Online Schools & Colleges
in Michigan

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.

Best Online Colleges in Michigan

2-Year Colleges

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.

Top 10 Online Colleges in Michigan

  1. Central Michigan University
  2. Grand Valley State University
  3. Northwood University
  4. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  5. Ferris State University
  6. Siena Heights University
  7. Michigan State University
  8. Davenport University
  9. University of Detroit Mercy
  10. Northern Michigan University
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Washtenaw Community College $3,720 12 15% 16% Yes Yes Yes
2 Lansing Community College $5,940 12 11% 12% Yes Yes Yes
3 Delta College $5,100 19 15% 9% Yes Yes Yes
4 Kirtland Community College $4,740 11 21% 44% Yes Yes Yes
5 St Clair County Community College $6,758 4 20% 16% Yes Yes Yes
6 Kellogg Community College $5,251 3 10% 12% Yes Yes Yes
7 Mid Michigan Community College $6,516 5 12% 16% Yes Yes Yes
8 Bay College $6,006 4 24% 30% Yes No Yes
9 Glen Oaks Community College $4,128 5 28% 41% No No Yes
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Central Michigan University $11,745 24 72% 59% 81% Yes Yes Yes

Central Michigan University is a public research institution in Mount Pleasant and is one of the largest schools in the state. In eight-, 12-, and 16-week formats, you can earn your undergraduate or graduate degree in the applied arts, sciences, and education. At CMU, you can position yourself for exciting careers in product development and visual merchandising with a Bachelor of Science degree in fashion merchandising and design. For more traditional tracks, CMU offers bachelor's degrees in education, psychology, and political science. Online options for graduate students include master's degrees in nutrition and dietetics, and entrepreneurial transactions, or doctoral degrees in educational technology or health administration. CMU uses the Blackboard system to deliver courses both synchronously and asynchronously. Whichever format is used in your program, you will have 24/7 access to course content in addition to any scheduled chat sessions, lectures, or exams.

2 Grand Valley State University $11,832 4 82% 68% 68% No Yes Yes

Unlike many online programs, Grand Valley State University features far-reaching and diverse interdisciplinary studies and liberal arts programs for distance learners. At this public university in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you can earn degrees in women, gender, and sexuality studies, political science, history, and global studies in fully online or hybrid formats. Courses are self-paced and asynchronous and allow for working adults to work around their busy schedules. Transfer credit may be accepted toward your online degree at Grand Valley and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

3 Northwood University $23,860 11 67% 57% 93% Yes Yes Yes

Northwood University offers fully online and hybrid degrees in business administration. Some of the programs, such as the bachelor's degree in advanced manufacturing business, require a minimum of 30 transfer credits in a related specialized area or an associate degree for admission. A minor concentration in operations and supply chain management, which requires blended coursework, or international business can be coupled with any of Northwood's 11 BBA undergraduate majors. A fully online MBA and Master of Science in finance or organizational leadership are also available at Northwood. The MBA can be completed in 24 months. All students, regardless of location, pay a flat tuition cost per credit.

4 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor $14,982 9 29% 92% 49% No Yes Yes

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor offers online degrees for undergraduates and graduates. At UM, there is no communal distance learning website where all online degree offers are managed and listed. Rather, individual departments oversee their online degree programs, determine the admissions process, curriculum, and degree offerings. Distance learners at UM can pursue bachelor's degrees n dental hygiene, or master's degrees in health management and policy, dental hygiene, or one of five graduate engineering programs. UM master's degree programs generally require around 36 credits to complete. Distance learners should expect to spend 24 months working toward graduation. In most cases, transfer credits from other programs cannot be accepted.

5 Ferris State University $11,144 13 78% 51% 69% Yes Yes Yes

At Ferris State University, you can quickly work toward a bachelor's degree in their "degree completion program," a master's degree, or earn an undergraduate or graduate certificate. This bachelor's degree program is designed for students who already have an associate degree or 48 transferable credits from an accredited school. Those credits count as the first two years of your bachelor's degree, therefore saving you time and money. Many distance learners complete their bachelor's degree in fields such as dental hygiene, respiratory therapy, integrative studies, or health information management in two years. Traditional master's degrees, in areas like business administration, healthcare administration, and public health, can also be earned online or in a blended format in two years or less.

6 Siena Heights University $24,390 37 72% 53% 99% Yes Yes Yes

Siena Heights University's online program features associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees for just about any area of study. Distance learners can take advantage of Siena's undergraduate business administration programs, featuring specializations in business administration, management, and marketing. You can also earn an online MBA in a program with no prerequisites that is open to students of all backgrounds, not just those with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. This MBA program is especially designed for students interested in business ethics, sustainable business management, and business strategy and planning. Students who wish to transfer into Siena must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and completed 12 semester hours of transferable credit. If you do not have 12 credits, you must follow the standard admission requirements.

7 Michigan State University $14,880 18 66% 81% 46% No Yes Yes

At Michigan State University, distance learners can earn graduate degrees online or in a hybrid format. Master of Science degrees are available in supply chain management, management, strategy, and leadership, and healthcare management. You can earn your master's degree in supply chain management in as few as 21 months with only nine days of on campus commitments. The degree in management, strategy, and leadership, is 100 percent online and is an accelerated 20-month program. The healthcare management master's degree is also fully online, with seven semesters of coursework and a capstone project, and can be finished in two years. Graduate certificates in business analytics, supply chain management, and strategic leadership and management are also available. Transfer credits from accredited institutions can be accepted at MSU but must be approved on a case-by-case basis.

8 Davenport University $15,936 31 78% 41% 93% Yes Yes Yes

Using the Blackboard system, Davenport University offers many asynchronous degree programs that allow for maximum flexibility for distance learners. Some majors utilize live streaming and virtual classroom technology and follow the synchronous format. In either case, Davenport's expert teachers ensure that you have the best instruction for the course. At Davenport, you can earn various master's degrees, undergraduate degrees, and participate in post-baccalaureate certificate programs. With more than 50 undergraduate programs, Davenport boats a robust variety of business majors. As an online student, you can earn business degrees in management, international business, accounting, legal studies, among other flexible, asynchronous programs. Undergraduate online students receive a 33 percent discount on tuition and can transfer up to 90 credits toward their degree. Transfer students with associate degrees are encouraged to transfer those credits toward a qualifying bachelor's degree. In these cases, you can finish your degree in two years or less.

9 University of Detroit Mercy $39,882 10 78% 59% 99% Yes Yes Yes

The University of Detroit Mercy is a private Catholic institution with a selection of graduate degrees available online. Aside from a two-week, full-time orientation session for some majors, requirements for most degrees can be earned remotely. Detroit Mercy boasts diverse offerings in various healthcare fields, including master's degree programs in adult-gerontology, clinical nurse leader/nursing, and health systems management, in addition to a certificate in business turnaround management, and two post master's certificates in nursing. All students pay the same tuition costs and fees regardless of their location.

10 Northern Michigan University $9,330 7 76% 52% 82% Yes Yes Yes

Northern Michigan University in Marquette features a global online campus with fully online and hybrid degree and certificate options. In addition to traditional majors commonly offered for undergraduate distance learners, this global campus specializes in masters level training in the education field. With degrees in early childhood endorsement, education administration, and four Master of Education specialty areas, degree seekers interested in teaching in grades K?12 will find a diverse set of online options at Northern Michigan. Tuition costs vary per program, but all distance learners pay the same tuition costs and fees.

11 Andrews University $26,790 8 40% 61% 99% Yes Yes Yes
12 Lake Superior State University $10,824 3 91% 46% 75% Yes Yes Yes
13 Madonna University $19,500 3 75% 54% 92% Yes Yes Yes
14 Michigan Technological University $15,302 5 76% 67% 92% No Yes Yes
15 Cornerstone University $26,490 9 63% 49% 99% Yes Yes Yes
16 Cleary University $17,500 26 47% 39% 94% Yes Yes Yes
17 Spring Arbor University $26,130 16 71% 55% 100% Yes No Yes
18 University of Michigan-Dearborn $11,310 10 65% 54% 72% No Yes Yes
19 Oakland University $12,923 6 86% 51% 68% No Yes Yes
20 Wayne State University $11,821 7 81% 40% 91% Yes Yes Yes
21 Eastern Michigan University $9,690 13 73% 43% 92% Yes Yes Yes
22 Grace Christian University $11,890 5 81% 40% 61% Yes Yes Yes
23 Western Michigan University $10,570 4 82% 58% 41% No Yes Yes
24 Kettering University $39,790 10 72% 63% 99% No Yes Yes
25 Baker College $9,000 15 - 18% 80% Yes Yes Yes
26 Concordia University-Ann Arbor $27,640 7 60% 38% 100% No Yes Yes
27 University of Michigan-Flint $9,984 8 65% 40% 50% No No Yes
28 Lawrence Technological University $30,420 7 69% 45% 88% No Yes Yes
29 Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration $13,200 8 - - - No Yes Yes
30 Marygrove College $21,526 9 41% 22% 92% Yes No Yes

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.

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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.

  • 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.

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.

No Formal
High School
$31,250 $42,916 $54,533 $74,053 $75,185 $111,073

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.

College Education & Careers in Michigan

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.

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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:

Regional and National Accreditation

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.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

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.

Paying for Online College in Michigan: Tuition & Financial Aid

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

National Average:$8,778

In-State Tuition, Private Colleges & Universities: $22,018

Change from 2015 $1300

National Average:$27,951

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.

Reciprocity Programs

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:

Public Colleges and Universities

$417 per credit hour
$248 per credit hour
$323 per credit hour
$406 to $650 per credit hour

Private Colleges and Universities

$495 to 741 per credit hour
$385 to 550 per credit hour
$250 to $526 per credit hour

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.

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:

  • 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.

Online Education & Adult Education in Michigan

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.

In 2017, nearly 20,000 people across Michigan participated in adult education programs.
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