25 Best Online Colleges in Michigan

Are you ready to find your fit?

There is no better time than now to consider going to college in Michigan.

Employment projections indicate increases of 1.1 percent to 4.5 percent in 2017. Unemployment drops to 4.5 percent through 2019. Salaries and wages increase 3.7 percent in 2017, 3.9 percent in 2018, and 3.8 percent in 2019.

So what do you do when life keeps you from committing to time on a college campus? Online colleges have come a long way in the last decade. With the latest in Video on Demand, interactive video, video conferencing technology, and software, distance learning has never been easier. Options include adult education courses for personal growth; associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees; specialist certifications; and post-graduate certificates.

The U.S. Department of Education found that in Michigan, 49,000 college students – 7 percent – take all courses online.

The Open Education Database shows 97 Michigan colleges and universities now offer online classes, and opportunities expand yearly. The growth in online learning spiked after Governor Snyder issued his "Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace" plan. The governor envisioned a system wherein public schools in Michigan offer students early college enrollment, online, and dual enrollment options to succeed.

The U.S. Department of Education found that in Michigan, 49,000 college students – 7 percent – take all courses online. For undergraduates, the number was 34,000. Another 66,000 take some of their classes online. In graduate programs, 17 percent (14,000) complete all coursework online. Another 7 percent (7,000) take advantage of at least one online class.

As part of the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP), public universities agree to charge out-of-state students no more than 150 percent of in-state tuition.

Note that top industries in Michigan include aerospace, automobile manufacturers and suppliers, carbon fiber/composites, agrobusiness, cyber security, and defense. Most of these require post-secondary education, and online curricula at state colleges help busy professionals, parents, caretakers, and out-of-state students to complete their degree and find their dream job.

Take advantage of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, which provides reciprocal agreements between participating states. As part of the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP), public universities agree to charge out-of-state students no more than 150 percent of in-state tuition. Private institutions discount their tuition rates by 10 percent. Over 100 schools agreed to follow the Compact, but individual participation remains discretionary and voluntary. Students should research the MSEP requirements before enrolling.


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What are the best online colleges in Michigan?

The top 25 schools in the state are tabulated based on several sources of information. Critical data comes from each school’s website, while other statistical analyses were performed by journalists, mathematicians, and data-gathering websites. Materials referenced include U.S. News and World Report, the IPEDS database from the National Center for Education Statistics, the Princeton Review, Money Magazine, and Payscale.com. The determination of rankings requires examination of the school’s performance results, reputation, graduation rates, class sizes, and other details. The other factor includes outcomes for the school’s graduates. Schools rank higher when graduates leave with lower debt-to-income ratios, higher starting salaries, and successful job placement.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

    Ann Arbor, MI




    U-M spans 19 schools/colleges. Acceptance rates depend on status: 44 percent of new freshman who are Michigan residents are accepted, while just 25 percent of new out-of-state freshman receive welcome packets. To be competitive, prospective freshmen need a GPA of 3.4 to 4.0 (80 percent have 3.8 to 4.0). SAT scores range from 1160 to 1600 (30 percent scored 1460 to 1600, and the next 50 percent scored 1310 to 1450). ACT ranges were 26 to 36 (20 percent scored 34 to 36, and 55 percent scored 30 to 33).

    Program Features

    Heavy investments of $1.39 billion in research put U-M at #1 of all public universities in the United States. According to U.S. News and World Report, 103 of the 130 graduate programs are ranked in the top ten.

    The U-M College of Engineering offers online degrees for a Master of Engineering. The following Integrative System and Design programs can be completed online or partially in-class:

    • Automotive Engineering MEng (AUTO)
    • Energy Systems Engineering MEng (ESE)
    • Global Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering MEng (GAME)
    • Manufacturing MEng (MFG)
    • Systems Engineering + Design MEng (SE+D)

    Courses that can be taken online for the ME degree include:

    • Greenhouse Gas Control
    • Seminars on Energy Systems, Technology and Policy
    • Modeling Analysis and Control of Hybrid Electric Vehicles


    U-M started the Teach-Out Series of courses taught by expert faculty members. All classes are free, but certificates in some programs are also available for a fee. Current offerings include topics such as AIDS, cataract surgery, thermodynamics, leadership, the Information Age, and preparing international students for graduate school in the U.S.

  2. Kettering University

    Flint, MI




    The U.S. Department of Education ranks Kettering’s 4-year engineering program #1 in Michigan and #2 in the nation. Computer science ranks #1 in Michigan and #4 nationally. The same rankings apply to biological science, physical science, and business. Math ranks #1 in the state and #2 in the U.S. The university has accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.

    Program Features

    The university offers online graduate degrees in engineering and business. Masters options include engineering management, lean manufacturing, and operations management. Employers who hired Kettering mechanical engineering (ME) grads are Bosch, Fisher-Price, Ford Motor Company, the FBI, Dart Container, and General Motors. ME students graduate with as many as 2.5 years of job experience through co-ops.

    Courses within the ME Lean Manufacturing include:

    • Six Sigma for Manufacturing
    • Work Analysis for Lean Production Applications
    • Quality Assurance and Reliability


    Kettering University Online leads the nation with its groundbreaking Master of Engineering in Lean Manufacturing. Partnering with General Motors, the program teaches reduction of waste, improvement of quality, and efficiency of processes. One auto company in particular credits the ME Lean Manufacturing degree with savings of $30 million in the past ten years.

  3. Lawrence Technological University

    Southfield, MI




    Pioneering founder Russell E. Lawrence started the Lawrence Institute of Technology in 1932. At first a school for engineering, LTU now includes 4 colleges and 100 programs. The College of Architecture graduates close to 50 percent of Michigan’s architects. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the private university serves 4,500 students.

    Program Features

    The College of Architecture and Design offers an online Master of Architecture. Of the 36 credit hours required, 32 can be completed online. LTU is one of just 25 percent of universities with accreditation from NAAB for its online program. The coursework is designed for professionals within the field of architecture who are looking for licensure through NCARB.

    Classes that apply to the Master of Architecture online include:

    • Research Methods
    • Ecological Issues
    • Design Theory


    One requirement for the online Master of Architecture is completion of the Critical Practice Studio. Studio classes must be taken at the Southfield campus during summer months.

    The Detroit Center for Design and Technology (DCDT) opens a new Design Incubator program in 2017. This program fosters creative and technology businesses in the city of Detroit. Targeting entrepreneurs, the Incubator includes participation from industry experts.

  4. Michigan Technological University

    Houghton, MI




    MTU offers 120 programs, including STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), forestry, business and economics, humanities, and social sciences. Accomplishments at MTU include 3-D printing of prosthetics for Nicaraguan children. Online learners have access to live class streams and video chat through MTU.

    The school comes in at #1 for mid-career salaries among public Michigan universities. Money Magazine named Michigan Tech the #2 in “Public Colleges Where Grads make Six Figures.”

    Program Features

    Michigan Tech’s mechanical engineering program offers an online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis on power systems. The coursework matches the curriculum of on-campus candidates.

    Career paths for mechanical engineers include automotive manufacturing, aerospace, communications, biomedicine, nanotechnology, and power. Specific job titles may include mechanical engineer, quality engineer, test engineer, design engineer, or application engineer.

    A sample of courses for the Master in Mechanical Engineering:

    • Failure of Materials in Mechanics
    • Statics
    • Mechanical Vibrations


    Master’s degree candidates have the option to prepare a thesis with guidance from an advisor. Topics for the thesis must be researched and produce results in a timely manner. A second option is reporting on an independent study of a defined research topic. Third, students may use coursework to fulfill all credit hours toward the degree.

  5. Grand Valley State University

    Allendale, MI




    As a public university, GVSU offers 124 degree programs with over 4,000 study-abroad opportunities. Its job placement rate of 94 percent ensures a high probability of employment after graduation. The main campus, which opened in 1960, sits to the west of Grand Rapids in southwest Michigan. Other locations include the Pew Campus in Grand Rapids, and the Meijer Campus in Holland. At least half of the courses at GVSU can be taken online or in-seat.

    Program Features

    Students in Criminal Justice have several options for online coursework. Classes teach the procedures within the court and correctional systems, constitutional rights and ethics, juvenile justice, and the science behind crime.

    Careers in criminal justice involve human services such as counseling, juvenile caseworker, law enforcement, security, parole or probation officers, and corrections.

    Online courses for a BS Criminal Justice include:

    • Courts Process
    • Crimes Against Women
    • Terrorism


    GVSU’s large School of Criminal Justice gives students experience through internships, research, and hands-on learning. Expert faculty members often bring students into the field to assist in gathering information and interpreting data. A basis in liberal arts gives graduates a well-rounded education to broaden their perspective.

  6. Michigan State University

    East Lansing, MI




    MSU welcomes 50,000 students from throughout Michigan, the other 49 states, and 133 countries. Admissions are competitive, with the median high school GPA ranging from 3.5 to 3.94. SAT scores span from 1035 to 1210, and ACT scores run from 24 to 29, again as a median.

    MSU’s annual research expenditures reach $589 million. Student teacher ratios are 17:1 at this public university, and 92 percent of graduates find placement in jobs or graduate school within a reasonable timeframe. The school offers over 100 online courses for graduates and undergraduates.

    Program Features

    U.S. News and World Report has ranked MSU #1 in graduate programs for elementary and secondary education in the United States for the last 22 years.

    The Master of Arts in Education ranks 8th among online education programs. Educators, administrators, and school coaches select coursework in literacy, leadership, special education, science, technology, and math.

    Courses for the MAED include:

    • Engaging Diverse Students and Families
    • Content Area Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities
    • Teaching School Subject Matter with Technology


    Work toward the MAED must be completed within five years. Students may transfer nine credits with approval from their academic advisor. Any credits earned through graduate certificates are capped at nine credits as well.

  7. University of Detroit Mercy

    Detroit, MI




    UDM offers over 100 programs in seven schools and colleges to serve 5,000 students. Women make up 59 percent of the demographic, and 16 percent of students identify as minorities. Classes are also offered online, through Macomb University Center in Clinton Township, and at WCCCD University Center in Harper Woods.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Nursing – Clinical Nurse Leader degree gives practitioners the skills to lead in clinical and hospital settings. Graduates know the best practices to streamline and improve processes, how to engage with technology, and handling of difficult cases. Students may enroll from anywhere as the program enlists clinics near the student for completion of the clinical immersion experience.

    Courses toward the MSN – Clinical Nurse Leader include:

    • Physical Assessment and Advanced Pharmacology for the CNL
    • Outcomes Management & Decision Support in Nursing
    • Clinical Immersion Experience


    To enter the MSN – Clinical Nurse Leader program, applicants must have 2,000 hours as a registered nurse, a BSN from an accredited school, and a collegiate GPA of 3.0. In addition, the nurse must have a license in good standing, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume. Some students will be invited to interview with the graduate faculty.

  8. Madonna University

    Livonia, MI




    Madonna University educates 4,500 students in Livonia, southwest Detroit, Gaylord, and Macomb. If finding time to drive to a campus does not appeal, consider the 100 percent online programs at MU. Students who study abroad earn business degrees in China or Dubai. Distance learners obtain business degrees in Haiti.

    Program Features

    In the Criminal Justice major, degrees are available completely online. Graduates can anticipate careers in border patrol, corporate security, financial fraud investigation, corporate investigation, law enforcement, private investigation, and loss prevention management.

    Courses in Criminal Justice include:

    • American Judicial Process
    • Juvenile Justice
    • Homeland Security and Terrorism


    Programs that can be completed 100 percent online are Criminal Justice, Essentials in End of Life Care (certificate), Family and Consumer Science, and Hospitality and Tourism Management. Graduate school degrees offered at Madonna University include an Ed.S. Educational Leadership, MAT Curriculum and Instruction, and MAT Online Teaching and eLearning. Post Master’s Certificates are granted in APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) Gerontology.

  9. Andrews University

    Berrien Springs, MI




    Andrews University, the only national Adventist university, educates 3,366 students from most U.S. states and 100 other countries. U.S. News and World Report places the university in its top ten for diversity and percentage of international students.

    Within its eight schools and colleges, Andrews offers 130 undergraduate and 70 graduate programs. Many programs have online options through the School of Distance Education and International Partnerships.

    Program Features

    Candidates for the Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree take most classes online. Presence on campus is required in August for five days, and in December for six days in the first year of study. Each candidate completes 40 weeks of clinical interning. A DPT performs outpatient rehabilitation, home health care, hospital care, or operates a private practice.

    Courses for the DPT include:

    • Medical Diagnostics
    • Clinical Research
    • Post-Operative Management of Common Orthopedic Surgeries


    Doctoral candidates complete 35 credit hours of work with two campus visits in the first year. In the second year, students complete a capstone experience encompassing a research study for publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. The faculty provides guidance, resources, and instructions for successful capstone projects.

  10. Spring Arbor University

    Spring Arbor, MI




    The Free Methodists founded Spring Arbor University as a seminary in 1873. In 2017, SAU has over 70 majors for undergraduates and four graduate degrees. Classes are held on campus, online, and at 12 regional locations.

    The Economist ranks SAU the #1 best value of Christian universities in Michigan and #2 out of all, including secular schools, for return on investment. The alumni of Spring Arbor earn 12 percent more than their peers from comparable schools.

    Program Features

    The online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) prepares students to obtain their license in social work and leads to graduate school for the Master of Social Work (MSW). The program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The BSW can be completed 100 percent online, but 10 credits of field experience is required in upper level coursework.

    A sample of courses for the BSW:

    • Interviewing
    • Social Welfare Policies
    • Practice with Groups

    The BSW leads to careers in hospice, nursing homes, hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, churches, family service agencies, child protective agencies, aging adult services, domestic violence programs, homeless shelters, schools, and the criminal justice system.


    To be considered for the BSW program, applicants need to provide an application, interview with the faculty, and complete the course SWK 281. High school scores from within the last three years need to meet or exceed 20 (ACT) or 940 (SAT) with a minimum 2.60 GPA. For students whose high school experience falls outside the three-year limit, a writing sample can be provided. Candidates must apply before their junior year.

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