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Mississippi's higher education system is made up of eight public universities, including Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi, 18 junior colleges, and more than 30 private for- and non-profit institutions, such as the University of Phoenix. The state's public universities are overseen by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, which is responsible for policy and financial oversight. The board is also responsible for maintaining the transparency of the higher education system's accounting practices. The Institutions of Higher Learning is divided into departments that serve a specific function, such as finance and administration, institutional research, public affairs, and state government relations.
Mississippi State University is a four-year, public institution that has the largest student population in the state. The university awards bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in a wide range of disciplines, such as business, agriculture, the arts and sciences, engineering, and architecture, from its campus in Starkville, Miss. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Mississippi State University No. 83 in its ranking of the top public schools in the country. In addition to its on-campus academic programs, Mississippi State also offers highly ranked online college degree programs. Students interested in getting their degree online can enroll in the university's four bachelor's degree programs, including in elementary education or geosciences, as well as master's degrees in engineering, forestry, business administration, teaching, and more. The university also offers fully online doctoral programs in aerospace engineering, community college leadership, and electrical engineering. The U.S. News ranked Mississippi State University No. 20 in admissions selectivity of the top online business programs, No. 3 in faculty credentials and training, as well as student engagement and accreditation for the top online computer information technology programs. In addition, the school ranked at No. 8 for student engagement and accreditation of the top online engineering programs.
The University of Mississippi, known as "Ole Miss," is the state's second largest public university. Located in Oxford, Miss., the university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees from its 10 colleges and schools, including the College of Liberal Arts, School of Accountancy, School of Education, and the School of Law. It also has satellite campuses in Booneville, Grenada, Southaven, and Tupelo, as well as the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. The U.S. News placed the University of Mississippi at No. 73 in its ranking of the top public schools and its graduate pharmacy program No. 24 in the country. Ole Miss also offers online master's degrees in health care administration, business administration, elementary education, literacy education, and higher education. Its online business program ranked No. 20 in the country for faculty credentials and training.
The University of Southern Mississippi first opened its doors to a class of 227 students in 1912. Since then, the institution has grown to being the third largest institution in Mississippi that offers more than 180 graduate and undergraduate degree programs in business, education, nursing, health, and more to its 16,604 students. The university's commitment to the intellectual development of its students extends to those who earn their degrees online. Students interested in earning their degree online can enroll in the university's bachelor's degree programs in construction engineering technology, special education, elementary education, and nursing, or its master's programs which include sports management, political science, and nutrition and food systems. The University of Southern Mississippi's online program utilize the commonly found Blackboard course management system, which enables students to download course notes and readings, communicate with their professors and peers by email or in discussion boards, check their grades, and turn in assignments.