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Kennesaw State University
KSU Seal.svg
Former names
Kennesaw Junior College (1966–1976)
Kennesaw College (1976–1988)
Kennesaw State College (1988–1996)
Southern Polytechnic State University (merged 2015)
Motto "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation"
Type Public research university
Established October 9, 1963; 60 years ago (1963-10-09)
Parent institution
University System of Georgia
Academic affiliation
Endowment $100 million (2021)
Budget $566 million (2019)
President Kathy Schwaig
Provost Ivan Pulinkala
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 45,152 (Fall 2023)
Undergraduates 40,591 (Fall 2023)
Postgraduates 4,561 (Fall 2023)
Location , ,
United States

34°02′17″N 84°34′59″W / 34.038°N 84.583°W / 34.038; -84.583
Campus Large suburb
Newspaper The Sentinel
Colors Black and gold
Nickname Owls
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I FCS – ASUN
(CUSA in 2024)
Mascot Scrappy the Owl
Kennesaw State University.svg

Kennesaw State University (KSU) is a public research university in the state of Georgia with two campuses in the Atlanta metropolitan area, one in Kennesaw and the other in Marietta on a combined 581 acres (235 ha) of land. The school was founded in 1963 by the Georgia Board of Regents using local bonds and a federal space-grant during a time of major Georgia economic expansion after World War II. KSU also holds classes at the Cobb Galleria Centre, Dalton State College, and in Paulding County (Dallas). The total enrollment exceeds 45,000 students making KSU the third-largest university by enrollment in Georgia.

KSU is part of the University System of Georgia and is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity". Kennesaw State's athletic teams are an NCAA Division I member of the ASUN Conference. They will join Conference USA in 2024.


Establishment in 1963 until 1975

KSU was chartered by the Board of Regents on October 9, 1963, during one of the most dramatic periods of college expansion in Georgia's history. The university was officially founded by the Georgia Board of Regents approved the establishment of a junior college tentatively to be named Cobb County Junior College. In December 1964, Horace Sturgis was designated to serve as the future college's first president. When the school opened in fall of 1966, it was named Kennesaw Junior College and had an initial enrollment of 1,014 students.

Early years as Kennesaw College, 1976–1995

Thirteen years later, in 1976, the former Kennesaw Junior College became a four-year college and was redesignated Kennesaw College. Betty Siegel became the second president of Kennesaw College in 1981, and the first female university president in the University System of Georgia.

By 1985, KSU had initiated its first graduate degree programs, in business and education, and began a period of rapid growth, including building some residential housing. Finally, in 1988, the former Kennesaw College was renamed Kennesaw State College and associate degrees were discontinued, except in nursing.

Becoming a major university

Kennesaw State finally achieved University status in 1996. The Kennesaw State's baseball and softball teams won the NCAA Division II national championships in 1996. The winning Owls continued excelling in athletics, including the Lady Owls 2003 win of the NCAA Women's Division II Soccer Championship and the men's basketball team win of the 2004 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship. In part due to their winning Division II in 2005, the Owls joined Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference.

In 2004, KSU was recognized by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. At the time, this placed KSU among 67 other institutions recognized as CAE/IAEs with this recognition. KSU was recognized again in 2007.

In the summer of 2006, Daniel S. Papp became the university's third president.

KSU also began its first doctoral programs in Education in Leadership for Learning, Education, and a doctorate of Business Administration.

On November 1, 2013, the University System of Georgia announced that Kennesaw State University would merge with nearby Southern Polytechnic State University in 2015. Kennesaw State would be the surviving institution, with President Papp serving as president of the merged university. Southern Polytechnic was started by the president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Blake R. Van Leer who was known for making Atlanta the "MIT of the South." On January 6, 2015, the Georgia Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the consolidation of Southern Polytechnic State and Kennesaw State. In honor of SPSU's legacy, Kennesaw State established Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology as one of its 11 colleges.

On January 1, 2015, Kennesaw State University was classified by the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching and Learning as a Community Engaged Institution.

In the Fall of 2016, students and faculty protested the suspected appointment of Georgia's Republican attorney general, Sam Olens, as the next Kennesaw president. He took office on November 1, 2016, resigning as attorney general. He left office in February of 2018. Pamela Whitten was KSU's next president, serving until 2021. On March 16, 2022, Kathy Schwaig was named the sixth president.

KSU's Computer Science and Information Systems department hosts the Center for Election Systems, which certified and monitored the direct recording electronic machines used in Georgia elections until June 2018 at the latest. This shift was initiated due in part to lax security by the center, which had accidentally exposed over 6.5 million voter records.

On December 19, 2018, KSU was classified as a doctoral research institution with R2 status, denoting high research activity.


Kennesaw State University is located on two campuses with a combined 581 acres (235 ha) of land, of which about 230 acres is located in Marietta and the remainder is located in Kennesaw. The Kennesaw campus is located adjacent to I-75 (similar to four other Georgia universities, Georgia Tech, Dalton State College, and Georgia State University, and Atlanta Metropolitan State College) where views of the campus can be seen from the highway, including Kennesaw State's University Village.

Kennesaw Campus

Social Sciences Building

Kennesaw State Social Science Building
The Social Sciences Building and the Spaceship Earth sculpture

The Social Sciences building is located on the west section of campus on Campus Loop Road adjacent to the original campus historical district. The 163,000-square-foot (15,100 m2) building features a 302-seat auditorium, a 100+ seat cinema classroom, a digital media lab, and 40 classrooms with advanced technology. The lobby features a Starbucks and study area. The Social Sciences building also meets Silver Rating LEED Green Building requirements and is the first building in the University System of Georgia to meet these specifications. In 2020, after the donation of a $9 million gift to the school by Norman and Lindy Radow, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences was renamed the Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Spaceship Earth

Located adjacent to the Social Sciences Building is a 350,000-pound (160,000 kg) sculpture entitled "Spaceship Earth", created by Finnish American artist Eino. The sculpture was commissioned by the Maxwell Family Foundation in memory of the late environmentalist David Brower. The sculpture was intended to be a permanent reminder to future generations to take care of their delicate planet.

In late 2006, only three months after its installation, the structure collapsed. Reconstruction was completed on October 26, 2010. The statue was dismantled in December 2022 due to continuing structural insufficiencies.

Convocation Center

The Convocation Center is located southeast of the Campus Green and houses the NCAA Division I men's and women's basketball programs at Kennesaw State University. The Convocation Center is a multipurpose facility that supports academic classes, lectures, concerts, theatrical performances, athletic events, graduations, and convocation ceremonies. The facility has locker rooms, training rooms, and offices for the athletic department. The third floor of the center houses hospitality and conference suits that overlook the arena floor. KSU's Convocation Center is the largest of its kind in northwest Georgia, with seating for 4,800.

Bentley Rare Book Gallery

The Bentley Rare Book Gallery and Special Collections houses 15,000 items.

Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center

The Bailey Performance Center opened in 2007. The facility contains a 630-seat auditorium and the Don Russell Clayton Gallery. It serves as the heart of Kennesaw State's Bailey School of Music.

Other selected buildings

KSU StudentCenter
Student Center

The historic district of the university (Original Campus) is located in the west section of campus and includes the University College, formerly the Social Sciences Building, Pilcher Public Service and Library, Willingham Hall, Nursing, Advancement, and Technology Annex buildings. These buildings served primarily as the home to the College of Humanities and Social Science until construction on the Social Science Building was completed at the end of 2006. In 2009, a new two-story, 1,500-seat dining hall known as The Commons opened. In 2008, a new $46,000,000, 915-bed freshman residence hall called "University Suites" opened.

Marietta Campus

Student housing

Dormitory facilities were provided at Southern Tech's first location in Chamblee, Georgia. They were created from former bachelor officers' quarters in facilities leased from the Atlanta Naval Air Station. When the campus moved in Marietta, student accommodation was located in former employee housing at the United States Air Force Plant 6. Construction for the Marietta campus' first dormitory began in 1964. The campus dormitories housed only men until 1974.

At the time of its merger with Kennesaw State University, Southern Polytechnic State University had five on-campus housing facilities for its students. These were Howell Hall, Hornet Village suites, University Commons apartments, University Courtyard apartments, and University Columns houses. These facilities are still used to house Kennesaw State University students.


U.S. university rankings

USNWR National University 293–381
Washington Monthly National University 280
Forbes 639

Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and classified as a comprehensive institution by the University System of Georgia.

In September 2016, U.S. News elevated KSU from the category of "regional university" to "national university", joining a list of 297 other universities in that category. This was in part due to the university's new status as a research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning, indicating a university that engages in a "moderate" level of research activity.

In 2018, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning classified KSU as a doctoral research institution with R2 (Doctoral University – High research activity) status.

The 2020 U.S. News rankings placed KSU in Tier Two (#293–381) in the "National Universities" category.

Colleges and degrees

The university is divided into 13 colleges and offers 52 bachelor's degrees, 21 master's degree programs, one specialist degree, and five doctoral programs; according to Kennesaw State's Registrar's Office, the university offers 80 undergraduate and graduate degrees.

  • College of the Arts
  • Coles College of Business
  • University College
  • College of Science and Mathematics
  • Bagwell College of Education
  • Wellstar College of Health and Human Services
  • Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Graduate College
  • Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
  • College of Computing and Software Engineering
  • College of Continuing and Professional Education
  • College of Architecture and Construction Management
  • Honors College

Continuing Education

Kennesaw State's Department of Continuing Education, the largest in the nation, is housed in the KSU Center, located a mile away from the main campus.

Kennesaw State is home to the state's largest Educational Technology Training Center (ETTC). The ETTC is one of 13 such centers around the state. Teachers and other school personnel from around the state come to the KSU ETTC for professional development.


Research is grouped into four themes: Biomedical and Health; Computing and Technology, Human development & Well-being; and Sustainable and Safe Communities.

Student life

Student groups

KSU has approximately 300 registered student groups and organizations for student participation. Many of these groups may apply for funding from the Student Activities and Budget Advisory Committee (SABAC), which is a student-run advisory committee to the vice president of student affairs. This committee meets regularly during the fall and spring semesters.

Student media

  • The Sentinel (KSU) is the official newspaper for KSU. It is printed weekly during fall and spring semesters and twice during the summer semester.
  • The Peak is the feature magazine for Kennesaw State University.
  • Owl Radio is the student-run online radio station for KSU. Content is streamed online with SHOUTcast and available on the Radio FX mobile application.
  • Talisman is the name of the former student yearbook for KSU.

Student demographics

In fall 2023, Kennesaw State was 49% male and 51% female. The ethnic diversity was as follows: 42.5% White, 26.4% Black/African-American, 14.6% Hispanic/Latino, 5.8% Asian, 4.6% multi-racial, and 2.5% undeclared. International students represent 3.4% of the total student body.

Fraternities and sororities

Kennesaw State University is home to twenty-one fraternities and sororities: twelve of the North American Interfraternity Conference (IFC), eight of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), nine of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), eight of the National Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) and two service Greeks. Less than seven percent of the undergraduate student body is active in KSU's Greek system.

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