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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Math Placement and Requirement Questions

Questions About Majors

Questions about Courses

Questions about Academic Action


General Questions

What are the University Requirements?

All students, regardless of their major, need 28 credits in Integrative Studies and Writing courses. Students with a test score below "19" on the proctored mathematics placement test also need credit for at least one math course beyond MTH 103 (college algebra).

The courses required for Integrative Studies and Writing are:

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General Questions

What is WRA?

WRA stands for "Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures". Courses in WRA fulfill the first part (Tier I) of MSU's writing requirements. All students will have writing-intensive classes within their majors as juniors and seniors. The upper-level courses within the majors constitute the second tier (Tier II) of the University's writing requirement.

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General Questions

What is IAH? ISS? ISB? ISP?

These are the prefixes of the Integrated Studies courses. These are courses in the Arts and Humanities (IAH), Social Sciences (ISS), and Biological (ISB) and Physical Sciences (ISP) respectively. Students are required to pass two courses each in the Arts and Humanities (one IAH numbered between 201 and 210 and one IAH numbered 211 or higher), two Social Sciences (one ISS at the 200-level and one at the 300-level), one course each in the Biological and Physical Sciences (one ISB and one ISP) and one 2-credit lab experience.

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General Questions

Does MSU have a mathematics requirement?

Yes. The University has a math proficiency requirement. Some students may waive the University mathematics requirement with a score of "19" or higher on the proctored placement test. However, some majors have additional math requirements beyond the University requirement. An academic advisor can provide more detailed information for individual students and majors.

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General Questions

Does MSU have a physical education requirement?

No. MSU does not require students to take any physical education courses. Nevertheless, the Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science offers a wide range of one-credit activity classes as well as classes in first aid and personal health.

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General Questions

Is there a way I can get a head start on my requirements?

Yes. Your local community college may offer summer courses that have been evaluated as MSU course equivalents. It's especially useful to take a mathematics course because that may enable you to place higher on the MSU math placement test and satisfy a requirement for one or more math courses at MSU. That, in turn, means you can start on required University science courses earlier. You can identify MSU course equivalents using MSU's transfer credit equivalency system. You should consult an academic advisor if you wish to take a course to apply towards a university requirement.

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General Questions

How many credits do I need to graduate?

All MSU undergraduate degrees require a minimum of 120 credits. Intermediate Algebra, MTH 1825, does not count towards credits required for graduation. Besides University math, writing and integrative studies requirements, you need to satisfy college and major requirements with a minimum grade point average of 2.0. 

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General Questions

Where can I find information about me such as my grades, my financial aid, when to enroll, etc.?

You can access your information using STU-INFO.

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Math Placement Questions

Can I find out my math placement before coming to freshman orientation?

Yes. You can find out which math course you would be placed into by going to MSU's Math Department website.

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What if I can't take the MSU math placement test?

Take the mathematics placement test at your local community college. Advisors there can tell you the appropriate class to take and how it will transfer to MSU. You can also check out transfer course equivalencies in the transfer MSU credit equivalency system.

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Questions about Majors

Where can I find more information about different departments and programs at MSU?

The Undergraduate University Division advisors can assist you with locating information about MSU's various majors, specializations, programs and support services. Also, most departments can be located through the List of Majors and Colleges found on MSU's Office of Admissions webpage.

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Questions about Majors

What is the difference between a major and a major preference?

Technically, all students with less than 56 credits are members of the Undergraduate University Division (with the exception of students in the colleges of James Madison, Lyman Briggs, and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities). Students with less than 56 credits may express a major preference.

Students with a major preference may seek advising from the appropriate college and/or department related to their major. Students who are declared as No-Preference/Exploratory will be assigned an advisor within the Undergraduate University Division. Students with a major preference may also seek advising in the Undergraduate University Division. 

Once a student has earned 56 total credits, s/he must declare, and be admitted to, a degree-related major. At that time the student becomes a part of the college related to their major.

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Questions about Majors

How long can I be a No-Preference/Exploratory major?

Students can be a No-Preference/Exploratory major as freshmen and sophomores. This choice allows students the opportunity to explore the wide variety of disciplinary majors offered at MSU to discover, and choose, an appropriate major that fits their abilities and interests.

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Questions about Majors

If I'm a No-Preference/Exploratory major will I be "behind"?

As No-Preference/Exploratory majors explore various disciplines they will also take university requirements that are applicable to all majors on campus. With good planning, you should not be "behind" by choosing the No-Preference/Exploratory option.

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Questions about Majors

Does a major necessarily lead to a particular career?

It depends on the major. For example, civil engineers and professional trombone players need specific educational backgrounds. Most careers, though, do not have such an obvious link between undergraduate majors and careers. Successful business professionals, and other professionals as well, have degrees in English, Business, Theater, Political Science, Psychology, History, Philosophy, Economics and many others. Also, pre-professional training, such as premed or prelaw, can be compatible with many different majors. Consulting an advisor will help you identify possible matches between various majors and careers.

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I'm clueless about a major; where can I get help?

Because MSU offers so many majors and specializations, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Professional advisors in the Undergraduate University Division are available to assist you in making this very important decision. MSU has the resources and the staff to help you make a decision that's right for you. Advisors can help you plan appropriate exploration while also satisfying university requirements. In addition, extracurricular activities, such as a service learning project or a study abroad program, can greatly enhance your academic experience as well as help you find your passion. 

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Questions about Courses

What is a prerequisite? Or - Why should I take an introductory course?

The study of a subject requires a body of basic understnding before pursuing advanced study. Professors expect students to possess this background prior to the beginning of class. Therefore, University classes often require prerequisites. Most disciplines include introductory  courses that provide an overview of the whole discipline. These introductory courses are followed by progressively more in-depth courses. Students are expected to have fulfilled prerequisite requirements before taking any course. Prerequisites are listed in the course description. Course descriptions can be found using the online Description of Courses.

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Questions about Courses

What is a restriction?

Some courses are restricted to student level (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior), particular majors, and/or a particular placement (i.e., Honors College). Course restrictions are included in course descriptions listed in the online Description of Courses.

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Questions about Courses

Who can provide overrides?

The appropriate department and/or college may provide an override to allow a student to bypass enrollment restrictions. Usually the department and/or college will require instructor permission before issuing an override. Contact information for a department can be found on the right hand side of the online Schedule of Courses screen.

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Questions about Courses

What does a regular schedule for a first-year student look like?

All schedules are individual although there are some similarities in general schedule construction. Most new freshmen enroll in four courses each for fall and spring semesters. A sample appears below:

Fall Schedule

Spring Schedule

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Questions about Academic Actions

I want to change my major. What do I need to do?

All MSU students with less than 56 credits and not enrolled in one of the Residential Colleges initiate major changes at one of the four Undergraduate University Division offices located on campus. The Undergraduate University Division serves as the assistant dean's office for these students even if they have a declared major preference. all freshmen and sophomores even if they have declared a major preference. 

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Questions about Academic Actions

How do I change my schedule?

First, see your academic advisor. Students with fewer than 56 credits may see a UUD advisor or an advisor in the department/college of their major preference. An advisor can help you make good choices. You can then logon to either Schedule Builder or WebEnroll to make changes to your schedule. Instructions for using Schedule Builder and Webenroll are on the webpage of each. Students can make changes to their schedule through the first week of a current semester.

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Questions about Academic Actions

How do I add a course after the first week of the semester?

After the first week of classes you must go to the office of the department that offers the course you want to add. Contact information for a department can be found on the right hand side of the online Schedule of Courses screen. However, some faculty members will not accept new students after the first week of the semester.

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Questions about Academic Actions

If I want to drop a course what do I need to do?

You can drop a course using either Schedule Builder or WebEnroll. You can drop a class up to the middle of the semester. Check your Spartan Planner or the online Schedule of Courses for the last day you can drop a class with a refund and the last day you can drop a class with no grade reported.

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Questions about Academic Actions

Can I drop a course after the middle of the semester?


Courses may be dropped after the middle of the semester only to correct an enrollment error or because of events of a catastrophic nature - such as a serious personal illness. Such drops must be approved by your assistant dean's office (UUD or your college). You must provide documentation of the situation prompting the request for a late drop. Late drops cannot be initiated by instructors. Failing or doing poorly in a course is NOT an acceptable reason to drop a course after the middle of the semester.

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