Howland will be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday.
The four-year contract is the maximum length of a deal allowed for a state employee under Mississippi law.
Howland, 57, led the UCLA Bruins to three consecutive Final Four appearances from 2006 to 2008. He took UCLA to a first-place finish in the Pac-12 in 2012-13 but was fired after the season.
He has been a television analyst the past two years.
Howland would replace Rick Ray, who was fired Saturday after three seasons in Starkville. The Bulldogs were 13-19 this season and 37-60 in Ray's tenure.
ESPN.com's Andy Katz contributed to this report.
Ben Howland Takes Over At Mississippi State
ESPN basketball Insider Jeff Goodman discusses Mississippi State's hiring of Ben Howland as men's' basketball coach.