Are You a new Graduate Student for Fall 2023? Learn more here!

Monday, April 24, 2023 - 8:00am

Welcome to the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science!

Last Updated, April 19, 2023  UNDER Constuction....


Important Information for International Students

The Office of International Students and Scholars does an incredible job helping you settle into Iowa City and the University of Iowa.  They have webinars to help with:

1. Getting Started and Making Travel Arrangements

2. Achieving Success: On-campus Involvement and Cultural Adjustment (undergraduate students)

3. Graduate Student Professionalization and Support

4. Understanding Orientation Expectations, Responsibilities, and Placement Tests (graduate students)

5. On-campus Housing Assignments and Move-in Tips (undergraduate students)

6. Student Employment

7. Money Matters - University Billing


English Speaking Proficiency Assessment 

All students for whom English is not a first language (as self-reported on their admissions application) and who have first-time appointments as graduate teaching assistants (TAs) are required to take a test to assess their effectiveness in speaking English before they are assigned assistantship responsibilities.

The English Speaking Proficiency Assessment (ESPA) is a test that assesses these students' oral language and listening skills. To take the test, students must be enrolled in a graduate program at The University of Iowa, and an academic department must be considering hiring them as teaching assistants.

Who needs to take the ESPA?

Any graduate student who is included in the following categories needs to have their oral English proficiency tested by the TAPE Program:

  • Students whose first language is not English (i.e. learned another language first) as self-reported on their admissions application, and
  • Have been appointed as a Teaching Assistant


  • Students with an official valid (within the last two years) iBT Listening score of 25 and an iBT Speaking score of 26
  • Students who obtained degrees at institutions in which the language of instruction was English. This includes:     
    • Undergraduate degrees and/or     
    • Continuous attendance of English-language schools since the age of 12 (or younger)
  • Students who served as teaching assistants at other institutions of higher learning in which the language of instruction is English, provided that they were listed as the instructor of record for a course or led a discussion section in English for at least one year, with a year defined as either two academic semesters or three academic quarters.
  • Requests for exceptions regarding the ESPA can be submitted for evaluation to a committee consisting of the Director of ESL Programs, the Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs in the Graduate College, and a representative from University Human Resources.

Requests for exemption and exceptions must come from the department by the deadline, not the student.   Deadlines to register students for the ESPA and ELPT are:

  • August 1
  • October 1
  • January 1
  • March 1  

NOT Exemptions:

  • Students who come from a country where English is one of the official languages
  • Students who are U.S. permanent residents or U.S. citizens whose first language is not English

If you are unsure if someone needs to take the English Speaking Proficiency Assessment (ESPA), please contact the ESL Programs Office (

Testing Procedures

All students to be tested must first register for the ESPA test through their departments. When a department offers (or is thinking about offering) a teaching assistantship to a student who has never before been a TA at the University, the department submits an online Request for Evaluation form via the Self-Service page (Administration → Forms → ESL TA Certification). The ESL Office sends the student (via the department) a letter indicating the time and place of the appropriate ESPA testing. This letter is e-mailed to departments to distribute to students.

Students: This letter informs you that you need to officially register for the ESPA. You will be told to come to 1112 University Capitol Centre the day before your scheduled ESPA to register for a specific test time.  If you have additional questions about registering or preparing for the ESPA, please contact the ESL Programs office at any time.

Your answers for the ESPA will be recorded in the audio classroom (17 Phillips Hall) of the Center for Language and Culture Learning (CLCL).  Your performance on the test will be evaluated by at least two ESL faculty raters using the SPEAK Band Descriptor Chart.

ESPA score flowchart

When you take the ESPA test, you will be told when to come to the ESL Programs Office to check your results and find out if you have attained a passing ESPA score of 50 or higher (or 45 or higher for TAs who will be teaching foreign language courses or an averaged score greater than 45 for students currently enrolled in a TAPE course) and if you are therefore eligible to take the ELPT (English Language Performance Test). Students with passing scores must then sign up to take the ELPT. At registration for the ELPT, each examinee is given detailed instructions on how to prepare for the test. The ELPT is given on the day after students receive their ESPA results. Students who score 60 on the ESPA are not required to take the ELPT (see Certification).  

It is important for all students to check their results by the assigned day and time.  Students who are eligible for the ELPT and do not sign up by the deadline must wait until the next test date. 

For more details about the ESPA, watch this eight-minute video.  (Download the video transcript.)  You can also look at this practice ESPA.

ESPA Results

Results for ESPA tests given at the beginning of a semester (January and August) are available within two days. Results for ESPA tests given during the middle of a semester (March and October) are available one day prior to administration of the ELPT, (about 3 weeks) after the ESPA.  Students are sent feedback forms through their departments within a few days of taking that test.

Students can also make an appointment with the ESL Programs office to receive more individual feedback after the ESPA and the ELPT.

Graduate/Professional International Students Important Dates

July 7, 2023: Earliest date you may enter the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status
August 6, 2023: Latest date by which you should arrive in Iowa City
August 7-11, 2023: International Student Orientation
August 21, 2023: Classes begin


Housing Information for All Students

The department has a housing webpage, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. If you are looking for a roommate please let us know and we can update this web page!

Looking for housing options

All US citizens that are financially supported (TA, RA) need to be here on August 16.

All students will register for classes the week before classes start.  International students must complete the required Orientation Program before they can register for classes.

MYUI, and its website will serve as a hub for students to access several of the UI systems and tools they use most. 


Fall Classes Advising will be August 15-19

All NEW UI students must meet with their advisor prior to registration.  There is no worry about getting into any of the classes we teach. 

  • IF you are an Actuarial Science MS or PhD student you will need to meet with Professor Shyamalkumar.  Email him at to dicuss what classes to take.
  • IF you are a Data Science MS, Statistics MS or PhD student you will need to meet with Professor Aixin Tan. She will email you before the week of August 15.

New Graduate College Welcome and Orientation, August 16

The Graduate College Fall 2022 Graduate Student Orientation event will take place on Wednesday, August 16, 2023.  A registration form will be sent to your UI email sometime this early summer.

All new doctoral and master’s students are invited to attend. More information coming directly from the Graduate College!

New Teaching Assistant Orientation for ALL new Supported Graduate Assistants, August 18, Virtual Event 9 a.m. - noon.

  • Not required but highly recommended.
  • This event will introduce participants to the role of teaching assistant at the University of Iowa and prepare them for the first week of classes and beyond.
  • Participants will discuss evidence-based teaching strategies, including for lesson-planning, inclusive teaching, and face-to-face instruction, with Center for Teaching staff. Participants will also choose two workshops of interest to them out of several options; these will be facilitated synchronously by experienced TAs.

Financially Supported Graduate Students must come in person and present required documents for employment verification.   

  • Check back here later this summer with the latest up-to-date information!


New Student Department Orientation, August 18 at 9 a.m., Room to be determined.

  • All New Student Orientation —Group Introductions and General Policy Procedures.

New Graduate Assistants Orientation, August 18 at 1 p.m., Room to be determined.

  • Our Director of Graduate Studies will have a department review of expectations and your specific roles in our department. Teaching and grading assignments will be explained, as well as preparation, teaching tips, problems and questions, quizzes and exams, weekly meetings, grading, appropriate office use and the Sexual Harassment Prevention Education.


Mailbox in 241 Schaeffer Hall 

All graduate students will have a mailbox in our main office.  The faculty do as well.  Please check your mailbox at least once a week!

Office Desk Assignment

Nearly all supported students will have a desk in one of our offices.  The assignment priority (in this order) includes: Ph.D. and Fellowship candidates, research assistants, half-time teaching assistants, quarter-time teaching assistants and lastly graders.  Having a desk is a privilege and should be used only for University business.  Office assignments will be given to students on the first day of classes, August 21.  Keys are checked out ONLY after that time.  Please remember to keep the rooms clean and take out all trash to the large bins in the main hallways.

Set-up your University of Iowa Email

All University of Iowa students are required to activate their assigned email address, as all official communication from university offices are now sent via email, rather than hard copy. This address usually follows the pattern  (However, often times a number is also attached.) 

To activate the account:

  • Log on to MyUI
  • Click on My UIowa / My Email / Request Email Account
  • Complete the specified steps

Students who prefer to maintain only their work or home email addresses can do so by routing the email to a work or home account. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Log on to MyUI
  • Click on My UIowa / My Email / Update Email Routing Address
  • Complete the specified steps

Important Notes:

  • If your email address is routed to a different account, you will not need to change your address in ICON, as your messages will already forward to your routed address.
  • To reduce bulk/mass email: 
    As a University of Iowa student, you may be receiving emails which are related to university activities but which do not apply directly to you or your program. To "unsubscribe" from these mass emails sent out by the university (except from university administration and UI Student Government):
    • Log on to MYUI
    • Click on My UIowa / My Email / Email Account Filter filter bulk mail
    • Make sure that none of the categories are checked


Required Graduate Assistants Teaching Courses:

  • ONLINE CLASS Requirement: Sexual Harassment Prevention Edu.  Use your HawkID and password to log into Employee Self Service. Click the Personal tab, next (under Learning and Development) click on Sexual Harassment Prevention Edu., follow instructions.
  • ONLINE CLASS Requirement:  Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Use your HawkID and password to log into Employee Self Service. Click the Personal tab, next (under Learning and Development) next click on Available Online Icon Courses, next FERPA Training, then click on View Details twice and the last click will be to Enroll in this ICON Course Session.
  • International Students, If you pass the ELPT/ESPA you are required to take an 212:009/TAPE:5330  class called TA Preparation: Orientation Program
    • A six-hour orientation program will be required of all students who are certified at level A or B and are teaching for the first time.  This orientation helps new teaching assistants understand the culture of the U.S. classroom and treats topics such as student expectations, teacher-student relationships, and understanding and answering student questions. Discussion focuses on suggestions for maximizing comprehensibility in spoken English. This course meets twice for 3 hours early in the semester. Both meetings are held in the evening.

Administrative Department Staff:

Professor Aixin Tan

Director of Graduate Studies, Statistics and Data Science Graduate Advisor:  (319) 335-0821

Professor N.D. Shyamalkumar

Actuarial Science Graduate Advisor:  (319) 335-1980

Margie Ebert

Academic Services (319) 335-2082

Heather Roth

Administrative Services Coordinator (319) 335-0712

Tammy Siegel

Department, (319) 335-0706