Geology Application Process

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

Step 1: Submit Stage 1 Application

  1. Submit a free Stage 1 Application (known as Pre-Application) for Graduate Admission through the ISU Office of Admissions portal.
    • Identify a potential faculty advisor from the list of faculty who are actively recruiting or through direct contact with a faculty member. Note the position and the faculty member in your pre-application.
    • Upload an unofficial or official transcript, CV, and English-proficiency exam scores (if applicable)
    • E-mail the faculty member(s) to let them know your Stage 1 application has been uploaded
    • A prospective-student’s pre-application is screened by the potential faculty advisor with the following criteria:
      • Cumulative GPA greater than 3.0 for 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 university.
      • Appropriate level of competence in relevant coursework for the available project
  2. Those candidates considered to meet the above criteria will be invited to proceed to Stage 2 application (known as Full Application).


Step 2: Submit Stage 2 Application

  1. Submit a full application through the ISU Office of Admissions portal, containing the following:
    • An official transcript for all academic degrees completed
    • A statement of purpose outlining:
      • Why you want to pursue a graduate degree; and
      • What characteristics or experience you have that are likely to make you successful.
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Departmental Assessment of Coursework Qualifications (Microsoft Word Doc or PDF)
  2. Fee waivers will be applied to all Stage 2 applicants. Please request a waiver code from your potential faculty advisor.
  3. We recommend submitting your Stage 2 application by December 1 to ensure a timely review.


Step 3: Review of Application

  1. 1. A prospective student’s application is reviewed by the Geology Graduate Application Evaluation Committee with the following criteria:
    • Excellence in undergraduate coursework
    • Preparedness for graduate research
    • Writing ability
    • Letters of recommendation
  2. Many potential advisors will schedule in-person or virtual visits for prospective students.
  3. Most Stage 2 applications are reviewed during December-February for admission in the following Fall semester, but positions are generally open until filled. Admission decisions are typically made by March or earlier, and students have until April 15 to accept the offer. 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 for Geology Graduate Students

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).

  • Full Tuition Waiver – Students on assistantship do not pay 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 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, usually available through competitive processes
  • Medical and Dental Benefits
  • o Child Care – Visit the Iowa State Family Resource Guide

Applicants are encouraged to also visit the Iowa State Graduate College Resource website.

Additional Information

Please do not hesitate to contact the Geology Program if you require additional information! Questions about the application process can be sent to the Geology Graduate Application Evaluation Committee Chair Dr. Igor Beresnev.