The 5 Largest College Campuses in Mississippi Are Practically Their Own Cities

Written by Micky Moran
Published: November 15, 2023
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At its local colleges, Mississippi offers a welcoming home to new freshmen every year. By age 25, about 23.2% of the local population earns their bachelor’s degree, which is no easy feat. The colleges in this state are highly competitive. Mississippi College in Clinton has a 29% acceptance rate. Anyone who makes it into their colleges and universities already has a distinct advantage later in life.

According to the Education Data Initiative, Mississippi currently has 163,054 students enrolled in college. Let’s take a look at the largest campuses in Mississippi now.

Largest Campus: Mississippi State University – 4,200 Acres

Chapel of Memories - Mississippi State University

To support the local environment and the college’s beautification, the state adds 80-100 trees annually.

©LaynaBug Photography/Shutterstock.com

Mississippi State University, not to be confused with the University of Mississippi, has the largest college campus in Mississippi. At MSU, the entire campus covers 4,200 acres, holding farms and pastures that comprise the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station—however, much of the acreage returns to the Old Main Academic Center.

MSU is located in Starkville with a total student population of 23,000, accounting for 14.1% of all college students in Mississippi. Starkville is one of the smallest Mississippi towns, spread across just 25.8 square miles. Students can study engineering, agricultural research, and veterinary medicine (among other majors). It has the largest football stadium in Mississippi, hosting the Mississippi State Bulldogs football team. While a wildlife refuge is nearby, this massive campus is free of animals, apart from some migratory birds.

University of Mississippi – 3,693 Acres

University of Mississippi, Oxford, MI.

The Ole Miss campus has 15 schools, including the College of Liberal Arts and several graduate schools.

©Ken Lund / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

The University of Mississippi, affectionately referred to as Ole Miss, is in Oxford, though the medical center is in Jackson. Though it is only the second-largest college by acreage, it has the highest enrollment of any Mississippi college, with 24,710 students in 2023. The onslaught of new freshmen in 2023 set a record for Ole Miss enrollment with the largest student body it has ever seen. It houses the world’s largest telescope in the Barnard Observatory.

Originally chartered in 1984, Ole Miss only had 80 students in its first year. For a short time during the Civil War, it functioned as a hospital to treat Confederate soldiers. Now, it is one of the top research universities in the country, and many graduates went on to earn Pulitzer Prizes and sit in positions of power as senators and governors. 

Alcorn State University – 1,700 Acres

Originally established in 1871, Alcorn State University continues to support students with opportunities like night classes for the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

©2C2K Photography / CC BY 2.0 – License

Alcorn State University boasts an impressive 1,700 acres, offering the first black land grant college in the United States. The original campus only had 3 buildings, now historical features of the institution. The first president of Alcorn State University was Hiram R. Revels, who stepped down from his role as a United States Senator to serve the college. Initially, the college received $50,000 from the state legislature to support operations for the next decade. The largest donation to date was $25 million by MacKenzie Scott in 2020.

Despite being the second-largest historically black college nationwide, it has the third-largest campus in the state. It offers over 50 fields of study across 7 schools, including the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business. It has multiple residence halls for men and women, and it sponsors 15 different athletics programs for students.

University of Southern Mississippi – 1,090 Acres

Southern Mississippi University Campus Admin Building in Pre Dawn Light.

Located in Hattiesburg, the University of Southern Mississippi was originally built in 1910.

©mnapoli/Shutterstock.com

The University of Southern Mississippi has two main campuses – the Hattiesburg main campus and the Long Beach campus (Gulf Park). Originally, this university went by the name of the Mississippi Southerners. Though the years brought change to the university’s name, campus size, and even the mascot, their school colors – black and gold – have been the same since a few years after its construction.

Originally called Mississippi Normal College, the primary purpose was to be a teaching college. Teachers traveled to their students, requiring very little of a campus to function. From 1924 to 1940, this teaching method led to a name change – Mississippi State Teachers College. It officially became Mississippi State College in 1940, holding the title for 22 years until Gov. Ross Barnett gave it university status. While the small campus originally accommodated less than 200, the 1,090-acre campus now has over 10,000 students.

Tougaloo College – 500 Acres

In 1869, officials established the original Tougaloo College to educate newly freed slaves and their children.

©2C2K Photography / CC BY 2.0 – License

While the other campuses on this list offer public education, Tougaloo College is the only private college with enough of a substantial campus to be ranked on this list. With a religious affiliation to the United Church of Christ and Christian Church, the curriculum is influenced by faith rather than secular beliefs. The campus’s 500-acre property has been the same size since 1869, but new expansions allowed the school to include Washington Hall and Boarding Hall, among other buildings. All construction came at the cost of the United States government, using funds allocated through the education department of its Bureau of Refugees and Freedmen.

Though the campus endured many renovations, the National Register of Historic Places added the old buildings in 1998. Like Alcorn State University, Tougaloo College received a donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in 2020, setting history with the largest donation for the college – $6 million.

Largest Colleges in Mississippi by Acreage

CollegeCampus Size
Mississippi State University4,200 acres
University of Mississippi3,693 acres
Alcorn State University1,700 acres
University of Southern Mississippi1,090 acres
Tougaloo College500 acres

The photo featured at the top of this post is © LikeTheBread, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original


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About the Author

Micky Moran is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering mammals, travel, marine life, and geography. He has been writing and researching animals and nature for over 5 years. A resident of Arizona, he enjoys spending time with family, going on adventures across the United States with his wife and kids by his side.

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