You’re part of a select group of students from around the world who are admitted to Drake!
There are some things that you may need to do in preparation for coming to Campus, and we'll help you through it — step by step. Information is included below for anything you might need to know before traveling to Drake, but if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our office.
International Student & Scholar Services
Phone: (+1) 515-271-2084.
You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions related to arrival/orientation.
International Student Orientation (ISO) will be virtual and in-person for the Fall 2023 semester. ISO sessions will be held virtually on August 14-15, and there will be in-person ISO sessions on August 22-23 - both are mandatory for ALL new-to-Drake international students. Our office will be sending out an email by June 1 to all incoming students regarding our virtual Pre-Orientation via the Blackboard system and will help you plan for your arrivals. Move-in dates for the residence halls for international students will be forthcoming. Complete this Arrival Form to let us know when you plan to arrive!
The simplest way to transfer money is to have it wired from your home bank to your account in Des Moines. As soon as you have opened your new account, you may contact your family or home bank to arrange the transfer.
Your home bank may also allow you to purchase a bank draft in US dollars. The best places to inquire are banks that have branches in the US. Foreign currency bank drafts may also be used, but processing will take longer. If you choose this option, be sure to allow more time in order to meet fee payment deadlines.
Family members who intend to come to Des Moines should make hotel reservations IMMEDIATELY. If you delay making reservations, it may be difficult to find accommodations at the Home2 Suites at Drake, which are the only accommodations within walking distance of campus. Since public transportation is limited, you may wish to rent a car or pay for a taxi while in Des Moines… even if you stay at a hotel within walking distance of campus.
You may use a travel agent in your home city to help you make hotel reservations, but we have provided the following information for those who prefer to make their own calls.
Some hotels have several locations in Des Moines, so we have given a general, toll free reservation number and the direct phone numbers of the hotels closest to campus. Downtown hotels are closer to Drake, but may charge higher rates. Hotels accept most credit cards, and may ask for your credit card number to guarantee your reservation.
Within 0.5 miles of Drake
Home2 Suites by Hilton at Drake
2650 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311
Within 2 miles of Drake
Holiday Inn Downtown- Mercy Area
1098 6th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314
Comfort Inn & Suites Event Center
929 3rd Street, Des Moines, IA, 50309
Des Moines Marriott Downtown
700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA, 50309
Hyatt Place Des Moines Downtown
418 6th Avenue, Des Moines, IA, 50309
Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel
401 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA, 50309
Within 3 miles of Drake
Staybridge Suites Des Moines Downtown
201 E. Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Embassy Suites Hotel Des Moines Downtown
101 East Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Hampton Inn & Suites Des Moines Downtown
120 SW Water St, Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 244- 1650
Windsor Inn & Suites
6500 Hickman Rd, Urbandale IA, 50324
(888) 734- 8514
Residence Inn Des Moines Downtown
100 SW Water Street, Des Moines, IA, 50309
AC Hotel Des Moines East Village
401 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA, 50309
You may also seek advice or information on hotel availability from the Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, 515-286-4960 or 1-800-451-2625.
Des Moines offers both taxi services and Uber and Lyft rideshares. To use Uber or Lyft, all you need to do is download the respective app and have a credit card on file. Many taxi services are available at the Des Moines airport upon your arrival, but it might be more convenient for you to call and schedule a taxi service in advance. Below is the contact information for a number of taxi services in Des Moines.
Capitol Cab Company: +1-515-828-8111
Yellow Cab Company: +1-515-243-1111
Families who stay in Des Moines more than a day or two, or who stay at a hotel other than the Home2 Suites by Hilton at Drake, will want to rent a car. See below for a list of car rental companies in Des Moines.
If you choose to send belongings to Drake using a shipping service like Federal Express or D.H.L., you may ship them (starting no more than 2 weeks prior to arrival) to:
c/o Global Engagement Office
2725 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311 U.S.A.
If you choose to do this, please let us know in advance. Ask a travel agent or airport official to help you understand U.S. customs regulations before shipping your belongings. Remember, even air mail shipping takes 2-3 weeks. Ship only those articles that you will not need immediately upon arrival.
Offices such as Residence Life and your college's dean's office may only use your Drake e-mail address even before you arrive on campus. ISSS will email you at your personal e-mail address at first, but we will switch to using only your Drake e-mail address after a certain point (we will alert you before this happens).
After you have registered for classes you can access your Drake e-mail account via the "e-mail" link on the top-right corner of screen in MyDrake. All Drake students/staff/faculty e-mail addresses are in the format of email@example.com. Please get into the habit of checking your Drake e-mail on a daily basis.
Once you have arrived, ISSS will send monthly e-mail newsletters, called the Bulldog Buzz, to all international students, which will include immigration regulation updates and reminders, important dates, and upcoming events. These newsletters and all other communications will only be sent to your Drake e-mail account; other e-mail addresses will not be used.
If you have questions about student e-mail accounts or computing at Drake, please visit the Information Technology Services website.
Students who wish to be considered for admission to graduate study at Drake must have a TOEFL score of 79 (iBT) or 550 (paper test).
Academic Adviser: A Drake professor from your major who will answer questions about your courses, requirements, or other academic concerns. You may change advisers if you wish.
MyDrake: A single password system where you can access your e-mail, retrieve your student account information, register for courses, and find various information related to your life at Drake. Your username is your Drake ID number and your password is initially set as your six-digit birthday.
Break: Days when classes do not meet
Catalog: A book listing Drake policies, services, graduation requirements and course offerings.
College: An academic division of the university similar to a school. Drake has three colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business and Public Administration, and Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Conditional Admission: A status that allows international undergraduate students with TOEFL scores below 530 (197 CBT) to enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses and in some restricted non-ESL courses. (See the English Proficiency section.)
Counselor: This term applies to a wide variety of staff who could also be called "helpers". For example, "admission counselors" help students enroll in the university. “Orientation counselors” help students with registration. Other counselors help students adjust to life in the residence halls, or cope with the stress of living in a new environment. "Career counselors" help students choose a major or learn how to write resumes. Because American universities have many expectations which may be unfamiliar to international students, counselors can provide very useful assistance. Students are wise to ask about various counselors who can assist them on campus and to seek the right kind of counseling assistance whenever needed.
Credit/semester hour: A unit which indicates completion of particular coursework. Most lecture courses (such as sociology, history, and marketing) allow a student to earn 3 credits or semester hours for a course which is satisfactorily completed. Some courses, such as laboratory science, may be worth more credits, some are worth less. Certain numbers of credits must be accumulated to earn a particular major or degree. (These are listed in the Drake catalog.)
Dead Day: A time at the end of each semester (just before semester examinations begin) when no classes meet so that students can prepare for exams.
Dean: Faculty member who leads a college or school and handles administration of its policies.
Degree: Recognition that one has met all the requirements expected by a university which indicate attainment of a particular body of knowledge.
DUSIS: Drake University Shared Information System. You will use this computer system to register for classes.
Elective: A course which is not a requirement, but is taken for pleasure or curiosity.
Full-time: To be a full-time student you must enroll in one of the following: a full-time ESL program (18 clock hours per week); a minimum of 12 undergraduate credits; a minimum of 9 graduate credits (unless otherwise communicated by the International Student Advisor; a minimum of 6 doctorate credits in SOE. ALL STUDENTS ON F-1 VISAS MUST BE FULL-TIME STUDENTS.
General Education: Courses required for a degree which encourage the development of a background in a wide variety of subjects so students share a common base of knowledge with others. Examples: humanities, social science, or natural science courses.
GPA: Abbreviation for Grade Point Average. A GPA is calculated by assigning 4 points for an “A”, 3 for a “B”, 2 for a “C”, and 1 for a “D.” Undergraduates must have a minimum GPA of “C” (2.0) to graduate. Graduate students must have a minimum of “B” (3.0). Colleges or departments may set additional grade requirements for their students.
IMAC: New international students (undergraduate, graduate, exchange, and IEP) are assigned an IMAC during the months leading up to your arrival. Your IMAC is an experienced student who can help answer any questions you have about campus life, navigating campus as an international student, U.S. customs and culture, and many other areas of interest.
Liberal Arts: Academic study designed to broaden a student's educational base in fields such as history, literature, the arts and sciences.
Major: In general, the US education system encourages students to develop a general background in a wide variety of subjects while also concentrating on one specific subject area in depth. This specific subject area is called a major. Usually students will choose their major by their sophomore year.
Orientation: A program that prepares students to begin classes.
Pass: Successful completion of an undergraduate course requires a minimum grade of a "D." For a graduate course, the minimum passing grade is “C”. Colleges and departments may set additional grade requirements for their students. (See GPA)
Peer Mentor/Academic Consultants (PMAC): New undergraduates who arrive in August are assigned a PMAC during New Student Days. Your PMAC is an experienced student who will help you with questions about campus services, activities, and many other topics. (You may be a PMAC next year!)
Prerequisite: A requirement that must be completed before you enroll in a particular course. Example: Math 50 (Analytic Geometry & Calculus I) is a prerequisite for Math 70 (Analytic Geometry & Calculus II). You may not take Math 70 until you pass Math 50.
Registrar: The person who handles student records and transcripts for the university.
Registration: The process of requesting classes for the next term.
Requirements: Minimum expectations to earn a degree, major or minor at a particular university. (Requirements vary by university, college, and department.) Requirements are listed in the catalog. It will be your responsibility to be sure you meet all graduation requirements. Your adviser will help you with any questions you have about this.
Room and Board: Another way of saying "housing and meals".
School: A division of the university similar to a college. Drake has three schools: Journalism and Mass Communication, Education, and Law. In addition, the College of Arts Sciences includes a subdivision known as the School of Fine Arts.
Semester: An academic period of study approximately 16 weeks long, followed by a final exam week.
Student Life: The division of the university that provides various services for students such as campus residence halls, student activities, organizations, and health services.
Term: Period of time in the academic year, such as a semester, interim or summer session.
University: An institution of higher education, which offers degrees at the doctoral level. (And usually the bachelors and masters levels also.)
Drake University is concerned about your health while you are a student. The university operates a Student Health Center on campus, which treats students with common illnesses. However, students with more serious illnesses or injuries will need to see a doctor or go to a hospital.
Des Moines has several good hospitals which serve the community and Drake students, but the cost of medical care is very expensive. Therefore, you are required to purchase Drake's International Student Health Insurance (see section, Drake International Student Health Insurance).
You received a Medical Record Form when you were admitted to Drake. Please have a doctor complete the form, then return it as instructed or bring it with you to campus. If you have not completed the Rubeola measles immunization required on the form, you must complete them when you arrive at Drake and there will be a charge. You will also be required to complete a PPD tuberculosis test upon your arrival, which also will require a charge (this test must not be completed outside of the state of Iowa).
We also ask that you take these health precautions before coming to the United States, in addition to any COVID-19 precautions:
Like many U.S. universities, Drake requires that all students be covered by the health insurance plan offered by Drake. This requirement helps ensure access to medical care for our students and protects the financial resources they need to finance their Drake education. Drake's insurance plan is offered by Relation Insurance. The Drake International Student Health Insurance policy meets or exceeds the standards set by the Department of State. At International Student Orientation, you will receive a detailed description of the policy and information.
To expedite the receipt of insurance cards, international students will be enrolled by ISSS and your Drake account will be charged the insurance premium for that term.
Insurance purchased by one’s family or provided through an employer does NOT qualify for a waiver of the Drake International Student Health Insurance.
Waivers will be granted ONLY under the following condition:
International students or scholars who have comparable, non-cancelable insurance through a sponsoring organization such as A.I.D., AMIDEAST, Fulbright, ISEP, SACM, or MARA are exempt from the Drake International Student Health Insurance.
To be considered for a waiver, you must contact ISSS within the first two weeks of the term. If a waiver is not granted before the deadline, you will be required to pay for Drake's insurance plan.
Requests for a waiver should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Des Moines is considered to be a relatively safe US city. Drake also takes the safety and security of its students seriously. Security measures include lighting for campus sidewalks and streets, security telephones throughout the campus, and a staff of security officers. Drake Security also coordinates a program called Safe Ride, in which students can request free transportation on campus at night. To call Campus Security from on campus, dial 2222. To call from off campus, dial 271-2222.
Nevertheless, some parts of Des Moines are considered to be less safe than others. You may want to discuss this with your residence hall staff, other students or ISSS staff. Normal personal precautions, such as not walking alone at night, are recommended. It is also wise to carry identification ("ID") with you at all times for example a Drake University ID card with your photo. We also suggest you carry a name and phone number of Drake Campus Security and/or a person to contact if you are injured or in trouble.
Drake University will bill students for tuition, health insurance, the technology fee, student activity fee, and also room and board if a student is living on campus. You will not have to pay the cost for the entire year upon your arrival; all billing is made by the semester. Payment amounts will be computed after financial assistance has been deducted from the total charges.
You will not receive a bill until you actually register for courses in any given semester. Please note that undergraduate, pharmacy, and law students must pay the required tuition deposits in order to register for courses.
Tuition billing will be sent via an E-Bill in the MyDUSIS system. E-bills are only available online; you will not be sent a paper bill in the mail. Students who are enrolled will receive notification through their Drake University assigned e-mail address when their E-Bill is available for viewing. In the E-Bill section of MyDUSIS, students may view current charges and recent transactions. Students who continue to have activity on the account and/or balance will continue to receive notifications each month. Notification will be sent on or near the first day of each month with a due date of the 15th of each month.
To access your E-Bill, please follow these steps:
You will want to open a bank account soon after you arrive at Drake. An internet search can provide a complete listing, although some of the banks most commonly used by international students are listed below. US Bank, Bank of America, Bankers Trust and Wells Fargo Bank are located a few blocks away and can be reached by bus or walking. Additional information about banking will be provided when you arrive.
Bank of America, Bankers Trust and Wells Fargo Bank have international divisions that handle foreign currency exchange and foreign bank drafts, if you need such services. Most banks also offer safe deposit boxes (for a fee), where you may protect your valuables such as passports, tax forms or other documents, and “money cards” which allow you to use Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
You may open your account by depositing cash, traveler's checks or a bank draft. After opening your account, you may have money wired from your bank at home.
Bank of America
2650 University Ave, Des Moines, IA 50311
3529 Ingersoll Ave. Des Moines, IA 50312
Wells Fargo Bank
2840 Ingersoll Ave. Des Moines, IA 50312
Bank of America
3422 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312
Bankers Trust (downtown)
453 7th St. Des Moines, IA 50309
Credit cards are widely used in the US. They are also required for reserving hotel rooms or renting cars. The most commonly used cards in Des Moines are American Express, MasterCard, or Visa. It may be difficult to use other types of cards. Qualifying for a credit card while studying in the United States may be difficult, so it is better to get one at home, if possible.
Ideally, you should travel with US $200 - $300 cash or travelers’ checks, including at least $50 in US currency and coins. If you need to exchange money, try to do so at your port of entry. You may have an immediate need for cash (meals, taxis, and telephones) and the Des Moines airport does not have a currency exchange. Please do NOT travel with large amounts of cash. Travelers checks in US dollars are safe, can be easily exchanged for cash at banks, and allow you to make necessary purchases shortly after you arrive. Larger sums of money (for example, to cover tuition or fees) can be carried as bank drafts, or wired to you after you open an account in Des Moines. Even if you expect to do some shopping shortly after you arrive, you should not need more than US $200 - $300 during your first week or so.
Please consult the Office of Admission for information regarding financial aid available to international students. Information can be found on the Office of Admission's webpage.
Please visit the Student Accounts website for more information about paying Drake.
All foreign students and scholars in the US must complete a tax return form each spring. Failure to do so can cause problems if you apply for a job or attempt to depart the US. The forms must be completed even if you have not earned any money in the United States. Generally, if international students have income and scholarships that exceed tuition charges, those sources of income are taxed at a rate of 14%, although there are variations based on tax treaties between the US and other countries.
The ISSS Team will remind students when tax forms must be filed (forms must be submitted by April 15 each year). Drake purchases the license for an online software program to help you do your taxes. ISSS will let you know when passwords are available for use. Please note that the ISSS Team are unable to assist you with completing your tax return due to tax laws.
If you plan on driving in Iowa, you must have a driver's license. To obtain an Iowa driver’s license, you must satisfactorily complete an Iowa driver's test. If you do not choose to obtain an Iowa driver's license but would like to drive, you will need to get an International Driver's Permit in your home country. The International Driver's Permit allows you to drive in Iowa as long as you are a student and do not have intentions of becoming a permanent resident. You must also carry your home country driver's license.
If you intend to live on campus and have not yet returned your housing contract, please do so as soon as possible. Housing assignments will be announced a week or two prior to the start of the term.
If you have signed a contract to live in one of the Drake residence halls, you will probably share a room with an American student or another international student. Most of Drake's residence halls have four levels ("floors"). Men and women often have separate wings on each floor, although single-sex floors still remain an option in some residence halls (please inform the Office of Residence Life is this is your preference). Your room will be furnished with 2 single beds, 2 desks, and 2 closets. You must provide your own bed linens. There are bathrooms with showers on each floor. No one has a private bath.
Living in a residence hall will make it easier for you to become friends with other Drake students because people living in the residence halls often organize social and recreational activities together. It will also be a valuable way to learn about cultural variety in the U.S. because you will meet students from all over the country. In fact, only about 1/3 of Drake students come from Iowa!
First and second year students are required to live in a residence hall. All undergraduate exchange students are also required to live on campus. Even if you are eligible to live "off-campus," we still strongly suggest that undergraduate students live "on-campus" in the residence halls. Students say it is more difficult to meet friends, learn English or to know what is happening on campus if you don't live in the residence halls. Drake does not offer on campus housing for graduate students.
Note: Residence halls are closed between semesters and students must find alternate housing during the winter break and summer. The residence halls are open during the other break periods.
Graduate students and third or fourth-year undergraduate students who decide not to live in the residence halls, can rent an apartment near the campus. The ISSS Team can advise you on how to find an apartment, but you must make these arrangements yourself. If you will live off campus you should arrive a few days prior to International Student Orientation so you have time to find an apartment.
The Drake West Village apartments were completed in summer 2008 are similar to residence hall rooms in that they are fully furnished and most utilities are included in the monthly fee, they cover the water, trash & sewer - with a monthly cap towards the electric. Each apartment has a kitchen (meals are not included in the monthly fee). The complex is located on the east west edge of campus on 30th Street. Students may elect to rent a one-bedroom apartment or to share a larger apartment with roommates (students without pre-arranged roommates may ask to be placed in a apartment and assigned roommates). Accommodations are available for both undergraduate and graduate students. Leases are based on the full-year, although leases can be arranged for the academic year for an extra fee. Information about Drake West Village can be found at www.drakewestvillage.com.
Eating new foods is one of the exciting things about living in another culture. If you try new dishes a few times, soon you may discover that you like many new foods.
If you live in the Drake residence halls you must choose one of several meal contracts. Information was sent to you by the Office of Admission with your room contract. Meals are served at several locations on campus. You will not have to pay cash for these meals. Instead you will use a "meal card" which shows you have already paid for your meals through the campus meal plan, called a "board contract."
Meals on campus are ample, varied, and nutritious. Vegetarian, halal and international dishes are offered. Nevertheless, the food will not be what you are accustomed to eating at home. (Even American students often discover this is true!) If you want to know the ingredients of a dish (for religious or dietary reasons, or just for curiosity), ask the serving staff. Meals requiring strict adherence to religious practices of preparation are not provided on campus.
You may also decide to cook some meals for yourself or your friends. Kitchens are available in the Residence Halls. Previous Drake international students recommend that you bring your favorite recipes and practice preparing them once or twice before you leave home.
Note: Between semesters, or during Spring Break, no meals are served on campus.
Students who live in apartments will prepare most of their meals themselves. Though Des Moines has several international grocery stores (more about this when you arrive), it is a good idea to bring any special spices you require. Off campus students may also purchase Drake meal contracts or eat in the many restaurants in the Drake neighborhood. These include fast food (hamburgers, chicken), American "diner" style, Mediterranean, Chinese, African, pizza, sandwiches, cafe/coffee shop, etc. These vary in price, but they are within short walking distance of campus and are popular with students.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires all Drake international students to be enrolled full time and make satisfactory progress toward graduation.
To be a full-time student, you must enroll in:
In limited circumstances (for example, serious health problems) a reduced load may be allowed by USCIS, but this requires approval by the International Student Advisor prior to dropping below full-time status.
USCIS severely limits opportunities for international students/scholars to work in the U.S. Students on an F-1 visa are allowed to work on campus at the university they attend. Such on-campus jobs (for example preparing or serving food in a campus cafeteria) are typically scheduled for 8 - 10 hours per week. An on-campus job is a good way to meet other students, to experience another part of American culture and to earn a little money for incidental spending, but the opportunities are insufficient to provide any significant income. The International Student Advisor will give a short presentation during International Student Orientation regarding on-campus employment opportunities.
International students who have been "in status" as F-1 students for a full academic year (a fall and spring semester) or more may request permission to work off-campus in their field of study and must first meet specific criteria set forth by USCIS. F-1 students should never apply for or accept any job, except those on-campus, without first talking to the International Student Advisor to be sure they will not be in violation of immigration laws.
J-1 visa holders are also subject to specific employment limitations and must talk to the International Student Adviser before pursuing any employment (on-campus or off-campus).
Students should always talk with an International Student Advisor before pursuing employment!
Regulations often change and information from friends or family may not be accurate. Immigration is increasingly strict about employment violations and there can be severe penalties for working without proper permission.