Best Online Colleges in Michigan

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Michigan offers some of the best online college programs in the country, and the state has been a long time supporter of online learning. Beginning in 2006, Michigan mandated that all students must take at least one online course or learning experience before graduation. As a member of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), Michigan has opened its doors to regional out-of-state students through a tuition reciprocity program. In the program, public schools charge out-of-state students no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate, and private schools must offer a 10% reduction in their standard tuition price. This offer — along with the flexibility to take courses from affiliated schools, and a simple transfer process — demonstrates Michigan’s commitment to online learning.

In addition to MHEC, those interested in an online education should look into Michigan Colleges Online. MCO is composed of 28 community colleges across the state, and the organization allows students from any one of these schools to take online courses from other members through a simple enrollment process. All credits that students earn at the partner colleges transfer back to their original school.

In their 2012 report, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimated that 78.6% of students pursuing online degrees in Michigan lived in-state. Residents will find ample grants and other financial aid from the state to help them pursue their education affordably.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Michigan State University

 3/578.86%East Lansing, MI


Michigan State University offers more than 100 graduate and undergraduate courses online, making it one of the best online colleges in Michigan. Graduate degree offerings are the most robust, and include a Master of Arts or Master of Science in biomedical laboratory operations, supply chain management, K-12 educational administration, nursing, and sport coaching and leadership. Graduate certificates can be earned in applied horse science, online teaching and learning, and serious game design and research, among others. Undergraduate degrees are offered in early care education and nursing. Support services range from advising to learning resources.

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Northwood University – Michigan

 4/556.29%Midland, MI


Northwood University-Michigan's online programs lead to a Bachelor of Business Administration, with a minor in Supply Chain Management. Students can earn their BBA in fields of study such as:

  • Accounting
  • Automotive Marketing & Management
  • Entrepreneurship

Northwood also offers a minor in operations and supply chain management and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. These degrees can be earned entirely online in an asynchronous format, but students are also welcome to take face-to-face classes and visit the institution's regional education centers.

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Oakland University

 3/545.6%Rochester Hills, MI


Oakland University's online program offerings include:

  • MS, Engineering Management
  • BS, Degree Completion Sequence for RNs
  • MA, Teaching -- Reading and Language Arts
  • Graduate Certificate in Autism for Multiple Disciplines

Oakland provides its online students a variety of resources, including online course meetings -- available both synchronously and asynchronously -- and library access that includes remote access to databases, mailing services and interlibrary loans. Moodle is the institution's Learning Management System (LMS). The institution offers a demo Moodle course, so prospective students can familiarize themselves with the platform.

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Andrews University

 4/558.66%Berrien Springs, MI


Andrews University's School of Distance Education & International Partnerships offers undergraduate courses in business, education, math, music, science, and the social sciences. A number of graduate degrees are offered online, including an MBA program and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program. Andrews also lists states where it is not authorized to offer online courses, states where local proctoring is not allowed, and states that do not allow placement of online students for internships, student teaching, and clinical practicums.

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Ferris State University

 3/543.03%Big Rapids, MI


Ferris State University offers online undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates, focusing largely on workplace preparation and advancement. This school offers bachelor's degrees in:

  • Allied Health Science
  • Technical Education

Undergraduate certificates offered online include:

  • Business-to-Business Marketing
  • Gerontology

Graduate-level certificates are offered online in Advanced Studies in Project Management, and Nursing Education. Master's degrees include:

  • Healthcare Administration
  • Master's, Public Health

Course formats vary. For example, some require students to participate in weekly online meetings. Most, however, are conducted in an asynchronous format. Ferris's online resources include advising, career services, tools for online learning, and tutoring.

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Cleary University

 3/545.45%Ann Arbor, MI

Cleary University is devoted to business education. Cleary offers certificates, as well as associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. One of the institution's most popular online offerings is the MBA, which has concentrations in accounting, financial planning, green business strategy, management, nonprofit management, and organizational leadership. Cleary supports the online learning environment with a 24/7 library offering full-text books online, and library support services.

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Grace Bible College

 3/551.92%Wyoming, MI

Grace Bible College is distinctive for its accelerated online learning programs geared toward working or otherwise busy students. It offers associate and bachelor's degree programs. For example, GBC's Bachelor of Science in Business focuses on business and management, with concentrations in leadership & ministry, human services, and criminal justice. It also offers a leadership & ministry degree, which is designed for individuals called to ministry as a vocation. Concentrations in business, human services, and criminal justice allow graduates to tailor their program for more specific applications.

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Lawrence Technological University

 4/544.21%Southfield, MI

Lawrence Technological University offers graduate degrees and certificates online, including:

  • Master, Architecture
  • MBA
  • MS, Industrial Engineering
  • MS, Information Science

Lawrence provides three application opportunities each year. Prospective students should ideally have a 3.0 GPA, preferably in a related bachelor's degree program, three letters of reference, and a professional resume. There may also be additional program-specific requirements. LTU uses Blackboard for the delivery of online coursework, and services for students includes a unit devoted to online and hybrid programs (eLearning Services), advising, career services and disabilities services.

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Eastern Michigan University


Eastern Michigan University's online programs are aimed at working professionals. EMU instructors teach the courses in online programs, which facilitates academic continuity with its on-campus curriculum. Additionally, students enrolled in online courses at EMU pay in-state tuition, regardless of their physical location. EMU is a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) Participant, which allows students living in SARA states to enroll in EMU courses and programs without needing additional authorization. EMU's degree and certificate offerings range from Dietetics to Integrated Marketing Communications.

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Central Michigan University

 3/555.54%Mount Pleasant, MI

Central Michigan University offers more than 18 online academic programs, including online graduate certificates, and bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees in areas of study including:

  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Community Development
  • Business Administration
  • Health Administration

CMU also boasts a robust set of resources for online students, including an Online Learning Resource Center, an Online Ally -- which is a seasoned online student who can serve as a mentor --, and a writing center. Central Michigan uses Blackboard to manage and deliver courses, most of which are conducted in an asynchronous format.

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University of Michigan – Flint

 2/534.28%Flint, MI

University of Michigan-Flint's offerings include bachelor's programs in business administration and nursing. Graduate degree programs include master's and doctoral programs in applied communication, business administration, and education. UMF's online student support services include a help desk as well as standard student services such as advising, financial aid, and library services.

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Spring Arbor University

 4/553.95%Spring Arbor, MI

Spring Arbor University, a Christian college in Michigan, tailors its online programs so that students take one seven-week course at a time, rather than juggling multiple online courses at once. Each online student is also provided an Online Support Coach to facilitate completion, and access to 24/7 technical support. All courses are conducted asynchronously. SAU's online bachelor's degrees can be earned in science of organizational management, and in nursing (RN-BSN). SAU offers online master's degrees in communication, education, reading, and spiritual formation & leadership. The institution's graduate nursing programs include family nurse practitioner & adult gerontology, primary care, and an RN-MSN/MBA dual degree.

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Siena Heights University

 4/550.75%Adrian, MI

Siena Heights University offers online undergraduate degrees in several areas of study, including:

  • Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Nursing (RN-BSN)

SHU also offers minors in areas that include:

  • Marketing
  • Information Technology Management

Designed for adult students, SHU's online undergraduate programs are taught in eight-week formats by full and part-time faculty with professional experience outside the classroom. SHU also offers certificate programs and graduate degrees. Online students have access to academic advising, degree planning, financial aid, library databases and support, student accounts, and technical support.

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Grand Valley State University

 3/564.94%Allendale, MI

Grand Valley State University's undergraduate and graduate programs include education, community and public service, nursing, health professions, liberal arts, and interdisciplinary studies. GVSU provides the same academic support services to online learners as it does for its on-campus students. This includes academic advising, library databases, and financial aid counseling. Online and hybrid courses are conducted via Blackboard, and most online courses are asynchronous.

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University of Detroit Mercy

 5/554.38%Detroit, MI

The University of Detroit Mercy offers a range of certificate and graduate programs, including:

  • Business Turnaround Management Certificate
  • MA, Teaching Mathematics
  • MS, Nursing -- Clinical Nurse Leader
  • MA, Economics
  • MS, Computer and Information Systems -- Software Management

UDM online class sizes average a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. Student support services include administrative, instructional, and technical support -- such as library consultants for each subject area --, and 24/7 chat. UDM offers both synchronous and asynchronous courses.

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Davenport University

 3/539.57%Grand Rapids, MI

Davenport University offers online certificates and degrees, including:

  • Certificate and MA, Data Analytics
  • AAS, Health Information
  • BS, Nursing
  • BA, Accounting
  • MA, Management

Most of Davenport's courses are asynchronous, so course materials can be accessed anytime during the week. There are deadlines for assignments and other assessments, but the course format's flexibility means students can complete their academic work according to their own schedule. Most courses are conducted asynchronously. A Real Time Online (RTV) format launches in Fall 2016, which supports learners who want to take online courses in real time.

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Northern Michigan University

 2/548.47%Marquette, MI

Northern Michigan University supports online student success by requiring new students to complete an Online Course Preparation Tutorial. The self-paced module is designed to introduce students to the online learning environment at NMU, and provide information on tools and strategies for success. Michigan delivers content in several ways: via videostreaming and videoconferencing, or through Canvas, the school's learning management system. NMU's online offerings include:

  • MA, Education in Learning Disabilities
  • BA, Loss Prevention Management
  • MA, Public Administration
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Cornerstone University

 4/545.37%Grand Rapids, MI

Cornerstone University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates in business, counseling & psychology, human services, ministry, and education. The evangelical Christian institution's online students have 24/7 tech support and free tutoring. Specific degree programs include:

  • AS, Accounting
  • BS, Business Administration
  • MBA
  • MA, Biblical Studies
  • Ed.D., Organizational Leadership and Development

Cornerstone University's online courses are conducted via Moodle. They are asynchronous, with weekly deadlines for assignments and activities. Students are encouraged to explore Christ-centered moral and ethical issues in their field.

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Wayne State University

 3/534.31%Detroit, MI

Wayne State University's online students have access to WSU's academic resources, such as its research library, and are provided with the same support services as on-campus students. WSU offers a bachelor's degree in social work, and master's degrees in:

  • Career & Technical Education
  • Sports Administration
  • Theatre and Dance
  • Criminal Justice

WSU offers certificates, including in public library services for children and young adults. Most courses are conducted asynchronously. However, WSU does not admit students from Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

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Baker College of Port Huron

 2/514.49%Port Huron, MI

Baker College of Port Huron offers online associate and bachelor's degrees, as well as certificates in fields of study such as accounting, business administration, computer science, information systems, marketing, management, nursing, and psychology. The extensive list of concentrations focuses on preparing online students to enter the workforce upon the completion of their degree. In support of their online student success efforts, BC's Development Coordinator helps keep online students on track toward degree completion. Online students also have access to all nine of BC's libraries.

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Western Michigan University

 3/554.01%Kalamazoo, MI

Western Michigan University offers online degrees, certificates and courses. WMU's undergraduate programs include:

  • Addiction Studies
  • Comparative Religion
  • Gerontology

WMU's graduate programs include vision rehabilitation therapy, and its graduate certificates include:

  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Educational Technology

The college also offers non-credit certificates. WMU supports student learning through eLearning tutorials, along with the standard student support services. Western Michigan University enlists synchronous and asynchronous communication tools. Courses are conducted asynchronously via ELearning, which supports online, hybrid, and face-to-face learning.

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Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration

  N/ATroy, MI

Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration offers an online MBA. Some courses require on-campus attendance, while the majority are offered online. Most online courses in the program are conducted asynchronously through Moodle. Walsh also blends online and on-campus learning for undergraduates working toward their bachelor's degree in accounting, accounting processes, finance, general business, management, or marketing. A Bachelor of Science is also offered in information technology.

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Concordia University – Ann Arbor

 4/536.45%Ann Arbor, MI

Concordia University-Ann Arbor offers the following online graduate degrees in education:

  • MS, Educational Leadership
  • MS, Endorsement in Special Education Learning Disabilities
  • MS, Curriculum Instruction

The institution accepts transfer credits. The average course length is eight weeks, and the minimum completion time for the 32-credit degree is approximately 18 months if enrolled full time. Online student support services include online office hours, online chat, social discussion forums, digital textbooks, online coursework management, and an on-campus graduation ceremony.

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Finlandia University

 4/535.71%Hancock, MI

Though Finlandia University only offers one online program, the RN-BSN, students in other programs can take three types of online classes while pursuing their degrees: fully online, hybrid, and ecompanion. The latter two options require students to be in the classroom at least 50% of the time. Online courses are hosted by Pearson LearningStudio, and students have access to 24 hour technical support and online academic advising. The RN-BSN degree is open to registered nurses, and the online nature of the programs makes it possible for them to retain their employment while pursuing their degrees.

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Northwestern Michigan College

 2/519%Traverse City, MI

The online offerings at Northwestern Michigan College include 67 fully online courses, one certificate program, and the following associate degrees:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Associate in General Studies (AGS)
  • Associate in Science & Arts (ASA)
  • Business Administration (AAS)
  • Criminal Justice (ASA)

Some online courses require students to find an approved proctor for exams, while others allow tests to be completed through the Moodle-hosted course website. Distance learners can contact the technology helpdesk via a chat function during regular office hours, phone, email, or using an online help ticket.

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More About Online Colleges in Michigan

Like many postsecondary institutions in the U.S., Michigan’s schools have recently expanded their online offerings to accommodate increased demand for distance learning options. This is particularly important in Michigan, a state with a reputation for expensive tuition. In-state tuition in public 4-year schools has increased by 19.7% since 2008, and the average tuition rate in Michigan is among the highest in the nation. In response to rising costs, college students have increasingly turned towards online education options, where tuition and attendance costs are lower.

Michigan is a leader in online education. In 2006, Michigan became the first state requiring students to take an online course as part of their postsecondary curriculum. Michigan’s Board of Education remains committed to expanding online education, believing that the platform is a useful vehicle for increasing enrollments among working adults in the state.

More than 90 schools in the state offer some form of online education, from basic classes to full degrees. The recent expansion in online offerings comes at the end of a long period of slow enrollment growth in Michigan; while the country as a whole saw enrollment rise 30% over the past ten years, Michigan’s enrollment rate only grew by 10%. With increasing online options, state education officials are hoping that enrollment increases significantly over the rest of the decade and beyond.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Michigan for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

According to an NCES report from 2012, 72% of students in Michigan were enrolled in exclusively online programs. Additionally:

  • 70.1% of them were undergraduates
  • 29.1% attended public, four-year institutions
  • 36.8% of these students enrolled in private, not-for-profit schools
  • 0.25% of online students enrolled in private for-profit colleges
  • 78.6% were living in Michigan while enrolled