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Iowa State University

This is an archived copy of the 2015-2016 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

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About the Catalog

The Iowa State University Catalog is a one-year publication, which lists all academic policies, and procedures. Versions prior to 2011 were two-year publications and available in hard copy as well as online.

The catalog also includes information for fees; curriculum requirements; first-year courses of study for over 100 undergraduate majors; course descriptions for nearly 5000 undergraduate and graduate courses; and a listing of faculty members at Iowa State University.

New courses and programs take effect in the fall term. New courses developed and offered since catalog publication are called experimental courses. A list can be found on the Web at

Every effort has been made to make the catalog accurate as of the date of publication. However, all policies, procedures, fees, and charges are subject to change at any time by appropriate action of the faculty, the university administration, or the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Updates to the Catalog

The curriculum process is governed by the Faculty Senate. The ad hoc committee, Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee considers new curricula proposals, changes and discontinuations to the catalog. Additional information may be in the college governance documents.

The curriculum approval process generally consists of a proposal from the department/program level, approved by the department/program curriculum committee (if applicable), college curriculum committee, and the dean. Additional approvals are needed from the Graduate College if the program proposal is a graduate program. The program proposal is submitted to the Faculty Senate Curriculum committee for review. The Academic Affairs Committee reviews the proposal before passing it onto the Faculty Senate. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa approves all new programs and majors. For additional information about the approval process, see the link to Faculty Senate/Faculty Handbook Curriculum Approvals – Section 10.8. See the Office of the Provost web site for more information.

Catalog updates are generally processed with approvals from department, college, and Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee representatives. Editing begins in late February with course changes due to the Office of the Registrar by June 1. Curriculum and other general information is due to the Office of the Registrar by December 1. Publication is the following February.

See the catalog editing web site for more details on how to make changes to the catalog.

About Iowa State University

Iowa State University is one of the most respected land-grant universities in the nation. Established by the Iowa General Assembly in 1858, the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm was designated the first land-grant college when Iowa became the first state to accept the terms of the federal Morrill Act in 1864.

The act allowed Iowa to sell federal land to finance a new college open to all, regardless of wealth, race or gender; offering a practical education in engineering, agriculture and military science as well as classical studies. Iowa State University officially opened in 1869 and was the first coeducational land-grant school. In 1887, land-grant institutions were given additional responsibilities to establish experiment stations to conduct research to benefit the state's citizenry. 

In 1903, the nation's first cooperative agricultural extension program was launched when Iowa State professors worked with farmers and county governments to establish demonstration farms and institutes.  That program resulted in a federal act in 1914, formalizing programs at each land-grant university that took research-based knowledge to the citizens of that state. 

It is our institutional commitment to these land-grant principles and responsibilities that has produced alumni who are leaders in their professions, research that has forever changed our society and knowledge-based information that has assisted the citizens of our state, nation and world community.

Iowa State's Points of Pride

*The world's first electronic digital computer was developed at Iowa State by math and physics professor John V. Atanasoff and engineering graduate student Clifford Berry, in the late 1930s. Their invention, the ABC computer, has been called the most important technological innovation of the 20th century.

*The university is a leader in virtual reality research and its most advanced virtual reality theater, the C6, is the nation's first six-sided theater that totally immerses the user in images and sound.

*Iowa State's faculty includes a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry and members of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.

*Iowa State's faculty members are recognized for their scholarly efforts. They serve as editors and on editorial and advisory boards of national and international academic professional journals.

*Iowa State's faculty includes two professors who have been recognized among the top 100 young technology innovators in the world.

*Iowa State is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities that has a membership of only 62 major research universities in the United States and Canada.

*Iowa State is one of the top three U.S. universities in the development of patentable biotechnology.

*With more than 100 majors, 1700 faculty and 800 clubs and organizations, Iowa State has built a reputation for almost unlimited academic and social opportunities in a personal and welcoming environment.

*Iowa State's undergraduate programs for future entrepreneurs are ranked among the top 25 in the country.

*Iowa State's interior design, architecture and landscape architecture programs are ranked among the best in the nation.

*Iowa State's learning communities program for undergraduate students is rated among the nation's best.

*Every state and more than 100 countries are represented in Iowa State's student body.

*Iowa State students have a reputation for winning national and international awards. They win contests for apparel design, NASA food technology, news writing for print and broadcast, computer software, vocal music, music composition and many more.

*Iowa State is nationally ranked for its beautiful campus and its central campus has been honored by the Association of Landscape Architects as one of only three university Centennial Medallion sites in the nation.

*Iowa State's 600 works of art on campus make its public art collection the largest of any university in the nation.

*Iowa State's Reiman Gardens has been recognized for having the nation's most outstanding public rose garden.

*Iowa State's wrestling program boasts 6 Olympic gold medalists – the latest being graduate Jake Varner at the 2012  Olympic Games in London. Another Cyclone Olympic winning wrestler, Cael Sanderson, had a perfect collegiate wrestling record at Iowa State of 159 wins that has been recognized by Sports Illustrated as the second most impressive feat in college sports history.

*Iowa State holds a world record certified by the Guinness Book of World Records for growing the tallest amaranth plant in the world.

*The College of Veterinary Medicine has educated over 7,000 veterinarians serving the public and animals worldwide since 1879. 

*The College of Human Sciences is home of the world's most effective drug prevention program for youth, the fastest method of detecting salmonella in contaminated foods, U.S. President-recognized teachers, and performance-boosting swimsuits worn by Olympic gold medalists. 

*The Wall Street Journal ranks the College of Engineering among the top 15 in the nation for the most well-trained and educated students and who are best able to succeed once hired. 

*The College of Business undergraduate program ranks among the top 20% and the MBA program ranks among the top 15% of all U.S. programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

*Supported by its agricultural career fair, the largest in the nation, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' placement rate for its graduates has been more than 97% annually for more than a decade. 

*The College of Design is one of the most comprehensive design colleges in the United States, with an exceptional range of design disciplines and programs that regularly rank in the nation's top 10.

*The faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences lead seven of Iowa State's top 10 nationally ranked academic programs.