Academic Programs Catalog

Undergraduate Education


First-year Student Admission
High School Curricular Requirements

Michigan State University recognizes that adequate preparation for collegiate-level programs demands comprehensive work in academic subject matter areas and substantial training in writing. These high school course work requirements provide the foundation on which university work is built by providing basic competencies in the following core areas noted in the sections that follow. MSU recognizes that there will be students who have potential for academic success at Michigan State University, but who have not precisely met the high school course requirements, e.g., students whose high schools do not offer all the courses, non–traditional students, and international students. The absence of any particular component of high school course work should not be an insurmountable barrier to admission. Michigan State University urges all interested individuals to apply for admission.

English:  Four (4) years of college preparatory composition and literature courses. The ability to comprehend what is being read and to read critically is fundamental for success in college. A student must come to college with the basic ability to recognize assumptions, to identify intentions, to acknowledge the various forms of literary expressions, and to understand and react to the author's message. It is expected that a high school student is familiar with a wide range of literature representing various literary forms and drawn from a variety of cultures.

Clarity of expression is also important. College programs typically require the ability to organize, present and evaluate information and concepts in written form. A student must be able to use the conventions of written English to convey ideas in an effective and efficient manner. Successful students will be able to write analytically and critically, to construct arguments, and to see relationships between content and form, while reorganizing, revising, and refining to achieve a logical sequence of ideas leading to a conclusion.

Mathematics: Three (3) years of college preparatory mathematics, including two (2) years of algebra and one (1) year of geometry. College-bound students must understand the language, notation, and deductive nature of mathematics and be able to express quantitative ideas with precision. They must have skills in such basic areas as the solution of equations and inequalities, and the simplification of algebraic expressions. To be best prepared, students are strongly advised to pursue mathematics courses beyond the three–year minimum required for admission. It is recommended that a calculus preparatory course be included.

Biological and Physical Sciences: Two (2) years of college preparatory science courses from the areas of biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science. College-bound students need an understanding of fundamental scientific concepts. They must know enough about laboratory methods and fieldwork to ask appropriate scientific questions and to recognize experimental approaches to the solution of such questions. They should understand in some depth scientific concepts and should have a year of experience in laboratory methods. Additional science courses are highly recommended, particularly if a student is considering a scientific or technical field of study.

History and the Social Sciences: Three (3) years of college preparatory work in history and the social sciences with at least one (1) year of history and one (1) year of social sciences (from such areas as anthropology, economics, geography, government, political science, psychology or sociology). Through their study of history, college-bound high school students should be able to recognize historical trends and relationships. Students should understand the interactions among peoples of different civilizations, races, and cultures, and know the chronology of major historical events or periods and social movements. It is equally important to understand the underlying political, economic, social, or psychological forces that shape those events. Students should have basic factual knowledge of major social, political, and economic institutions within their historical context, as well as introductory knowledge of the content and concepts of the social sciences. A course which shows how the scientific method can be utilized in the social sciences to examine major issues and to address problems would be particularly useful.

Foreign Languages: Two (2) years of college preparatory work in a single foreign language. Students intending to major in areas that require foreign language are encouraged to complete additional work.

Additional Recommended Course Work: The courses noted above constitute minimum preparation for degree programs in the university. To enhance your application for admission and further prepare for academic success at Michigan State University, a minimum of three additional academic college preparatory courses is recommended.