Mississippi State University (MSU) is a public university located just outside of Starkville, Mississippi, with a branch campus in Meridian. MSU was founded in 1878 as a land-grant college and received university status in 1958. The school now awards bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral, and professional degrees. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
MSU began as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi in 1878, primarily as an agricultural and technical trade school. When it was first accredited in 1926, MSU consisted of eight different college, schools, and centers. The university adopted its current name in 1958.
MSU defines its mission as one of “to provide access and opportunity to students from all sectors of the state’s diverse population and to offer excellent and extensive programs and instruction, research, and outreach.”
Eight colleges make up the primary undergraduate offerings at Mississippi State, including the College of Agriculture and Life Science, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Forest Resources, and the College of Architecture, Art and Design.
Bachelor’s degrees are awarded in a number of different disciplines, including accounting, agribusiness, the sciences and humanities, education, music, social work, wildlife and fisheries, management, landscape architecture, and poultry science. There are some interdisciplinary majors available. Concentrations are available in a number of majors, and include such areas as botany, French, photography, pre-law, printmaking, forestry, and zoology. There are certificates in broadcast meteorology, criminal justice and corrections, entrepreneurship, environmental sciences, gerontology, materials engineering, operational meteorology, software engineering, teaching, and women’s studies.
Master’s degrees are awarded in approximately 60 areas, with an emphasis on education, engineering, and agriculture.
The school awards over 40 doctoral degrees, in fields such as education, agriculture, biology, engineering, public policy and administration, and weed sciences. The University also offers several educational specialist (Ed.S.) degrees.
The MSU library system offers a wide range of electronic catalogs and on-line databases, in additional to physical volumes stored on site. The library houses a number of different collections including manuscripts, Mississippi materials, rare books, the university archives, and United Nations official documents and records.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
The Entomology Museum boasts more than 1 million insects, available for study regarding agriculture, crop effects, and insect biology. The collection is in part attributed to the detailed collections acquired by famed entomologist William H. Cross. The Museum offers an Insect Zoo that is open to the public and educates visitors on the vast array of insects that populate our world.
Trees, Trees, Trees
The Department of Forestry encourages hands-on, outdoor experience for its students and facilitates the acquisition of internships and, in some cases, employment for its graduates. The program results in a Bachelor of Science degree and is accredited by the Society of American Foresters. Students can major in Environmental Conservation, Forest Management, Wildlife Management, or Urban Forestry.
Applications to the undergraduate programs are accepted with no set deadline, but the priority date for scholarships is February 1 for the fall semester, with a modest application fee for out-of-state students only. Applications can be submitted online.
Along with ACT or SAT scores, a six-semester high school transcript must be mailed from an applicant’s high school to the Office of Admissions. Applicants with a GPA less than 2.5 and an ACT score of less than 20 are placed on “undeclared major” status. For students with a 3.20 or greater GPA, ACT or SAT scores are not required. Student athletes must qualify under NCAA Division I guidelines.
Prospective students are expected to have successfully completed four units of English, three units of mathematics, three units of natural science, three units of social sciences, two units of advanced electives, and at least half a unit of computer.
Financial aid is available with a combination of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs. Students are automatically considered for scholarships and waivers upon submitting their application for admission. Scholarship awards for entering freshmen are based on high school grades and ACT or SAT scores. Students must be enrolled for 12 credit hours per semester and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.85 at the end of each fall semester to maintain eligibility. Inquiries regarding awards from specific departments or disciplines should be directed to that particular college.
Student Financial Aid Details
Mississippi State offers over 300 student clubs and organizations throughout its campus to meet virtually every personal or professional interest.
Student residences include separate dormitories for female and male first-year students, as well as two co-residential dorms and a dormitory for students from all four years. Once all first-year dorms are filled, incoming students are assigned to the remaining dorms.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The athletic department at MSU is known as the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs compete in NCAA Division I athletics and the Southeastern Conference. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, football, golf, tennis, and track & field. Women’s sports include basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. Spirit groups include a co-ed cheer team, a pom squad, and a mascot. Prospective student athletes can use the Mississippi State web site to download questionnaires or contact coaches directly with questions about becoming part of the teams.
A standout tradition at Mississippi State is the cowbell. Though its origins are unknown, hordes of students gather at various sporting events and clang their festively decorated cowbells as loudly as possible. Some sport authorities and other schools have attempted to get these symbols of spirit banished, only to make supporters more adamant about keeping them around.
- 2010 Fact Book. Mississippi State University. Web. 20 June 2011.
- Colleges. Mississippi State University. Web. 20 June 2011.
- Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.
- Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.