Michigan has had considerable gains in online education over the last several years. A 2015 report by the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute found that 11.5% of Michigan students at public postsecondary schools were “enrolled in at least one distance education course”; altogether this accounts for just under 28,000 Michigan students, spread across 15 Michigan institutions. The report concluded that this number would only grow, as would figures for the state’s various private institutions.
Michigan has also proved its dedication to online education by becoming a full member of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), an organization we explore in greater detail below. So, before we look at the best online colleges in Michigan, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Michigan today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Michigan
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that Michigan had 116 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 46 public schools, 50 nonprofits and 20 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 44,493 at public schools, 13,379 at private nonprofits and 692 at private for-profits.
- 46 public
- 50 non-profit
- 20 for-profit
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $11,990, while the out-of-state average was $33,080.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that Michigan awarded $95.15 million in need-based grants and $1.01 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 5.8% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education.
Online colleges in MI are regarded by many as some of the best in the nation, which is why, when compared to many other states, including most of its regional neighbors, Michigan’s tuition tends to be one of the highest.
The State of Online Higher Education in Michigan
As we mentioned above, Michigan is one of twelve states to honor the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). Through this Compact, students enrolled at public colleges in member states can take advantage of non-resident tuition breaks, a greater selection of courses and a simplified transfer processes. This agreement, which opens so many doors for its in-state distance student, captures Michigan’s support of online education.
Michigan Colleges Online is another organization driving the state’s campaign for more online higher education. MCO brings together 28 community colleges spread across Michigan so that students either enrolled in one of the 28 schools or outside students interested in auditing a course can do so easily and remotely. The MCO site hosts a current directory of the many courses and programs students can pursue and then assists them through the enrollment process.
All told, the NCES estimates that at least 7.2% of students enrolled in Michigan’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 70% were reported to be undergraduates and 78.6% were found to be living in Michigan.
Best Online Colleges in Michigan
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Michigan. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Michigan, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Michigan or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||Central Michigan University||Mount Pleasant||$$$$$||106 Warriner Hall|
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Central Michigan University has delivered educational opportunities since 1892. It currently serves more than 20,000 students at its Mount Pleasant, MI campus as well as more than 7,000 students through online classes. CMU Online includes access to essential support services, including the Online Learning Resource Center, making it one of the best online colleges in Michigan.
Students enrolling in online programs have the opportunity to choose between several bachelor's degrees offered in a variety of disciplines, including administration, community development, education, engineering technology, integrated leadership studies, political science, and psychology. The university also offers accelerated bachelor's to master's degree programs, where students can take 12 online credits of master’s degree-level coursework as an undergraduate. Courses offered in these degree-track programs are available in eight-, 12-, and 16-week formats, making it possible to earn a degree regardless of your professional and personal obligations.
|2||Michigan State University||East Lansing||$$$$$|| |
East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
In addition to its well-known athletic program, Michigan State University (located in East Lansing) is an educational leader. Here, students can pursue academic, residential college, and service-learning programs. Online programs at Michigan State include more than 100 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs and courses. Some of these are delivered completely online, while others are hybrid courses that blend online instruction with required in-person, campus-based work.
Undergraduate, online-only courses include a BS in nursing (RN to BSN track only) and a BA in early care and education. The latter, offered through the university’s department of human development and family studies, is aimed at students who want to pursue further study or professional opportunities in work that impacts children, adolescents, families, and marginalized communities. As a part of these courses, all texts, readings, proctored exams, and other related activities are provided for students completely online.
|3||Siena Heights University||Adrian||$$$$$||1247 E. Siena Heights Dr.|
Adrian, MI 49221
Siena Heights University is a longstanding Michigan university with 10 campuses located across the state. It has provided access to online learning for more than a decade and has offered online bachelor's programs since 2004. Currently, more than 300 students across the country participate in its online courses. These programs are designed with flexibility in mind and are offered in eight- and 10-week formats to accommodate students with a busy schedule.
Siena Heights may be particularly appealing to students who are interested in completing their degree. It offers five degree-completion programs, including business administration, applied science, multidisciplinary studies, nursing (RN-BSN), and professional communication. A unique offering among online colleges in Michigan, the bachelor’s of applied science degree program is best suited for working professionals who want to have a hand in designing their degree; this program allows students to build a tailored degree track around an already completed major.
|4||Northwood University - Michigan||Midland||$$$$$||4000 Whiting Dr|
Midland, MI 48640-2398
Starting with just 100 students in 1959, Northwood University-Michigan has grown into a well-regarded educational institution that currently teaches more than 3,000 individuals. With a focus on business education, students can choose to pursue degree programs at the Midland, MI campus; one of several regional education centers; or through an online learning program.
The bachelor’s of business administration (BBA) online degree at the university is ideal for students seeking a business degree from one of the top-rated online schools in Michigan. When selecting a degree track, students can choose from a range of specialities, including accounting, finance, health care management, and marketing. In addition, a minor in operations and supply chain management can be added to any BBA. Students who complete this minor will be prepared to pass exams to become Certified Quality Engineers and obtain APICS certification in production and inventory management.
|5||Andrews University||Berrien Springs||$$$$$||4150 Administration Drive, Room 136|
Berrien Springs, MI 49104
Since 1874, Andrews University has provided an education based on practical Christianity, scholarship, and research. Today, the university is known as one of the best places to receive an Adventist higher education. It offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral studies. Unlike other online schools in Michigan, Andrews does not offer full undergraduate degree programs online for nontraditional students. However, it does focus on providing distance learners with many courses to choose from, which is particularly valuable for students looking to meet graduation deadlines at another institution.
The online courses offered at Andrews span several disciplines, including business, communications, mathematics, and social science. Students also have access to online courses at the university's consortium partners—Washington Adventist University and Oakwood University—where courses are offered in three formats: self-paced open learning online courses, self-paced full-term online courses, and interactive online courses. The last option is the most structured of the program formats and has specific start and end dates with term lengths of eight- or 15-weeks.
|6||Oakland University||Rochester Hills||$$$$$||2200 North Squirrel Road|
Rochester Hills, MI 48309-4401
For students looking to enroll at an online college in Michigan, Oakland University is a top choice due to its flexible class schedules and real-world internships and research opportunities. Although the university offers a range of classes and degree programs at its Rochester, MI campus, students looking for an online undergraduate program have the option to pursue one of two degrees completely online.
The first such program is an RN to BSN degree-completion sequence. This is ideal for working professional nurses who have an associate degree and want to advance in the healthcare field. The degree, which takes two to four years to complete, offers all of its required nursing and general education courses online. The course track is offered in either a traditional 14-week format or through a concentrated seven-week fast track option. The second online degree offered at Oakland is a BS in environmental health and safety. This program provides the essential science and management coursework needed to achieve success as a safety professional.
|7||Ferris State University||Big Rapids||$$$$$||1201 S State St|
Big Rapids, MI 49307-2251
Ferris State University has several programs that are available entirely online, as well as courses with hybrid formats where students are required to attend some face-to-face classes; the ability to choose between these options makes Ferris State one of the most flexible online colleges in Michigan. The bachelor's degree programs that are available in a 100%-online format include tracks such as allied health science, dental hygiene, integrative studies, and respiratory therapy. Ferris State also offers dozens of master's and certificate programs.
The majority of bachelor's degree programs offered online are degree-completion programs, meaning that students must already have an associate degree (or have 48 transferrable credits) in order to start the program. Students can easily transfer credits and continue taking classes online; finishing a degree at Ferris State should only take about two years. In addition, online students gain access to supportive services through the career services department, where students can explore different careers, receive academic advising, learn how to prepare for a career search, and gain access to internships.
|8||Cornerstone University||Grand Rapids||$$$$$||1001 E Beltline Ave NE|
Grand Rapids, MI 49525-5897
Cornerstone University is a non-denominational Christian university located in Grand Rapids, MI. It provides a unique learning experience based on the CU Virtue Project initiative, in which students explore virtue in many forms. Learning takes place through academic courses, chapel services, study abroad opportunities, and athletic program experiences. The university offers more than 100 different undergraduate, graduate, seminary, and adult education programs, with several programs offered in an online-only format.
Cornerstone University offers flexibility to distance learners and provides education options for adult professionals. Course offerings span several fields, such as business, education, psychology, human services, and ministry. Online learners at CU have access to a web-based learning management system, where all course materials can be found. Students can also take classes using mobile devices, including the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle; this allows all textbooks and course resources to be accessed on the go, which is a unique feature among the many online schools in Michigan.
|9||Spring Arbor University||Spring Arbor||$$$$$||106 E. Main St|
Spring Arbor, MI 49283-9799
Spring Arbor University has provided its students with a liberal arts-based higher education rooted in the Christian faith since 1873. It teaches on-campus classes at 12 locations throughout Michigan and Ohio. However, for nontraditional students and distance learners, Spring Arbor provides educational access through a robust offering of online programs that are designed to encourage ethical leadership and faith development.
Spring Arbor offers several master's degrees in an online-only format, including an MBA program with concentrations in healthcare administration, human resource development, management organizational, and consulting strategic leadership. It also has two online bachelor's degree programs; students can obtain a BS in organizational management and an RN-BSN in nursing. For students with professional responsibilities and family obligations, Spring Arbor provides a dynamic curriculum that is designed around completing one seven-week course at a time; students are not required to juggle several courses at once.
|10||Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti||$$$$$||202 Welch Hall|
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Eastern Michigan University is a public university in Ypsilanti, MI that is home to more than 20,000 students. EMU also has several online programs that are designed to fit the schedule of working professionals. On-campus and online classes are taught by the same EMU professors, and students use Canvas (EMU's online course management system) to engage with each other through group discussions and class assignments. Online courses at EMU are also relatively affordable compared to other online schools in Michigan since all distance-learning students pay in-state tuition and fees.
The university offers three online bachelor's degree programs: dietetics (BA/BS), nursing (BSN completion), and technology management (BS). EMU also offers several certificate programs and nine master’s degrees, including engineering management (MS), human nutrition (MS), and learning technology and design (MA). Regardless of their program, online students are given access to academic advisors and EMU’s student service centers.
|11||Grace Bible College||Wyoming||$$$$$||1011 Aldon SW|
Wyoming, MI 49509
Grace Bible College graduates students who are interested in passionately serving Jesus Christ. The teachings of each of its academic programs are based on the principles of biblical truth, ministry experience, and character transformation. These outcomes are instilled in the core curriculum in an attempt to create an inclusive, caring community of learners. Based on GBC’s relationship with the Grace Gospel Fellowship, students receive a personal, faith-based educational experience.
For distance learners, the college’s adult and graduate programs offer several types of accelerated degrees, including associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs. Undergraduate students can earn bachelor's degrees in three different disciplines: leadership and ministry, business management, and human services. These online courses are taught by experienced faculty with cohorts of 10-16 students, ensuring a more intimate academic experience compared to many other online colleges in Michigan. In addition to online-only courses, GBC also offers evening classes at its Grand Rapids campus.
|12||Davenport University||Grand Rapids||$$$$$||6191 Kraft Avenue S.E.|
Grand Rapids, MI 49512-9396
The main campus of Davenport University is located in Grand Rapids, MI. It is a private institution that is home to more than 8,000 students. In addition to on-campus courses, Davenport is also an online school in Michigan and offers several master's, bachelor's, and associate degree opportunities. The most common online course format uses an asynchronous schedule, allowing students to access their courses and assignments anytime. Some classes also employ “real-time virtual learning”, which combines in-seat classrooms with synchronous (real-time) online technology. Using this setup, faculty and students meet virtually in a Blackboard Collaborate online classroom.
Davenport has several bachelor's degree programs that use an online-only format. These include accounting, finance, international business, and marketing. Davenport also offers several advanced degrees online, such as an MBA, MS in computer science, and MS in data analytics. The university provides new distance learners with a student online orientation program and Blackboard student tutorials, which are aimed at helping students become familiar with the online format and easily find their class readings, assignments, and tests.
|13||Rochester College||Rochester Hills||$$$$$||800 West Avon Road|
Rochester Hills, MI 48307
Rochester College is located in Rochester Hills, MI on an 80-acre campus. While participating in classes that emphasize character, leadership, and global awareness, students obtain an education that is strongly influenced by Christian beliefs.
Rochester College uses Moodle, which is an open-source course management system, to provide distance learning opportunities to students around the world. In addition, the WEB1000 online student orientation is open to anyone who is enrolled at the college. Students who are unfamiliar with online learning technology also have the option to take a software applications course. For nontraditional students, Rochester offers accelerated BBA and BS degrees in several disciplines including management, psychology, and early childhood studies. In addition, students can pursue a specialty mass communication degree, with tracks in broadcasting, public relations, and graphic design; this degree represents a unique offering among online colleges in Michigan.
|14||University of Michigan - Flint||Flint||$$$$$||303 E. Kearsley Street|
Flint, MI 48502-1950
For students considering an online college in Michigan, the University of Michigan-Flint provides flexible learning opportunities for nontraditional students. It offers hundreds of courses taught by on-campus faculty in an e-learning format. Online courses begin on the same day as the corresponding on-campus courses, and professors use the course management system Blackboard to give distance learners their class materials and assignments. Online students are also provided with the same student services as traditional students, including access to advisors, financial aid, library services, and the Student Veterans Center.
The university offers several options for online bachelor's degrees, including a bachelor’s in applied science, bachelor’s in business administration, and bachelor’s in nursing (RN to BSN). Many fully-online advanced programs are also offered, such as degrees in education technology (MA), computer science and information systems (MS), and a doctorate in anesthesia practice. There are also several mixed-mode graduate programs and certificates, which are taught mostly online but require campus visits every four to six weeks.
|15||Northern Michigan University||Marquette||$$$$$||1401 Presque Isle Avenue|
Marquette, MI 49855
Northern Michigan University is located in Marquette, MI and enrolls more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. For online learners, NMU provides access to a host of services, including the HelpDesk, which offers software support and online training resources. Students can also receive help when registering for courses and applying for financial aid.
For nontraditional students, the university offers online classes as well as classes with a hybrid format, where students receive instruction both online and on campus. Two of the online bachelor's programs provided by NMU are criminal justice and loss prevention management. The loss prevention program is unique among online colleges in Michigan and caters to specialists and managers in loss prevention who want to learn about the best practices in this field in an academic context. NMU also caters to guest students who are regularly enrolled at another college or university and would like to earn credits to transfer from NMU to their home institution.
|16||Michigan Jewish Institute||West Bloomfield||$$$$$||6890 W Maple Rd|
West Bloomfield, MI 48322-3032
Founded in 1994, the Michigan Jewish Institute offers baccalaureate degree programs that are designed to encourage career development in disciplines including technology, business, and Judaic studies. Students interested in pursuing distance learning at MJI have the flexibility to follow lectures, presentations, and lesson plans online at any time.
Although MJI does not offer the widest range of programs in an online format, it offers one unique program that is aimed at students who are interested in Jewish culture and religion: a BAS degree in Judaic studies. This degree offers three concentrations, including Judaic studies, Jewish education, and Jewish leadership. Regardless of the chosen specialization, all students in this program cover the essentials of Jewish scholarship. This includes topics such as Rabbinic literature, Jewish history, Jewish law and custom, and Hebrew language. MJI is the only online college in Michigan to provide this type of program.
|17||Wayne State University||Detroit||$$$$$||656 West Kirby Street|
Detroit, MI 48202
Located in Detroit, MI, Wayne State University has provided educational opportunities for students since 1868. Today, nearly 27,000 students call Wayne State home. The university has several 100%-online programs where there are no requirements to participate in on-campus meetings, classes, or labs. Instead, students can access their course materials online at their convenience. Distance learners are given access to a variety of resources including an online student orientation and student advising services.
Wayne State University’s social work school is a nationwide leader in its field; this school offers the only online bachelor's degree that is available at the university. The online, 120-credit bachelor’s degree in social work includes a range of pre-professional courses, including anthropology, history, and biology. It also allows students to choose from different professional curricula focusing on research methods and social work practices, and also offers the opportunity to obtain fieldwork. For students seeking to earn an advanced degree from an online college in Michigan, Wayne State has programs in criminal justice (MS) and sports administration (MA), among others.
|18||Baker College of Flint||Flint||$$$$$||1050 West Bristol Road|
Flint, MI 48507-5508
Established in 1911, Baker College is one of the biggest independent not-for-profit colleges in Michigan. The current employment rate for alumni of Baker College is 97%, which demonstrates the college’s ability to prepare its students to find success in the workplace.
Students at Baker can complete a degree program in an online-only format, without ever needing to set foot on campus. After finishing a three-week online orientation, students can register for web-based courses that begin and end on set dates. Class work for online courses is assigned with strict deadlines to ensure that students stay on track. Distance learners also have access to extensive library resources 24/7. At Baker, there is a range of online courses to choose from, including certificate programs, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees. Available subjects include computer science, business administration, management, and psychology.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Michigan
Below you’ll find the very best online colleges in Michigan, sorted by affordability.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Baker College of Auburn Hills||Auburn Hills||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Lake Superior State University||Sault Ste Marie||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration||Troy||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Northern Michigan University||Marquette||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||University of Michigan - Flint||Flint||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||Ferris State University||Big Rapids||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||Oakland University||Rochester Hills||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||Wayne State University||Detroit||School profile||$$$$$|
|10||Davenport University||Grand Rapids||School profile||$$$$$|
|11||Cleary University||Howell||School profile||$$$$$|
|12||Siena Heights University||Adrian||School profile||$$$$$|
|13||Northwood University - Michigan||Midland||School profile||$$$$$|
|14||Spring Arbor University||Spring Arbor||School profile||$$$$$|
|15||Cornerstone University||Grand Rapids||School profile||$$$$$|
|16||Andrews University||Berrien Springs||School profile||$$$$$|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Michigan
ADS Semi-Finalist and Finalist Commended Scholarship
Incoming freshmen at Michigan State University may participate in the Alumni Distinguished Scholarship (ADS) competition. The top 65 semi-finalists will receive an award of $1,500 per year for 4 years (8 semesters) of undergraduate study.
Alumni Distinguished Scholarship
Invitations to compete in the MSU Alumni Distinguished Scholarship Competition are sent to the most outstanding students who apply for admission to Michigan State University each fall. The scholarships are awarded to the top 15 candidates based on their performance in the scholarship competition.
Barbara H. Padnos International Scholarship
Grand Valley State University provides this scholarship to students who plan to study abroad for two semesters. Applicants must have earned at least 24 credits with a GPA of 3.0+. The award is given to the applicant who shows the greatest potential for success through study abroad.
Centralis Scholar Award
The Centralis Scholar Award is for freshmen entering Central Michigan University with a GPA of 3.7+ and an ACT score of 27+. Twenty Centralis Scholarships are granted yearly. Award equals cost of tuition, room and board, plus $500 toward textbooks; It is renewable for 3 years.
Community College Honors Scholarship for Transfer Students
For transfer students entering Central Michigan University with 56 transferable credits and a GPA of 3.5+. The award is for Michigan residents only; amount is $2,500 per year for 2 years.
Community College Transfer Recognition Scholarship
For transfer students entering Central Michigan University with 30 transferable credits and a GPA of 3.3+. The award is for Michigan residents only; amount is $1,000 per year for 2 years.
Lloyd M. Cofer Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to up to 10 incoming freshmen who graduated from a Detroit public high school with a GPA of 3.0+. The amount is $4,125 per year for 4 years of undergraduate study at Central Michigan University.
National Merit/Achievement Semifinalist and Finalist Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to National Merit finalists who indicate Michigan State University as their first-choice school. The award amount ranges from $750 to $2,000 per year depending on financial need. It may be renewed for 8 semesters.
The Presidential Gold Scholarship is available to freshmen entering Western Michigan University with a GPA of 3.5+ and an ACT score of 25+ or SAT 1130+. This award is for out-of-state students only. Amount is $9,000 per year for 4 years.
The Medallion Scholarship
The Medallion Scholarship is an award of $50,000 (or $12,500 per year for 4 years). It is available to freshmen entering Western Michigan University with a GPA of 3.7+ and an ACT score of 26+. Applicants must participate in a scholarship competition.
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