuition scholarship of at least 50% of the cost of tuition. For current information on tuition and fees, please refer to the University Registrar website.

Graduate Student Handbook

The Interdepartmental Microbiology Graduate Student Handbook contains general information about the graduate program, along with procedures for rotations, class scheduling, degree requirements, and other essential information. Download the handbook here.

Relocation to Ames

A safe and friendly small town community with the cultural, intellectual, and entertainment offerings of a major midwestern university, Ames is a wonderful place to live and work.

Follow these links for more information.

Campus and Community Life (including housing)
City of Ames
Ames Chamber of Commerce
International Students and Scholars Office

Peer Mentoring Program

To ease the transition to the Program and living in Ames, new students are assigned a peer mentor, a more senior graduate student who will be available to answer any questions or concerns that you may have regarding beginning your graduate study here, including housing, choosing rotations, scheduling classes, and getting the most out of Microbiology offerings on campus. Peer mentors typically will contact you during the semester before you are scheduled to arrive.

At the beginning of each new school year there is a casual student and faculty meet and greet. You and your mentor will attend this event together. This is a great opportunity to meet others in the program. The mentor will also take you to a meeting of the Microbiology Graduate Student Organization (MGSO).  Being a part of MGSO is a good way to meet other graduate students with interests in Microbiology, to participate in outreach activities such as visits to elementary schools, and to choose external speakers to invite to speak on campus every year. You and your mentor may meet  a few times more during your first semester to make sure everything is going smoothly.