Profile of the University


Western Michigan University is redefining success as we expand what it means to be smart in an ever-changing world. The University prepares students from around the globe for a life well lived by helping them to pursue, thrive and prosper so they can make a meaningful impact on society, as thousands of Broncos have over the University's long history.

Founded in 1903, WMU has undergone dramatic growth in size and stature during its nearly 120 years of service. The University offers about 250 academic programs to more than 19,000 students pursuing degrees through the doctoral level. Graduate coursework includes disciplines that range from geosciences and atomic and nuclear physics to medieval literature and blind rehabilitation. Of the 114 graduate offerings available, 35 lead to a doctoral degree.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies WMU as a doctoral university and one of just 185 public universities in the nation conducting research at a high level. In addition, U.S. News & World Report has named WMU among the country’s best national universities since 1991.

Home to a thriving undergraduate honors college, WMU is one of four public universities in Michigan to be granted its own chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most widely recognized academic honor society in the nation. Just 107 other public universities in the country have been selected to shelter a chapter.

WMU has created an environment designed to help students thrive academically, emotionally and physically as they pursue their purpose. The University's focus on well-being supports holistic success, empowering students to craft a life of meaning and fulfillment.

Recent developments

Visionary WMU graduates made history in June 2021 by donating a total of $550 million to the WMU Foundation, the largest gift for a public institution of higher education in U.S. history. This historic philanthropic contribution is known as the Empowering Futures Gift, and it was established to fund scholarships, advance medical education and research, support faculty expertise, increase athletic competitiveness and make possible numerous student-centered initiatives.

In fall of the same year, Western honored the legacy of trailblazing alumna Dr. Merze Tate by naming newly formed University College after the inspirational graduate who was the first Black woman to earn a bachelor's degree from Western State Teachers College—which would later become WMU—in 1927. Merze Tate College is the academic home for exploratory majors as well as a variety of student support units.

In addition, the University also marked the opening of Business, Technology and Research Park North, a completed land and economic development project that expanded Western's original business park located nearby in the Parkview Avenue Campus, which is home to the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center.

Other developments include a summer 2021 opening of a new innovative Aviation Education Center that expands educational opportunities and doubles the number of students the aviation program can accommodate, putting the University ahead of the pack to meet growing industry demand.

A fall 2022 opening is planned for a new student center and dining facility at the center of WMU’s Main Campus; and in January 2021, the newly constructed Arcadia Flats apartment complex welcomed its first group of residents. This six-story, 197-unit facility can house 341 students.

For the second consecutive time, WMU in 2020 received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, which recognizes higher education institutions across the country for their outstanding institutional commitment to transformative collaboration locally and beyond.

Only 359 colleges and universities maintain the classification; WMU was one of 119 institutions in the country to be awarded the designation in the 2020 cycle, one of only 13 doctoral-granting universities with a “high research activity” classification to receive this recognition, and one of 11 in Michigan to be named.

Success through people and programming

The University's success as an institution of higher learning is tied to its strong emphasis on both teaching and research. Many of WMU’s nearly 800 full-time faculty members are engaged in cutting-edge research, helping to advance the frontiers of knowledge and, at the same time, ensuring their students have access to the most current information. In the 2020 fiscal year, faculty investigators submitted proposals for funding that exceeded those for the pre-pandemic fiscal year 2019. And while federal agencies are the primary recipients of proposals, there was also an increase in the number of proposals to state and international funders. Up 20%, the value of awards was also greater. 

Among WMU’s hallmarks are engagement with the communities it serves, innovation and outreach to enhance economic development. WMU also plays an integral part in efforts to diversify and bolster the state’s economy. It contributes by providing talented graduates who are immediately productive in their chosen fields, as nine of 10 graduates are employed quickly, working in their field in jobs they like.

Both the faculty and student body reflect WMU’s reputation in the world and its commitment to diversity. The University attracts students from across the nation and 92 other countries. Minority students comprise 19% of the student population while international students make up 11%. WMU’s faculty members have been trained at some of the world’s finest institutions, and they bring to the campus a global perspective that enhances the learning environment.

Western provides higher education and professional development opportunities beyond its Main Campus in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The University offers more than 50 complete degree programs and graduate certificates, online or through regional locations throughout Michigan. The University has a long history of sponsoring study abroad programs in numerous countries, has exchange agreements with institutions around the globe and is a higher education leader in such areas as sustainability and educating former foster care youth.