Prospective Students

The Neuroscience Interdepartmental Graduate Program wants your application process to be as easy as possible. Therefore, the links listed to the left provide you with access to application materials, admissions and application information, along with answers to frequently asked questions.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact our program office at any time.

Admission Requirements

A four-year university degree (the equivalent of a bachelor's degree) is required. Applicants should have an undergraduate or advanced degree in one of the basic or applied sciences. Typical program disciplines include majors in biochemistry, biology, human medicine, immunology, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, veterinary medicine, or zoology. Appropriate undergraduate coursework includes mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biological sciences.

The program accepts applications for graduate study year-round; however, most assistantship and fellowship decisions are made by the end of April. To have the best chance of qualifying for financial support, your complete application (including transcripts and letters of recommendation) must be received by January 1 for admission for the fall semester. Application files will NOT be reviewed by the admissions committee until all of the required materials have been submitted to the Neuroscience program office. Please refer to the Pre-Application Checklist to ensure that you are providing all required materials.

The Neuroscience Program and Iowa State University are committed to the concept and practice of affirmative action and do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, creed, handicap, national origin, race, religion, sex, or any other classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual.

As this is a research-based graduate program, prior research experience is highly encouraged for any prospective student. 

The Neuroscience program also requires the submission of official GRE general exam scores showing both raw scores and percentiles for each of the three categories of the exam: verbal, quantitative and analytical writing.  GRE subject tests are not required. 

The TOEFL or IELTS exam is required of non-native English speakers that have not obtained a degree from a United States college or university.  The English proficiency minimum for these exams are as follows:

TOEFL Paper (PBT) 580
TOEFL Internet (iBT) 85


Graduate Admissions

The Neuroscience Graduate Program reviews prospective graduate students via an internal, pre-application process.  Anyone interested in being considered for admission into our program for a PhD or MS degree should follow the below application instructions. 

Prospective students should NOT apply via the Iowa State University Graduate Application!!!

How to Apply to Neuroscience

  1. Complete and submit the Neuroscience Program application online.  There is no application fee associated with this submission.
  2. In addition, please submit the following materials in ONE packet and mail to the address provided below.
    • Official academic records/transcripts from each previous institution attended, regardless of whether or not a degree was earned.  Official transcripts should be in sealed envelopes from the individual college or university.  Transcript data must be in English.  Iowa State transcripts will be provided at no cost.
    • Three letters of recommendation.  Letters should include the signature of the recommender and be provided in sealed envelopes with the recommender's signature across the seal.  The following confidential report form (pdf) needs to accompany each letter of recommendation.  You as the applicant need to complete parts 1-3 of this form and then provide this to each of your recommenders for their evaluation.  At this time we do NOT accept electronic letters of recommendation.
    • Examination Results.  Please include a photocopy of each examination result in your pre-application packet.  Exam results should include both raw scores and percentile information.  If an offer is made to you, official test scores will need to be sent directly from ETS to Iowa State, but only if an offer is made.  It is of note that photocopies are still requested even if you have sent official scores to ISU.  The exams required are:
      • Graduate Records Examination (GRE).  Subject tests are not required but can be submitted if desired.
      • English Proficiency Exam Scores for non-native English speakers only.  Acceptable exams include:
        • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or
        • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
    • Statement of Purpose, Goals, and Research Interests
    • Resume or Curriculum Vitae

Once complete, please mail your self-managed supplemental application materials and checklist in ONE ENVELOPE to:

    Neuroscience Interdepartmental Graduate Program
    2018 Molecular Biology Building
    Iowa State University
    Ames, IA 50011-3260


Pre-application packets can be sent to the program at any time, but to be given priority consideration for financial assistance applications should be submitted on or before January 1.


Reviewing your Pre-Application Packet

The Neuroscience Admissions Committee will begin to review complete pre-application packets as they arrive.  A thorough review of all applicants will begin following January 1st.  From the review of the pre-application materials the committee makes their admission decisions.  Any offer of admission from the Neuroscience Graduate Program is contingent upon formal application and admission to the Iowa State University Graduate College.

The Admission Decision

  • In general, offers of admission will begin to be made in early to mid-February.
  • Neuroscience continues extending admissions offers until our assistantship positions are filled; this process usually concludes around early May. 
  • Offers of admission will be made via email to the email address provided on your online application.
  • As long as an applicant has not received a decline email they remain to be under the full consideration of the admissions committee.
  • When an applicant receives an offer of admission from the program, if he/she decides to accept the offer, they will receive additional information and instruction in applying to the Iowa State University Graduate College.  If the offer is declined, apart from notifying the program no further action is required.
  • The Graduate College application should be submitted only after being notified by the Neuroscience Program to do so.