An online college in Michigan can provide you with the chance to jump start or further your career without ever having to step foot outside during the cold winters in the Mitten or UP. In addition, it can allow you to take classes at times that are convenient for you — around your current work schedule or family responsibilities.

Here's a brief overview of the online college options in Michigan:

  • Associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs are currently available at 50-plus online colleges in Michigan, including more than a dozen faith-based schools.
  • Over 30 online colleges in Michigan offer associate degree programs while almost 40 give students the opportunity to earn bachelor's degrees or master's degrees.
  • Almost 60 percent of Michigan's online colleges are public while 25 are private, including two seminaries, two law schools, two schools that focus on accounting and business administration, and one school dedicated to STEM majors.

Predictions indicate that a high percentage of Michigan jobs are expected to require some level of education beyond high school. To support that need, Governor Whitmer is aiming to increase to 60 percent by 2030 the number of state residents who hold a postsecondary certificate or degree. The Michigan College Access Network has a number of initiatives aligned with that goal, including programs to assist low-income students and first-generation college students in earning a degree.

Read on to see which online colleges are the best overall in Michigan and which ones are the most affordable. You can also find information about financial aid resources, including Michigan-specific grants and scholarships.

What Makes a Good Online College in Michigan?

When combing through all the opportunities offered by online education, many students turn to rankings as their starting point to narrow down the wide variety of options. Our rankings only include schools that have been accredited by a legitimate accrediting agency, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the regional agency for the central U.S. Attending an accredited school is vitally important; to learn why, visit our "What is College Accreditation" page or check out the Michigan Department of Education.

Rankings can help students who want to compare many colleges side-by-side based on a number of factors that matter to them. Some of the factors we used to create our rankings list include academic and career services offered at each school, the average in-state tuition and the ratio of students participating in distance education. To learn more about why we chose these factors for our list, check out the "What Makes a Good Online College" section of our "About Us" page.


Best Online Colleges in Michigan for 2020-21

This list of 10 best online colleges in Michigan was created using data accessed from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Our list provides numerous data points, including in-state tuition and the percentage of distance learners at each school. Details on the methodology used to compile this list appear at the bottom of the page.


Central Michigan University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is CMU like?

Central Michigan University, established in 1892, is a public university that offers coursework through its online Global Campus that is in most respects identical to its traditional on-campus coursework. The career-oriented curriculum at CMU focuses on allowing students to follow their desired educational path at their convenience and on their schedule. CMU has moved up a notch to make it to the top of our list this year.

What online programs are at CMU?

CMU offers online bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs, as well as undergraduate and graduate certificates. Its online Bachelor of Science in Public and Nonprofit Administration makes it a great online college for students interested in acquiring formal education credentials for the public service field. The university also emphasizes the teaching professions and healthcare, with doctorate programs offered in educational leadership, technology and health administration.

What online resources does CMU offer?

CMU teaches its courses asynchronously using the Blackboard learning system, with courses offered in eight-, 12, and 16-week formats. In addition to an online learning resource center and writing and math assistance centers, the school offers an Online Ally program, where online students can assist their peers who are in need of additional help. Students may benefit from additional perks like Microsoft Office Suite and OneDrive Cloud Storage — both at no charge.


Siena Heights University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is SHU like?

Siena Heights University is a Roman Catholic university that began its first degree-completion program for working adults in 1975. In 2005, it joined the ranks of online colleges in Michigan. Continuing with its long-standing practice, many of SHU's online programs are designed to help adults complete studies they had begun earlier. SHU has online students from 36 states as well as Canada. SHU has made its way steadily up our rankings to the second position from No. 4 last year.

What online programs are at SHU?

The institution's dozens of online offerings focus primarily on business- and healthcare-related fields. SHU offers online associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in subjects including accounting, psychology, organizational leadership and nursing. Apart from more traditional programs, SHU also offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communication. The university boasts several undergraduate minors that can complement their programs, including finance, project management and religious studies.

What online resources does SHU offer?

SHU's online students have access to numerous online resources, including one-on-one academic advising and degree planning, online library databases and technical support. Classes are taught through the user-friendly Canvas online learning platform, which allows for a high level of interaction with professors and fellow students.

Keeping adult-learners in mind, SHU's online undergraduate programs are available in flexible eight-week formats; its blended-online graduate programs are typically in a 10-week delivery format.


Madonna University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is MU like?

Madonna University, a private Catholic and Franciscan institution, offers a comprehensive liberal arts education with a focus on career preparation. To make its services available to students all across Michigan, the university crafts fully online associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs, as well as a handful of online graduate certifications. Madonna University has taken a massive leap in our rankings going from the tenth spot to No. 3 this year!

What online programs are at MU?

MU's online courses are taught via the Blackboard learning system or the Canvas learning system. Almost two dozen undergraduate and graduate programs — in fields like healthcare, education, sociology, nursing leadership and criminal justice — are available. MU emphasizes the study of gerontology and related fields, offering:

What online resources does MU offer?

This private university promises extensive support from staff and faculty throughout the online learning process, via:

  • Online advising services
  • Counseling resources
  • Bookstore
  • IT help desk
  • Library
  • Writing Center
  • Tutoring

MU demonstrates its commitment to students' success through their Center for Personalized Instruction (CPI). It also participates in the TRIO program, a federally grant-funded program designed to increase the college retention and graduation rates through services like workshops, no-cost online tutoring, financial literacy programs and more.


Davenport University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is DU like?

Founded more than a century and a half ago, Davenport University is a private nonprofit institute. It started granting online degrees in 1999 making it Michigan's first online learning community. DU's commitment to preparing its students with real-world competencies can be demonstrated by the fact that almost 95 percent of their graduates are employed in their field of study within six months of graduation.

What online programs are at DU?

Under the name DU Global Campus, Davenport University offers over 50 online associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs through four degree-granting colleges. DU's business administration programs offer multiple concentrations, while its online Master of Accountancy program deserves a special mention for covering material relevant to four different accounting certification exams: the CPA, CMA, CIA and CFE. DU also offers post-baccalaureate and graduate certificates as well as special professional development courses through its Institute for Professional Excellence (IPEx).

What online resources does DU offer?

Classes are delivered asynchronously via the Blackboard learning system. Use of the Kaltura video platform allows students and instructors to create and share videos in courses. Technical support for students is available through phone support, live chat and a support portal. DU also backs up select degree programs with additional credit hours at no tuition cost for alumni who are unable to find employment within six months of graduation.


Ferris State University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is FSU like?

Founded in 1884, FSU is four-year public university based out of Big Rapids, Michigan. It started offering online degrees in the early 2000s. Apart from 100 percent online degree programs, FSU has partnerships with multiple community colleges across Michigan that allow for blended learning. FSU designs its online programs with input from industry professionals, working to build career-focused programs that can teach students how to be strong workplace leaders.

What online programs are at FSU?

Ferris State University's curriculum focuses on offering students career-oriented online bachelor's and master's programs and certificate programs. Most of the university's online programs can be fully completed online, while some require more hands-on training, either on-campus or within a business setting.

The university's online programs run the gamut from vocationally focused ones such as automotive management, to graduate plans in business or healthcare administration, to certificates in B2B marketing, small business management, facility management and more.

What online resources does FSU offer?

Classes are taught using Blackboard technology. To prepare students for online learning, FSU offers an online course readiness orientation in addition to a standard new student orientation.

FSU's career services site is tailored to online students. It is designed to help optimize their career search, in addition to providing online academic, IT and financial services support. The university also has the support of a dedicated eLearning team.


Wayne State University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is WSU like?

Wayne State University is a premier public research university in the heart of Detroit. The school takes pride in being one of Michigan's most diverse campuses and is a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. WSU works hard to ensure that online students have an educational experience equivalent in quality to that of traditional students.

What online programs are at WSU?

A few of the many options in WSU's curriculum include online bachelor's programs in social work and mortuary science, as well as online master's programs in education and library and information sciences. Additionally, the university's college of pharmacy and health sciences features a transitional doctorate in physical therapy (tDPT) that has an online component.

Classes are taught using Canvas online technology.

What online resources does WSU have?

WSU offers online students many of the same services they make available to on-campus students, including:

  • Academic success center
  • Advising
  • Career services
  • Major research library
  • New student orientation
  • Technical support

WSU also offers an intensive online English language program through its English Language Institute (ELI) for non-native English speaking students. This program allows its graduates to be directly admitted to WSU without having to pass standardized ESL tests.


University of Michigan-Dearborn

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UM-Dearborn like?

The University of Michigan-Dearborn, a public university, takes an inclusive approach to online education. Online students are encouraged to use on-campus resources, participate in face-to-face events and even enroll in on-campus courses when they can. Likewise, on-campus students are encouraged to enroll in online courses, allowing them to meet and mingle with off-campus peers. With this hybridized approach to education, UM-Dearborn strives to create a collaborative learning environment that can help distance learners feel genuinely included.

What online programs are at UM-Dearborn?

There are over a dozen online degree programs for grad students at this university, and students can enroll in online courses for many other undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs.

Of particular notice are the university's dual master's degree programs, which combine the online MBA program with other majors such as finance, information systems or health services administration. There is also a dual M.S. in accounting/M.S. in finance option, and students may even work with an advisor to create their own business degree combination if they so choose.

What online resources does UM-Dearborn have?

UM-Dearborn's online courses are taught through Canvas, with apps available for tablets, mobile devices, and computers. The school's department of digital education maintains its EvaluationKit for online course evaluations, MiVideo video hosting within Canvas and VeriCite plagiarism detection. The department also offers workshops for faculty on using Canvas.

Online students at UM-Dearborn have priority over on-campus students when signing up for online courses, helping them to complete the courses they need for graduation.


Spring Arbor University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is SAU like?

SAU is a private university founded in 1873, and affiliated with the Free Methodist Church of North America. At its core is a Christ-centered liberal arts education that holds to the fact that spiritual growth is just as important as academic growth.

SAU has small class sizes, typically no more than 15 students to a class, which allows faculty to have one-on-one interactions with their students and commit to SAU's ethos of mentorship.

What online programs are at SAU?

SAU offers degree programs ranging from the bachelor's to doctoral level online. The online degree programs it offers are mainly in the fields of business, education, and nursing. Apart from these, SAU offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership and an online Bachelor of Social Work. Apart from these, SAU offers online post-master's certificates in nursing, including nurse educator, gerontology and family nurse practitioner.

Classes are taught using the Blackboard learning management system.

What online resources does SAU have?

Most courses have at least two start dates a year and are asynchronous in format. Online students are offered support in a myriad of ways including a personal Student Success Coach who can help them navigate any challenges they may face during the course of their online studies.

Students can also access over 100,000 eBooks through SAU's library as well as a large number of journals through SAU's online research database.


University of Detroit Mercy

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UDM like?

The University of Detroit Mercy is Michigan's largest Roman Catholic university. A private university founded in 1877, it is sponsored by both the Society of Jesus and the Religious Sisters of Mercy.

UDM's online courses integrate theory with practice as students apply their learnings toward solving real-world issues. The university welcomes eligible students from around the world, but cautions healthcare applicants to check relevant licensure requirements. Class sizes are small with average 15:1 ratios.

What online programs are at UDM?

UDM offers online programs through four of its colleges:

  • College of Business Administration
  • College of Engineering and Science
  • College of Health Professions
  • College of Liberal Arts and Education

Students can choose from online master's and graduate certificate programs in disciplines like nursing, business turnaround management, computer science, and information assurance. Some programs allow students to choose a specialization. For example, UDM offers a Master of Science in Information Assurance with a major in cybersecurity.

Courses are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system.

What online resources does UDM have?

UDM provides services to online students through its Student Success Center (SSC) like:

  • Tutoring and learning communities
  • Testing center
  • Professional mentoring
  • Placement testing
  • Disability and Accessibility Support Services

Apart from these, students may also benefit from programs like:


Cornerstone University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is CU like?

With humble beginnings as an evening Bible institute in 1941, Cornerstone University is now an independent, evangelical Christian institution. CU offers online programs in the cohort learning style with typical groups made up of 12-15 students. Online students may have the option to take elective courses for credits even before their semester starts.

CU participates in NC-SARA, the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement which establishes standards for interstate offerings of post-secondary distance education courses and programs.

What online programs are at CU?

CU offers online degree programs in business, counseling and psychology, human services, ministry, and education ranging from the associate to doctoral level. CU offers a few online programs in an accelerated format that allow its students to complete their coursework in a shorter period of time than usual. Students in CU's accelerated Master of Business Administration program may choose from finance, global business, health care, and project management.

Classes are conducted using Moodle and Google hangouts.

What online resources does CU have?

CU has ensured that its online learning materials are accessible from a variety of different devices, including smartphones, allowing students to access their coursework wherever they have an internet connection. Tech support is also accessible 24/7.

Students also have access to NetTutor, a no-cost online, on-demand tutoring service along with tutorials on how to use specific software like Microsoft Excel. CU also provides career development services, financial aid advice and library support.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Affordable Online Colleges in Michigan for 2019-20

The following chart lists schools in Michigan with low in-state tuition costs. Data was compiled using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, part of the National Center for Education Statistics.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Financial Aid Resources in Michigan

The Student Financial Services Bureau (SFSB), part of the Michigan Department of Treasury, works to educate college students about the financial assistance they might need. They offer podcasts on how to save for college, plus other vital resources for students. There are also several nonprofit organizations working toward improving access to higher education. For example, the Michigan College Access Network supports programs targeted to FAFSA completion and other important milestones for prospective students.

But what financial aid do these initiatives promote for students? Find specific information below for Michigan residents looking for financial assistance through scholarships, grants and loans.

What Grants and Scholarships are available in Michigan? 

There is a vast network of scholarship support for Michigan college students, especially at the state level. The state government department that is responsible for grants and scholarships, known as Student Scholarship and Grants (SSG), reports that it provided almost $125 million in scholarship and grant funding during the 2018-19 academic year, to more than 71,000 Michigan students. Read on to learn about some of these scholarship opportunities:

Source: Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of CollegeXpress, a division of Carnegie Dartlet. Copyright © 2020 by CollegeXpress.

Our Ultimate Guide to Grants and Ultimate Guide to Scholarships can offer more information on ways to apply for grant and scholarship opportunities such as these.

Student Loans in Michigan

Currently federal loans for Michigan students are issued directly by the U.S. Department of Education. However, private lenders exist on a national scale. Michigan's government website recommends that students consult the financial aid office at their college or university for a list of reputable lenders.

For more general information on student loans, check out our Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Michigan

Michigan is part of the Midwest Student Exchange program, a program of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact that allows students from its 10 member states to attend college in another state for no more than 150 percent of the in-state resident tuition rate. The MSE program even includes private institutions, which offer a 10 percent discount on their tuition rates. If you are a resident of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio or Wisconsin, be sure to visit the MSEP's handy school search tool.

For students from other states, individual universities may offer some ways to obtain in-state tuition. For instance, the University of Michigan offers in-state tuition to current and former members of the United States armed forces as well as their families. The University of Michigan-Flint offers resident tuition status to a number of student groups, including those whose spouse, partner or parent is a medical resident, fellow or on a military assignment.

If you really want to attend college in Michigan, don't let the potential cost of out-of-state tuition deter you and schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor.

Best Careers in Michigan

What are some of the best jobs to have in Michigan? It depends on your personal goals, interests and education level. Whether you are aiming to earn an associate, bachelor's or master's degree, the state offers plenty of opportunity. Having solid data about employment numbers, projected job growth and average salaries in Michigan's top industries can help you decide which education path to pursue.

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary

Top Michigan Industries

If you haven't yet decided on a career, it might be helpful to know that Michigan is facing a skilled-labor shortage. This demand is likely to open up opportunities for workers with associate degrees. It's expected that more than 500,000 skilled trades jobs may be created through 2026, mainly in the fields of construction, manufacturing, healthcare, automotive and information technology.  Here are some of the top industries to explore.

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Ambulatory healthcare services3,047,6309%$61,286
Hospitals; state, local, and private3,365,3109%$59,967
Pipeline transportation1,258,3707%$70,776
Oil and gas extraction1,774,8907%$66,726
Monetary authorities-central bank836,8808%$72,096
Postal service1,171,7106%$66,295
Lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets (except copyrighted works)1,151,2406%$69,699
Educational services; state, local, and private3,714,5508%$58,226
Insurance carriers and related activities2,447,1407%$60,764

Michigan has traditionally been a state with significant industrial activity, even known as the "epicenter of the automotive industry" due to its business climate, manufacturing-friendly tax laws and wealth of natural resources. Inc. Magazine's 2018 ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. featured 93 Michigan companies.

Michigan has a high concentration of electrical and mechanical engineers working in advanced manufacturing, and employs more industrial designers than any other state. These engineers and designers are crucial to the state's utilization of its abundant natural resources, fueling Michigan's demand for oil and gas extraction, pipeline transportation and utilities.

Looking to the future, an upcoming growth industry that may soon be creating some of the most in-demand jobs in Michigan is mobility. PlanetM, a Michigan Economic Development Corporation initiative, is a partnership of many organizations and nonprofits with the overall goal of creating mobility solutions for the future. Michigan's leadership in the automobile sector, along with its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, make it the ideal locale for this industry.

Here's a closer look at the top jobs in Michigan on a more granular level: by metro area.

Best Jobs in Detroit-Warren-Dearborn

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

This metropolitan area of 4.3 million residents is still strong in manufacturing but is also going through a redevelopment phase — think successful start-ups like luxury watchmaker Shinola. Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert has poured $2 billion into revitalization and job growth efforts.

Ford Motor Company works closely with local universities to help make high-paying jobs in Detroit a reality through its internship program and Cooperative Education Program (Co-Op), which allows engineering college students to work in in manufacturing and product development.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Industrial EngineersBachelor's degree$94,42019,680
Mechanical EngineersBachelor's degree$97,26030,840
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and TestersBachelor's degree$95,17027,890
Electrical EngineersBachelor's degree$95,7305,280
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$111,9701,740

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Best Jobs in Grand Rapids-Wyoming

Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

To help stem the tide of a predicted doctor shortage, hospitals like Spectrum Health (the area's largest employer) are taking steps to retain and attract talent to these high-demand jobs in Grand Rapids. Spectrum opened the Basic and Translational Research Laboratories in an effort to attract top candidates and create new educational opportunities for graduate students.

Other leading industries creating high-paying jobs in Grand Rapids include aviation, bioscience and education. In order to fill the labor gap, more than 400 local businesses have been working with Grand Rapids Community College on job training programs. The state-wide Marshall Plan for Talent is an initiative focused on transforming Michigan's talent pipeline.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$107,710680
Industrial Production ManagersBachelor's degree$115,2001,880
Family Medicine PhysiciansDoctoral or professional degree$236,790180
Industrial EngineersBachelor's degree$81,0303,540
Architectural and Engineering ManagersBachelor's degree$124,130N/A

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Best Jobs in Lansing-East Lansing

Lansing-East Lansing, MI Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

According to U.S. News, major Lansing area employers include hospitals, insurance companies, General Motors, and the University of Michigan, along with state government. Other important industries that may result in high-paying jobs in Lansing include wholesale and retail trade, education and manufacturing.

The Jackson Zone in downtown East Lansing is a partnership between Michigan State University and Jackson National Life Insurance Company that offers work experience to freshmen and senior students with diverse backgrounds in business, education, engineering, finance, communication and psychology.

Lansing Community College's Business & Community Institute specializes in workforce development, assessing employers' needs and creating custom training programs to train people to fill high-demand jobs in Lansing.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and TestersBachelor's degree$78,5602,850
Administrative Services and Facilities ManagersN/A$100,4101,120
Financial ManagersBachelor's degree$113,970870
Public Relations SpecialistsBachelor's degree$79,6401,080
Mechanical EngineersBachelor's degree$90,810670

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.