MSU ACCESS is a 100% inclusive, 4-year, non-degree program for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. ACCESS provides an opportunity for students with IDD to successfully transition into higher education. These students have a desire to continue academics, career training, and independent living instruction in order to prepare for gainful employment. Upon completion of 96 credit hours with a 2.0 minimum GPA, students will graduate with a Mississippi State University Certification of Completion with a concentration on a work specialty area.
Students are fully immersed in the college life on the MSU campus; they are required to spend at least 12 hours per week on campus in social inclusion, academic inclusion, and inclusive employment. Once commencement is reached, ACCESS students are armed with the skills to gain employment and lead a self-determined life.
In 2017, ACCESS became Mississippi's only federally approved Comprehensive Transition Post-Secondary (CTP) program. In order to maintain this accreditation, ACCESS must provide the following for all students:
ACCESS is dedicated to ensuring students with intellectual disabilities or developmental disabilities receive a quality postsecondary education through inclusive experiences in academics, socialization, career development, and independent living.
In 2009, President Mark Keenum approached Julie Capella, Director of Student Support Services, about the possibility of creating a program at Mississippi State University that would serve students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Research and preparations began, and in 2010, ACCESS launched its pilot program with one student, one employee, and one Graduate Assistant. In 2014, ACCESS graduated its first class. In 2017, the Board of Education certified ACCESS as a CTP program. As a result, students are now eligible for Federal Student Aid. Since ACCESS's inception in 2010, we've grown to 16 students, 4 full-time staff members, and 4 Graduate Assistants. ACCESS also has a vital partnership with the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS) and the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS). Our goal is to continue to serve the people of Mississippi and beyond whose disabilities have traditionally excluded them from higher education by providing them with an inclusive university experience that will further their academic skills, prepare them for employment, and encourage independent living in their communities.