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Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) is a public institution located in Marshall, Minnesota. Founded in 1963, it is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. According to Plexuss Global Rankings, the university is number one in the state for early childhood education programs and number four in the state for agriculture programs.

Overview of Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU)

The university is dedicated to preparing students to meet the complex challenges of this century as engaged citizens in their local and global communities Southwest Minnesota State University also strives to develop broadly educated and well-rounded leaders. It offers a wide variety of inclusive and student-centered experiences designed to prepare students for personal and professional success. Other values include civic engagement, and strategic partnerships.

There were approximately 6,747 students enrolled at Southwest Minnesota State University in fall 2021. While 4,340 of those enrolled are non-degree seeking, 1,970 were pursuing undergraduate degrees and 437 were pursuing graduate degrees. Total full-time faculty employment was about 257, with another 171 providing instructional support part time. This makes the student-to-faculty ratio 16:1, which is quite competitive among colleges and universities in the nation. Notably, however, no professors or staff members are dedicated to research and public service pursuits and there are no graduate assistant positions available at the institution.

General Information

School Type Public
Campus Setting Town: Remote
Campus Housing Yes
Student Faculty Ratio 16:1
Graduation Rate 48%
Year Founded 1963

Student Enrollment

Total Students6,986


Undergraduate Student

Male 2,557
Female 3.999

Graduate Student

Male 168
Female 262

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SMSU Acceptance Rate and Admissions


Male 725
Female 912


Male 645
Female 848

Acceptance Rate91%

Male 89%
Female 93%

Enrollment 426

Male 187
Female 212
Application Fee $20
High School GPA Recommended
High School Rank Recommended
High School Transcripts Recommended
College Prep Courses Recommended
SAT/ACT Required
Other Test (Wonderlic,WISC-III,etc) Recommended
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Required
Application Deadline September 1
Common Application Accepted No

SMSU Tuition Cost & Financial Aid

Tuition rates at Southwest Minnesota State University vary based on the enrollment status and the number of courses taken. For in-state, undergraduate students enrolled in 12 to 18 credits, tuition and fees are charged at a flat rate of $5,061 per semester. Those taking fewer than 12 credits will be charged $305 per credit hour.

It’s important to realize that some programmatic tuition charges may apply. Those taking studio art, introduction to art, art education, science labs, and culinology and hospitality labs may pay an additional $3.30 to $30.82 more per credit hour.

Non-residents pay higher tuition and fee rates. Southwest Minnesota State University does, however, offer reciprocity applications for students from Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Residents of Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, and Kansas can also participate in the Midwest Student Exchange Program, which grants Minnesota resident tuition rates.

Students are also responsible for paying for housing and meals. Southwest Minnesota State University has several room and board options available. The cost of living on campus ranges from $2,550 to $3,755 per semester depending on the residence hall and rooming status selected. Meal plans range from $1,751 to $2,045 per semester. Additional expenses often include books, supplies, transportation, parking, and personal needs.

The Student Financial Aid Office at Southwest Minnesota State University helps students find financial means that enable them to enroll in and complete their academic programs. It coordinates all federal, state, and institutional financial assistance, including grants, scholarships, student employment, and student loans.

As of the 2020-2021 academic year, 98% of beginning undergraduate students enrolled at Southwest Minnesota State University received some form of financial aid. While the majority of assistance came in the form of scholarships and grants, 68% of students still required student loans to attend.

Average net price 2020-2021
Net Price $14,061
Average Total Aid $7,101
Students Receiving Financial Aid 98%
Room & Board $9,026

Sticker Price

  • Tuition In-State - $9,482
  • Tuition Out-of-State - $9,482
  • Books and Supplies - $1,200
  • Room & Board - $1,200
  • Other - $3,010

SMSU Academics

Southwest Minnesota State University offers numerous comprehensive degree programs, taught in the liberal arts tradition. Undergraduate options lead to Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Applied Science, Associate of Science, and Associate of Arts degrees. Many graduate and online opportunities are available as well. Each helps to connect students’ academics with practical professional development experiences. Professors encourage discovery through innovative teaching, research, and other high-impact opportunities.

Students can pursue educational opportunities in any of nine major departments:

  • Agriculture, Culinology, and Hospitality Management
  • Business Innovation and Strategy
  • Education
  • English, Philosophy, Spanish, and Humanities
  • Fine Arts and Communication
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Nursing
  • Science
  • Social Science

The institution also offers flexible, online degree and certificate programs. Students enrolled have the same support, resources, and education available to those who attend classes in person. Additionally, regardless of location, everyone qualifies for the same low, in-state tuition rates.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the retention rate for first-time students pursuing bachelor’s degrees full-time at Southwest Minnesota State University is 63%. The retention rate for part-time students is 50%. This indicates that the majority of those enrolled at the university were pleased with their experiences and opted to return for a second year of study.

Graduation rates are lower, however. This data is significant, as it indicates the number of students who successfully earned their degrees or certificates within 150% of the standard completion time. The overall graduation rate for full-time, first-time degree or certificate-seeking students who began their studies at Southwest Minnesota State University in fall 2015 was 48%. However, the transfer-out rate was 30%, meaning that these students may still have graduated, they simply did so from a different school and thus were not counted in this school’s statistics.

Southwest Minnesota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The university also maintains many specialized accreditations.

Student Population Total

Student Population 6,986

Evening Classes : Yes
Online Learning : Yes

Most Popular Programs & Majors

(# of Diplomas Awarded by Subject)

All Education Majors 96 Total Graduates / 22%
Early Childhood Education and Teaching 30 Graduates
Elementary Education and Teaching 29 Graduates
Special Education and Teaching, General 12 Graduates
Agricultural Teacher Education 5 Graduates
Education, General 5 Graduates
Health Professions and Related Programs 81 Total Graduates / 19%
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse 80 Graduates
Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Technologist 1 Graduates
All Education Majors 67 Total Graduates / 16%
Business Administration and Management, General 27 Graduates
Accounting 18 Graduates
Finance, General 10 Graduates
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 7 Graduates
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 5 Graduates
Parks, Recreation, Leisure, Fitness, and Kinesiol 48 Total Graduates / 11%
Exercise Science and Kinesiology 41 Graduates
Sports, Kinesiology, and Physical Education/Fitness, General 7 Graduates
Agricultural/Animal/Plant/Veterinary Science and Related Fields 16 Total Graduates / 4%
Psychology, General 12 Graduates
Agricultural and Extension Education Services 2 Graduates
Agronomy and Crop Science 2 Graduates
All Other Diplomas 28%

Outcome & Salary

Based on data provided by Southwest Minnesota State University in 2020, approximately 99.4% of recent graduates are employed. Of those, over 96% secured professional employment related to their fields of study and 84% found work in Minnesota. Additionally, some graduates from the institution go on to continue their education. Just under 11% are currently enrolled in degree programs at other colleges and universities.

It's also worth mentioning that Southwest Minnesota State University has a 99% job placement rate for online learners. Of those, 97% find employment within their fields.

Graduates Salary
College Grads Early Career Salary $50,200
College Grads Average Salary $65,000
College Grads Mid Career Salary $83,400
Return on Investment (ROI)
10 Year Salary Earnings Potential $650,000
20 Year Salary Earnings Potential $1,484,000
Cost of Education (Net Price) 4 Year $56,244
10 Year Projected ROI $593,756
20 Year Projected ROI $1,427,756
No College Education Salary Comparison
National Average Salary $38,792
10 Year Projected Income $387,920
20 Year Projected Income $775,840

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