In 2016, the Michigan Department of Education created an initiative called Top 10 in 10 Years, with the goal to make Michigan a top-10 education state by 2026. The Department of Education has created a list of objectives and strategies for reaching this goal, including integrating better student support by providing more non-traditional learning opportunities, such as online coursework. This is great news for aspiring college students who are looking for the flexibility and affordability that online education offers. So how do Michigan’s online colleges and universities stack up against the rest of the nation, and what can students do to make sure they’re choosing not only the best-quality program, but the right program to fit their needs? We answer many frequently asked questions about earning a college degree online in Michigan below, and provide our picks for the best of the best online colleges in the state.
In 2006, Michigan became the first state to require all students to take an online course in order to graduate from high school. This was done to better prepare students for online postsecondary education. Today, many of Michigan’s 93 accredited colleges and universities are offering online degree programs, making it tougher than ever to identify your perfect college fit. We’ve done the legwork and crunched the numbers—Michigan students will find the best mix of quality online education standards and student success metrics by following our picks for the best online colleges in Michigan below.
The Higher Learning Commission offers a complete listing of all colleges in Michigan, which can be used as a reference point to determine online degree programs. Check each college’s website to see if they have an online degree or offer online classes that would interest you—most provide an easy-to-read directory of online classes, like Michigan State University.
You’ll want to verify that the degree you’re interested in is offered online, either partially or in full; each Michigan university has its own limits on online curricula. For example:
Small, private schools like Cornerstone University may offer a smaller number of more specialized online programs. CU offers only six online undergraduate programs, with degrees available in business, counseling, human services, and ministry.
Nearby Davenport University offers more than 20 fully online degrees at the undergraduate level. Online programs include business, technology, health science, art and education.
Hybrid programs are a staple at Northwestern Michigan College, where students get a mix of in-person interaction with the convenience of online coursework scheduling.
Many online universities in Michigan allow students to apply prior credits or experience toward their desired degree. Each school has its own set of rules for determining how to apply prior credits and experience. For example:
Central Michigan University awards prior learning credit to students who have work, training, or life experience in a subject. In most cases, credit awarded applies to your degree as elective credits. To earn prior learning credit, students must submit a portfolio documenting their experience.
Ferris State University accepts coursework from non-regionally accredited institutions, but only in special cases.
Oakland University offers a transfer admission guarantee program for high school and university transfer students, through which they can reserve a place at the university. The program gives participants access to college credit advising days that provide guidance from staff to keep them on track for admission.
For more information on applying transfer credits to an online college in Michigan, visit the Michigan Transfer Network. This website allows students to view course transfer equivalencies between Michigan postsecondary institutions.
Students often hear that earning a college degree will lead to a higher income potential, but is your college degree going to help you earn a higher salary in Michigan? See the data table below regarding earning potential for jobs that require the following minimum degree levels in Michigan.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Compared to those with only a high school diploma, college graduates working in positions that require at least an associate degree in Michigan earn 27 percent more each year, on average. Those with careers that require a bachelor’s degree earn 73 percent more.
The cost of living in Michigan is well below the national average, even in large cities like Detroit (3 percent lower) and Grand Rapids (9 percent lower). With large industries including automobile manufacturing, business, education and health services centered in the state, there are plenty of opportunities for college graduates to find lucrative work. The state’s fastest-growing occupations include biomedical engineering, network systems and data communications analytics and financial examiners, all of which require a college degree.
Online programs should provide the same quality of education as on-campus programs do, but with more flexibility. For this reason, you should check to be sure you’re earning a degree from an accredited online college or university in Michigan. Accreditation acts as a stamp of approval when it comes to quality for a comprehensive education. Below, you'll find examples of the types of accreditations online colleges in Michigan can have:
Accreditations vary by school, but most Michigan universities are accredited at the regional or national level. For example, the University of Central Michigan is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It also holds a state authorization for its online programs.
All online programs in Michigan must be approved through a state authorization reciprocity agreement to ensure all of the university’s programs, practices, delivery methods and operations comply with state regulations. To check if the online college you are considering is regionally accredited, search the HLC's website.
Some schools in Michigan may also be accredited based on academic requirements for certain subjects or degree plans. Specialized accreditation is common in business, teaching, healthcare and technology sectors; for example, the Eastern Michigan University College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, while the College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
College tuition costs have increased in Michigan over the past two decades, just like other colleges across the nation. However, most of Michigan’s fast-growing, high-paying industries require college degrees. It is helpful to recognize the true cost of online college in Michigan. Find average tuition costs in the table below:
In-State Tuition, Public Colleges & Universities: $11,708
Change from 2015 $201
In-State Tuition, Private Colleges & Universities: $22,018
Change from 2015 $1300
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
Costs outlined in the table above do not include fees or tuition costs for out-of-state residents. Some online colleges in Michigan allow in-state and out-of-state students to pay the same rate, but there are many different cost-structures set up on a school-by-school basis. Here are some examples of how online credit fees are set in Michigan:
Course Level Cost per Credit: Ferris State University offers a flat per-credit hour cost for both online and on-campus students, which varies by level of education, with advanced credits taken junior and senior years charged at a higher rate.
County-Based Residency Rates: Residents of specific Michigan counties may find rate discounts for local schools, such as at Jackson College.
State Employee & Military Discounts: Some online colleges, like Central Michigan University may offer discounted tuition rates for State of Michigan employees and military service members and their families.
Michigan residents may want to look into a program called the Midwest Student Exchange Program, which provides some tuition discounts for Michigan residents, even if they are attending a school outside of Michigan (that is also enrolled in the program). This service is provided by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact.
If you are an out-of-state student interested in enrolling in an online program in Michigan, the University of Michigan system has a tool to check that your state is authorized as part of the national State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement.
Continue readying for more answers to frequently asked questions about paying for online college in Michigan:
Students qualify for in-state tuition in Michigan if they meet one of these three general requirements:
Residence: Demonstrate you are a permanent legal resident of the state of Michigan by providing proof of where you live, work, or attended school.
Attendance: Prove that you attended an accredited Michigan high school, middle school, or elementary school.
Service: The Demonstrate that you or a family member has served in the U.S. military or public health service.
When it comes to online degrees however, be sure to check with your college about whether or not your state of residency will be a factor; Central Michigan University offers in-state tuition for all U.S. students.
Credit pricing varies for online schools in Michigan. Private and for-profit schools tend to cost more for online learning than public colleges in Michigan.
Siena Heights University a private Catholic college, charges a flat-rate tuition for 12-18 credit hours at $12,195 per semester, plus a $95 eCollege fee for all courses completed online.
Eastern Michigan University is a large, four-year public university, which offers four undergraduate and 13 graduate programs online and charges around $6,000 a semester for online students taking 12 credits in 2018. So how does that stack up against schools in other states?
The average cost of college tuition and fees in Michigan is higher than the national average for public universities, but lower than the national average for private universities. Here’s a look at online tuition rates between states for undergraduate online degree programs in 2018-2019:
Most importantly: You should understand the complete view of the costs of attendance and earning an online degree in Michigan, including all fees for online programs, before determining your college choice.
There are many state-specific scholarships available for students attending online schools in Michigan. The first step in understanding financial need is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which provides your eligibility for federal grants and loans and determine if you are eligible for state-specific, institutional financial aid. For example, you can view the scholarships available to online Michigan State University students here.
Some scholarships available to students in Michigan include:
Rosen Hagood Community Service Scholarship – Applicants must demonstrate their dedication to community service. Candidates must also have a GPA of at least 3.0 and an essay is required.
SDL Achievers Scholarship – Applicants must be enrolled full time in college or high school and have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.8.
Swopsmart Scholarship – This scholarship is awarded to full-time students. Students must also have a Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or Twitter account.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 27,000 Michigan residents participated in federally funded adult education programs during the 2016-2017 academic year. These programs are often a first-step for non-traditional college students who want to earn their college degree, providing academic and technical preparation for adults of all ages.
Adult education classes, which includes online courses, help adults earn their GEDs, begin postsecondary degrees or learn new trades. Online programs allow adults who already have high school diplomas to pursue new careers or advance in their current fields.
In Michigan, the following adult education programs and services are available for aspiring college students:
College transfer assistance. Educational Opportunity Centers provide college counseling services for Michigan students who want to advance their education.
High school equivalency training. Michigan’s GED-to-School program is specifically designed to inspire students to not only earn their high school diploma, but continue on to earn a college degree.
Earning work experience after graduation. The Michigan Works! Program provides access to internships and other work experience services to Michigan grads looking to boost their experience levels within their degree field.
A complete list of adult education services is provided by the Talent Investment Agency Workforce Development Department of Michigan.