MSU sets new record for research expenditures, climbs to No. 88 nationally in latest NSF rankings

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University’s research and development efforts continue to reach record heights as MSU reported $280 million in R&D expenditures in Fiscal Year 2020, placing it among the National Science Foundation’s top 90 research universities.

The land-grant institution’s research expenditures ranks No. 88 nationally, up four spots from No. 92 in FY 2019, in the latest NSF Higher Education Research and Development Report. With $280.4 million in expenditures, MSU accounts for 55.4 percent of Mississippi’s total R&D expenditures ($506.6 million). MSU now ranks No. 59 among public universities as it moves toward a long-term goal of being a top 50 public university nationally. MSU’s 6 percent increase in research expenditures from FY 2019 is well above the national average of a 3.3 percent increase.

“This year’s NSF survey affirms what I have seen throughout my tenure as president—MSU is a force for research and innovation in Mississippi and beyond,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “MSU researchers are making a difference in our state and our world and putting our students at the leading edge of their fields. Our research also supports vital Mississippi economic sectors such as agriculture, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, autonomous technologies and more.”

MSU’s research enterprise contributes to the university’s $1.8 billion annual economic impact in Mississippi by employing more than 4,000 research personnel, creating opportunities for spin-off and start-up companies, and attracting private sector partners in key industries. MSU also holds the R1 “Very High Research Activity” designation from the Carnegie Foundation, as well as the “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University” designation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, recognizing MSU’s work to advance engagement and economic well-being.

In the latest report from NSF, MSU boasts 32 top 100 rankings in a wide range of fields and subfields, including ranking No. 14 in agriculture, No. 19 in industrial and manufacturing engineering, and No. 19 in social sciences, which leads the SEC for the ninth consecutive year.

Mississippi State’s research funding comes from a wide range of sources, including business and industry, trade groups, local governments, state offices and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Federal Aviation Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others.

“It is exciting to see our strong momentum continue as our research expenditures have grown for the seventh consecutive year,” said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan. “We have made a concerted effort to give our faculty and staff the tools and resources they need to compete for funding and carry out their work, and our external partners continue to see great value in the innovative research carried out at MSU.

“Beyond the dollars and cents, it is inspiring to witness the innovation taking place every day on our campus. Our researchers are addressing critical problems, developing technologies that will improve our lives in the years to come, and providing students with abundant opportunities to participate in world-class research.”

In the latest NSF survey, MSU ranked in the top 100 of the following disciplines and subdisciplines:

  • Engineering: 55
    • Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering: 22
    • Chemical Engineering: 52
    • Civil Engineering: 80
    • Electrical, Electronic, and Communications Engineering: 75
    • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering: 19
    • Mechanical Engineering: 23
    • Other Engineering: 45
  • Geosciences, Atmospheric Sciences, and Ocean Sciences: 48
    • Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology: 48
    • Ocean and Marine Sciences: 56
    • Geological and Earth Sciences: 25
    • Other Geosciences: 99
  • Life Sciences:
    • Agriculture and Natural Resources and Conservation: 15
    • Agriculture Only: 14
    • Natural Resources and Conservation Only: 13
  • Mathematics and Statistics: 38
  • Physical Science Fields:
    • Chemistry: 90
    • Materials Science: 41
    • Other Physical Sciences: 92 
  • Social Sciences: 19
    • Anthropology: 59
    • Economics: 82
    • Political Science and Government: 59
    • Sociology, Demography, and Population Studies: 8
    • Other Social Sciences: 18
  • Other Sciences: 18
  • Non-Science and Engineering Fields: 94
    • Business Management and Business Administration: 43
    • Communication and Communications Technologies: 64
    • Education: 82
    • Humanities: 76
    • Visual and Performing Arts: 67

MSU researchers are working with students on worldwide challenges such as food security, solutions to human diseases, social and economic disparity, and cybersecurity. The university is home to centers and institutes that are leaders in areas such as aerospace engineering, automotive engineering, unmanned aircraft systems, agriculture, data analytics, and social sciences, among other areas. For more, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at