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Admission Criteria

For guaranteed Fall consideration, please submit your application no later than December 1st . 

To apply to the BCB Program, please:

  • Provide a listing of relevant coursework to show your academic preparation for a BCB degree program. Information on prerequisite and background coursework for our degree program is here.
  • Fill out the on-line Iowa State University application HERE

Application materials for ISU's on-line application include: 

  • Three letters of recommendation (ISU application system will use the email addresses you provide to send them instructions)
  • Transcripts (upload a scanned copy of official academic records to the ISU application system)
  • Statement of Purpose (with a limit of 500 words)
  • GRE Scores are no longer required
  • TOEFL score from ETS or IELTS (required for international students who do not have a degree from a U.S. college or university)

For more information, please look also at the Iowa State University (ISU) Graduate College application instructions:

Admission Criteria

A limited number of student positions are available in the BCB program. To admit the best-qualified candidates with the greatest potential for success, our Admissions Committee considers many factors in evaluating applications for admission. These include previous academic training (courses taken and grades received), quality of schools attended, statement of professional goals, research experience and publications, letters of recommendation, as well as TOEFL scores. We especially encourage applications from women and minorities.

We invite and encourage prospective applicants to review the admission criteria outlined below for assistance in determining whether to apply.

Degree Objective and Timeline

The Bioinformatics and Computational Biology graduate program is designed to provide doctoral (Ph.D.) level training. The coursework, research and thesis required for the Ph.D. degree typically can be completed in five years. In some special circumstances, students may be admitted as M.S. candidates.  The BCB PhD program is on the approved DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List, CIP code 26 and CIP 2020 code 26.1100.

Undergraduate Work

A four-year university degree (the equivalent of a bachelor's degree) is required. Successful applicants typically have an undergraduate degree in molecular biology, computer science, mathematics, statistics, physics or a closely related discipline. Strong computational, mathematical or statistical training is desirable. However, all exceptionally well-qualified applicants who present strong evidence of research potential will be considered for admission.

A description of prerequisite and background coursework which prepare students for our program is located here.  Information on our curriculum is described here.  Information on the main components of our training program is here.  First-year students in this program will be directed to take some background coursework depending on their undergraduate background.

Academic Performance

Applicants should have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) comparable to at least a "B+" average or 3.30 out of a possible 4.00, and rank in the top quartile (25 percent) of their graduating class. Strong performance in relevant science, computer and math courses is especially valued.


The general Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is NOT required.

International applicants must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

BCB Program admission specifics

Phd Degree Program

We typically admit students into our Ph.D. program only. Successful applicants to our M.S. degree program usually are those already at ISU pursuing a PhD in another discipline.

Fall Admission

Fall semester is the recommended starting point for most applicants to the Graduate Program. The coursework flows more smoothly for most students from the fall semester on. The program offers an extensive orientation program in the Fall semester.

TOEFL (for international students) scores

TOEFL or IELTS score for international applicants from ETS. Have ETS send those to Iowa State University's Graduate Admission Office.

What is the TOEFL code for your University and Program?

Institution Code = 6306 
No Program codes are necessary.

Do you require a GRE Subject Test?

We require neither the GRE nor the GRE subject tests. 

What does the statement of purpose include?

You will file your statement of purpose within the on-line application itself. You might want to include the following in it: What do you intend to do with a PhD in BCB? Why are you interested in our particular graduate program? Whose research in the BCB Program interests you? These are the kinds of questions one might like to address in this statement.

It is important to be concise and precise in your admission materials to best represent your research abilities and interests. If you have published the results of your research in a scientific journal, be sure to highlight that information in your resume. You may also upload an additional document which speaks about your research accomplishments if you wish.


updated 9/20/2023