Michigan is perhaps best known for being home to the Motor City, but the state’s high-powered colleges and universities can match Detroit for their finely tuned performance.
Home to almost 100 colleges, including eight research universities, Michigan is a highly-favored destination for prospective college students, be they in-state, out-of-state, or even international. In fact, the Best Online Colleges in Michigan are worth looking at as well.
The Great Lake State has a lot going for it. With the most expansive freshwater coastline of any political entity in the world, Michigan is one of the best places for boating and water sports. In the winter, snow blankets the state, perfect for skiing and other outdoor adventures. You can also visit little gems like Frankenmuth, an entire German village home to the world’s biggest Christmas store. And Michigan boasts lots of opportunities for sports fans: the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all have teams in the state.
While the Great Recession hit Michigan’s (especially Detroit’s) economy pretty hard, the state is most definitely on the rebound. The Big Three automakers are reporting significant profits. This, along with the bevy of other successful industries like high-tech, research and development, agriculture, and transportation, mean that the job prospects for college graduates are quite good. Your job after college might seem like a distant concern, but in four or five years, you’ll be thanking your past self for considering it now.
So whether it’s the natural beauty of the Great Lakes, the cultural richness represented by Motown music, or the thriving economy, consider coming to (or staying in!) Michigan for your college education. In order to help you in your search, we’ve put together this list of the 25 Best Colleges in Michigan, which will aid you in assessing not only which schools are relevant to your interests, but also which ones are feasible financially for you and your family.
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Our ranking is based on both academic quality (acceptance rates, endowment size, and other statistics) as well as on return on investment (how much you’ll end up paying for college versus what you can expect to earn once you’ve graduated). With that, strap in and get your college search in gear!
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, which is more simply referred to as “Michigan,” is a public, sea-grant, space-grant research university that is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was founded in 1817 and is currently the flagship institution for the University of Michigan system. It is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and is classified as a “Doctoral University with Very High Research Activity” by the Carnegie Foundation. It holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This university confers over 200 undergraduate degrees, 90 graduate degrees, and 100 doctoral degrees; professional degrees in the fields of medicine, law, and dentistry also can be found at this school. Students may also take courses and degrees online. This university has such a well-known reputation for its academic performance that is has been designated a “Public Ivy. ”Michigan offers students an incredible opportunity to be immersed in their field when living on campus. The school’s residential system has a selection of “living-learning communities” where students from a specific field of study live, study, and work on projects together. Some of these fields include the Women in Engineering program, medical sciences, and community service. It is one of the best universities for service-learning opportunities and is an incredible opportunity for any student interested in expanding their horizons.
Michigan State University is a public, land-grant, sea-grant research university that was founded in 1855 and served as the first, best example of a land-grant university. This school is known for consistently ranking in the top 30 public universities in the country and in the top 100 research universities in the world as ranked by U. S. News and World Report. The school is located in East Lansing, Michigan, and holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This school is a member of the Association of American Universities and is considered a Public Ivy; both of these distinctions come from the school’s commitment to having a world-class education. The school confers over 200 degrees at all levels of education, including professional programs and certificates and endorsements. This school also offers online degrees and courses through the Division of Distance Education. Student life at Michigan State University is an incredible opportunity for any student who’s ever wanted to experience what a small college town feels like. This school has over 200 student organizations, clubs, groups, and sports teams for students to become members of, and the small town feel of East Lansing makes it feel as though the town and the campus is one happy family.
Kalamazoo Colleges is a private, not-for-profit liberal arts college that was founded in 1833. It has a historical affiliation with the American Baptist Convention. It is one of the oldest universities in the country and is known for producing more Peace Corps volunteers than any other school in the country. It is a member of the Great Lakes Colleges Association. This school is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This college confers 28 majors at the undergraduate level, focusing on liberal arts and the humanities. There are also 11 interdisciplinary majors for students to consider as well. This school is nationally ranked as one of the best colleges for experiential learning by the Washington Post, U. S. News and World Report, and Forbes. Kalamazoo has a unique approach to learning that is perhaps best represented by the “K Plan. ” This is a program instituted by all educational centers in the Kalamazoo area and focuses on seminars that all students must take in order to graduate. The plan also requires that students study abroad, have proficiency in a second language, and complete a thesis or final project for their major. Service learning is also required at Kalamazoo. The Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Institute for Service-Learning houses 23 service-learning programs that offers students the chance to learn how their area of study directly impacts the communities in which they live and work. It is strongly encouraged that students begin their service-learning as early as possible into their education in order to better absorb the lessons that come with that type of education. This makes it one of the top colleges in Michigan for ambitious students.
Andrews University is a private, not-for-profit university that serves as the flagship institution of the Seventh-Day Adventist school system. It is the largest Evangelical Christian institution of higher learning in the state. This school is located in Berrien Springs, Michigan and is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. This university confers more than 130 undergraduate degrees and 70 graduate degrees across eight schools and colleges. All programs are accredited by the Adventist Accrediting Association. Online courses, postgraduate degrees, accelerated programs, and non-degree programs are also available for working or adult students. The student-to-faculty ratio at this school is 12:1. Andrews is one of the sponsors of Adventists Colleges Abroad, a program that was designed to help qualified students study abroad while completing the requirements for their degrees at the school. This includes language and cultural immersion that is available in a variety of countries, including Italy, England, Russia, South Korea, and Brazil.
Albion College is a private, not-for-profit liberal arts college that was established in 1835 and is currently headquartered in the city of Albion, Michigan. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is one of the smallest colleges on this ranking. This school is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. Albion confers undergraduate degrees in over 30 areas of study. Pre-professional programs in engineering, law, and medicine are also available. The school has also taken great pains to deliver more than 100 study abroad programs to its students; at any given time, a portion of the school’s student body could be spread out over 60 countries on six continents. The school is home to over 100 registered student organizations and are a huge part of student life at Albion. These organizations range from political to religious and back again. Some of the more popular clubs include The Nwagni Project, Karate Club, Student Senate, and LGBriTs. Intramural sports and musical events are also popular past times at the school.
Michigan Technological University is a public research institution that is headquartered in Houghton, Michigan. The school was founded in 1885 and was first created to train mining engineers that worked in the local copper mines. The school is currently ranked as a mid-tier school by both the Princeton Review and U. S. News and World Report. This school holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. Michigan Tech confers more than 130 programs at all levels of education through five colleges and schools, including professional programs and graduate certificates. The school is best known for its STEM programs but has a strong humanities program as well. Alternatively, students may take part in the Enterprise Program, a program that allows engineering students to work on real-world projects while completing this degree. This, in turn, gives students something to put on their resume prior to graduating from college. There are currently over 200 student organizations that are recognized by Michigan Tech. They include a variety of activist and volunteer groups, political and cultural organizations, sports teams, art clubs, and more. The school also has a nationally recognized suite of student-run media, including a satirical newspaper, a radio station, a Film Board, and more.
Siena Heights University is a private, not-for-profit, Roman Catholic institution that is affiliated with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. This school was founded in 1919 and is located in Adrian, Michigan. The school holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. Siena Heights confers degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level in more than 40 different areas of study. The school also offers high school students the chance to enroll in courses that would count for credit at the high school and college levels. Online courses are also available, with plans to expand into online degrees in the near future. Student life at Siena Heights is best represented by the community engagement that comes from the campus. The students focus on civic engagement and volunteer programs, such as Habitat for Humanity or Adopt-a-Sister, in order to fill their free time with purposeful work. The honor society, Greek life, professional organizations, and religious groups are also popular on campus.
The University of Detroit is a private, not-for-profit, Roman Catholic, Jesuit university. It is affiliated with both the Society of Jesus and the Religious Sisters of Mercy. It is a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. The school was established in 1877 and is located in Detroit, Michigan. The school is currently a top-tier Midwestern regional university, an honor it has earned for the past 10 consecutive years. This school holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This school confers more than 100 degrees at all levels of education, including postgraduate and specialist degrees. Certifications and endorsements are also available through the school’s Continued Education department. The school also confers online degrees and courses through its online portal; interested students are encouraged to find more information on the school’s website. UDM is best known for its institutes and centers, all of which provide services to the public. One of the largest of these is the Urban Law Clinic, a selection of clinics that focus on one type of law that allows students to argue cases, defend clients, and even speak before Congress on a variety of issues. The law clinic is why this is one of the best universities in Michigan.
Alma College is a private, not-for-profit, liberal arts college that was established in 1886 and is located in Alma, Michigan. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. This school has been nationally ranked by the Fiske Guide to Colleges and the Princeton Review. It is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. Alma confers five degrees in over 40 areas of study. The school does not currently offer any graduate programs. Students are also afforded the “Alma Commitment,” a promise by the school to offer interested students their choice of experiential learning opportunity, including study abroad or research fellowship, backed by up to $2,500 from the school’s own fund. Students have a great advantage when it comes to the small size of the school; the campus offers a real cadaver laboratory for its pre-med students, a senior thesis project in which a student participates in real research, and a scholarship community that helps undergraduates find funding for graduate school. Alma is also home to a nationally recognized Model United Nations program. It has won top honors at the National United Nations Conference, which is held every year in New York City, for 18 of the last 21 years. This school holds the record for most “outstanding delegations” awards given throughout the 92-year history of the conference.
Lawrence Technological University is a private, not-for-profit university that was established in 1932 and is headquartered in Southfield, Michigan. The school is home to the Affleck House, a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Detroit Center for Design and Technology. This school holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This university offers over 45 degrees at the undergraduate level and more than 50 at the graduate and postgraduate levels. These include pre-professional programs as well as certificates and endorsements. Students may also take online courses to complete their degrees; however, it is noted that this university currently does not offer 100 percent online degrees for its student body. There are more than 40 clubs and organizations that are represented on campus, including intramural sports teams, religious groups, political organizations, and more. Greek life is also available on campus, with more than a dozen societies represented. Students can also take on responsibilities for the media, such as the newspaper and radio station, that is run completely by the student body.
Hope College is a private, not-for-profit, liberal arts college in Holland, Michigan. It was established in 1851 and is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America and teaches from a Christian tradition. This school shares its campus with the Western Theological Seminary and is a member of the Great Lakes Colleges Association. It holds regional accreditation from the NCACS THLC. This school confers more than 90 undergraduate degrees in various fields of study. Students enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of just 12:1, and most faculty members have earned a terminal degree in their field of study. In addition, studying abroad is highly encouraged; there are options to study abroad for a summer, a semester, or an entire academic year. Currently, the school’s Vienna program is the most popular for students seeking a summer program. This is one of the best colleges in Michigan for students interested in a well-rounded education; students must take at least one course in all five disciplines at Hope, including social and natural sciences, arts, humanities, and general education. This core curriculum, which does have room for leeway in terms of what courses are chosen, allows students to have a full perspective on their field of study, rather than a narrow viewpoint. Hope has a variety of fun activities and traditions to take part in. the universities offer over 150 student organizations for students, including a sailing club, musical groups, student-run media, and more. Traditions are annual events that offer students a respite from academia and includes The Pull, Winter Fantasia, and the Nykerk Cup Competition.
Calvin College is a private, not-for-profit, liberal arts college that was founded in 1876 and is named after the 16th century Protestant Reformer and philosopher, John Calvin. The school is an educational university that remains affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church and teaches from the Reformed Protestantism tradition. It is also affiliated with the Calvin Theological Seminary. This school is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and holds regional accreditation from NCACS THLC. This is one of the best colleges for students who are interested in a business, nursing, or engineering degree. The school confers undergraduate degrees in over 100 major areas of study, including pre-professional fields. The school follows a robust Core Curriculum, regardless of their major, as well as completing a capstone course their final year at the college. This curriculum, which is used in other Calvinist schools, is known as Gateway, Competencies, and Studies. Calvin believes in the value of a global education and therefore offers a large variety of study-abroad programs. The school currently ranks second out of all colleges for the number of students who study abroad every year. Current countries that students can visit include Ghana, Honduras, the United Kingdom, China, Germany, and Peru.
Kettering University is a private, not-for-profit, university that is located in Flint, Michigan, that focuses on STEM and business-related degrees. This school has a stated focus on co-operative education and experiential-based learning, making it one of the best universities for students who excel in these learning formats. This school holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This university offers degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels of education, including online degrees that were recently launched. The school also offers students the chance to participate in research alongside faculty members; additionally, all students are required to gain some work experience by taking at least five co-op terms prior to graduation. All work experience is paid, allowing students to take what they’ve learned through both their education and their experience and place it on their resume. Kettering is the home to the FIRST Robotics Competition Community Center, the first of its kind on any college campus in the country. This facility was designed to give at least 16 FIRST teams room to expand and grow their projects under one roof. The facility is open to both college students and high school students who live in and around the Flint area.
Central Michigan University is one of the best universities in Michigan. It is a public, not-for-profit research university that is located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. It is one of the largest universities in the state and in the nation. This school is a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities as well as the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. This school holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This university confers more than 200 academic programs at all levels of education, including professional programs. More than 20,000 students are enrolled in these programs, and an additional 7,000 are enrolled online at any given time. This school also has nationally recognized programs in its neuroscience, journalism, and psychology programs. The school has also recently established a College of Medicine which began accepting students in the fall of 2013. Students have the option to enter into a Greek fraternity or sorority upon attending CMU; there are over two dozen chapters held at the school; alternatively, there are also music and honor societies for students to choose from. CMU’s Greek life is an incredible opportunity for students who want to make the most out of their time at university, making it one of the best universities in Michigan for student life.
Madonna University is a private, independent, Catholic liberal arts university that is conducted by and affiliated with the Felician Sisters. It is one of the largest Franciscan universities in the country and was established in 1937. This school holds regional accreditation from the NCACS THLC. This university confers more than 100 undergraduate degrees, 35 graduate degrees, and one doctorate in nursing practice. It also offers online courses; however, at this time, fully online degrees are not available. It is currently ranked in the top-tier under the “University – Masters” category by U. S. News and World Report. Madonna takes great pride in its student-run media outlets. Students are encouraged to express their voice through various mediums, allowing them to have debates about issues that affect both the school and the surrounding community. The school’s networks include a variety of print publications, a radio station, and a television station.
The University of Michigan at Dearborn is a public university that is a part of the University of Michigan campus. It is located in Dearborn, Michigan, and is known for its engineering and management programs. It is considered a top-tier regional university, as ranked by U. S. News and World Report. This school holds regional accreditation from the NCACS THLC. This university confers over 90 degrees at the undergraduate level, 28 degrees at the graduate level, and three doctoral programs. Students will note that the programs in computer science, engineering, and business have all been nationally ranked as some of the best programs in the nation. The school also offers online degrees and programs for busy students who are looking for completion or acceleration programs at the undergraduate level. Student life at UM-Dearborn is never boring: the school recognizes over 125 student organizations, including Greek life, professional organizations, cultural groups, honor societies, political interest groups, and more. The school also offers a variety of student-run media, including a video network, a radio station, and a newspaper.
Spring Arbor University is a private, not-for-profit, Evangelical Christian university. It is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and is the second-largest Evangelical Christian institution in the state. This school is located in Spring Arbor, Michigan, and holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This university confers degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level in over 70 major areas of study. The school offers associate degrees alongside its bachelor degrees; the school also offers graduate programs, but no first-professional or postgraduate programs. SAU is making a concerted effort to expand it’s online offerings and has a stated goal of introducing degrees through the online portal in the next five years. This school has a strong religious component to campus life. Like many of the other top colleges in Michigan that teach from a Christian perspective, SAU requires that all of its students attend a chapel service during the week. In addition, the school has a variety of campus groups and events that are designed to help educate and guide students spiritually. Some of these programs include the Spiritual Life Retreat, the CORE Program, and the Focus Series.
Rochester College is a private, not-for-profit, liberal arts college that was founded in 1959 by the Churches of Christ, a religious affiliation the school still holds dear. It is a small institution that teaches just over 1,000 students per year. The school is located in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. This school confers degrees in 19 areas of study at the undergraduate level; it also confers the Master of Religious Education in Missional Leadership. Accelerated degrees are also available on campus or online. Students who need more information on the online degrees are welcome to peruse the school’s website or call an enrollment advisor for more information. A unique feature to going to school at Rochester is the school’s annual symposium. It is named the “Rochester College Academic Symposium” and celebrates the academic achievement of both faculty and students for one full day, filled with lectures, exhibitions, and debates. It has become so successful that the school is holding the symposium every term starting in the winter term of 2017.
Wayne State University is a public research university that is located in Detroit, Michigan. The school was established in 1868 and is the state’s third-largest university by both student enrollment and campus size. This school is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. This university confers more than 380 programs across 13 schools and colleges. The school offers degrees at all levels of education, including undergraduate, graduate, first-professional degrees, certificates, endorsements, and specialist degrees. The school also offers online programs and courses for students through its virtual portal, allowing busy students to get their degree on their own schedule. The school is a widely-respected research institution; it is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a “research university with the highest research activity,” a designation given only to a few other select schools, including Harvard and Stanford. WSU also has the “Community Engagement” classification from the Carnegie Foundation, a rare acknowledgment given only to institutions that directly bring benefits to the community. Greek life is a big part of WSU, although the two dozen or so chapters are just one of the various activities the school offers. In fact, the school has over 200 registered student organizations, groups, and sports clubs for students to choose from. WSU is also near many lauded Detroit venues, such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, Ford Field, and more; there’s never a dull moment when attending this school.
Cornerstone University is a private, independent, not-for-profit, Christian university that has a standing historical affiliation with the Baptist Church but is nondenominational in teaching methods. The school is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and current hosts a seminary in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The school is affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in over 60 areas of study, including the arts, humanities, sciences, and ministry. Students must adhere to a “Civitas” Core Curriculum, a program that every student must follow at the undergraduate level, regardless of their chosen major. Adult students will also find a variety of leadership programs and degrees that are available to them through the school’s Division of Continuing Studies. Cornerstone University requires that all students sign a “Lifestyle Statement” that is intended to reflect the Christian values of the school. It prohibits pre-marital sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and homosexuality. There is also an honor code that must be signed, ensuring that students are responsible for their own academic feature with moral consequences.
Grand Valley State University is a public, not-for-profit, liberal arts university that was established in 1960. It is a comprehensive university that has a reputation for producing a large number of Fulbright Scholars as indicated by the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is also a green school and has a top-tier ranking for environmental management by GreenMetric World University. This school is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. This school offers over 80 undergraduate degrees and 35 graduate programs across eight colleges and schools in over 200 areas of study, including majors and minors. Degrees are available at all levels of education, including pre-professional programs, certificates, endorsements, specialist degrees, and more. Online courses and hybrid degrees are also available for busy students; more information on this can be found through the school’s online portal. Study abroad programs are popular for students at GVSU. The Padnos International Center collaborates with individual students to find the right program and schedule for them in terms of studying abroad. Currently, the school offers more than 4,000 study abroad programs which may or may not be affiliated by GVSU but are supported. Students can choose whatever program they like, so long as the school approves the program.
Aquinas College is a private, not-for-profit, Roman Catholic liberal arts college that is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was established in 1886 and holds an affiliation with the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids Order of the Roman Catholic Church. It is currently ranked one of the best Midwest regional universities by U. S. News and World Report. Students at Aquinas can earn an undergraduate degree in over 100 major areas of study, culminating in either a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree. Pre-professional degrees are also available. There are also four graduate degrees available for students, including programs in teaching and counseling. Education for adults is also available; the school provides over 60 areas of study for the working student alone, and many of these degrees can be found wholly online. The school is noted for having an unusually high number of students who go on to pursue graduate studies right after they graduate from Aquinas. In fact, over 90 percent of all pre-med students were accepted into medical schools right after graduation. The school also has a reputation for study abroad, with over 60 percent of all students electing to spend a semester abroad at an international university. The Rome program is quite popular with students and was instituted in 2010.
Adrian College is a private, not-for-profit, liberal arts college that was founded in 1859 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It is a small institution that delivers an incredible education that makes it one of the best colleges in Michigan. This school holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. Adrian confers undergraduate degrees in 40 areas of study; six graduate degrees are also available at this school. Certifications, pre-professional programs, and endorsements are available at the undergraduate level, such as for teachers and nurses, but it is advised to speak to an admissions advisor about the requirements for these programs prior to enrolling. Students may also find a selection of online courses available on the school’s website. The school has a variety of institutes that are dedicated to helping it preserve its mission for a better life for all students. These institutes provide programming and lectures for students, faculty, and the community at large. Some of these institutes include Career Planning, the Romney Institute for Law and Public Policy, and Entrepreneurial Studies. All events at these institutes are provided free of charge by the school.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, state-supported, comprehensive university that was established in 1849. It is governed by a Board of Regents that is appointed by the Governor of Michigan. The school is located in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and holds regional accreditation by the NCACS THLC. The school, while small, offers a variety of degree programs. Students can choose from over 200 major areas of study at the undergraduate level; graduate students will find more than 170 programs available to them. All of these degrees are conferred by the seven colleges and schools. Like many other Michigan colleges and universities, EMU offers online degrees and courses through its virtual portal. Student life at EMU is an incredible opportunity for students to get to know their classmates better as well as find a passion. There are over 340 student organizations and clubs, including Greek life, at this school, ensuring that every student can find a place where they belong. Sports teams, political groups, religious organizations, and more can be found on campus. Student-run media is also a large part of life at EMU. The school dispenses the “Eastern Echo”three times a week while school is in session as well as managing an online website. The school also has a literary magazine, two radio stations, and a linguistic online resource.
Oakland University is a public research institution that was established in 1957. It has been designated a “doctoral research university” by the Carnegie Foundation and is the only major university of its kind in the county. This school has locations in Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, Michigan. It is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. This school confers 139 undergraduate degrees and 127 graduate, postgraduate, and specialist degrees. Oakland is best known for its nursing and health sciences degree programs, including the Master of Business Administration and the suite of nursing degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels that it offers. Oakland is the home to a broad range of research institutes and centers that allow students to take on the role of research alongside faculty and other researchers. Most of the research centers focus on STEM subjects; however, a few of them, such as the Public Affairs Research Laboratory, focus on social sciences as well. Campus life at Oakland is an incredibly diverse one; the school recognizes over 200 registered student organizations, including Greek life fraternities and sororities, religious groups, political organizations, and more. Outdoors activities are also available in the surrounding area, including hiking, kayaking, and other forms of outdoor entertainment.
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