Finding the Best Online University Experience in Michigan
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.
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:
Must be a not-for-profit institution
Must be regionally or nationally accredited
Must offer at least one online program1
Must be located in a state (schools in US territories and Washington DC were not considered)
Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.
Some of our nursing program rankings used exam pass rates from NCLEX
How to Read Our Rankings Tool:
A dash indicates IPEDS data was not available
Annual in-state tuition is displayed unless stated otherwise
1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
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.
How can I find which online colleges offer the degree I’m looking for in Michigan?
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.
Which online schools in Michigan will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?
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.
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.
How Much More Do College Grads in Michigan Make?
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.
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 Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Michigan
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:
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.
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.
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:
What are Michigan’s requirements to qualify for in-state university tuition?
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.
Are online credits more affordable in Michigan than other places?
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:
How can I get help paying for online college in Michigan?
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:
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:
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.