The university was founded in 1964 as Southwest Minnesota State College (SMSC). It admitted its first class of students on September 19, 1967. The college became Southwest State University (SSU) on August 1, 1975, and kept that name for nearly thirty years until adopting the current name of Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) on July 1, 2003.
SMSU is divided into two major colleges, the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences, and the College of Business, Education, and Professional Studies.
The Data Management/Institutional Research Office is of service to the university community. The main objectives are to provide data analysis support for administrative decision making, internal and external reporting to various agencies, assessment, and planning and policy support for university programs and departments.
Career Services can assist you in choosing a major, developing career plans, applying to graduate schools, or looking for internships and full time employment.
The Office of Student Success at Southwest Minnesota State University strives to engage all students with their overall experience at SMSU. We are here to help students achieve academic success, as well as social and professional growth. We recognize characteristics of all students, providing an atmosphere of inclusion and understanding.
The Student Development area includes the following: Counseling and Testing Services, Career Services, and the Advising Center.
At SMSU we offer a variety of way for students to enhance their academic experience involvement beyond the classroom. Opportunities to engage in cultural, educational, social and recreational activities are an integral part of the Southwest tradition.
The McFarland Library promotes the success of the SMSU community by providing access to quality resources, instruction, services, and spaces to support research, teaching, and learning in an inviting, inclusive environment.
Health Services provides free and confidential services, including medical evaluations, for registered students. There is a small fee for laboratory tests, certain medications, supplies, and sports physicals. We also assist students with off-campus referrals as necessary.
Most of the SMSU campus was constructed between 1965 and 1973 according to a unified plan. The brick and concrete buildings are interconnected via tunnels and enclosed walkways, providing a continuous and controlled environment during both summer and winter. The residence halls are not connected. There are many courtyards with gardens between the buildings. The campus is virtually barrier-free, allowing easy access to students in wheelchairs.
The school athletic teams are the Mustangs. Their colors are the prairie colors of brown and gold.
The Mustangs compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC), which is a part of NCAA Division II. Programs for men include basketball, wheelchair basketball, baseball, cross country,track, football, and wrestling. The programs for women are basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball.
Departmental Organizations include :
SMSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.