Academic Programs Catalog

Undergraduate Education



Enrollment is the selection of courses for a fall, spring, or summer schedule.  

Classification of Students

For purposes of enrollment and determining eligibility for certain student activities, a division of students by class is made by the Office of the Registrar at the end of each semester on the basis of the number of credits earned and according to the following schedule:

Credits Earned  Classification 
fewer than 28  Freshman 
28 to 55  Sophomore 
56 to 87  Junior
88 and above Senior

Semester Credit Load

All undergraduate baccalaureate programs require a minimum of 120 credits. Most programs are designed so a student starting a program as a first-year student may finish in 8 semesters by satisfactorily completing an average of 15 credits a semester.  In practice, students usually carry 12 to 18 credits a semester depending on personal circumstances and the chosen program of study. Students with less than a 2.50 grade–point average (GPA) the preceding semester should not enroll for more than 16 credits except when required by the specific program. Only under extraordinary circumstances will a student be permitted to carry more than 20 credits.

A student with less than satisfactory academic performance may be required to take a reduced credit load as a condition of continued registration in the university.

Full-Time Students

Undergraduate students must carry at least 12 credits a semester or summer session to:

  1. participate in intercollegiate athletics.
  2. qualify for the Dean's List for the semester.
  3. qualify for most scholarships, awards, and financial aids. Most of these are limited to undergraduate students carrying at least 12 credits a semester excluding credits for any course carried as a visitor.  Students should determine the specific requirements from the appropriate agency or contact the Office of Financial Aid.
  4. be certified in full-time status to loan agencies and other external entities.

Students participating in authorized 40 hour/week internships or cooperative work programs are considered full time for all the purposes listed above.

Federal agencies such as the Department of Education, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Homeland Security may have separate and distinct full-time status requirements.

Selecting a Major

A major, also known as a plan, is a primary field of study. Selection of a field of study as a major preference may be made at the time the application for admission is submitted. Any student entering the university with fewer than 56 credits may choose to enter without a major preference by selecting "exploratory." "Exploratory" students may defer declaring a major preference or major until there has been an opportunity to explore a variety of fields under special academic advising directed by an advisor in the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative.  Students meeting college admission requirements have the option of declaring a major at 28 credits.  A major must be selected before junior standing (56 credits) is reached.

Certain academic programs which specify particular courses or sequences of courses during the first two years may require more than eight semesters for completion of the degree program.

Changing a Major

FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS AND SOPHOMORES. Students initiate changes of major preference either in the office of the associate dean of the college major or in their Neighborhood Engagement Center. For students who have not declared a major and have fewer than 56 credit hours, the associate dean’s function is served by the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative (NSSC). Exceptions are James Madison College, Lyman Briggs College, and the Residential College in Arts and Humanities.

JUNIORS AND SENIORS. A student wishing to change a major in one degree college to a major in another degree college (or within the same college) must initiate the change in the office of the associate dean of the college to which the student wishes to transfer.

The student must meet the requirements for graduation given in the catalog current at the time the change is effective.  20 credits must be completed while enrolled in the major in the college which the degree is to be earned.

Selecting a Minor

A minor is a secondary field of study at the undergraduate level. It is a coherent set of courses that provides a student with an introduction to a field of study. Minors are supplementary to the student’s major. Minors are not open to students who are in majors in a field of study with the same name represented by the minor, and minors may be limited to students in particular majors or colleges. The minimum number of credits for a minor is 15. The Academic Programs catalog must clearly state if some of these credits for the minor are required to be “unique.” “Unique” credits for a minor are defined as credits that do not count for a course taken to satisfy another university, college, or major requirement. 


Selecting an Undergraduate Certificate

Undergraduate certificate programs are constructed in selected fields as complements to degree programs, minors, or as distinct offerings. The issuance of an undergraduate certificate signifies that the certificate holder has completed specified course work, co-curricular experiences, specified training or possess specified skills or competency levels. Five types of undergraduate certificate programs are offered at Michigan State University: Type 1 - directly related to a degree program that are transcriptable; Type 2 - distinct entities not related to a degree program or minor that are transcriptable; Type 3 - distinct entities designed for external stakeholders or guest students that are not transcriptable; and Type 4 - university-level certificate programs; and Type 5 – directly related to a degree program, exclusively reserved for the Institute of Agricultural Technology, and are transcriptable. Undergraduate certificate programs that appear on the transcript have been approved via academic governance.

The minimum number of credits for an Undergraduate Certificate is 9 with a maximum of 12. Visit

Academic Standards

A 2.00 cumulative grade–point average for all credit-bearing experiences counting toward the undergraduate certificate is the minimum university standard; however, academic units may establish a higher minimum standard in the decision to award the certificate.

Certificates may be structured as either discipline-specific, interdisciplinary, or thematic. (1) academic units applying for certificates must consult with and/or obtain support from related programs and departments to ensure availability of courses required for the certificate, but offered by another department, and to avoid unnecessary duplication of content; (2) non-academic units may create certificates that are sponsored by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education or an academic unit if it undergoes an academic program review; (3) non-academic units seeking to create certificates or intercollegiate/unit groups wanting to create certificates that would not clearly reside in a single college or department or focus on non-disciplinary themes should consult with the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, which will administer pan-institutional certificate programs.

Transfer Credits

Previously completed course work, experiences, and transfer credits can count toward the certificate at the discretion of the program coordinator up to a limit of 6 credits. Sponsoring units can set additional parameters on the amount of prior courses and transfer credit that can be counted toward a certificate.

Applied Credits to Undergraduate Degree Program or Minor

Participants who take MSU course work as a guest student may only transfer up to 16 credits to an undergraduate major or minor per MSU policy.

Guest Status at Another Institution

MSU students may attend other institutions as Guest Students or Non–matriculated Students for short periods of time with the purpose of earning credit for transfer to Michigan State University.

Students planning to attend institutions within the State of Michigan should use the Michigan Uniform Undergraduate Guest Application form available at Students who wish to attend non-Michigan institutions should apply to the host institution. The completed application should be submitted to the host school.

A student wishing to take courses at another institution should consult an academic advisor or the Transfer MSU course equivalency table at to assure transferability.

A minimum grade of 2.0 must be earned in each course in order for the credit to be transferred to Michigan State University.

Students may transfer a maximum of 60 credits from two-year institutions. Those credits may be earned and transferred into MSU at any time in the student’s degree.  No more than 10 of the last 30 total credits toward a degree may be transferred without approval by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies.  Only grades of 2.0 and above are eligible for transfer credit.