Universities in Iowa with Grad Programs

Graduate Schools in Iowa, IA

Iowa graduate programs allow students to pursue their academic and career dreams and gain experience, all while enjoying the quality of life Iowa is known for. Historically an agricultural economy—Iowa part of the Corn Belt—today, Iowa has a more diversified economy, with manufacturing, financial services, information technology, and green energy among its many industries. They also have a strong higher education presence, with three public universities and many more private institutions, several of which offer graduate programs.

Communities in Iowa

Iowa might be known for its rural farmland, but that’s only one part of this multifaceted state. In fact, 61% of the state’s population live in urban areas, a trend that continues to grow. As such, it’s not unlikely that you’ll end up in an urban or suburban community while studying in Iowa graduate schools. Below are three of the biggest cities by population, along with some details about what you could expect there!

Discover Top Iowa Cities for a Graduate Program

 PopulationMedian Household IncomeMedian Gross Rent% of person having a bachelor's degree or higher
Des Moinesi203,433$45,836$74224.7%
Cedar Rapidsii126,326$52,216$69430.2%
Davenportiii99,685$44,817$67827.0%
Siouxiv82,684$43,449$64619.1%

Des Moines, Iowa

THE BASICS: Des Moines, Iowa is both the capital of and the most populous city in Iowa. It’s also widely known for being the location of the first presidential caucuses during the primary elections, and as such, many candidates set up their headquarters here. This gives the city and its residents unique influence in the national political arena. After all, where outside DC could you get such an intimate view of national, state, and local politics in one place?

THE OPPORTUNITY: Des Moines also has a thriving local economy. Many insurance companies, including two listed among the Fortune 500, as well as several major financial services corporations. As such, business students—whatever aspect of business they’re focused on—may find unique opportunities to stretch themselves and practice their new skills right here.

THE FUN: When you’re not working or in class, you could enjoy Des Moines’ cultural offerings, including the Des Moines Metro Opera, the Des Moines Symphony, exhibitions at the Des Moines Art Center, or take a walk through the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Want something a little more unique? Check out the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary and learn about the communication and cognitive skills of orangutans and bonobos.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

THE BASICS: The second-largest city in Iowa, Cedar Rapids is known as the City of Five Seasons. This is in honor of their philosophy of “the fifth season,” which they say represents having the time to enjoy the other four. That alone should tell you something about what it’s like to live here.

DAILY LIFE: The average commute in Cedar Rapids is under 18 minutes, which is less than the national average of 25 minutes.v That, combined with a relatively low cost of living (3% less than the national average), could be one factor that enables Cedar Rapidians to enjoy all the city has to offer… or, in your case, to balance your career and your graduate program studies.

THE FUN: Cedar Rapids also has a strong arts and culture presence, with institutions like the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Paramount Theatre, the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa, and the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library to name a few.

FAMOUS FACES: You may know of more Cedar Rapidians than you realize! Successful artists, actors, and athletes with roots in the city include Elijah Wood, Ashton Kutcher, Grant Wood, Kurt Warner, Landon Kassill, and Zach Johnson, to name a few.

Fun Fact: Remember “American Gothic?” You may also have referred to it as “that one famous painting of the stern farmers.” Its subject (the house in the background) still stands… in Cedar Rapids!

Davenport, Iowa

THE BASICS: Located between Des Moines and Chicago, along the Mississippi River, Davenport IA is a city with a small-town vibe—despite being more than 100,000 strong. The cost of living there is relatively low, at about 3% below the national average. The local economy centers on manufacturing, utilities, and healthcare and related social services (which alone is responsible for about 15% of all employment in the metro area).vi

LOCAL CULTURE: Davenport takes pride in the diverse character of their neighborhoods, from historic areas to modern, urban to rural. Whatever type of neighborhood you’d prefer to live in, you might find it here. And the families that do live here may find a lot to enjoy, with the wide range of local events, festivals, and other cultural offerings. That includes things like Bix Fest (a three day music festival that’s been running since 1971), an annual Juneteenth celebration, arts festivals, races, and more.

THE SCHOOLS: Universities in and around Davenport include Saint Ambrose University, Upper Iowa University, Western Illinois University Quad Cities, Palmer College of Chiropractic, and more.

Why Live and Study in Iowa?

You might think you know what to expect in Iowa… but do you? Iowa is more than just its farmland, though it’s certainly important, not just for the state but for the country as a whole. Iowa’s winter caucuses also signal the beginning of each presidential election. They have one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country, strong infrastructure, and more.

Listed below are three reasons why you might want to consider Iowa graduate programs.

Quality Health Care

In 2018, US News & World Report ranked Iowa as third in the nation for healthcare. That achievement is fed by a few other rankings:

  • #5 for Health Care Access
  • #1 for Child Wellness Visits
  • #5 for Health Insurance Enrollment
  • #2 for Health Care Affordability
  • #3 for Medicare Quality

Hospitals and healthcare are also important sources of employment. Hospitals in particular make up about 5% of employment in the state of Iowa, with an additional 1.1% in outpatient care centers, and 1% in residential care facilities. And some of those hospitals may even be part of the university systems you may apply to—meaning you could potentially gain experience there on internship and clinical rotations.

Top Notch Education

Health care isn’t the only category where Iowa achieved top marks. US News Best States 2018 ranked Iowa as #5 nationally in the category of Education. That includes:

  • #8 for Higher Education
  • #3 for 4-Year College Graduation Rate
  • #1 for High School Graduation Rate
  • #4 for Preschool Enrollment

As you can see, Iowa’s pursuit of quality education is across the board, from early childhood through adulthood. It’s also the home of a variety of public and private institutions, big and small, which strive to offer the education, support, and opportunities students like you need. Consider examples like:

  • Drake University
  • Northwestern College
  • Dordt College
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Clarke University
  • Grinnell College
  • And more!

Of course, the education and experience you find in Iowa depends on a lot—your choice of school, your program, the degree you’re working toward, the surrounding community, and other personal factors. To find out more about what you should expect, reach out to the schools you’ve decided to apply to.

Daily Life in Iowa

Of course, whatever your field of study, your experience as a grad student in Iowa will hinge on one thing… actually living there! Lucky for you, Iowa has your back. Iowa ranked a staggering #1 in the nation for the quality of their infrastructure. That includes such accolades as:

  • #7 for Average Commute Times
  • #5 for Energy
    • #6 for Renewable Energy Usage
  • #1 for Internet Access
    • #5 for Overall Broadband Access
    • #1 for Ultra-Fast Internet Access

They also performed well in areas like quality of life, where they ranked in the top 10. This looks at things like community engagement, voter participation, environmental factors, and overall resident satisfaction.

What to Study in Iowa Graduate Schools

Graduate schools in Iowa offer a world of opportunity. Students here study everything from the arts to STEM, supporting potential careers in a broad range of fields. That means it’s likely you could find programs that align with your goals as well, at Iowa universities rooted in their communities and dedicated to supporting their students.

Below are three examples of graduate programs in Iowa students like you may be interested in.

Iowa MBA Programs

With such a diverse state economy, Iowa is home to businesses, big and small, in all different industries. What do they all have in common? A need for organizational, business, and leadership skills. That’s where Iowa MBA programs come in.

At universities in Iowa, you could study full time and dedicate yourself to honing your leadership chops. Or you could study part-time in a flexible program, and continue pursuing the career you love while studying and developing new skills in the classroom!

Here are just a few Iowa graduate programs focused on business:

  • University of Iowa MBA Programs
  • Purdue University Global MS in Management & Leadership/Project Management
  • Drake University Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Grand View University MS in Innovative Leadership

Healthcare Graduate Programs in Iowa

Considering that healthcare is one of the biggest areas of employment in Iowavii, it makes sense that you might want to earn your graduate degree, or even pursue a career here! Whether you’re an experienced nurse looking to step up your game, an aspiring doctor, or prefer to stick to the organizational side of things, Iowa health and medicine graduate programs may just have the option for you.

Here are several examples of the types of healthcare graduate programs in Iowa you might consider.

  • Purdue University Global Master of Health Care Administration
  • Clarke College Master of Science in Nursing
  • Des Moines University Master of Biomedical Sciences
  • Kaplan University Master of Science in Health Education

Education Programs in Iowa

Considering that US News put the state of Iowa at fifth in the nation for their overall education system, it’s no wonder that current and aspiring teachers alike might flock to its graduate schools to hone their skills.

When choosing your Iowa graduate education program, you may have a few things to consider. If you’re looking for a masters program that helps you become certified, be aware that these programs will align with Iowa’s teaching certification standards, so if you plan to certify in a different state, there may be additional legwork. If you’re already a certified teacher, keep experience, career goals, and the needs of your students in mind when selecting programs right for you.

A few examples of the many education graduate programs in Iowa:

  • Purdue University Global MS in Educational Psychology
  • Iowa State University Educational Administration Program
  • Dordt College Masters in Curriculum and Instruction
  • St. Ambrose University M.Ed. in Educational Administration

Search for Iowa Graduate Programs

Find your potential Iowa graduate programs by reviewing the sponsored program listings here! Narrow your search by selecting your preferred area of study or degree level. Then click on the names of any you think you may be interested in to read more and request information!


[i] census.gov/quickfacts/table/POP010210/1921000,00 | [ii] census.gov/quickfacts/table/POP010210/1912000,00 | [iii] census.gov/quickfacts/table/POP010210/1919000,00 | [iv] census.gov/quickfacts/table/INC110213/1973335,00 | [v] datausa.io/profile/geo/cedar-rapids-ia/#commute_time | [vi] datausa.io/profile/geo/davenport-ia/#category_industries | [vii] datausa.io/profile/geo/iowa/#category_industries

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