Explore the Vast Campus of Michigan’s Largest College (5,200 Acres!)

Written by Kristen Holder
Updated: September 10, 2023
© Aaron Yoder/iStock via Getty Images
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About 10 million people live in Michigan, and numerous college campuses in the state serve this population. These schools also educate out-of-state and international students, so which college is the biggest? Let’s explore the vast campus of Michigan’s largest college now.

What Is the Largest College Campus in Michigan?

Infographic of the Largest College Campus in Michigan
MSU also owns 44 properties that do not make up the main campus and total about 22,000 acres of land.

The largest college campus in Michigan is Michigan State University (MSU). The campus is so large, it has its own Amtrak station along the Blue Water line that begins in Chicago. It also has a golf course, hotel, football stadium, ice arena, concert hall, power plant, and trash incinerator on top of its traditional academic buildings.

MSU uses a semester system. There is a fall and spring semester as well as two summer sessions. It costs about $15,000 per year if you’re an in-state student, and it costs about $41,000 per year for out-of-state students.

How Large Is the Michigan State University Campus?

Michigan State University has the largest college campus in Michigan.
Michigan State University has more than 25 miles of paved roads on campus and 100-plus miles of sidewalk.

©Aaron Yoder/iStock via Getty Images

Michigan State University’s campus is over 5,200 acres in size. There are 560-plus buildings on MSU’s campus, and 110 of those buildings are directly related to instruction and academics. More than 160 additional buildings are dedicated to food services and housing.

MSU has the largest system of residence halls in the USA. 16,000 students live in 23 undergraduate dorms, one graduate dorm, and three apartment buildings. Despite this, 58% of students live off campus.

MSU is next to the Cedar River, and only about 2,000 acres of the campus are developed. Most of the remaining land is old-growth forest.

Since MSU’s campus is so large, there are around 11 miles of bike trails. To supplement this emphasis on biking, there are more than 200,000 parking spaces for bicycles on campus. There are over 25 miles of paved roads on campus, and 100-plus miles of sidewalk.

Michigan State University also owns 44 properties that do not make up the main campus. These extra properties come to a total of about 22,000 acres of land.

Where Is Michigan State University?

Michigan's Lower Peninsula is called The Mitten.
Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is called The Mitten.

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Michigan State University is in East Lansing, MI. It was founded in 1855, and it was originally named the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. Before the land was developed, it consisted of old-growth oak forests and red lark swamps. It was moved to the area that is now East Lansing in 1857.

The city is part of the Lansing-East Lansing metropolitan area. This metro area is the third largest in the state behind Grand Rapids and Detroit. Over 540,000 people are living in this general area.

East Lansing has about 50,000 residents, and this number is almost the same as the number of enrolled students on campus. However, many students commute in from surrounding areas so the city is not entirely made of college students. Despite this, around 64% of East Lansing’s population is 15 to 24 years old.

MSU is in Central Michigan, which is also known as Mid Michigan or the Capital Area. It’s part of the Lower Peninsula which is also called The Mitten. If you look at the state of Michigan on a map, the lower portion not contained in the Upper Peninsula looks like a winter mitten.

How Many Students Attend Michigan State University?

More than 50 thousand students attend Michigan State University.
More than 50,000 students attend Michigan State University.

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A little more than 50,000 students attend Michigan State University. Around 39,000 of these students are undergraduates, and around 11,000 students are postgraduates. The student-gender ratio is about equal.  

The average GPA of high school students admitted to MSU is around 3.79. The average acceptance rate across programs is around 76%, and most of the students on campus attend full-time. There are enrolled students from every state in the United States in addition to international students from more than 120 countries.

There are around 6,000 faculty members and supporting staff on campus. Despite the enormous amount of students at MSU, the student-to-faculty ratio is only 16 to 1. Currently, about 281,000 residents of the state of Michigan are MSU graduates.

In 1870, MSU became one of the first colleges in the United States to admit women. It let in 10 female students, and the school became permanently coeducational. Coeducation is the mixing of genders at an institution instead of separating them by sex during academic instruction.  

What Is the Facility for Rare Isotopes Beams at Michigan State University?

The Facility for Rare Isotopes Beams (FRIB) at MSU is a research facility studying the property of rare and manmade isotopes to advance knowledge in fields such as nuclear physics, nuclei interaction, nuclear astronomy, and the use of rare isotopes in the real world. Some desired real-world applications relate to nuclear medicine, materials science, and nuclear weapons.

The FRIB broke ground in 2014 and was completed in June 2022 with a public ribbon cutting taking place on May 2, 2022. More than 1,500 scientists have put in 82 proposals for experimentation they desire to do at the facility. These scientists are from the international scientific community as well as the United States.

One experiment has been conducted successfully. It ended on June 22, 2022, and it was designed to study calcium-48 fragments’ beta decay. Calcium-48 makes up less than one-fiftieth of the natural calcium found on Earth, and it’s a stable isotope commonly used in particle accelerators to create new experimental nuclei. Beta decay refers to a type of radioactive decay that occurs when the protons, neutrons, and electrons of atoms are altered.

In July 2022, Michigan State University announced that it is commissioning a Heavy Ion Single Event Effects Test Facility. A heavy ion in this context is a particle with enough charge and kinetic energy to disrupt any kind of device or observation. This one-time disruption by an individual heavy ion is called a Single Event Effect.

Where Is Michigan State University Located on a Map?

This prominent public research university with a rich history is situated in East Lansing, MI. East Lansing is mostly in Ingham County, though a northern section is in Clinton County. The main city of Lansing to the west is Michigan’s state capitol.

Here is Michigan State University on a map:


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About the Author

I'm a fact-driven creative with a love of history and an eye for detail. I graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2009 with a BA in Art History after a STEM-focused high school career. Telling a complex story with real information in a manner that's easy to digest is my talent. When I'm not writing for A-Z Animals, I'm doting on my 3 cats while I watch documentaries and listen to music in Romance languages.

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