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Graduate School


Admission Requirements

North Dakota State University is fully committed to equal opportunity in employment decisions and educational programs and activities, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and including appropriate affirmative action efforts, for all individuals without regard to age. color, disability, gender expression/identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, public assistance status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, status as a U.S. veteran, or participation in lawful activity off the employer's premises during nonworking hours which is not in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.

Admission to the Graduate School is a selective process intended to identify applicants who are outstanding among recipients of baccalaureate degrees. The following minimum qualifications are required of all students seeking an advanced degree:

  1. The applicant must have a baccalaureate degree from an educational institution of recognized standing.
  2. The applicant must have adequate preparation in the chosen field of study and must show potential to undertake advanced study and research as evidenced by academic performance and experience.
  3. At the baccalaureate level, the applicant must have earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0, or equivalent, to attain full standing in a graduate degree program. Applicants whose last degree completed is a graduate degree may be admitted in full standing if the final GPA of that degree is at least 3.0 or equivalent.
  4. Each program may set higher qualifications and may require the submission of additional evidence of academic performance.

A student shall be permitted to register for graduate study only after formal admission. Programs make recommendations on all applications, but the final admission decision is the responsibility of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Application Requirements

All application materials are due one month before registration for U.S. applicants; some programs have earlier deadlines. (See program sections within the Graduate Bulletin for details.) For international students, the completed application packet and required test scores must be received by the Graduate School prior to May 1 for Fall Semester and prior to August 1 for Spring Semester unless the department has other posted deadlines. There is additional paperwork for international applicants.Click here for graduate application. 

Official transcripts (transcripts in a sealed, stamped envelope from the granting institution) of all previous undergraduate and graduate records must be received by the Graduate School before the application is considered complete. When a transcript is submitted in advance of completion of either undergraduate or graduate studies, an updated transcript showing all course credits, grades, and degree completions must be provided prior to initial registration at NDSU.

Online letters of recommendation are required before action is taken on any application. We do not accept paper letters. Click on Application Materials for the number of letters required by each program.

Programs requiring or recommending Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or scores Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) are indicated on their information pages. Minimum TOEFL or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores by program are also listed on TestScores

Admission of International Students

North Dakota State University welcomes international students as part of the student body, and the Graduate School encourages applications from qualified students throughout the world. More than 25% of the approximately 2,100 graduate students are international.

In addition to meeting the previously stated admission requirements, to qualify for admission in an advanced degree program, all international students must demonstrate proficiency in English and must provide evidence of adequate financial support for themselves and any dependents for the duration of their graduate program.

International Application Deadline

All application materials for international students must be received by the Graduate School prior to May 1 for Fall Semester and prior to August 1 for Spring Semester.  This deadline applies to students matriculating from abroad because of the time required to obtain current financial information, determine student status, and issue the appropriate immigration form.

Language Proficiency for Admission

English proficiency must be demonstrated prior to admission by obtaining a minimum score of 525 (paper-based test) or 71 (internet-based test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a score of 6 on the (IELTS). Some programs require higher scores for admission to their degree programs. The test date must be within two years of the date of the application to the Graduate School. Information about these tests is available on our website

 The TOEFL or IELTS score may be waived for students from countries where English is the official language and for students who have recently earned a degree from a U.S. university or college.

Action on Applications

Admission of all graduate students requires approval by the Dean of the Graduate School. All applicants who have submitted the required application materials, will receive admission decisions by email.  of action taken on their request for admittance to the Graduate School.


Admission Status

Graduate students will be admitted under one of the following classifications:

Full Graduate Standing
These students have met all requirements for admission and have been accepted by a program leading to a graduate degree. A student must have full graduate standing to receive a graduate degree.

Conditional Standing
Students in conditional standing do not meet all requirements for admission or have deficiencies in prerequisite course work but show potential for successful graduate study. Evidence must be provided showing that the applicant's potential is not adequately reflected by his or her record. In making this recommendation, the program must specify standards of performance that must be satisfied for a change in status to full graduate standing. Any student admitted in CONDITIONAL status is automatically placed on academic WARNING until the conditions of admission are met. If a student on academic warning fails to achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in the subsequent semester of attendance, the student will be placed on academic probation. The student may not earn more than 12 semester hours of graduate credit while in conditional status.

Students admitted under conditional status may, in consultation with their major adviser, request a change to full graduate standing after demonstration of specified capability in graduate studies using the Change of Admission Status form. This request containing the academic justification for the change is to be made to the Dean of the Graduate School by the major adviser and approved by the program administrator. Eligibility for graduate assistantships will be determined by the program. Students with conditional status cannot become candidates for a degree; they must achieve full graduate standing.

Non-Degree Enrollment
Individuals who hold a baccalaureate degree from an institution of recognized standing may enroll as non-degree students. This category is for individuals who desire to pursue study beyond the baccalaureate degree for personal growth and improvement of skills but not in order to work toward an advanced degree objective. To become a non-degree student, individuals must complete an application form and submit the appropriate fees. Students must have the prerequisite courses or background/experience necessary for the course or courses in which they desire to enroll. This may require consultation and approval from course instructors. In courses with limited enrollment, preference will be given to degree-seeking students.

Students enrolled with non-degree status are not eligible for graduate assistantships, tuition waivers, or federal title IV student financial assistance. Students in this category are affiliated with the Graduate School and not an academic program. No more than 10 credits taken under the non-degree status with a grade of B or higher can be transferred to any official program of study should there be, at any future date, a decision to seek degree classification. Professional development graduate courses (numbered 600) are not eligible for graduate degree programs and may be taken without formal admission to NDSU.

Change in Classification
Students enrolled with non-degree status may subsequently desire to be considered for admission to the Graduate School to pursue an advanced degree. Such a change in status may be accomplished for a subsequent term by submitting a complete application to the Graduate School as a degree-seeking student. The student must be acceptable to a specific program. Appropriate course credits (no more than 10) earned in the non-degree status may be used to fulfill graduate degree requirements if approved by the student's program committee and the Dean of the Graduate School. No course taken in the non-degree status for which the grade is less than B will be permitted on a plan of study for a graduate degree.

Language Proficiency for Teaching Assistants

There will be two recognized categories of teaching assistants:

  • Graders are individuals who will have no direct contact with students in their role as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. These individuals must have a minimum TOEFL ibT score of 79 (IELTS of 6.5) and must score at or above the 40th percentile on the TOEFL ibT Speaking and Writing subscales (currently 19 and 21 respectively). The IELTS equivilant scores are 5.0 and 5.5 respectively. Individuals may serve in this capacity for no more than 1 calendar year. To continue as a GTA, students must meet the criteria presented in the following paragraph.*
  • All other GTAs must have a minimum TOEFL ibT score of 81 (IELTS of 7), a TOEFL ibT Speaking subscale score of 23 or above and a TOEFL ibT Writing subscale score of 21 or above. The IELTS equivilant scores are 5.5 and 5.5 respectively.

Domestic GTAs and international GTAs possessing a US bachelor's degree or higher are not required to present a TOEFL score, provided that the degree included a minimum of two years in residence.

*Full enforcement of this policy awaits the offering of advanced English language courses.

Financial Requirements

Certification of adequate financial support is required from all international applicants other than permanent residents of the United States, parolees, refugees, United States trust territory applicants, or immigrants. Admission will not be granted until proof of funds for the duration of graduate study has been submitted. A North Dakota State University Financial Certification Form must be completed for this purpose.  Failure to complete this certification and submit supporting documents will delay admission decisions and the issuance of the appropriate immigration forms. Applicants must be prepared to pay tuition, fees, and costs for living expenses for their entire stay at the university. North Dakota State University does not provide financial assistance for graduate international students who have not been granted an assistantship.  Each applicant should become familiar with his/her financial needs based on the detailed summary of expenses.

Transfer of Funds

There are often difficulties in transferring funds from foreign countries to the United States. Before departing for the United States, students should become thoroughly familiar with their home government's regulations for exchanging and forwarding money.

Sponsored International Students

Agencies and foreign governments that require special administrative and management services from the Office of International Programs at NDSU are assessed an administrative fee. Contact the Office of International Programs for fee amounts.

Medical Insurance

International students are required by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to purchase the Board approved health insurance policy before they are allowed to register. No other policy may be substituted. The fee for health insurance for one year must be paid upon arrival and at the beginning of each subsequent year. Because of the increasing costs of health care in the United States, health insurance for a student's spouse and accompanying dependents is highly recommended and is included in the estimate of expenses for accompanying dependents. In addition, the state of North Dakota requires documentation of immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella prior to registration for courses.

Registration Procedure

In the letter notifying an applicant of admission, the Graduate School will identify an individual, usually the program administrator, whom the applicant should contact. The student should confer with this, or another, program representative prior to initial registration.

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide information about the graduate programs of North Dakota State University. It should not be considered an offer or a contract. While every effort has been made to make this information as complete and accurate as possible, it should be noted that changes may occur at any time in the requirements, course offerings, fees, etc. listed in this bulletin. However, students are allowed to meet the degree requirements in effect at the time of first enrollment as a degree-seeking student, provided the student is able to complete the degree requirements reflected in the appropriate bulletin within the stated time frame and the student has maintained continuous enrollment status.

It is the responsibility of the student to be familiar with and complete the requirements for the degree being sought.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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NDSU Graduate School
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7033
Campus address:  106 Putnam Hall
Physical/delivery address:  NDSU Graduate School/106 Putnam Hall/1349 12th Avenue Northwest/Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address:  NDSU Dept. 2820/PO Box 6050/Fargo, ND 58108
Page manager: NDSU Graduate School

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:14:48 PM