Facts & Figures
Research expenditures – that is, the funds spent to conduct research – are the most frequently cited numbers for comparing research levels among colleges and universities. The National Science Foundation (NSF) surveys all recipients of federal funds annually, asking about their research expenditures from all funding sources. MSU has participated in that survey since 1998. The NSF numbers constitute the most comprehensive listing of research expenditures and provide consistency for comparison with other institutions.
The Michigan State University research enterprise has experienced significant growth over the past decade as exhibited in the total research and development expenditures chart.
MSU's total research expenditures were $715 million for 2018, and Federally funded research expenditures were $328 million.
Top federal funding agencies: Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Defense, and the Department of Education.
MSU ranks first nationally in Department of Energy, and second nationally in combined Department of Energy and National Science Foundation, expenditures.
Source: NSF HERD 2018 data.
Expenditures - Details & Rankings
MSU’s research expenditures for FY2018 were $715 million, rising from $695 million in 2017, and continuing an upward trend for more than a decade. $329 million of this originates from federal sources.
MSU is ranked 32nd (of 642 HERD survey participants) in total R&D expenditures. This is up from 38 only three years ago. Of the 31 universities ranked higher, 28 have academic medical centers.
Only three Universities without medical centers ranked Above MSU:
- MIT is ranked 16th with $964M in total research expenditures in FY 2018. Total federal research expenditures were $479.7M ($127.8M from DOD). MIT also benefits from Lincoln Lab with its separate R&D expenditures of over $1.1B ($862M in DOD).
- Georgia Tech ranked 22nd with $891M in total R&D, $655M in federal funds. The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) contributes significantly to this total: DOD expenditures = $443M. Without GTRI, Georgia Tech would drop significantly in rank.
- UC Berkeley, is ranked 29th and had $796M in total expenditures with $329M in federal funds.
MSU total R&D HERD expenditures are the fastest growing in the Big Ten over the last 3-year period: +28%. Over five years +38.7% and over 10 years +76.2%. Indiana and Rutgers added their medical schools to the HERD accounting in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Aside from those one-time boosts to expenditures, MSU would be the fastest growing in the Big Ten over all three time periods.
MSU HERD expenditures from federal sources: 3-year + 20.4%, 5-year +26.1%, and 10-year +85.3%
MSU ranks 7th in HERD expenditures in the Big Ten (out of 14), up from 10th just three years ago (behind Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State).
Michigan State ranks first in expenditures attributable to the Department of Energy (DOE), with a major contributor being the MSU and U.S. Department of Energy-funded Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and other interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research projects are DOE funded.
MSU ranks No. 2 nationally for combined Department of Energy and National Science Foundation expenditures (Illinois is #1).
Funding for externally sponsored programs comes primarily from federal agencies, state agencies, industry, associations, and foundations. Competitive internal grants programs and Facilities and Administrative (F&A) cost return also support research. Funds for conducting research are generally awarded in multi-year contracts or grants, therefore the amount recorded as received each year may not reflect the research being done in that year.
For additional facts and figures about the MSU research enterprise, or statistics about the university, please review the Data Digest or Planning Profile Summary, produced by the the Office of Planning and Budgets.
Michigan State Named One of the Fastest Rising Universities in the U.S.
Michigan State recently ranked 5th among all U.S. universities, as tracked by rise in the Nature Index over three years.
The Nature Index tracks contribution to primary articles in some of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. It is compiled by Nature Research and provides a close to real-time proxy for high-quality research output and collaboration at the institutional, regional, and national level.
MSU had absolute share growth of 21.8 from 2015 to 2018 in the number of articles published in the natural sciences, which specifically include earth and environmental science, life sciences, and the physical sciences as represented in the Nature Index.
Innovation and Tech Transfer
2018 marked the 40th anniversary of Cisplatin, which is considered the gold standard to which most new cancer treatments are compared. This discovery not only continues to help those afflicted with cancer, but the resulting royalties also fuel new research and discovery in the form of internal grants and other investments from the MSU Foundation.
The MSU Innovation Center stewards more than 170 discoveries annually into a pipeline of patents, products and startup businesses. This productivity resulted in $23.8M dollars in corporate-sponsored R&D projects, 68 license and option agreements with companies around the world, as well as $1.9M in royalties being distributed to our faculty and departments. Based on FY 2018.
MSU's position as an entrepreneurship and innovation hub earned global accolades by the 2018 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, earning its prize for Outstanding Contributions to Venture Creation, surpassing nationally recognized entrepreneurship centers.
- MSU boasts 10 members of the National Academy of Sciences (seven of whom are plant scientists) five members in the National Academy of Engineering, and five in the National Academy of Education. Note: some are emeritus.
- MSU has seven members in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- Other notables include Guggenheim, Packard, and Sloan Fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners, a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, and one recipient of the World Water Prize.
- Michigan State had 10 NSF Early CAREER Award recipients in 2019 and set an MSU record in 2018 with 11 awards. This indicates exceptional potential exists in our junior investigators.
The Global Impact Initiative was launched in 2015 to support growth and accelerate the pace of discovery through the recruitment of 100 new faculty in exciting areas of research. To date, 86 researchers have been recruited to MSU with candidates coming from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, MIT, Johns Hopkins University, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, and many other top institutions.
Officially launched five years ago, the MSU Empower Extraordinary Campaign had as a top priority the creation of 100 new endowed positions. The goal was exceeded at 112 and 29 positions have been filled to date. The campaign also exceeded its fundraising goal of $1 billion.
Endowed faculty are highlighted on the Honored Faculty website.
New Infrastructure & Initiatives
The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB)—a $730M scientific user facility funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, MSU, and the state of Michigan—will advance nuclear physics and provide research opportunities for scientists and students from around the globe. FRIB is expected to be fully operational in 2022 and is ahead of schedule.
IceCube is the world’s largest neutrino detector, using a billion tons of the Antarctic ice cap beneath the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to observe neutrinos. It is operated by a collaboration of 300 physicists from 48 universities and national laboratories in 12 countries. MSU is a major participant in this NSF research facility and will help lead an NSF-funded $300M expansion.
New in 2016, the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering (IQ) aims to foster collaboration among the sciences on campus and beyond, creating endless possibilities for transforming patient care with new biomedical discoveries. IQ has grown to more than 36 faculty in 16 departments (six colleges) with additional affiliated faculty across campus. MSU recruited IQ director Chris Contag from Stanford and Precision Medicine chair Anna Moore from Harvard.
The new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building opened in August 2019, is a neighbor to IQ, and together with Life Sciences, Radiology, and the Clinical Center, forms a dedicated biomedical research complex on south campus. It currently houses the Precision Health Program among other interdisciplinary groups.
McLaren Health Care is building a new hospital facility on the campus of MSU. When fully complete, this comprehensive health care campus will be home to more than 1,000 physicians, researchers, educators and other members of the academic and medical team. The current estimated timeline to open the facilities is early 2022.
Grand Rapids Research Center was completed in 2017 with space for 44 research teams in translational science and molecular medicine, pediatrics, and OBGYN. An additional building next door recently broke ground for expanded research collaborations with Spectrum Health, the Van Andel Institute and others.
Launched in 2015, the department of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering or CMSE was planned, authorized, and operational in only three years. CMSE is unique among computational academic units nationally - it is focused on data science, machine learning, advanced computation and related applications, but is not a traditional CS department. It supports many of the new efforts on campus that require the analysis of large data sets and development of new tools and algorithms.
The MSU Libraries and the College of Arts & Letters partnered to build a state-of-the-art Digital Scholarship Lab, opened in February, 2018. The 10,000-square-foot space features a 360-degree immersive visualization room, graphics-intensive computing software and interactive visualization for research projects and scholarly exploration.
The Plant Resilience Institute was formed in 2016 under the Global Impact Initiative. Its mission is to enhance plant resilience to environmental challenges including extremes in weather and climate change, and to become a “Center of Excellence” for foundational and translational plant research aimed at increasing the productivity and quality of food and energy crops.
The Minskoff Business Pavilion, opened in fall 2019, will enhance the Broad student experience through its design around community, collaboration and teamwork. The space provides resources for research, innovation and the development of transformational business leaders.
The Billman Music Pavilion is under construction for the College of Music. The new facility and renovated space in the Music and Music Practice buildings will enhance student learning with advanced acoustical engineering and custom designed spaces within a climate-controlled environment.