Applications are being accepted for Fall of 2024 cohort.

If you think you have to wait until you graduate high school to go to college, think again. The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy empowers high-achieving students to begin full-time on-campus study at the University of Iowa after their sophomore or junior year of high school without spending 4 years in high school. We support you, and a cohort of your peers, every step of the way.

Are you ready? This website will provide you with more information to help you answer this question.

About the Program

Some talented students might be academically ready to start college before they have finished all four years of high school. Through meaningful support, early entrance to college programs, like the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy, allow these students to begin college early and successfully navigate college life.

The Belin-Blank Center has been facilitating early entrance to college since the late-90s, so we have the expertise. Research suggests that accelerated college students have higher gpas, are awarded more honors, gain more recognition in extracurriculars, have more citations of their work, and acquire more prestigious jobs than non-accelerated older peers. They are not hampered by social and emotional issues. Overwhelmingly, individuals in longitudinal studies are satisfied with the choice to be accelerated.

For more information about academic acceleration, specifically early entrance to college programs, see A Nation Empowered .

The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy is a selective program that enables high school students who are ready for university-level work to leave high school early and head straight to college. Program participants will be University of Iowa students (who are part of the University Honors Program) – taking classes at a top research university, using libraries and labs, living independently on-campus, and being involved in campus life. The Belin-Blank Center provides extensive support to its Bucksbaum Academy cohort of students through a 4-year guaranteed merit scholarship, individual weekly meetings and seminars (for students the first two years), advocacy across campus, cultural and recreational events, and access to our staff and resources. We aim to create a community across all the Bucksbaum Academy cohorts.

Are You Ready?

While students may apply after their sophomore year, we recommend that students complete at least three years of high school. The Belin-Blank Center considers a variety of aspects in admitting students. A minimum of two years of high school with a GPA > 3.50 is required, and some general guidelines are a 30 or above ACT OR a 1410 or above SAT composite score, evidence of academic rigor through Honors and/or AP courses, and academic accomplishment. Responses through the application and interview are very important in final decisions.


We want to partner with parents/guardians, so students are successful in college. Although it might seem strange for a student to leave high school early, research has consistently found that there are many long-term benefits to early college entrance.

Once your children enter the program, they can always return home to visit, but there’s no doubt that going to college is a big change, whether they go early or after their senior year. Parents/guardians are included in the Information Sessions, Visitation Day, interview, and the welcome to campus lunch. We also send a monthly newsletter to all parents/guardians. You are encouraged to contact the Belin-Blank Center at any time with questions or concerns. It is your hope that by knowing some specific staff, the university will not seem as large. To learn about what your child should do to prepare to apply for the Bucksbaum Academy, please see the student sections above. Many times, high school counselors have excellent information and resources to help students and families prepare for college.

Here are some thoughts from parents/guardians of students in the Bucksbaum Academy:

  • “We are quite relaxed having our son in the program. If he were a regular UI freshman, he would be without the excellent supervision and guidance that the Belin-Blank staff is providing him.”
  • “Do it! What they ‘lose’ as a senior is far outweighed by what they gain in getting real challenges and opportunities.”
  • “Listen to your son or daughter…They know best.”
  • “The staff are supportive and act as advocates for the students. They (students) are better off than if they entered as regular freshmen.”
  • “This has given (our son) the opportunity to save an entire year that would have otherwise been largely wasted.”
  • “Our son needed to be in a university setting-he was ready academically and emotionally to be out of high school. This is a great program…do it!”
  • “The program works! She has adapted to the different teaching styles of her teachers and the different learning that goes on compared to high school. She is very happy.”
  • “Our daughter was home last weekend. As I drove her back to campus she said, ‘I’m so glad that I’m not in high school anymore.’ Enough said!”

Counselors and Teachers

"The early-entrance program was the partner needed for these students to have a fulfilling senior year... This expert staff advocates, cares, and provides the needed support system."

If a student expresses an interest in attending college early, what would you do? We recommend that you consider these questions and use them in discussions with said student as they finalize a decision about early entrance into the University of Iowa.

  • Will the student have enough credits to graduate by the time the student leaves? Most of our students graduate high school early or use coursework from the University of Iowa to finish requirements for their diploma.
  • If the student will not graduate prior to entering the early entrance program, how will you communicate which courses are needed and which ones will be taken on the Iowa campus?
  • Typically, one year of high school credit is equal to one semester of credit at the university level.
  • The student may want to come back for events throughout the year, such as prom or the graduation ceremony. How will this be handled? Are they eligible to serve as a valedictorian for the class?
  • The student may want to come back for events throughout the year, such as prom or the graduation ceremony. How will this be handled? Are they eligible to serve as a valedictorian for the class?
  • How will the local scholarships handle this student’s applications? Will you recommend them for scholarships when they enter Iowa or after they have completed all of their high school requirements?

Interested in Applying?

Our Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy empowers advanced students to begin full-time on-campus study at the University of Iowa without attending high school for four years. Because this year could be your last year of high school, here are some points to consider and help you be ready.

  • Work with your school counselor to make sure you are meeting the specific requirements of the collegiate major you are considering at Iowa. Refer to The University of Iowa's first year admissions requirements for more information.
  • Communicate your intention to leave high school early with appropriate staff discuss as to whether you will graduate by the time you leave at the end or use coursework from The University of Iowa to fulfill requirements for your high school diploma. Graduation must be worked out with your high school.
  • Take the PSAT, even if you do not plan to take the SAT. The PSAT can qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship, National Achievement Scholarship and National Recognition Program Scholars.
  • Register to take the ACT or SAT by November, if you haven’t taken one yet or if you want to try to improve the score you received. Your school counselor can help you find web sites, books, or classes to help you prepare for the tests. UI scholarships require either an ACT or SAT score.
  • Attend a campus Visitation Day to learn more about the program, visit the campus, and meet with the staff members at the Belin-Blank Center.
  • Talk with your school counselor about how your school and community will handle scholarships for you – are you eligible without being a senior?
  • Refer to the pdf in the “Suggestions to Prepare for Applying” section below for more ideas/suggestions to consider
  • Familiarize yourself with the application process.
  • Familiarize yourself with information related to the scholarship and financial aid.

Preparing to Apply

The Belin-Blank Center has drafted a PDF, Suggestions to Prepare for Applying. This document provides a host of ideas and suggestions for interested students who are planning to apply for the Bucksbaum early Entrance Academyp students focus their time and efforts. WE DO NOT EXPECT students to complete this entire list to be accepted into the Bucksbaum Academy.

Information Sessions & Visit Days

Are you ready? We have events that are designed to give you the information you need to decide whether applying for early entrance is right for you. You will learn more about our program, the University of Iowa campus, and the Iowa City community. Time is allotted to have your questions answered about our program and the University of Iowa.

Interested individuals are encouraged to attend both an Information Session (online) and a Visitation Day (on-campus). Registration is required for both.

We look forward to sharing all that the Bucksbaum Academy and the University of Iowa has to offer.

Spring 2023



Fall 2023

06:30PM CST

06:30PM CST

01:30PM CST
On Campus*

01:30PM CST
On Campus*

* Families should sign-up for a morning UI daily Visit at When you are completing the form, make a note in the "Special Notes" section that you plan on meeting the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy team. At 1:30PM CST, families will meet the team at the Blank Honors Center (Room 610) for an overview of the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy.

How to Apply

We have tried to make the application process very straightforward, but planning ahead is essential. Here's all the information you'll need to submit your application.

Application & Selection Process

  1. Apply online to the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy between June 1 and January 20. A red “Apply Now” button can be found at the bottom of this webpage. The application includes student and parent/guardian short essays, two teacher/counselor/administrator recommendations, an official transcript of your high school grades, and ACT or SAT scores (the University of Iowa’s instructional code for ACT is 1356; for SAT it is 6681). If you’ve taken college courses, ask each college to send transcripts.
  2. Once an application is complete, the Belin-Blank Center will send names to UI Admissions, so they are aware of potential candidates.
  3. Apply to the University of Iowa. The deadline for this application is January 26.
  4. The Belin-Blank Center will interview qualified applicants in January and February.
  5. The Belin-Blank Center will send the names of the selected students to UI Admissions.
  6. UI Admissions will admit the cohort of students to the University and inform the Belin-Blank Center when the process is complete.
  7. Applicants will learn of their admission by a target date of March 15 and must accept or decline by May 1.

UI Office of Admissions

For information or questions about admission to the University of Iowa, please visit the Office of Admissions webpage.

After You're Accepted

Scholarship Information

Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan’s endowment of the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy allows the Belin-Blank Center to provide merit scholarships. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who have been selected for the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy at the Belin-Blank Center are eligible for this scholarship. It is renewable for four years. There is no separate application for the scholarship as all students who are accepted into the Bucksbaum Academy are awarded the scholarship. It is paid in two installments (half is paid at the start of the fall semester and half is paid at the start of the spring semester).

More detailed information regarding amount, renewal criteria, and conditions of the scholarship can be found in the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy Program Handbook.

Financial Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines your eligibility for grants, loans, work-study, and need-based scholarships. Students are encouraged to file an application as soon as possible after it opens on October 1. The deadline for priority consideration is December 1.

Read more on the Office of Student Financial Aid's new student website.


First-year students live in the honors residence hall, Daum Hall. It is attached via a skywalk to the Blank Honors Center, which houses the Belin-Blank Center. More detailed information regarding living in Daum Hall can be found in the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy Program Handbook.

Second-year students (and beyond) may live in any university residence hall or find off-campus housing.

For more information about the residence halls, visit the University of Iowa's Housing website.

UI Honors Program

All students who are accepted into the Bucksbaum Academy are automatically accepted into the UI Honors Program, so they do NOT need to apply. Because involvement in Honors is an exciting opportunity with many benefits, the Bucksbaum Academy has developed a strong partnership with this program.

For more information about the UI Honors Program, visit their website.

Contact Us

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