Michigan State University – Acceptance Rate, GPA, Requirements, and More

The best land-grant college in the state, Michigan State University was founded in 1855. Seven years later, MSU added non-agricultural majors, eventually growing into one of the largest universities in the United States.

Among its many achievements, MSU is now famed for having first-rate education, nuclear physics, and African history programs. The school’s resources include everything from the Beal Botanical Garden and the Abrams Planetarium to the National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

Thanks to these achievements, MSU has been praised by the most essential observing outlets. According to Washington Monthly, the social mobility enjoyed by MSU grads makes the school the 45th best in the nation.

Likewise, Niche.com gives MSU an A grade for its excellent academics, athletics, and monetary value.

The top-ranking outlet U.S. News & World Report puts MSU in 80th position on its list of National Universities. The University also ranks within the top 50 on U.S. News‘s lists for Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs, Learning Communities, and Top Public Schools.

As all of these high rankings indicate, Michigan State University is an excellent public institution, with a proud history of achievement. Like all other schools of its caliber, MSU has high standards for applying.

Fortunately, this guide can walk you through all of the steps!

Michigan State Acceptance Rate

Michigan State University
Jeffness at English Wikipedia., MSU Beaumont Tower 1, CC BY-SA 2.5

In 2020 alone, 44,322 students applied to study at the school. Out of that number, 31,522 were given offers of admission, giving MSU a 71% acceptance rate.

Those are outstanding odds. According to that percentage, only three out of every ten students who apply will be rejected.

That’s a much more open number than the one offered by MSU’s greatest rival, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. 

While that school received far more applications, with 64,972 hopefuls contacting the school in 2019, only 14,883 were admitted. That gives U of M an acceptance rate of just 23%.

To be sure, some people like the idea of going to an elite college that accepts only a small number of applicants. But there are real advantages to going to a school with a higher acceptance rate.

Not only does MSU bring in most of the people who want to study at the institution, but it also builds a diverse student body. A higher acceptance rate means that more different types of people make it in, resulting in a richer and more complex learning experience.

Michigan State’s Out of State Acceptance Rate

Like most schools, Michigan State University does not publish its acceptance rates for out-of-state students. However, by looking at the services and support it offers to students coming from outside of Michigan, it’s clear that MSU values these additions to its culture.

In 2021, 1,689 American students outside of Michigan enrolled in the school, comprising 18.6 of the entering class. That same year, 424 new students came from outside of the United States.

These numbers speak to the rich learning opportunities offered by MSU. By welcoming students from all around the world, the school brings the world to its campus. MSU students get a cosmopolitan experience just by going to class and interacting with one another.

Even better, MSU makes attending the university highly affordable to these students. However, it charges nearly twice as much for tuition from non-Michigan residents, that comes to only $51,402 per year, including room and board.

To help those students, MSU includes First-Year Experience programs and counselors to assist new arrivals as they become acclimated to their new state.

As these facts indicate, MSU values out-of-state students, even if we don’t know their specific acceptance rate.

Michigan State GPA

Michigan State University
Paul R. Burley, Williams Hall Michigan State University, CC BY-SA 4.0

In keeping with its high acceptance rate and desire to build a diverse student body,

MSU has no minimum requirements. But make no mistake, MSU has high standards for its applicants.

On average, the MSU incoming first-year class enters the University with a GPA ranging between 3.5 and 4.0.

Those numbers don’t come easily. A GPA of that caliber can only be earned by pulling A’s and maybe a couple of B’s in your high school classes.

Furthermore, these grades should be earned in higher-level courses, including AP and IB classes. 

While the occasional B won’t badly hurt your overall GPA, they should only be earned in classes outside of your major. English majors should get A’s in literature and writing courses, as should chemistry majors in their science and statistics classes.

To be sure, MSU has reasonably high standards for its incoming freshmen. But these high grades shouldn’t be construed as just indicators of intelligence. Instead, strong grades show that students take their commitments seriously and can handle the expectations held by MSU.

For that reason, grades alone aren’t the most essential part of an application. Instead, MSU looks at a range of elements, including the quality of the curriculum and an applicant’s personal experience.

Michigan State SAT & ACT Requirements

As is increasingly common, MSU takes a test-optional approach to the SAT and the ACT. Under this policy, incoming freshmen are not required to take the ACT or the SAT. If they do decide to take the tests, they need not submit their scores.

That said, there may be valid reasons for submitting standardized test scores, even if they aren’t required. 

Although it seems like tests such as the ACT or the SAT are just bureaucratic distractions that high school students need to go through in their junior or senior years, they actually serve an essential function.

Standardized tests show to admissions counselors a student’s ability to think critically and analytically, skills they’ll need in college.

For that reason, many students do submit their scores, even though MSU doesn’t require it. In 2020, the incoming class at MCU scored between 23-29 on the ACT and between 1110-1280 on the SAT.

If your scores are comparable or better to these averages, then you should definitely submit them in your application. If your grades are lower, you should probably take advantage of the school’s test-optional policy and focus on your other materials.

Other Requirements and Admission Tips for MSU

Because the school wants to develop a diverse student body, MSU has a clear and easy-to-follow application process

All you need to do is fill out the application, send high school transcripts to the school, and write the application essay. Along with a $65 application fee, those steps will earn you consideration from the admissions committee.

However, following the bare minimum of an application will hardly let you stand out. In fact, all of the more than 40,000 students who want to get into MSU will be doing the same thing. To get the edge, you’ll need to do some additional work.

One way to stand out is to take the ACT or the SAT and submit your scores.

Another way to stand out is to get letters of recommendation.

Letters of recommendation are documents used to suggest a student for acceptance into a college. Hopeful undergraduates usually get letters of recommendation from teachers in high school. However, they can also come from a respected community leader, such as a religious figure or a businessperson.

The ideal recommender is someone who can speak to your abilities as a student. They need to credibly put you in the best light, with as many details as possible.

Early action applications should be submitted by November 1st, but the regular application deadline is February 1st of each year.


While letters of recommendation and standardized test scores are optional at MCU, an application essay is not.

An application essay gives admission counselors a chance to know better the people who want to study at their school. Through the essay, potential Spartans show off their personality and value, helping counselors see what they can bring to the student body.

At MSU, students write one 250-word essay. The school provides applicants with seven essay prompts to choose from. These prompts cover everything from personal identity and challenges that one has overcome to personal growth and a topic of interest.

As this short summary indicates, the application essay is inherently personal. Because it’s about you, there is no one right or wrong answer you can give.

However, you should be aware of the techniques a student can use to improve their chances.

To catch the reader’s attention, your essay should have strong examples and concrete details. Phrases such as “In today’s society” don’t paint a word picture, but a statement like “When I entered high school 2019” is precise and easy to understand.

Likewise, it’s also important to make strong word choices. MSU wants essays of no more than 650 words, which means that every word has to count. If you can say something with one word instead of two, always choose the former.

By following these steps, you’re sure to have a compelling application essay.

Is Michigan State University Right for You?

There are many great reasons to attend Michigan State University.

One of the best reasons is its esteemed athletic program, as the Michigan State University Spartans field 25 varsity sports teams, ranging from wrestling and volleyball to football and gymnastics. 

The school’s football team has won the Rose Bowl four times and the men’s basketball team has won the national championship twice.

Another reason for attending Michigan State University is its amazing programs. MSU focuses on agriculture, industrial supply chains, and education, with top-rated programs in all of these fields.

If these qualities appeal to you, then MSU is an excellent choice. Studying at the school puts you in the footsteps of greats such as NBA legend Magic Johnson, film director Sam Raimi, and billionaire Eli Broad.

With a degree from Michigan State University, you can blaze your own impressive path.