Departmental Admissions Policy

Admission Criteria for the Study Toward the Master’s Degree

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) offers three master’s option:

  • Master of Science with thesis (MS): normally expected preparation for PhD study
  • Master of Science without thesis (MS)
  • Master of Engineering (MEng): primarily offered for distance students

A student with the appropriate qualifications may apply for admission to the master’s program for theses options. Students pursuing the non-thesis and Master’s of Engineering are unlikely to receive financial aid. The student may change the degree option with the approval of the Director of Graduate Education (DOGE).

All applications are evaluated on the basis of academic record, letters of recommendation, GRE*, and statement of purpose. The general policy is to admit only those applicants judged to have the highest potential for success as graduate students consistent with the department’s academic and financial resources:


Applicants with undergraduate degrees from ABET-accredited electrical or computer engineering curricula who are in the upper half of their graduating class are eligible. Applicants are required to submit a recent GRE* test result to be consid­ered for full admission. Graduates of non-accredited electrical and computer engineering curricula may be considered for restricted admission if they meet all other requirements and show outstanding potential for graduate study. Graduates of accredited electrical and computer engineering curricula that fail to meet some admission requirement but otherwise show outstanding potential may also be considered for restricted admission.


Applicants with undergraduate degrees in electrical or computer engineering from foreign universities are required to submit recent TOEFL and GRE test results. They are expected to have a TOEFL score of at least 79 internet based (230 computer based or 570 paper based), a GRE Quantitative test score of at least 700, and be in the upper quarter of their graduating class to be considered for admission.


Applicants with undergraduate degrees in engineering disciplines other than electrical or computer engineering or applicants with non-engineering degrees in some closely related science who meet all other requirements in a) or b) above may be considered for provisional admission.


Students currently enrolled in either the undergraduate computer engineering or electrical engineering programs at Iowa State University and classified as a senior may be eligible to apply for a Concurrent Degree Program. Students will be expected to have a 3.2 or higher grade point average. See Concurrent Degree Program application procedures.

*GRE scores for Master of Engineering will be waived for applicants with an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above or 2 years of industrial experience.

Admission Criteria for Study Toward the PhD Degree

ECpE offers a traditional doctoral program for a student with a master’s degree in engineering or a closely related science. Students with a master’s degree from a foreign engineering school shall submit GRE and TOEFL test results as stipulated in 1b. Graduates from domestic schools are required to submit GRE scores. Admission will be either full or provisional depending on the applicant’s background. Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of their master’s program, their potential for doctoral-level research, and the availability of a major professor in their area of specialization in addition to the previous criteria for admission to the master’s program. Only the most outstanding applicants are admitted.

Also, students with good credentials with a Bachelor of Science degree are encouraged to apply for direct entry to the PhD degree program. A direct entry PhD student will typically take less time to a PhD compared to someone who enters MS first.

Graduates of the department’s master’s degree program wishing to work towards a PhD degree must apply for readmission to the doctoral program and should consult the Graduate Secretary for information on the procedures to be followed. The request should be made to the Director of Graduate Education.

Additional Admissions Guidelines


It is the department policy that undergraduates must be in the upper-half of their class in order to enroll in 500-level courses.


Transfer from restricted admission to full admission requires either a GPA of 3.2 or better on 10 hours of graduate credit or a GPA of 3.0 or better on 18 hours, and the recommendation of the student’s major professor.


Transfer from provisional to full admission should occur at the earliest possible time after the student satisfactorily remedies the deficiencies that resulted in provisional admission. Students should download the Request to Transfer from Provisional to Full Admission Form from the departmental website. Complete the form and obtain major professor’s signature. Bring the form to the ECpE Student Services Office for approval.

Electrical engineering majors admitted provisionally must, in order to be changed to full admission, have successfully completed one of the following: successful completion, had equivalent material, have subsequent courses, or tested out of EE 201, EE 230, EE 224, EE 311, EE 322 and CprE 281.

Computer engineering majors admitted provisionally must, in order to be changed to full admission, establish competence in the core topics of logic design, computer organization, computer architecture, high level programming (e.g. Pascal or C), machine level programming (e.g. assembly language), and electric circuits. These topics correspond to the following courses: EE 230, CprE 281, CprE 381, CprE 308, and CprE 310. Completing any four of these five courses will satisfy in meeting the deficiency requirement.

Revised March 2011