Our Story


McNeese State University was established by the Louisiana Legislature in 1938 and opened its doors for its first fall session on September 11, 1939, with 140 students and just three buildings. The institution was first named the Lake Charles Junior College and was a division of Louisiana State University. The following fall, the school changed its name to John McNeese Junior College to honor John McNeese, a renowned Southwest Louisiana educator and the first superintendent of schools in Imperial Calcasieu Parish. In 1950, McNeese became a four-year college in its own right and came under the authority of the Louisiana Board of Education and would receive accreditation in 1954 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Finally, in 1970, McNeese State University became the official name of the institution.

McNeese, located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, consists of the 122-acre main campus, the 65-acre Doland Athletics Complex that includes the state-of-the-art Legacy Center, the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center, the Center for Advancement of Meat Production and Processing, KBYS 88.3 FM Radio Station and three working farms with over 1,200 acres of property used for research, farming, and ranching. The main campus comprises over 50 buildings including the three original structures – Kaufman Hall, Ralph O. Ward Memorial Gym (the Arena), and Francis G. Bulber Auditorium, a striking example of Art Deco architecture listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For over eight decades, the institution has been recognized as one of the finest regional universities in the South. McNeese is a dynamic, student-centric university comprised of students from throughout Louisiana, the United States, and over 50 countries.

Changing Lives

Our Mission

McNeese State University is a student-centric university whose mission is to change the lives of students through quality education and to provide services to the employers and communities in its region. McNeese uses a traditional admissions process based on courses completed, grade point average (GPA), and standardized test scores.


McNeese is responsible for serving:

  1. Residents of southwest Louisiana who have completed high school and are seeking either a college degree or continuing professional education;
  2. Two-year college transfer students, particularly those from SOWELA Technical Community College;
  3. Employers in the region, both public and private, school districts, healthcare providers, local governments, and private businesses;
  4. Economic development interests and regional entrepreneurs; and
  5. The area community, by providing a broad range of academic and cultural activities and public events.

Array of Programs and Services

  1. An array of liberal arts programs at the baccalaureate level—arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences—appropriate to a teaching institution with a predominately undergraduate student body.
  2. Baccalaureate programs in education, engineering, business, nursing, selected allied health fields, mass communication, and criminal justice.
  3. Master’s programs primarily related to education, engineering, arts, sciences, nursing, and business.
  4. Doctoral programs in professional fields.
  5. Support for area K-12 schools seeking college general education courses for advanced students and assistance in ensuring that their graduates are college- and career-ready.
  6. Services specifically designed to meet the needs of regional economic development, such as small business development, support for entrepreneurs, and problem solving.

Special Programs/Features

  1. Programs in entrepreneurship and small business development supported by the Southwest Entrepreneurial and Economic Development (SEED) Center.
  2. Agricultural and related sciences with opportunities for experiential learning at three working farms and the Center for Advancement of Meat Processing and Production (CAMPP).
  3. Custom academic programs and professional certifications integrated with area business and industry.
  4. Applied undergraduate research partnerships in engineering, sciences, and allied health.
  5. Cultural events designed to connect McNeese with the regional arts community and K-12 education.
Your First Choice

The Value of an Education at McNeese

For over 80 years, McNeese State University has been trusted and respected as an institution of innovation and academic excellence. Ranked as one of the top public universities in the United States and one of the finest regional universities in the South, our university is also recognized as having one of the best returns on investment for tuition and high average starting salaries for its graduates.

Our low tuition rates, combined with high-quality curricula developed and taught by experienced faculty, plus a thriving on-campus community, mean that students receive a high value education for a fraction of the cost of larger universities. With 34 undergraduate academic programs and 16 graduate programs to choose from, a thriving athletics tradition and vibrant campus life, McNeese offers all the benefits of a large university with a personalized touch.

Excellence in Education


McNeese achieved Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accreditation in 1954 and maintains its regional accreditation status as a Level V institution authorized to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees and undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, graduate, and post-master’s certificates. We also provide opportunities for continuing education in supporting our values of lifelong learning.

As a member of the University of Louisiana System and a selective admissions institution, McNeese offers programs through the William J. Doré, Sr. School of Graduate Studies and six academic colleges: Agricultural Sciences; Business; Education; Liberal Arts; Nursing and Health Professions; and Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. Many of our colleges and degree programs have been awarded additional accreditation from professional and industry organizations.

The heart of Lake Charles

Community Partnerships

Located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, McNeese serves as an economic and workforce development partner for Southwest Louisiana employers. Located in one of the fastest growing areas in the state, McNeese provides well-qualified employees for the local petrochemical, agricultural and hospitality industries, as well as hospitals and public and private schools throughout Southwest Louisiana. Our graduates also go on to successfully start their own businesses, from law offices to veterinary practices. Throughout the U.S. and abroad, McNeese alumni are changing lives and making valuable contributions. Graduates have gone on to become successful CEOs and lawmakers, pioneering doctors and scientists, groundbreaking entertainers and professional athletes, and award-winning artists and authors.

But our impact stretches beyond preparing students to enter the workforce or continue their education as graduate students and doctoral candidates. McNeese, through partnerships with local industry, organizations, and government, provides enrichment opportunities for the Southwest Louisiana community and beyond, including our on-campus radio station KBYS, our cultural Banners at McNeese series, the Kay Doré Counseling Clinic, the McNeese Autism Program, our Heifer Development Program, our summer STEM academy, and our partnership with the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development (SEED) Center.

Leadership Team

The presidency of Dr. Wade Rousse began on July 1, 2024. Dr. Rousse is the eighth president of McNeese State University. He spent the first part of his career in the private sector. After advancing his academic degrees, ultimately earning a PhD in Economics from the University of Illinois – Chicago, Dr. Rousse served at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, initially as an Economic Outreach Specialist and later a Policy Research Specialist. Dr. Rousse was the principal of a registered Investment Advisory firm, and has held several leadership roles in higher education. He was an Associate Dean at The W.A. Franke College of Business, and the interim Director of the Alliance Bank Economic Policy Institute at Northern Arizona University (NAU).

At McNeese, Dr. Rousse has served as Dean of the College of Business, Vice President of University Advancement, Executive Vice President and is currently serving as President. The first three years of Dr. Rousse’s undergraduate experience was spent living and learning on McNeese’s campus, which he considers the fondest and most formative years of his college experience.

McNeese State University President Dr. Wade Rousse