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Financing Your Graduate Education

MCDB students receive a stipend to help cover living expenses.  Depending on the degree track, and provided that the student remains in good academic standing, the assistantship provides partial or full tuition scholarship.  Graduate students receiving an assistantship will also receive paid single coverage health insurance.  Additional information about student health insurance can be found on the Students & Scholar Health Insurance Program (SSHIP) website


Current MCDB graduate students are supported by graduate assistantships.  Graduate assistantships can be research, teaching or a combination of the two.  Annual stipend rates typically range from $22,800 to $25,000 depending on the assistantship or fellowship received.  MCDB first year, PhD students who enter via rotation receive their first eight months of support from the program.  The current rotation assistantship provides a stipend of $2,000 per month.  It is expected that rotation students will choose a Major Professor who will pick up their financial assistantship by the end of their initial graduate assistantship award.  Thereafter financial support continues through the research grant(s) of the Major Professor and may vary in amount from that during rotations.  MS students or PhD students who are admitted directly are supported by their Major Professor from the start.  When choosing rotations and a major professor it is important to discuss available funding.  


Additional fellowship opportunities are available to MCDB applicants.  Applicants are automatically considered for the following competitive Iowa State University fellowships.  Each awarding office has its own selection and eligibility criteria. It is of note that the program must nominate those who qualify and applicants are not able to nominate themselves.  

Alliance for Graduate Education & the Professoriate (AGEP) Fellowship: Jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and three Iowa Regents universities, AGEP is a multi-year award that helps to support outstanding students in the pursuit of a PhD degree within STEM fields.  Underrepresented (African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander), U.S. citizens admitted into a PhD program may be eligible. 

Diane Brandt Fellowship for Women: Provides one year of $5,000 in stipend support to an outstanding female graduate student.  Nomination eligibility is limited to women enrolled as a first semester, full-time student in a PhD program in science, mathematics, agriculture, or engineering. 

George Washington Carver Doctoral Fellowship Program: Named in honor of George Washington Carver, Iowa State's first minority student and faculty member, this award provides three years of support for students pursuing a PhD degree from any area of graduate study.  Eligibility requirements state that nominees must be a U.S. citizen from an underrepresented minority (African American, American Indian, or Latino) and be a full admit into a PhD program. 

Graduate College Miller Fellowship: This is a multi-year fellowship awarded on a competitive basis to doctoral graduate students without regard to the area of research interest.  Domestic and international applicants may qualify for this award.

Graduate Disability Assistantship Program (GDAP): GDAP offers financial assistance to disabled graduate students who are pursuing either a MS or PhD degree within any discipline.  Nominees must have a disability (physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities) under the Americans with Disabilities Act and confirmed through the ISU Student Disability Office.  Only students admitted as full or provisional are eligible for nomination.  Please note that you do not have disclose your specific disability to the MCDB Graduate Program.  For more information about the GDAP program and how it works, please contact Thelma Harding at (515) 294-4531 or   

Graduate Minority Assistantship Program (GMAP): GMAP offers financial assistance to U.S. citizens who are members of ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education.  Nominees must be admitted into a degree-seeking MS or PhD program as full or provisional.  Eligibility requirements specify that applicants must be a member of one of the following ethnic groups: African American, American Indian, or Latino. 

Office of Biotechnology Graduate Student Fellowship: A competitive fellowship awarded to graduate students with research interests related to Biotechnology.  Domestic and international applicants may qualify per eligibility standards.  

Plant Sciences Institute (PSI) Fellowship: Prospective graduate students who intend to pursue a PhD degree in the plant sciences may be eligible.  Both domestic and international applicants may be nominated by the MCDB Program.  This is a multi-year, competitive award. 


Tuition and the accompanying fees are charged each term (Fall, Spring, & Summer).  Graduate students who are receiving a graduate assistantship (research, teaching, or both), and who remain in good academic standing, receive a tuition scholarship.  PhD students on a 1/2 time appointment receive 100% tuition scholarship.  MS students on a 1/2 time appointment receive 50% tuition scholarship.  The fees assessed once each semester are the responsibility of the student.  It is of note that for students supported by a graduate assistantship, tuition is assessed at an in-state rate.  For current and detailed information, please refer to the following tuition & fees website hosted by the Office of the Registrar.