Academic Programs Catalog

Graduate Education


A senior in or a graduate of this university or of another institution having substantially the same requirements for an academically-oriented, U.S. bachelor's degree may apply for admission to a graduate program.

Admission to the university is conditioned upon the applicant's providing accurate and current admissions information and upon the applicant's updating such data if circumstances arise that make the previously provided information inaccurate, misleading, or incomplete in an important way. Submission of an application authorizes the university to investigate the accuracy of statements made and data provided by the applicant and those who submit materials or information on behalf of the applicant. Falsifications, misrepresentations or omissions in application answers or supporting data may constitute grounds to deny or revoke admission to the university. Admission to the university may be denied or revoked if the university learns that an individual has engaged in conduct that indicates to the university that the individual is not ready to be a responsible member of the university community.

Acceptance of an applicant for admission to a program leading to a master's degree, a professional degree, a doctoral degree, an educational specialist degree, or a Type 2 graduate certificate program is determined by the academic unit and the dean of the college, or their designee, in which the program is offered. A dean may waive review of applications for any or all programs in their college, and may revoke this waiver at any time. For interdepartmental programs, the faculty who are associated with the program may also review applications for admission and recommend acceptance of applicants for admission.

The acceptance decision is made after consideration of the applicant's academic record, experience, personal qualifications, and proposed program of study. The chief academic officer of the university has authority to grant waivers of usual entrance requirements upon recommendation of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Application Procedure

Admission to Michigan State University is open to all candidates on the basis of academic preparation and ability, and the availability of space in the desired academic program, and without regard to race, color, gender, gender identity, religion, national origin, political persuasion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, height, weight, veteran status, age, or (in the case of U. S. citizens) financial need.

The applicant for admission at the graduate level must:

  1. Complete the Online Application for Admission to Graduate Study. The Application Fee is required at the time of submission.
  2. Submit any additional materials through the application portal or as specified by the department, school or program to which admission is sought.
  3. Request the registrar of each college or university attended to send one copy of each official transcript (original language version plus one translated into English, if needed) to the college, department, school, or program to which admission is sought or to the Office of Admissions. Transcripts of work taken at Michigan State University need not be requested.
  4. Have three letters of recommendation submitted electronically using the application system.
  5. Take any required examinations and have the testing agency forward official results to the appropriate entity at Michigan State University as specified in the application instructions.
  6. Fulfill any additional requirements and procedures of the college, department, program or school to which admission is sought.

To ensure full consideration, the application for admission, the application fee, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, and other required documents received by the appropriate offices at least nine months prior to the anticipated first semester of enrollment.

If the applicant is also applying for financial aid, the application materials must be received nine months prior to the first semester of enrollment.

An application for an assistantship, fellowship, or scholarship for a fall semester is assured of full consideration if received before January 1, of that year, unless the application is for a special form of financial aid carrying an earlier deadline date. Some awards of financial aid are made earlier than January 1, and the applicant is therefore encouraged to file the application as early as possible.

Applications for loans for new students are made through the Office of Financial Aid and should be returned to that office before April 1, except for such loans as may carry a later deadline date.

See the General Information, Policies, Procedures and Regulations section of this catalog for further details.

Concurrent Application to a Graduate Program

Applicants seeking admission to a graduate program may apply to two programs concurrently in order to seek admission to the program that is the appropriate field of study for their needs. Submission of applications concurrently may be for any two programs selected from master’s degree programs, educational specialist degree programs, graduate certificate (Type 2) programs, and/or doctoral degree programs. For each program, the applicant must file a separate application and pay a separate application fee.

Admission to a Degree Program

An applicant for admission to a graduate program leading to a master's degree or an educational specialist degree must be a senior in or a graduate of an institution having substantially the same requirements for a bachelor's degree as Michigan State University. An applicant for admission to a doctoral or doctor of education degree program may be required to have completed a master's program or its equivalent. In certain departments and schools, however, a student may be allowed to begin a doctoral program directly after obtaining a bachelor's degree. Normally, a grade–point average of at least 3.00 (B) in the third and fourth years of undergraduate study is required by all departments and schools for regular admission to graduate programs.

Upon admission to a graduate program a student is classified in one of two categories, regular or provisional. Specific criteria for distinguishing between these categories are determined within each college for its own programs. In general, these criteria are:

  1. Regular:  Students who are considered to be fully qualified to undertake a program toward the graduate degree for which they are admitted.
  2. Provisional:  Students of promise who have some remediable inadequacy of qualification such as a minor deficiency in subject–matter preparation or for whom there is incomplete interpretation of available records. A student who is admitted to provisional status will be eligible for change to regular status when specific written conditions for transfer to regular status have been met.


Change in Program

Graduate students currently enrolled in a degree program but wishing to enter a different degree program must file a new graduate application as noted in the Application Procedure section of this catalog at least six weeks in advance of the deadline set by the unit for ordinary applications.


Collateral Courses

A graduate student admitted with deficiencies in academic background may be required to take collateral courses in addition to the prescribed courses of a program. Credits earned in collateral courses do not count toward the minimum credit requirements for a degree.


Delayed Enrollment

If a person files an application for admission to a graduate program for a specific semester and is accepted but does not enroll for that semester, that person may renew his or her application within a period of one year. If after one year that person still has not registered at Michigan State University, that person must file a new application for admission.


Dual Enrollment by Undergraduates

This policy is currently under review due to changing federal aid eligibility rules. Please contact The Graduate School for assistance.

Dual enrollment provides an opportunity for academically talented undergraduate students to enroll in graduate courses and conduct research towards a graduate degree while completing the last two years of their bachelor’s degree(s) programs.

To be considered for dual enrollment, the student must first file an Application for Admission to Graduate Study, as indicated under Application Procedure in this section of the catalog and be admitted into a graduate program. Subsequent to admission to a graduate program, in regular status, the student must complete a Request for Dual Enrollment Status form, available from the Office of the Registrar. A student who is accepted for dual enrollment can be admitted to both the undergraduate and graduate degree program upon reaching junior standing.

Within the first semester of dual enrollment, the student’s graduate degree program advisor must be identified and the appropriate graduate degree guidance committee established. The advisor and committee assist the student in developing a program of study for the graduate degree. Admission to graduate study and the Request for Dual Enrollment Status form must both be approved before work to apply toward a graduate degree program is undertaken. Credits completed prior to admission to graduate study cannot be applied toward a graduate degree program.

A student will be classified as an undergraduate until the minimum number of credits required for a first bachelor’s degree is completed. When the student is classified as a graduate student, eligibility begins for graduate assistantships, other forms of graduate student financial aid, or those services and prerogatives normally reserved for graduate students.

A student pays undergraduate tuition up to the total number of credits required for a first bachelor’s degree(s) in his/her major(s), at which point graduate tuition is applicable and students are eligible for graduate fellowships and assistantships. If approved by the graduate program, a maximum of nine credits, at the 400-level or higher, from the undergraduate degree program can be applied toward the requirements for the graduate degree program for credits completed after admission to graduate study. Some colleges with programs that require more than 30 credits for the master’s degree may apply more than 9 credits toward the master’s degree but not more than 30% of the total number of credits required for the master’s degree.  Credits applied to a master’s degree are not eligible to be applied to any other degree program.

In semesters when the student is dually enrolled, federal financial aid designated for the first bachelor’s degree (Federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)) will be determined based upon the number of undergraduate credits only. Awards will be manually adjusted as necessary once the student is registered. Students are not eligible for financial aid as a graduate student until the semester after the minimum number of credits required for the first bachelor’s degree has been earned.

Faculty Members of Michigan State University Admission to Graduate Study

A faculty member with the rank of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor may not earn a doctoral degree from Michigan State University. Any waiver of this regulation may be made only by agreement of the University Committee on Graduate Studies and the provost prior to the beginning of the program. A faculty member may earn a master’s degree at Michigan State University. 


New students may apply for housing after the notice of acceptance for admission is issued. Specific instructions are provided with the notice of acceptance. Former students may apply for housing facilities after their applications for readmission have been accepted. Although additional students may be accommodated in university housing, housing reservations are guaranteed only for first-year students. See Housing and the University Housing Policy in the General Information, Policies, Procedures and Regulations section of this catalog for more information on university housing regulations and facilities.

Readmission to Original Program

Graduate students whose enrollment at Michigan State University is interrupted for any reason so that they have not been enrolled for three consecutive semesters, including the summer sessions, must apply for readmission via the web at at least two months prior to the first day of registration for the semester in which the student expects to resume graduate studies. Faculty will evaluate the application to determine admission. 

Readmission with Change of Program

A graduate student wishing to pursue a degree or program other than the one originally sought, or who has not been enrolled for three consecutive semesters, including the Summer Sessions, or who has completed prior courses of study, must file a new graduate application as noted in the Application Procedure section of this catalog.

International Student Admission

Michigan State University welcomes applications from international students and is authorized by the U.S. government to issue Forms I-20 and DS-2019 to assist non-immigrants to apply for F and J visas.

A prospective international student should contact the graduate department to which they wish to apply.  We recommend that prospective students obtain application information well enough in advance so that the completed application can be submitted well before the program’s start date.  One official copy of all records of any previous postsecondary schooling (mark sheets, transcripts, diplomas, certificates, etc.) must be submitted as official documents directly from each institution. These records must show courses taken and grades earned, and must be translated into English if the original records are in another language. Translations must be done by the issuing institution, a certified translator in the country of study, or by an American Translator’s Association certified translator in the US.  The original record should be also included.  The chief academic officer of the university has authority to grant waivers of usual entrance requirements upon recommendation of the Dean of the Graduate School.

U.S. immigration regulations require that non-immigrants who intend to study in the United States hold a student visa (F or J) and attend the institution that issued the Form I-20 or DS-2019 they used to obtain their visa.  Michigan State University is required by U.S. government regulations to obtain evidence of a non-immigrant student’s financial ability to meet their educational and living expenses for each year of their proposed study before issuing the Form I-20. Estimated expenses may be found by visiting  Thus, providing written verification of the source and amount of financial support available for at least the first year of study is part of the application process.  This information should be sent to the Office of Admissions. It is common that a teaching or research assistantship serves as the required evidence of financial support. If you are awarded an assistantship, your department will notify the Office of Admissions.

If the student is approved for admission, the university will mail a letter of acceptance and the Form I-20 to the student.  The student will need to present the Form I-20 and evidence of financial support to a U.S. Consular Officer when applying for a student visa and later, to a U.S. immigration inspector at a U.S. port of entry.  If a student must obtain a J Exchange Visitor visa, they should contact their sponsoring agency, or Michigan State University’s Office for International Students and Scholars ( for information about the issuance of a Form DS-2019. 

There can be lengthy delays in the time it takes for the visa application to be approved. We recommend non-immigrant students apply as far in advance as possible for the student visa.  More information about the process to obtain a U.S. student visa can be found at:

A student who currently attends another institution in the U.S. will need to notify the U.S. government of their school transfer.  An international student advisor can provide the information about the procedures to transfer a student’s visa sponsorship from one institution to another.

English Language Proficiency

All international applicants and applicants for graduate programs whose first language is not English must be able to demonstrate their English language proficiency. Those applicants who do not demonstrate English language proficiency must fulfill the requirements stated below as part of the admissions procedure. Graduate students may be admitted on regular status or on provisional status.


Minimum Requirement for Regular Admission

All international applicants and applicants whose first language is not English must be able to be proficient in English as a condition for regular admission to Michigan State University.  Such applicants will be required to demonstrate their proficiency by meeting certain minimum standards on any one of the following tests:

  1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A total score of 550 with no subscores below 52 (paper version), or 80 with no subscore below 19 (22 for writing section) (Internet-based version) is required.  The official report must be received by the Office of Admissions directly from Educational Testing Service.
  2. Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) (Testing and Certification Division, The English Language Institute, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA). An average score of 83 or higher with no subscores below 80 is required for the main test parts. A MELAB speaking score of at least 3 is also required. The official report must be received by the Office of Admissions directly from the University of Michigan English Language Institute. 
  3. International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum average score of 6.5 is required, with no subscore below 6.0. The official report must be received by the Office of Admissions directly from IELTS. 
  4. Michigan State University English Language Test (English Language Center [ELC], Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824–1035, USA). An average score of 80 to 85 with no subscores below 80, or a minimum average score of 85 with no subscores below 78 is required.
  5. Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE A). Minimum overall score of 53; no subscore below 51 for reading, listening, and speaking; no writing subscore below 59. 
  6. Michigan State University Certificate of English Language Proficiency (CELP). Regular admission: score of 65 with no subscore below 15 (17 for writing section). Provisional admission: score of 60.

All of the above tests must have been taken within two years of a student's application.

Minimum Scores for Provisional Admission

International applicants who have acceptable academic credentials may be admitted to Michigan State University on a provisional basis with average TOEFL scores of at least 520 (paper version) or at least 70 (Internet-based version), or an average score of at least 72 on the MELAB, or 6 on the IELTS, or 72 on the Michigan State University English Language Test (MSUELT), or 48 on the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE A).


Provisionally admitted students must take classes at the English Language Center, and restrictions are placed on the number of academic courses that they may take. Any student admitted provisionally because of an English language deficiency must correct that deficiency within one calendar year.


Required English Language Center Attendance

As the language requirement is a University policy, a decision by the English Language Center (ELC) for a student to enroll in its program is binding and is not negotiable by the student. Students who are required to attend ELC classes are obligated to show good class attendance and make an earnest effort to remove the language deficiency as soon as possible. The ELC program must be completed satisfactorily before regular admission status may be granted.


Teaching Assignments

All students whose first language is not English and who are admitted to graduate studies at Michigan State University with teaching assistantships involving recitations, discussions, or laboratory sections will be given the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) test by the English Language Center upon arrival on campus. Students may submit a current (within two years) Test of Spoken English (TSE) in lieu of the SPEAK test. Students who do not pass the initial SPEAK test or TSE may not assume teaching responsibilities until they complete English 097, an oral skills course for international teaching assistants, and pass the International Teaching Assistant oral interview or pass a subsequent SPEAK or TSE test. The chairperson of the student's teaching assignment department may request an opportunity for a special review by the International Teaching Assistant Oral Review Board if the student does not pass the initial screening. The Board determines whether the student may be cleared for teaching duties. If the student fails to pass the minimum all–University standard of English proficiency for regular admission status, they may not be assigned to do any classroom teaching,  including laboratory instruction and recitation or discussion sections, without approval of the English Language Center. Units may hold a higher–than–minimum performance criterion if they so choose if the content and/or the teaching models warrant.

See Costs in the General Information, Policies, Procedures and Regulations section and English Language Center in the College of Arts and Letters section of this catalog for additional information.

International Student Accident and Health Insurance

International students are required to have health and accident insurance. Students are required to purchase the Michigan State University Student Accident and Health Insurance Plan unless they have evidence of alternative insurance equal in benefits and provisions to the Michigan State University plan. Fees for the student's insurance are included with the bill for tuition and fees during registration. Waivers to allow purchase of alternative plans must be approved by the Human Resources Office, Human Resources, 1407 South Harrison.