Students may apply for a Change to Academic Program in the following situations:

  • When a student changes their academic program without first completing the current academic program
  • When completing one degree program and beginning a new degree program (otherwise known as a change of education level)
    • For example, when a student has completed a Master's degree and will begin a new graduate program or when a student has completed a Master's degree and will begin a PhD program

Students do not need to complete the Change to Academic Program form in the following situations:

  • Bachelor's students going to graduate program
    • An I-20 will be issued through the Admissions process 
  • When a student changes their major
  • When a student adds a second major or minor

Instead, these students must email ISSO at isso@iastate.edu to request an updated I-20.


Students who have changed their academic level must complete the request no later than:

  • For continuing students, 60 days after the last day of their final semester in the previous program, or
  • For students on OPT, 60 days after the last day of employment on EAD or by the 90th day of unemployment

Cystart Request


Change to Academic Program requests can be submitted through an electronic process in Cystart. Students can log in to Cystart using their ISU NetID and password. Complete and submit the Change to Academic Program e-form under the F-1 Student Services tab. 

Required Documentation

  • Proof of financial support for the next two semesters
    • Refer to the Expense Worksheet to understand how much financial support is required
    • Documents more than 3 months old will not be accepted
    • Examples of financial documentations include: U.S. or foreign bank statements, Letter of Intent for graduate assistants, etc. Consult with an ISSO advisor on other types of acceptable financial support documentation.
  • Documentation of admission/acceptance to new program, major, or minor (one of the following):
    • Admission letter
    • Copy of Graduate College form: either Master's student on PhD Track in Same Department or Request to Transfer from One Major/Program/Department to Another

ISSO Processing

It will take ISSO up to 10 working days after there is a check mark in all boxes on the Cystart Change to Academic Program page. ISSO will send an email to the student's ISU email address when processing is complete. ISSO recommends sending an email to isso@iastate.edu if an email has not been received within 10 working days.

Immigration Consequences

Failure to update your immigration record before the end of a grace period could result in the following:

  • Violation of F-1 nonimmigrant status
  • Employment authorization may be impacted
  • Lose eligibility for all other benefits of F-1 nonimmigrant status
  • Lose eligibility to change status, for example from F-1 to F-2, F-1 to H-1B, etc.
Disclaimer: This Frequently Asked Questions is intended for general information and guidance. As this information can quickly become outdated or may not apply to your situation, please consult with an International Student Advisor in the International Students and Scholars Office regarding your individual questions.