High atop Cape Girardeau emerges the iconic Copper Dome, the anchor of Southeast Missouri State University’s rich and storied past.

Founded as the Third District Normal School in 1873 with five faculty members and 57 students, the School issued its first four-year diploma in 1877, beginning a proud history of excellence in education.

Fast forward 150 years, and Southeast is a regional comprehensive university with numerous national and international academic accreditations and certifications. Innovative academic programs,a diverse student body, and a new statewide mission are preparing students for the digital age, multicultural collaboration, modern workspaces, changing market demands, and emerging careers.

High above the Mississippi, Southeast Missouri State University has molded the future for tens of thousands of students yearning for a brighter future. Since 1873, we have been a beacon of hope that with grit, determination and perseverance, dreams do come true.

Dr. Carlos Vargas, President

By the Numbers

  • ~10k

    Current Students

    Each one of our students is bound to make history: their own, and ours. They have walked through our doors, across our campus, and made their own mark on Southeast.

  • 75k+


    Since 1873, Southeast has seen tens of thousands of students walk across the stage and complete their degree. Our alumni go on to touch lives and build futures.

  • Worldwide

    50 States, 108 Countries

    Our students and alumni aren't just from southeast Missouri. We have students and grads from all 50 states and from 108 countries around the globe.

150 Years of Southeast


A lot has happened over the past 15 decades since the beginning of Southeast Missouri State University. Explore the timeline of events from 1873 to current day both in the history of Southeast and in the history of the world.

Sesquicentennial Moments with Dr. Joel Rhodes

Are you interested in hearing more Southeast history? KRCU is talking with Dr. Joel Rhodes about a lot of things that happened in our 150 years. The conversation subjects range from the old Normal Building fire to President Taft's visit. Tune in to KRCU's website on Fridays to catch the newest moment.