Ferris State University has more than 14,000 students enrolled in classes on its main campus in Big Rapids, 19 off-campus sites throughout Michigan and at Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. By offering people what they want, when and where they need it, Ferris is Michigan's "statewide university," with a transfer rate higher than any other university in Michigan, facilitated by the ease of “laddering” from a two-year to a four-year degree.
Ferris is distinguished by its strong heritage of opportunity and career-oriented approach to education where theory meets practice, along with unique degrees that are not available at other universities in the state, region or nation. More than 180 programs, ranging from associate to doctoral degrees, are offered through eight degree-granting colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Engineering Technology, Health Professions, Kendall College of Art and Design, Michigan College of Optometry, and Pharmacy.
The majority of Ferris' offerings are tailored with a specific occupation in mind and align directly with many occupations that are expected to experience growth across the country through 2016. The University has at least 140 degrees that align directly with in-demand occupations in the categories of business, finance and management; administrative and clerical; computer science and engineering; social service; education and training; health care practitioners; health care technology and support; protective service; and construction, production and repair.
Ferris has the fewest number of large classes among Michigan’s 15 public universities, with only 1 percent of classes having more than 50 students. This allows for more direct contact with faculty, more hands-on learning and experimentation and greater student engagement. More than 50 percent of Ferris classes have fewer than 20 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 16-to-1. Full-time tenure-track faculty with experience in their respective fields teach the majority of classes, providing real-world relevancy to the learning environment. Advisory boards also contribute to ensuring current and relevant curriculum is taught which produces graduates with hands-on skills that allow them to be productive employees from the first day of employment.
More than any institution in the state, Ferris State has reached out to Michigan community colleges creating partnerships on 19 campuses and expanding online offerings. Ferris enrolls the largest number of off-campus students at the Applied Technology Center through its partnership with Grand Rapids Community College.
The completion of a new facility to house Ferris’ Michigan College of Optometry, new student housing, classroom renovations and improvements to Ferris’ largest dining facility add to the vibrancy of the University’s 880-acre campus, which already boasts FLITE, a state-of-the-art library; the Granger Center, a building with visible mechanical systems, such as geothermal heating and cooling, for HVACR students; and the National Elastomer Center, a specialized center for studying plastics and rubber technology.
Ferris is the only university in Michigan named after its founders, Woodbridge Nathan Ferris (two-term Michigan governor and U.S. senator) and Helen Gillespie Ferris. It was founded in 1884 as the privately-owned Big Rapids Industrial School and provided opportunity for people who might otherwise have become lumberjacks, farm laborers and food processing workers, instead offering paths to lives of greater possibility. Ferris did not become a state institution until 1950, undergoing several name changes until becoming Ferris State University in 1987. The Ferris philosophy of a practical, hands-on approach to education that enables students to learn practical skills for new jobs in a changing world still resonates today.