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How To Apply

Graduate Study in Horticulture at ISU

Welcome, and thank you for your interest in our graduate program (M.S and Ph.D.). Besides the degrees that require completion of a thesis / dissertation, we also offer a program in M.S. (non-thesis) option. For detailed policies and requirements for the graduate degree program, please refer to the Graduate Student Academic Policy Handbook.  Below are some quick facts and guidance regarding the application process.

Potential students are encouraged to identify a prospective faculty advisor before applying.  This would help match the interest and needs of the applicant with the faculty member, and inform the applicant of the availability of a faculty advisor.

The Department of Horticulture has outstanding faculty representing a diverse array of expertise and focus in fundamental and  applied research involving lab or field- based projects.  Please refer to Research Community on Department of Horticulture webpage and Graduate Faculty pages to learn about their research program.  Modern research laboratories and equipment are available for graduate research,  as well as state-of-the-art greenhouses and controlled environment facilities.  For more information on our research facilities, please visit our “Facilities” link under “About Us”.

  • Qualified applicants will have a Bachelor’s degree in any major from a properly accredited institution if the applicant seeks an M.S., or a master’s degree (with thesis) in any major from properly accredited institution if the applicant seeks a Ph.D. A minimum of 3.0 GPA (out of 4.0 maximum, in the last degree program completed) is required for unrestricted admission.  Preference will be given to those with a prior degree in one of plant science disciplines.
  • Evidence of engagement in undergraduate research, internships, excellence in oral / written communication, or extracurricular activities is favorably viewed in admission decisions.

Application Materials

Department of Horticulture requires the following materials as part of a complete application which you will submit electronically to our university admissions office.

Graduate School Application Form and Application Fee

All applicants must complete an online application.  Please refer to ‘prospective students’ tab on the Graduate College homepage for detailed information.

Curriculum Vitae

To assist the admissions committee in reviewing files, we require applicants to submit a current resume / CV with details about any job experience, internships, publications, presentations, scholarly awards or honors, extracurricular activities, etc.

Statement of Purpose

This one- to two-page essay should concisely describe your reasons for choosing to pursue graduate study in Horticulture at Iowa State University, your research interests and career goals, and a brief description of your preparation for graduate school including any evidence of prior research experience or training. The statement will be submitted electronically through the online application.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores

The GRE is not required for admission in to the Department of Horticulture Graduate Program.  However, submitting scores from the GRE with your application are welcome and encouraged as it is another opportunity to demonstrate your qualifications for graduate school.  Since GRE scores are optional, applications that do not have GRE scores will not be disadvantaged when being evaluated.

Three Letters of Recommendation

These letters must be from people acquainted with the applicant’s academic, research and/or professional qualifications. Letters must be submitted online as part of the application process.

English Proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE)

Applicants whose native language is not English must provide official scores from one of the following exams.  The minimum scores required are:

  • Internet-based TOEFL – 79
  • Paper-based TOEFL – 550
  • IELTS – 6.5
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) – 53
  • Duolingo – 105


Official transcripts from undergraduate (if applying for M.S.) or undergraduate and graduate (if applying for Ph.D.) degree programs must be submitted with on-line application. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation duly attested by the official seal/stamp and an official signature.

Application Deadlines

Applications for admission are accepted year round, but admission for a particular semester is subject to the following deadlines.  Please complete your application including GRE and TOEFL scores by the deadlines below:

For spring admission – October 1

For fall admission – May 15


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