Requirements and How to Apply to Biostatistics

Please review these detailed requirements and instructions for applying to the MS or PhD graduate program at University of Iowa Department of Biostatistics.

Admission Requirements

MS in Biostatistics

  • You must have earned a bachelor’s or professional degree.
  • You must have a minimum grade-point average of 3.0.
  • Applicants should have a minimum GRE combined verbal and quantitative score of 305; however, the combined GRE score for new students in recent years has been 315-331.
  • International students, except permanent residents, are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.   An acceptable TOEFL score is a minimum of 600 (250 computer-based test or 100 internet-based test) or a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (with no subscore lower than 6.0).  Automatic waivers of this requirement are granted for persons who have completed a bachelor’s degree (or higher) at an accredited university in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada (excluding French Quebec), Africa (English speaking), Australia, or New Zealand.
  • You must have the ability to program in at least one computer language.
  • You must have three collegiate-level courses in calculus (at the level of University of Iowa courses MATH:1850, MATH:1860, and MATH:2850 — see descriptions below) and a collegiate-level course in linear algebra (at the level of University of Iowa course MATH:2700 — see description below). Those applying to the Biostatistics program should provide, as part of the application, transcript verification and/or a brief statement indicating whether and how these prerequisites have been met, either through coursework at the University of Iowa or through regularly-scheduled coursework or independent study at other institutions.
  • A background of science, mathematics, or health sciences is recommended.
  • Previous coursework or experience in statistical methods or data analysis is preferred

PhD in Biostatistics

Entrance requirements for the PhD are the same as for the MS degree. Completion of an MS program in biostatistics or statistics, either at the University of Iowa or elsewhere, is generally required for admission to the PhD program; although strong candidates with a bachelor’s degree will be considered for PhD admission.

University of Iowa course descriptions of prerequisite coursework

  • MATH:1850 Calculus I (4 s.h.) Fundamental concepts, methods, techniques of single-variable differential and integral calculus; differentiation, techniques of integration, series, applications. General Education: quantitative or formal reasoning.
  • MATH:1860 Calculus II (4 s.h.) Continuation of MATH:1850.
  • MATH:2850 Calculus III (4 s.h.) Multivariable calculus; vector functions, line integrals, total differentials, gradient, implicit functions, coordinate systems, Taylor’s expansion, extrema, multiple integrals, vector fields, surface integrals, Stokes’s theorem.
  • MATH:2700 Introduction to Linear Algebra (4 s.h.) Vector algebra and geometry of three-dimensional Euclidean space and extensions to n-space and vector spaces; lines and planes, matrices, linear transformations, systems of linear equations, reduction to row echelon form, dimension, rank, determinants, eigenvalues and eigenvectors.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall Admission
    • December 1 (Deadline for consideration for financial support)
    • January 15 (final deadline)
  • Spring Admission
    • October 15 (Limited availability to PhD applicants who have an MS degree in biostatistics/statistics)
    • We do not consider MS applications for Spring admission

If you are a current University of Iowa graduate student, please contact for application procedures.

Instructions for Submitting an Application

To complete an application to the University of Iowa Biostatistics Program, one must submit applications and supporting documents to both the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS) and to the University of Iowa Office of Graduate Admissions.

Application Requirements
A complete application, and therefore one that will be reviewed by the admissions committee, consists of the following 2 steps.

Step 1: Schools of Public Health (SOPHAS) Application

All domestic and international applicants must apply through SOPHAS at You will be required to:

  • Complete an application.
  • Provide official transcripts showing all previous undergraduate and graduate courses with grades and degrees. If you are still working towards a degree at the time of application, you will be required to send in your transcripts twice: once to SOPHAS at the time of application and a second time to our Graduate Admissions Office once your undergraduate degree is conferred by your current institution.
    • A note for International Students: SOPHAS accepts WES-evaluated transcripts only. However, the University of Iowa does NOT require WES-evaluated transcripts. Therefore, if you do not submit WES-evaluated transcripts, you MUST send a separate official transcript to University of Iowa Office of International Graduate Admissions. Please click here for the address.
  • Provide official GRE scores (the University of Iowa SOPHAS GRE code is 0658).
  • Provide Three (3) Letters of Reference. These letters are submitted by your letter writers through SOPHAS. Detailed instructions on how these letters are submitted can be found here.  We recommend letters of reference from your academic experiences, but will accept professional references.
  • Upload your résumé describing educational and employment history.
  • Upload a personal statement (1,500-word limit).
  • International applicants must provide official TOEFL scores. The SOPHAS TOEFL code is 5688 (see above for minimum accepted scores and waivers for this requirement).
  • Upload writing sample (PhD applications only).

It is highly recommended that you submit your SOPHAS application for verification as soon possible.  Application errors are common and can delay verification.

Step 2: Set up UI account and pay supplemental University of Iowa fee

  • Once you have submitted all your materials to SOPHAS and your transcripts have been verified, you will receive an email from the University of Iowa which will provide you with detailed instructions on setting up a University of Iowa account and paying the supplemental University of Iowa fee. Your application will be reviewed once this step is complete.
  • All students (except those whose undergraduate degree was conferred at the University of Iowa), will need to send their final transcript (showing degree conferral) to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Underrepresented minority and disadvantaged applicants are eligible for a fee waiver for the University of Iowa supplemental fee. Please refer to Graduate Fee Waiver for detailed information. If additional questions, please contact

Questions or comments? Contact Terry Kirk. This page was last reviewed on August 31, 2017.