Online Colleges in Michigan

Despite the well-publicized financial woes facing Detroit and the state of Michigan in recent years, universities and colleges in Michigan remain vibrant institutions, with a growing number of online degree programs on offer.

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Perhaps the largest institution to offer an online degree is the University of Michigan. Online graduate programs offered through the College of Engineering at the main Ann Arbor campus were ranked fifth best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2013. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan's regional campuses in Dearborn and Flint feature a variety of fully online and blended (part online, part on-campus) degree programs -- from a Bachelor's in Business Administration to a Master's in Software Engineering.

As of February 2013, the University of Michigan also offered seven classes through Coursera, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) provider that allows students across the globe to take college courses online, often at no cost.

Other online colleges in Michigan include Western Michigan University, Michigan State University and Central Michigan University Online. Programs vary by institution, but each of these online colleges in Michigan feature both degrees and certificate programs online, as well as a number of services designed to support online learners.

In Michigan, more than 9.8 million people have a high school diploma, and among those 18 to 24 years old, 48 percent have gone on to get an Associate's degree or to attend some college, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. An estimated 8.3 percent of that age group has earned a Bachelor's degree or higher.

There are 4.7 million workers in Michigan, and the average annual salary is $44,540, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average hourly wage is $21.42, but the unemployment rate for the state remains stubbornly high. Much of that could be traced to the financial woes of Detroit, where unemployment among the 2 million workers in that metropolitan area is the highest in the state.

There are 117 colleges and universities in the state, with several schools, such as Baker College, maintaining several campuses around the state. There are 71 private schools, including 51 non-profit colleges and 20 for-profit private schools.

The Most Affordable Online Colleges in Michigan

The following list ranks the 10 schools in Michigan that offer online degrees at the lowest tuition costs. This ranking is based on a number of factors that are important to prospective students such as the actual degree programs that are taught online, and information on tuition fees, accreditation and notable alumni. Tuition figures are sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (2013-2014) and reflect in-state tuition (when in-state tuition is available) for all students, including online students. See our Methodology section for more details on the ranking methodology.

#1 - Baker College (Visit School Site)

  • Tuition: $8,100 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 16 undergraduate and 5 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Panda Express founder Andre Cherng, pro football player Tanner Purdum, historian John Clark Ridpath

Baker College has campuses all over Michigan, but it has also made its name worldwide as one of the first colleges to offer online degree programs. Its online Associate's degree programs include Business; Health Administration; General Education; Computer Technologies; Health Sciences; Design and Media; and Public Safety. Its Bachelor's degree programs include Business; Health Administration; General Education; Computer Technologies; Health Sciences; Legal Studies; Design and Media; Human Services; Nursing; and Public Safety. In addition, the school also offers Master's degree programs in Business; Computer Technologies; Education; Health Sciences; and Human Services.

#2 - Eastern Michigan University

  • In-state Tuition: $9,364 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 3 undergraduate degrees and 8 postgraduate.
  • Notable Alumni: Novelist John Edward Amers, businessman Jack Roush, politician Edward P. Allen, pro baseball player Bob Welch.

The main campus of Eastern Michigan University is in Ypsilanti, but the university maintains satellite campuses in Brighton, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Livonia, Monroe and Washtenaw County. It offers eight online Master's degrees and three online Bachelor's degree programs, including a Bachelor's in Dietetics; Nursing; and Technology Management. Its online Master's programs include Dietetics; Education Leadership-K-12; Educational Media and Technology; Educational Psychology; Engineering Management; Human Nutrition; Integrated Marketing Communications; Quality Management; and Social Foundations of Education.

#3 - Ferris State University

  • In-state Tuition: $10,466 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 9 undergraduate and 17 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: Writer Norm Augustinus, pro footballer player Monty Brown, musician Al Jardine, journalist Dana King.

Ferris State University offers both Bachelor's and Master's degree programs online. It also offers some degree programs that combine face-to-face classes with online work. It offers Bachelor's degrees in Allied Health Sciences; Automotive Management; Business Administration; Dental Hygiene; Health Information Management; Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration; Integrative Studies; Nuclear Medicine Technology; and Nursing. It offers online Master's degrees in Business Administration; Nursing; Business-to-Business Marketing; Direct Marketing; E-Commerce Marketing; Facility Management; Geographic Information Systems; Gerontology; Human Resource Management; International Business; Leadership and Supervision; Nursing Education; Professional E-Commerce; Marketing; Project Management; Small Business Management; and Vascular Ultrasound.

#4 - Oakland University

  • In-state Tuition: $10,613 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 3 undergraduate, 6 postgraduate and 1 doctoral.
  • Notable Alumni: Actor Curtis Armstrong, poet Thomas Lynch, singer Karen Newman

Oakland University, initially part of the Michigan State University system, became an independent college more than 50 years ago. It offers three fully online Bachelor's degree programs, including Integrative Studies; Occupational Safety and Health; and Nursing. Its online Master's degree programs include Special Education; Business Administration; IT Management; Engineering Management; and Safety Management. Oakland also offers a doctoral program in Nursing Practice and a Post Master's Education Specialist Degree.

#5 - University of Phoenix-Metro Detroit (Visit School Site)

  • Tuition: $12,400 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: Numerous undergraduate and graduate degrees in 8 general subject areas.

The University of Phoenix maintains a campus in the Detroit area, but its online degree programs in Michigan provide access to more than 100 campuses across the country offering a wide array of online Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's degree programs. Online degree programs are available in several general interest areas, including arts and science; business and management; criminal justice and security; education; human services; nursing and healthcare; psychology; and technology.

#6 - Michigan State University

  • In-state Tuition: $12,862 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 1 undergraduate and 28 postgraduate and 3 doctoral.
  • Notable Alumni: Actor James Caan, pro basketball player Magic Johnson, director Sam Raimi, journalist Ray Stannard Baker, writer Jim Harrison.

Michigan State offers more than 100 courses via the Internet, and even more that are considered hybrid because they require some level of face-to-face interaction. In addition to its online Bachelor's degree program in Nursing, some of the Master's degree programs on offer include Biomedical Lab Operations; Lab Science; Clinical Laboratory Science; Criminal Justice; Educational Technology; Food Safety; Health; Integrative Pharmacology; Strategy and Leadership; Marketing Research; Social Work; Supply Chain Management; and Youth Development. It also offers doctorate programs in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology, Physics; and Nursing Practice.

#7 - ITT Technical Institute (Visit School Site)

  • Tuition: $18,048 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 23 undergraduate

In addition to the face-to-face classes it offers at its 140 campuses nationwide, ITT also offers a robust portfolio of online degree programs from its schools of information technology, business, electronics, digital entertainment and criminal justice. It offers online Bachelor's degree programs in Information Systems and Cybersecurity; Project Management; Accounting; Business Management; Business Accounting Technology; Business Administration; Project Management and Administration; Technical Project Management; Criminal Justice; Construction Management; and Nursing. Its online Associate's degree programs include Accounting; Business Accounting Technology; Business Administration; Business Management; Construction Technology; Drafting and Design Technology; Web Design; Web Design Technology; Criminal Justice; Electrical Engineering Technology; Criminology and Forensic Technology; and Paralegal Studies.

#8 - Siena Heights University

  • Tuition: $21,890 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 4 undergraduate
  • Notable Alumni: basketball coach Colleen Lewis Aguilar, volunteer Kyle Leighton, politician Darrell Issa

Siena Heights offers its online classes every eight weeks, arranged in weekly units that include discussion threads as well as the option of joining a cohort of students moving through the same sequence of courses together. Students can also work with an advisor to set up their own unique schedule. Its online degree programs include Bachelor's degrees in Multidisciplinary Studies; Applied Science; Professional Communications; and Associate's and Bachelor's degrees in Business Administration.

#9 - Spring Arbor University

  • Tuition: $23,400 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 3 undergraduate and 8 postgraduate
  • Notable Alumni: former pro basketball player Michah Lancaster and singer Babbie Mason.

Spring Arbor University is a Christian evangelical university that offers three online degree levels in various subjects. It offers an Associate's degree in Business and Bachelor's degrees in Business; Communication Leadership; and Organizational Management. It also offers Master's degrees in Communication; Education; Reading; Special Education; Spiritual Formation and Leadership; Teaching English as a Second Language; Business Administration; and Nursing.

#10 - Concordia University Ann Arbor (Visit School Site)

  • Tuition: $23,563 (2013-2014)
  • Accredited: Y
  • # of online programs: 3 postgraduate

Concordia, affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, offers its online programs in partnership with Concordia University Wisconsin. Students in the online programs are offered a student support specialist to serve as a "personal guide" through the educational process. Through its Ann Arbor campus, Concordia offers online Master's degree programs in Organizational Leadership and Administration; Educational Leadership; and Curriculum and Instruction. Through Concordia University Wisconsin, it offers online degree programs from the Associate's to the doctoral levels, including programs in Business; Education; Healthcare; and Christian Ministry.

Snapshot of Michigan Cities

Michigan is unusual in many ways. It's the only state to be formed by two peninsulas, and it's bordered by four of the five Great Lakes. Although the population declined slightly in the first decade of the 21st century, Michigan has had some success diversifying its economy in the wake of the decline of the auto manufacturing business that largely defined it in modern times. Detroit, despite a declining population, is still the largest city in the state, followed by Grand Rapids and Lansing.

The following is a closer economic and demographic look at Michigan, with economic data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 2014 Cost of Living Index published by The Council for Community and Economic Research. All demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and the latest Labor Force Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All data in the Facts for Online Learners section comes from the region's various tourism websites.

Detroit Metro
The Detroit Metro area is home to a little more than 2 million workers, more than 40 percent of the state's entire workforce. Workers there earn, on average, about $48,000 a year, for an hourly wage of $23.11. The Cost of Living Index is 94.9, with the average home prices just over $256,000.

Although Detroit's population fell by 25 percent from 2000 to 2010, it remains the population center of Michigan, with approximately half (5.2 million) of the state's population living in the area surrounding the city. However, it is struggling; the city became the largest U.S. city to ever declare bankruptcy with more than $18.5 billion in debt, and unemployment among it's more than 2 million workers remains stubbornly high.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
Detroit, aka "Motor City," spawned that special brand of rock 'n' roll known as Motown, and one of the top attractions for people visiting Detroit is the Motown Historical Museum. Other key attractions include Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers play baseball, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Grand Rapids
The Grand Rapids metropolitan area is home for more than 400,000 workers, about a 10th of the state's total workforce, and they hold down jobs in a wide variety of fields, from manufacturing to healthcare. The unemployment rate is among the lowest in the state. Home prices in Grand Rapids average $217,500, and the Cost of Living Index is 92.0.

The City of Grand Rapids, located on the Grand River, has a population of 188,000, but the metropolitan area that surrounds it has a little more than 1 million residents. The area is a hotbed for office furniture manufacturing, with five of the world's leading furniture builders manufacturing products there. The average salary among workers is $42,610, and the average hourly wages is $20.49.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
Grand Rapids combines the cultural attractions of a large city with the outdoor amenities of an outdoor paradise. Beaches, paddle sports and skiing are all nearby, and Grand Rapids is also home to an assortment of top-notch museums, including the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park and the Grand Rapids Children Museum.

Lansing supplies about 240,000 workers to the state, roughly 5 percent of the state's total workforce. Workers there earn an average of $44,790 a year, for an average hourly wage of $21.54.

Lansing, the capital of Michigan, is the fifth-largest city in Michigan with a population of 114,297, but the surrounding metropolitan areas of Shiawassee County brings the metropolitan population to 464,036. In addition to being the political capital of the state, many also consider it to be the intellectual capital; it's home to medical schools, nursing schools, Michigan State University, two law schools and several high-level courts.

Fun Facts for Online Learners
The Lansing area's attractions run the gamut from arts and theaters to spas, breweries and farmers markets. Michigan State University also offers high-level collegiate sports, including the Spartans' national ranked football and basketball teams.

Helpful Resources

In additional to these schools, many national online colleges offer programs to students in Michigan. Some, such as Everest University, South University and DeVry University even have physical campuses in the state, which may allow students to participate in blended programs. This could be an attractive option for students who enjoy learning in a classroom environment but also want to benefit from the convenience of online lectures and coursework.


1. Baker College, http://www.baker.edu/baker-online/programs-degrees/?programs_area=interests&degree=
2. Baker College Notable Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_University#Notable_alumni
3. Concordia, http://online.cuaa.edu/programs/?ref=cuaa.edu
4. Cost of Living Index, www.coli.org
5. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Index.aspx
6. Eastern Michigan University, http://www.emich.edu/extended/online-offcampus/degrees_programs.php?location[Online]=on
7. Experience Grand Rapids, http://www.experiencegr.com/things-to-do/attractions/
8. Ferris State University, http://www.ferris.edu/online/
9. Ferris State University Notable Almuni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferris_State_University#Notable_alumni
10. Great Lansing Michigan, http://www.lansing.org/visitor/things-to-do/
11. ITT, www.itt-tech.edu/programs/
12. List of Eastern Michigan University People, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Eastern_Michigan_University_people
13. List of Michigan State University People, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Michigan_State_University_people
14. Michigan State University, https://www.reg.msu.edu/UCC/OnlinePrograms.asp
15. National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
16. Oakland University, http://www.oakland.edu/online
17. Oakland University Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oakland_University
18. Reuters, "In largest-ever U.S. city bankruptcy, cuts coming for Detroit creditors, retirees," December 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/03/us-usa-detroit-bankruptcy-judge-idUSBRE9B20PZ20131203
19. Siena Heights, http://www.sienaheights.edu/Locations/DistanceLearningPrograms.aspx
20. Siena Heights Alumni Association, http://www.sienaheights.edu/Alumni/AlumniAssociation.aspx
21. Spring Arbor University, http://online.arbor.edu/programs/
22. Spring Arbor University Alumni, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_Arbor_University
23. TripAdvisor, "Things to do in Detroit," http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g42139-Activities-Detroit_Michigan.html
24. University of Phoenix-Metro Detroit campus, http://www.phoenix.edu/degrees/online-bachelors.html
25. U.S. Census Bureau, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml
26. U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Michigan's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb11-cn106.html
27. U.S. Department of Education, The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

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