MSU Laptop Computer Requirement

All undergraduate students at Michigan State are required to have a laptop computer that can connect to the Internet.

All students should check with their prospective major college and department to see if they have specific laptop computer requirements. For example, some programs require that all of their students have a laptop computer. Others make strong recommendations about computers using particular operating systems.

If there are no specific laptop computer requirements for the student’s program of studies:

  • MSU requires a laptop computer.
  • The laptop computer may be any brand, running a modern operating system that still receives security updates. Students will want to be sure the laptop computer can run software they will use for homework (e.g., office applications).
  • The laptop computer must be able to connect to MSU’s campus network and the Internet using Wi-Fi or a high-speed Ethernet connection. Laptop computers should have an Ethernet cable and wireless card. The MSU wireless network supports all current wireless communication protocols (802.11a, g, and n. The 802.11n standard operates in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies.).
  • The laptop computer must be equipped with virus protection and firewall software, which needs to be installed and running prior to connecting the laptop computer to the MSU network.
  • All students that utilize MSU resources such as network, campus labs, etc., are expected to abide by the MSU Acceptable Use Policy.
  • MSU does not recommend students rely on tablet devices (e.g., iPad), mobile phones, or netbook computers (e.g., Chromebooks) as their primary computer due to software limitations.

Note: Some course sections may be taught with the expectation that students use laptop computers in class (this is noted in the schedule of course listings), so a laptop may provide expanded instructional opportunities for students. Many students also meet in groups to work on class projects using laptops or choose to study outside their residence hall rooms.

Financial aid

Students who qualify for financial aid should contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss funding options for technology. Most students who qualify will receive loans. See MSU’s Office of Financial Aid for more information.

Laptop computer purchasing

The MSU Tech Store sells laptop computer hardware and software to MSU students, faculty, and staff at educationally discounted prices. Popular software is available in some cases for less than half the retail price.

The MSU Tech Store is located in room 110 of the Computer Center Building at 450 Auditorium Road, East Lansing, Michigan 48824. The Computer Center is next to the Administration Building. Purchases can also be made online.

If you think you have a virus, you can take your laptop computer to the  MSU Technology Store in room 110 of the Computer Center.

Note: Students do not need to buy their laptop computers at the MSU Tech Store.


Microsoft Office Pro Plus downloads are available to all active MSU students through Spartan 365. Office Pro Plus includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. Each student can download Office Pro Plus on up to five computers (Windows or Apple iOS), five tablets (Windows, Apple iOS, and/or Android), and five smartphones. Additional software is available through the MSU Tech Store.

Limitations of other devices

MSU doesn’t recommend students use tablets, mobile phones, or netbooks as their primary computing device, though these devices may help supplement their computing needs.

The reasons for this are:

  • Many courses rely on video and interactive content to deliver essential course materials. Not all video and interactive content formats are supported by these devices.
  • The primary learning management system at MSU, D2L, can be used with iPad or Android devices. However, some critical features may require additional applications to function that are not available on all devices.
  • There are some applications (e.g., MATLAB) which are required in some majors that will not run on the iOS or Android devices. While students can use MSU computer labs to overcome this limitation, it does reduce the convenience of having all the applications needed on one primary computer.
  • Netbook computers tend to be underpowered and will likely be insufficient for students’ use throughout the duration of their college experience. In addition, netbooks may not be able to run some high-powered software students need for coursework.

Computer security

MSU considers computer security to be extremely important. Protect your computer by:

  1. Adding your equipment, especially laptops, to your family’s insurance coverage.
  2. Purchasing and using a security cable if you own a laptop computer.
  3. Making sure to lock the door to your room and not leaving your laptop unattended in libraries or other public areas.

For additional SecureIT information, read “Safeguard Your Devices.”

(Last updated May 22, 2017)