Iowa State University


Iowa State University (ISU) is a public university in Ames, Iowa with over 28,000 students. It was founded in 1858 as a land-grant agricultural college, became a state college in 1898, and received university status in 1959. Today, ISU awards bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

ISU defines its mission as one of “discovering, developing, disseminating, and preserving knowledge.” In keeping with this, the University operates agricultural extension offices in Iowa counties. The extension courses offer non-credit programs for farmers, gardeners, students, and other people interested in any level of horticulture. A branch campus offering credit courses is located in Des Moines.


The first building, Farm House, was constructed in 1860. The most famous and recognizable structure, the Campanile, was completed in 1898. Since that time, the University has grown to include hundreds of buildings on over two thousand acres. In addition to the regular assortment of classroom buildings, residence halls, and other standard facilities, ISU features two greenhouses, a dairy farm, an ice arena, a conservatory, butterfly exhibit, gardens, and a nationally recognized arboretum. The ISU campus was one of only three to be recognized as a “Medallion Site” by the American Association of Landscape Architects in their centennial listings.


Information Summary

Ranks 5th in Iowa and 226th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 92.1
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $21,186
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 28 / 1334
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 20 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 87% / 67%
Enrollment Total (all students) 34,992


ISU is organized into eight colleges: the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Design, the College of Engineering, the College of Human Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Bachelor’s degrees are awarded in more than 100 different disciplines. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts are the two largest, with the highest number of degrees. Music programs and the performing arts are part of the College of Liberal Arts.

Master’s and doctoral degrees are awarded in various arts and sciences, accounting, agriculture, business administration (MBA), teaching, community and regional planning, education, engineering, family and consumer studies, fine arts, landscape architecture, public administration, and school mathematics. There are several dual degree programs, including two which include a degree from the Drake University Law School. Graduate certificates are offered in several areas of health, education, and engineering, among others. The College of Veterinary Medicine awards the DVM and several master’s and PhD degrees.

Research Opportunities

ISU is designated as a Doctoral/Research Extensive university the Carnegie Institute. Research permeates much of the academic culture at ISU, as the university leads the way in such fields as agricultural technology, genomics, bioinformatics, human nutrition, and human computer performance. The first-year programs offer valuable opportunities to participate in research to students from the beginning of their college careers.

ISU also houses a large number of research centers and institutes, including many related to agriculture, food, environmental issues, transportation, policy issues, and technology. These include institutes operated by or in conjunction with state and federal government (including NASA and the USDA). Some of the centers and institutes are open to scholars from other universities. The university’s history as an agricultural school is evident in the research focused on soil, food preparation, and agriculture.

Library Resources

The ISU library system offers a wide range of electronic catalogs and on-line databases, in additional to physical volumes stored on site. Its special collections include manuscripts, university archives, and a collection known as the Archives of Women in Science and Engineering. The library also features murals, sculptures, and portraits.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Iowa State University 2 ISU Campanile Fall 2007 :: Iowa State University
Jack Trice Stadium :: Iowa State University


Applications to the undergraduate programs have no set deadline, but acceptances begin approximately a year prior to the term applied for, so applying early is in a student’s best interest. There is a modest application fee. In addition to the application form and fee, students must provide transcripts and test scores. Students who are not in the upper half of their high school class may be admitted if their tests scores are high enough. Students are generally expected to have completed four years of English, three of mathematics, three of science, and two of social studies. Students applying to the College of Liberal Arts have additional course requirements. Applications can be submitted online.

Graduate students should consult individual programs for requirements. Applicants to the dual programs with Drake University Law School must also be admitted to the program at Drake University.

Financial Aid

More than two-thirds of ISU students receive some form of financial aid. To be considered for need-based financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA. Based on need, students may qualify for grants, loans, and/or student employment. Students who are admitted to ISU are automatically considered for merit-based financial aid. Because these opportunities are very competitive, it is important to submit admissions materials as early as possible.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 2809th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Iowa.


With over 500 student clubs and organizations to choose from, there is a choice for virtually every personal and professional interest. There is also a vibrant Greek structure at ISU.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


ISU is an NCAA Division I school, with basketball, cross-country, football, golf, tennis, track & field, wrestling for men and basketball, cross-country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field, and volleyball for women. The team nickname is the Cyclones. Supportive groups include an all-women’s cheerleading squad, a co-ed cheerleading squad, and a pom squad.

Sports facilities open to student use on the ISU campus include a stadium, a coliseum, three athletic buildings for administration and indoor sports, softball and baseball field, and a cross-country track.


According to the lore of Iowa State, a student officially becomes an Iowa State when he/she is kissed under the bells of the Campanile at the stroke of midnight. The colors, cardinal red and gold, were chosen as early as 1899. While the official mascot is the Cyclone, the administration adopted a cardinal as its mascot reflecting its colors (and making it easier to signify in costume). The Iowa State cardinal’s name is “Cy.” One of the University’s most beautiful traditions is the annual lighting of the campus Christmas tree and the entire campus to celebrate the holiday.


About. Iowa State University. Web. 15 June 2011.

Departments. Iowa State University. Web. 15 June 2011.

Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.

Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.

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