Ferris State University


For students who want a great chance at getting a job after college, Ferris State University has an impressive track record of generating graduates who quickly find work after graduation.

Career and work force development have been a key component of the university’s mission since its founding in 1884, and these core values have held true to today. In 2009, the employment rate for Ferris grads was at 93 percent. About 89 percent of Ferris State University programs are aligned with in-demand career fields.  

The university has a main campus in Big Rapids, Michigan and also maintains 15 off-campus facilities and an online program.  

Degrees and Programs

The university has more than 190 undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of fields of study, and offers a number of degrees that no other institution in Michigan offers in the fields of health sciences, business and technology. For example, the university’s welding engineering technology program is one of only four such programs in the United States. Seven Ferris State University degrees can be earned online, including a master’s degree in nuring.  

The university also offers doctoral degrees in optometry and pharmacy colleges. In fact, the majority of Michigan’s pharmacists and optometrists are graduates of Ferris State. The university’s pharmacy school is well-regarded and is perhaps one of the better-known programs on the campus. Also highly regarded are the university’s teacher education program, which is ranked best in the state of Michigan, and its engineering school.  

The most popular degree programs at the university are business administration, construction management, criminal justice, nursing science and pharmacy.  

Ferris State has a faculty-student ration of 1:15, and 62 percent of classes have 20-49 students, while about 33 percent have 20 or fewer students.  The university has a freshmen retention rate of over 70 percent, which typically indicates a high level of satisfaction among students, and sufficient support for students within the university to help them stay in school and on track to graduate. Credit for this high rate is given to a peer mentoring program that matches freshmen up with upperclassmen.  

Accreditation and Rankings

Ferris State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits schools, colleges and universities in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The NCA also accredits schools for the Navajo Nation. The NCA accredits about 10,000 educational institutions.  

Ferris State University is ranked the No. 98 regional university in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report. The publication gives Ferris State the No. 36 ranking among public institutions in the region. U.S. News and World Report also give the university’s pharmacy program good reviews.  

Ferris State University opened the Michigan College of Optometry in January 2011. This $22 million facility houses the university’s optometry program, providing state-of-the art laboratories, classrooms and other facilities.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Information Summary

Ranks 18th in Michigan and 655th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 84.7
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $23,194
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 26 / 1170
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 18 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 76% / 61%
Enrollment Total (all students) 13,250


Ferris State University has selective admissions standards and the school can be tough to get into. Only about 55 percent of students who apply to Ferris State are accepted.

The fall admission deadline for new students is June 15. The spring semester deadline is October 15. Students seeking scholarships are encouraged to apply as early as possible in their senior year as some scholarships are limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

The average high school GPA of 3.1 and the average ACT score is 21. Some specific programs at the university have admission requirements, and transfer students should be sure they meet those requirements before applying to the university.

As of May 2011, the university does not charge an application fee.  


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Financial Aid

Students applying to Ferris State University are eligible for federal grants and student loans. There are also a number of grants and scholarships offered by the state of Michigan, the university and other organizations that students may be eligible for.

For example, the Academic Opportunity Scholarship is good for $2,000 per year and Michigan residents who have a high school GPA of 2.0 or better are eligible. The university offers a number of science and technology-based scholarships, such as the FIRST Robotics/FIRST Technology Scholarship, a $1,000 one time only award available to new freshmen who competed in the FIRST Robotics or Technology Challenge.

Non-Michigan residents can take advantage the Great Lakes Scholarship, which allows them to pay in-state tuition instead of out-of-state tuition.

About 71 percent of Ferris State University students receive financial aid of some sort. The university awards more than $16 million in student aid each year. The university’s office of financial aid also stands ready to help students find other grants and scholarships they may be eligible for. The school’s website, has a helpful list of scholarships that students can use to see which awards they may be eligible for.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 2753rd for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in Michigan.


Ferris State University is a mid-sized college in a rural setting in the middle of Michigan. The winters are cold and the summers are mild, and while the area is relatively quiet, the university does offer students some entertainment options.

Unlike most colleges and universities, Ferris State has more male students than female students (51 percent to 49 percent). Racially the campus is overwhelmingly white, with African-Americans being the next largest demographic group. Less than a third of the university’s students live on campus. However, the university does allow freshmen students to have cars on campus, a benefit many other colleges do not afford to underclassmen.

The university has more than 200 campus organizations including professional and academic organizations, and special interest organizations such as the Gamer’s Consortium, a role-playing group. Club sports are also big at Ferris State and a variety of organizations exist, such as Shred, which is devoted to snowboarding and skiing.

Ferris State University has 28 Greek organizations on campus. About 5-6 percent of the student body is involved in fraternities and sororities.

The university has a student newspaper, The Torch, that has been published since 1931. The university also has an AM radio station.

The Rankin Student Center is located at the heart of the main campus in Big Rapids, and houses many of the student activities’ offices, the bookstore and more. The university’s recreation center houses an indoor pool, hot tubs, an elevated track, climbing wall and much more. The university also has a 5,000 square foot wildlife museum students can enjoy.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Ferris State University provides a wide range of college sports for its male and female students to participate in, and has had a strong showing in some sports in recent years.

Ferris State University is an NCAA Division II school (except for the hockey team, which competes in Division I) and is a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (the hockey team competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association).

The university offers men’s football, basketball, ice hockey, cross country, golf, tennis and track and field. Women’s sports include soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball, basketball, cross country and golf.

Ferris State University were NCAA Division II national runners up in wrestling in 1984 and women’s golf in 2004 and 2006. The men and women’s tennis teams both made NCAA Division II championship appearances in 2004. The university’s stand-out program is its ice hockey team, which won the CCHA championship in the 2002-2003 season.  

Ferris State University’s athletic teams are nicknamed the Bulldogs. School colors are crimson and gold.


Public service is something the university emphasizes to its students and a yearly service event, called The Big Event, has become a university tradition. More than 1,500 students participated in the most recent Big Event, which involved community clean-ups and other service projects.

Ferris Fest is a free annual outdoor musical festival that routinely attracts big name musical events.

Local Community

Big Rapids, Michigan is a small city of about 10,000 residents. In fact, the student population of Ferris State University is larger than the city. Appropriate to the small-town setting, most Big Rapids events are rural-themed.

Nightlife is pretty limited in Big Rapids, but some popular student hangouts include The Gate, and River Rock. The university is about three hours from big cities such as Chicago and Detroit.

The university does offer a number of outdoor recreation possibilities to students. For example, the White Pine Trail, Michigan’s biggest rails to trails bike trail is near the university and offers students miles and miles of walking and bicycle trails.

Additional School Information

Ferris State University was founded in 1884 as the Big Rapids Industrial School. The school was later renamed for Woodbridge Nathan Ferris, who later became the governor of Michigan and a senator.

Ferris State has had career training as a primary goal since its founding and was unique in that it accepted women students from its beginning and had them in its first graduating class.

Most of the buildings at the university were destroyed by a fire in the 1950s.

The university is home to the National Elastomer Center, which houses the uinversity’s plastics engineering and rubber engineering programs.


  • The College Board College Handbook, 2010 . 47th ed. New York: College Board, 2009. Print.
  • McGrath, Anne. Ultimate college guide 2010 . 7th ed. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks Inc., 2009. Print.
  • Ferris State University: Michigan College Campuses in Big Rapids MI, Grand Rapids MI, Off Campus Locations Across Michigan." Ferris State University: Michigan College Campuses in Big Rapids MI, Grand Rapids MI, Off Campus Locations Across Michigan. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2011. <http://www.ferris.edu/>.

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