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First-year academic requirements

Equivalent of a minimum 3.0 high school GPA on 4.0 scale. The Office of Admissions understands many different evaluation systems are used throughout the world, therefore, we will determine the equivalent GPA when necessary. More information can be found in the country specific requirements.

In addition to the requirement above, students must meet the following minimum high school course requirements:

  • 4 years of English or your native language
  • 3 years of science (including at least two years of laboratory science courses which emphasize elements of biology, chemistry, or physics)
  • 3 years of math (including algebra and geometry)
  • 2 years of social studies

While SAT or ACT scores are not required for admission, students who achieve either of the two minimum test scores below are automatically considered to have met the 3.00 GPA requirement:

  • 1200 SAT combined score (Evidence Based Reading and Writing score + Math score)
  • 25 ACT composite score

English proficiency requirement

International students must satisfy Iowa State’s English proficiency requirement by achieving a satisfactory score on any one of the following exams or by fitting into one of the categories listed below:

Option Minimum Score or Grade Required Iowa State Code
TOEFL 71 IBT with a 17 or above on the Speaking and Writing sections 17 on all sections on the Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT) 6306
IELTS 6.0 overall score with all subscores 5.5 or above IELTS doesn't use codes
*Duolingo English Test (DET) 100 overall score DET doesn't use codes
PTE 48 overall score PTE doesn't use codes
SAT 460 Evidence-Based Writing and Reading subscore (EWR) 6306
ACT 19 English subscore 1320
International Baccalaureate (IB) 5 on any of the four IB English courses (SL or HL)
Advanced Placement (AP) 3 on English Language and Composition, or 4 on English Literature and Composition
IGCSE (O Levels/AS & A Levels) D in First Language English, or C in English as a Second Language

International students who fit into any of the following categories will be considered to have met the requirement:

  • Residents of a country where English is the only official language and who is a native English speaker
  • Graduates of U.S. high schools
  • Completed the equivalent of Iowa State’s English 150 or 250 with a grade of B or better at an accredited U.S. 2 year or 4 year college or university.

Documents required for admission

  1. English proficiency exam results
  2. Transcripts of all high schools or universities attended
  3. Bank statement or sponsor letter showing $46,000 USD, equivalent to one year’s expenses
  4. Copy of passport, and of visa (if available)

For admission purposes, scanned documents are accepted. If you are offered admission, official final documents will be required.

Academic requirements by country

View academic requirements for your country.

Applying for a visa

Applying for a visa can take a lot of time and preparation. Be sure to start early, and refer to the U.S. embassy website in your country.

An I-20 is a form that U.S. schools issue to international students to indicate they have met all admission requirements to enter that school. If you live outside the U.S., you will need to take the Form I-20 to the nearest U.S. Consulate in your country, along with a valid passport, TOEFL score, financial support documents and school transcripts, to obtain a F-1 Student visa. It is important to remember to sign your I-20 prior to entering the United States.

If you are already in the U.S., the form may be issued only after the release date given to you by your previous school. That is usually the last date that you have attended classes.

To allow time to overcome any unforeseen problems that might arise, students are encouraged to apply for their visas several weeks before they plan to travel. Students may not be issued a visa more than 120 days before the registration date noted on the I-20.

All applicants for a Student Visa must provide:

  • A Form I-20. Iowa State will mail the Certificate of Eligibility for a Student Visa (Form I-20) to you once you have been selected for admission and have demonstrated that you have adequate funds to cover all of your educational and living expenses. When you receive it, please check the spelling of your name, birth date, and entry date for accuracy, read it carefully, and sign it in the designated space.
  • A completed non-immigrant online visa application form (DS-160) with your photo. These forms are available at the Embassy at no charge.
  • A passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States.
  • A receipt for the visa application processing fee.
  • Proof of SEVIS fee payment (I-901 receipt).

All applicants should be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from all institutions attended.
  • Scores from any standardized tests taken, such as the TOEFL, SAT, ACT, IELTS, etc.
  • Financial evidence that shows you or your financial sponsor have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. (You may use the copy you made of the Undergraduate Financial Statement and attach supporting documents. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If you or your sponsor own a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.)

Refer to the U.S. Department of State website for additional details.

Once you have your visa, you may begin making your travel arrangements. Please do so early, as airline flights are filled quickly during the student travel season.

It is important to remember that visa regulations prohibit students from arriving more than 30 days in advance of the date of arrival on their Form I-20.

You must have your current visa status verified by your current school by having them complete the Transfer I-20 Request Form. This form should not be completed until you have accepted your offer of admission to Iowa State University.