Academic Programs Catalog

Undergraduate Education



Enrollment is the selection of courses for a fall, spring, or summer schedule based on the student's Academic Progress Plan previously developed and continually reviewed with an academic advisor.  


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

Students who have matriculated at Michigan State University and have achieved junior standing (56 semester credits) may not earn credits from two-year institutions.

Students who have matriculated at Michigan State University and have not yet achieved junior standing (56 semester credits) may earn credits from two-year institutions, up to the 56-semester credit limit.



Registration is the process of securing classes for which one has enrolled by payment of charges due or confirmation of attendance, if no payment is due.



Period Covered by Registration

Refer to the statement on Period Covered by Registration in The Academic Program section of this catalog. 

Semester Credit Load

All undergraduate baccalaureate programs require a minimum of 120 credits. Most programs are designed so that a student starting a program as a first-year student may finish it in 8 semesters by satisfactorily completing an average of 15 credits a semester.  In practice, students usually carry from 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 15 or 16 credits except when required by the specific program. Only under unusual 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 in order 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 forty 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 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. A Exploratory student 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, 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.  Twenty credits must be completed while enrolled in the major in the college in 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. 


Guest Status at Another Institution

MSU students may attend other institutions as Guest Students or Non–matriculated Students for short periods for 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 on the web at Students who wish to attend non-Michigan institutions should obtain application forms from the host institution. The completed form should be taken 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 on the web 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.

Michigan State University students who have achieved junior standing (56 semester credits) may not earn credit in two–year institutions for transfer to Michigan State.