MSU’s NSF research funding exceeds $300 million, ranks in top 100 nationwide

Charles Moore, a graduate computer science student from Harvest, Alabama, and Charles Raines, a senior computer science major from Cedar Bluff, are making modifications to an autonomous robot as part of their research opportunities at MSU’s Institute for Clean Energy Technology. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University has once again achieved recognition as one of the top research universities in the country. According to the latest National Science Foundation report, the university has reported over $300 million in research and development expenditures.

In the National Science Foundation’s latest Higher Education Research and Development survey, which compiles data from fiscal year 2022, MSU’s research and development expenditures reached $303,418,000. This places the university at No. 97 among national rankings. The figure represents a growth of 10% from the previous year, slightly higher than the national average growth of 9%. This record-breaking research funding enhances MSU’s capacity to lead in innovation and tackle some of society’s most critical challenges.

As the leading research university in Mississippi, MSU accounts for more than half (53.6%) of the $565.3 million in research and development expenditures reported by all institutions in the state, according to the NSF survey.

“I am incredibly proud of the continual growth of our research endeavors and their role in advancing our state,” stated MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “We have research teams supporting our state’s most vital economic sectors and recognized expertise both within our nation and globally. Our research programs also offer unparalleled experiential learning opportunities for our students as they collaborate with world-class faculty on impactful research.”

MSU achieved top 15 rankings in three disciplines: agriculture (11), natural resources and conservation (14), and aerospace engineering (15). Additionally, MSU excelled in several other disciplines that ranked within the top 50, including industrial and manufacturing engineering (23), materials science (27), geological and earth sciences (28), social sciences (30), business management and business administration (42), and ocean and marine sciences (48). MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan emphasized that this wide range of highly ranked fields demonstrates the university’s capability to excel in diverse areas of study.

“While I take immense pride in our broad areas of strength, I am even prouder of our collaborative culture that fosters the creation of interdisciplinary research teams. These teams can leverage multiple areas of expertise to develop innovative solutions,” Jordan said. “With over 4,000 research personnel, who are the backbone of our research enterprise, we extend our gratitude to them for their tireless efforts to enhance our state, nation, and world.”

A man inspects a robotic cotton harvester
Hussein Gharakhani, an assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, collaborates with the newly developed “end-effector,” a two-fingered robotic arm used for harvesting cotton. This innovation is part of the university’s focus on autonomous agriculture. (Photo by David Ammon)

The recent survey positions MSU at No. 64 among public institutions in terms of research and development expenditures. The university’s top 15 rankings in agriculture and natural resources reflect its capacity to support two of Mississippi’s key industries: agriculture and forestry, according to MSU Vice President for the Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine Keith Coble.

“Every day, our researchers explore new ways to enhance global food security, sheltering, and clothing, while our outreach and extension efforts ensure that Mississippi producers remain at the forefront of agricultural production and positioned for success,” Coble said.

MSU’s research enterprise contributes to the university’s annual $1.8 billion economic impact in Mississippi. It achieves this through employing over 4,000 research personnel, fostering spin-off and start-up companies, and attracting private sector partners in key industries. MSU holds the R1 “Very High Research Activity” designation from the Carnegie Foundation and the “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University” designation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, which recognizes MSU’s efforts to promote engagement and economic well-being.

MSU’s research funding is derived from various sources, including business and industry, trade groups, local governments, state agencies, and federal entities such as 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.

For more information on the NSF Higher Education Research and Development Survey, please visit