Graduate College Requirements

  • English
    Non-native speakers must take the English Placement Test, a test of English grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation, at the beginning of the first semester. Students not passing this test must take one or more courses in English. For information, contact the Graduate College or the Student Services Center.
    New teaching assistants whose native language is not English are evaluated before their first teaching assignment using the SPEAK and TEACH tests. These tests are administered by the Graduate College before the beginning of each semester.

  • Foreign Language
    Each Department establishes its own foreign language requirement. See the general requirements for all Ph.D. degrees in the NREM Department.

  • Residence Requirement
    At least 24 semester credits must be earned during two consecutive semesters on campus at the University.

  • Time Limits
    A student beginning a Ph.D. degree at Iowa State with a M.S. degree from another institution is expected to complete the work for the Ph.D. degree within 5 years, whereas a student beginning without a M.S. degree is expected to complete the Ph.D. within 7 years. If warranted, the student’s major professor and the program’s DOGE may request by letter that the Dean of the Graduate College extend these time limits.

  • Minimum Credits
    At least 72 semester credits of acceptable graduate work must be earned for the Ph.D. At least 36 credits, including all dissertation credits must be earned under the supervision of the student's POS committee at Iowa State. Graduate credits of “B” grade or better earned at another institution may be included in the program of study, with committee and Graduate College approval.

  • Minor
    Students may declare a formal minor in any department or interdepartmental unit authorized to grant such minors. Requirements for declared minors are determined by the minor department or program and coordinated by the faculty member representing the minor department on the POS committee. To have a minor placed on the transcript after graduation it must be approved on the POS and listed on all examination reports and the diploma slip.

  • Preliminary Exam
    A student must satisfactorily pass a preliminary examination before becoming a doctoral candidate. This exam is comprehensive and should not be restricted only to the content of graduate courses. It usually has two parts: a written exam followed by an oral exam. The oral exam is mandatory and all members of a POS committee (or approved substitutes) must be present. The preliminary exam must be completed within the first three years of enrollment in the graduate program and at least six months before the final examination.

  • Final Exam
    Ph.D. candidates must pass a final oral examination at the time all degree work, including the dissertation, is completed. This exam is ordinarily focused on the dissertation but may be more comprehensive in nature.