Founded in 1855, MSU was a pioneer for a new model of education: access to higher education for all people, not just for the elite. It blended practical education in the areas of agriculture and mechanical arts with traditional liberal arts. This new approach to higher education was a driving force in shaping the model for much of what public higher education is today in the United States. MSU is one of the largest and most comprehensive teaching and research universities in the United States and the world. It has 17 degree-granting colleges with more than 200 programs of study. MSU is consistently recognized as one of the premier research universities in the world. It is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities which extends membership only to the strongest of research institutions. It is consistently ranked as one of the world's top 100 research universities by a variety of prestigious rankings. Michigan State University (MSU) is located in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Michigan is in the northern part of the American Midwest, surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes. East Lansing is adjacent to the state capital, Lansing, and is a short drive to major business and manufacturing centers, such as Chicago and Detroit, as well as to wildlife preserves, sandy beaches, and farmlands. More than 46,000 students are enrolled on the East Lansing campus, including over 7,000 post-graduate and professional students. MSU has 461,000 alumni.