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Courses and Academics

What courses are offered at MSU?

Different courses are offered each academic semester, so it is best to check the course schedule for the most up to date offerings if you will spend a semester or a year at MSU. Make sure to select the correct semester.

Topics offered on our Short Course Programs are specifically for the American Semester Program and are not offered through Michigan State University academics. Please visit our Short Course Programs page to view the topics offered this year.

How do I get enrolled?

With your application, you submit a list of at least 10 courses you are interested in taking during your semester at MSU. Find these courses by searching MSU's Schedule of Courses (make sure you have the correct semester selected before searching!). The American Semester Coordinator or the Exchange Coordinator will take this list and work with advisors in the colleges at MSU to begin creating a course schedule for you.

Unfortunately, American Semester Program and Exchange students are only able to enroll themselves in courses that do not require the completion of prerequisite courses. (Prerequisites are courses that you must complete first before you can take another course.) Given that you have not yet taken courses at MSU before, an advisor will need to look at your academic background to determine which prerequisites you meet and the individually approve you for each course that you are eligible for.

This means that you need to work closely with your American Semester Coordinator or your Exchange Coordinator through the course selection process, which can be very time consuming. Please practice patience when working with your Coordinator on your course enrollment!

What are the minimum and maximum number of credits I can take?

All students on student visas must be enrolled in a full time course load. For undergraduate students a full time load is 12 credits. It is recommended that students take no more than 15 credits. 

For graduate students the minimum number of credits is 9 and the maximum is 12.

In certain circumstances, if students would like to take more credits, special exceptions may be granted. However, students who come to MSU on the basis of exchange agreements will not be able to enroll in more credits than outlined in the specific exchange agreement.

Which courses are for undergraduate students?

Courses for undergraduate students are courses with the course code 100 to 400.

For example, if you look at the course code ENG 201:

  • ENG means that this is an English course
  • 201 means that the course is an undergraduate course

As long as the course code does not include a number larger than 499, you would be looking at an undergraduate course.

Which courses are for graduate students?

Courses for graduate students are courses with the course code 500 and above. The 800 and 900 level course codes are most common for graduate students, but they may be courses leading to doctoral degrees rather than Master's degrees.

For example, if you look at the course code ENG 801:

  • ENG means that this is an English course
  • 801 means that the course is a graduate level course

Students must meet all prerequisites for the courses they wish to enroll in and admission to graduate courses will often involve interviews and more detailed discussions about a student's academic background.

I am an undergraduate student. Can I take graduate level courses?

No, undergraduate students are not permitted to take graduate level courses. Undergraduate students will be able to enroll in courses of the 100 to 400 level. Graduate courses are assigned 800 or 900 numbers.

What if I can't find a specific course in the course schedule?

If a certain course is not listed in the course schedule for a given semester, it will unfortunately not be offered. Not all courses offered during all semesters. If you encounter this situation, it is important to work closely with your adviser at your home university and the American Semester Program Coordinator or the Exchanges Coordinator at MSU to find possible alternate courses.

For questions, please send an e-mail to: msuex(at) or american(at)

What if I do not have a full course schedule before arrival?

Please do not worry if you do not yet have a full course schedule before you travel to MSU! Many students will make adjustments in meetings with advisors during orientation week or during the first week of classes (this week is also known as the add-drop-period).

Sometimes, enrollment in certain courses is not possible until arrival on campus, because a personal discussion regarding the objectives of the course and your academic background.  

That said, it is important that you come prepared with a list of additional possible course options, that you answer all e-mails from your American Semester Program Coordinator or your Exchange Coordinator and that you attend the necessary orientation meetings (or any other meetings that you are asked to attend).

What is D2L and how do I use it?

D2L is a course web page offered to students. Through this website students can contact professors and other class members, check grades, download lecture notes, and receive and submit homework assignments. At the beginning of a semester your professor may add you to a D2L group for your course.

Some courses may have online components which require students to use D2L more frequently. In this case, it's okay to ask for help from your professor or teaching assistant if you need more clarification on the way to use D2L.

I need help with a writing assignment. Where can I go for help?

The Writing Center is a great resource for students who need help with writing assignments. The main writing center is located in room 300 Bessey Hall, and there are also other locations in the Library, Business College Complex, and Hubbard Hall. Students make appointments before going to the Writing Center. Students can schedule appointments and get more information on their website.


I have a learning disability or other disability and need special accommodation. Where do I go for help?

The Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) handles any concerns that students with disabilities may have. The office is located in room 120 Bessey Hall. Contact your American Semester Program coordinator as well, as they can put you in contact with the appropriate resources.

How do I get a copy of my transcript from MSU?

At MSU transcripts are free. You can only receive a transcript after you have completed at least one semester of courses at Michigan State. Visit the transcript page on the Registrar's website to complete an online order form.

If you are ordering your transcript before the end of the semester, remember to check the box which says, "hold for semester grades". Also, your transcript will not be sent until all holds are taken off of your account. It is important to check to make sure you don't have any unpaid bills before you leave MSU.

Transcripts are available electronically, but they can also be sent by U.S. Postal service. be sure to enter the address of the recipient (such as your adviser back home) correctly.