Geology Application Process

Applying to the Geology Graduate Program at Iowa State is a three-step process.

Step 1: Contact potential advisors.

A faculty member must agree to serve as your advisor for you to be admitted to the Geology Graduate Program. Prospective students should communicate directly with [faculty listed on the department webpage](/department-directory/faculty/) to inquire about a potential fit.

Step 2: Submit application.

  1. Submit Application for Graduate Admission through the ISU Graduate College admissions webpage (
  2. Submit Departmental Application for Financial Assistance (.doc or .pdf) by uploading it to the ISU Graduate Application Portal.

Step 3: Review of Application.

  1. A prospective student’s application is reviewed by the ISU Graduate College with the following criteria:
    • Cumulative GPA greater than 3.0 of most recent degree.
    • For foreign students, English proficiency exam scores that meet the Graduate College requirements. This is waived for students who have attended an English-speaking college or university.
  2. A prospective student’s application is reviewed by the Geology Graduate Applications Committee with the following criteria:
    • Excellence in undergraduate coursework
    • Preparedness for graduate research
    • Writing ability
    • Letters of recommendation


We ask that prospective graduate students submit all of their materials by December 1st to ensure a timely review. Admissions decisions are generally made by March and students have until April 15 to accept the offer.

Most applications are reviewed during January and February for admission in the following Fall semester. Despite this, applications are reviewed year-round because some appointments may become available at other times. If you graduate at mid-year and a faculty member has a place for you in their research program, you could begin your graduate study without delay.

Pay and Benefits

All students in the Geology Graduate Program are “funded,” that is, paid a salary and benefits for their work and receive a scholarship equivalent to their tuition. In most cases, the money for these comes from various sources at Iowa State (e.g., the Department or College). In some cases, students bring support with them from another source (e.g., the military, a private company, or an NSF fellowship).

Pay and benefits for Geology graduate students:

  • Full Tuition Waiver – Students on assistantship pay no tuition.
  • Teaching Assistantships – A nine-month, part-time appointment. These generally involve 20 hours per week in the form of preparation, teaching and grading for laboratories and recitation sections in undergraduate courses.
  • Research Assistantships – A nine-month, part-time appointment. These are typically funded from a professor’s research grant.
  • Summer Assistantships – Part-time and full-time appointments of varying lengths. Duties vary widely but may involve assisting at the ISU Geology Field Station (in Wyoming), aiding faculty in their research projects, or supporting summer teaching on campus.
  • Fellowships – Part-time and full-time appointments of varying lengths and remuneration are available usually through competitive processes.
  • Medical and Dental Benefits – Visit
  • Child Care – Please visit the Iowa State Family Resource Guide and the Child & Family Resource Website.

Applicants are encouraged to visit the Iowa State Grad College Student Life Website and Campus Resources Website.

Additional Information

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Geology Program if you require additional information!

  • Questions about the application process or your application status can be sent to the Geology Graduate Applications Committee Chair (Dr. Igor Beresnev,