Best Online Colleges in Michigan

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBest Collegesin Michigan2017
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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.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 76.02 91% Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan’s main campus in Ann Arbor educates nearly 30,000 undergraduates per year. The public school is known for its selectivity, accepting only 26% of freshman applicants. Distance learners have a few options at Michigan. UM’s College of Integrative Systems & Design hosts five online graduate degree programs in engineering, while the School of Public health offers an executive master’s degree in public health or health services administration. For professionals in dentistry, licensed dental hygienists who hold an associate degree can complete a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene online; the master of science in dental hygiene is also offered in a distance format. Online programs are managed by their specific departments; though most courses are taught asynchronously and follow the university’s semester calendar, individual program requirements may vary across departments.

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2 Michigan State University 71.11 79% East Lansing, MI

Michigan State’s East Lansing campus served as the original prototype for all U.S. land-grant universities, and MSU was also the first school to offer formal instruction in scientific agriculture. Today, MSU’s 40,000 students can pursue degrees in more than 200 programs of study. Among online colleges in Michigan, MSU stands out for its comprehensive distance learning offerings, particularly at the postbaccalaureate level. Registered nurses who hold a two-year degree may complete their bachelor of nursing degree entirely online, and the bachelor of arts in early care and education is offered in a hybrid format that blends online and traditional classes. Graduate students can also pursue several degrees. The school offers master’s degrees and graduate certificates across a range of disciplines, including education, biomedicine, criminal justice, physics, social work, and more. Doctoral degrees in physics, nursing, or educational technology are also available. MSU delivers its online education through the Desire2Learn platform; classes follow a traditional semester schedule, and courses are taught asynchronously.

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3 University of Michigan-Dearborn 67.41 52% Dearborn, MI

UM’s Dearborn campus is far smaller than the flagship campus in Ann Arbor, and is home to about 7,500 undergraduates annually. The school offers distance learners 16 fully online graduate degree programs, all of which are designed for working adults. Engineering professionals can earn postbaccalaureate degrees in several subspecialties in their field, including automotive systems, management, energy systems, industrial systems, and more. Educators can pursue master’s degrees in educational technology or special education, while business professionals may opt for advanced study in finance, business information, or information systems. UM-Dearborn uses the Canvas learning management platform to deliver its distance education curriculum. Courses are generally taught asynchronously, though some professors may require occasional time-sensitive log-ins.

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4 Central Michigan University 67.41 57% Mount Pleasant, MI

CMU is home to more than 20,000 students per year. Campus-based students can pursue a degree from more than 200 academic disciplines, from associate programs to doctoral degrees. CMU Online, the university’s award-winning distance education arm, educates an additional 7,000 students. This public school takes a comprehensive approach to online education, and offers multiple solutions for non-traditional learners. The school provides 18 degree programs at the baccalaureate, graduate, and doctoral level, all of which are available entirely online. Undergraduates can earn a bachelor’s degree in administration, community development, education, engineering technology, leadership studies, political science, or psychology; distance learners may also take classes in an accelerated format that can lead to a bachelor of science and a master of science in five years. Students interested in postgraduate or doctoral study also have several entirely online programs from which to choose; these include the specialist in education (Ed.S.) degree that qualifies graduates to sit for the Michigan educational administration certificate. This online college in Michigan manages its online classes through the Blackboard learning management system. All courses are taught asynchronously.

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5 Oakland University 63.80 43% Rochester Hills, MI

Oakland serves about 20,000 students per year in the Detroit metropolitan area. This fully-accredited public research institution confers degrees in 130 disciplines. Oakland is particularly notable for its fine arts and performance programs. Oakland has something for almost everyone though, and distance learners can pursue online degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels in nursing, education, or engineering. For working registered nurses, an online BSN degree-completion program is offered as well. Behavioral therapists or educational professionals may be interested in the school’s five graduate certificates in therapeutic subspecialties. Oakland delivers its online instruction through Moodle; most courses are taught asynchronously, but individual instructors may occasionally schedule synchronized meetings. Classes adhere to a traditional semester calendar.

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6 Andrews University 63.80 59% Berrien Springs, MI

Named for a Seventh-day Adventist missionary, Andrews University is an award-winning private school in Berrien Springs. Home to approximately 3,300 students annually, Andrews has a low 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. As a Christian university, the school integrates theological study into its general education curriculum. Andrews also has a robust online platform. The school’s online undergraduate offerings include three associate degrees, along with bachelor’s degree-completion programs in religion, aviation, communications, and general studies. Graduate students have several options as well,with master’s and doctoral programs in business, education, nursing, and more. While most coursework can be completed online, some graduate programs require students to occasionally commute to campus. Like other Michigan online colleges, Andrews manages its distance education programs through the Moodle platform. Courses are taught asynchronously, and classes follow a semester calendar.

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7 Michigan Jewish Institute 68.24 40% W Bloomfield, MI

The Michigan Jewish Institute is an independent private liberal arts college in West Bloomfield. Metropolitan Detroit has a thriving Jewish culture, and local students benefit from close proximity to the community. Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), MJI offers an education in Talmudic law, as well as career preparation in the form of an associate of applied science or bachelor of applied science degree. Distance learners can also pursue degrees in Judaic studies, business and information systems, or computer information systems. Computer information systems majors can concentrate in cooperative computing. Classes at this Michigan online college follow a standard semester calendar, and all courses are available in an asynchronous format.

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8 Northwood University-Michigan 63.15 54% Midland, MI

Northwood was founded on the concept that any successful enterprise requires strong management. This private business school operates a residential campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, educating about 4,000 students per year. NU’s offerings for adult learners also include a number of online degree programs in business disciplines. NU students can earn a bachelor of business administration while pursuing one of 11 concentrations. The curriculum allows distance learners to customize their studies to a particular industry or skill set within the field. Among them is the franchising management major; NU is the first and only accredited school in the US to offer this program of study.

The degree is available entirely online, though Michigan residents can take classes in a hybrid format at one of NU’s 13 satellite facilities. Online students in Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, and California may also blend online classes with in-person courses at regional NU locations. All Northwood classes are taught in eight-week blocks, and students may begin taking classes at multiple points throughout the year. Up to 30 hours of transfer credit may be granted for prior learning experiences.

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9 Michigan Technological University 62.78 66% Houghton, MI

Lying in the Upper Peninsula adjacent to Lake Superior, Michigan Technological University is known for its academically rigorous programs. Over 7,000 students attend class on its sprawling campus, where they can pursue bachelor’s or master’s degrees in technology, business, engineering, environmental science, or liberal arts. For distance learners in the United States, MTU offers eight post-baccalaureate programs entirely online. Students in eligible states may pursue an online graduate degree in engineering, science education, geospatial technology, and medical informatics. These flexible programs allow students to pursue their degree through a thesis or non-thesis option. Other requirements, such as practical experiences, may be substituted for a design project or other coursework. Distance learners can also pursue various certificate programs and a PhD in mechanical engineering online. This Michigan online college delivers classes through Canvas. Most classes are taught asynchronously, and some professors choose to livestream their courses for distance learners who want to follow along in real time.

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10 Lawrence Technological University 59.72 52% Southfield, MI

LTU is a private business school in Detroit. The school offers programs in engineering, architecture, applied science, and technology to its 4,500 students. In addition to its high academic standards, LTU is known for its dedication to technological innovation, and the school was one of the first online colleges in Michigan. Distance learners may pursue one of LTU’s popular graduate degree programs, all of which can be completed in 15-24 months. In LTU’s MBA program, students may concentrate their studies in project management or information technology. Similarly, the information technology program offers concentrations in project management and information assurance. Other online offerings include master’s degrees in architecture or several subspecialties of engineering. All degree requirements can be completed online, with the exception of the on-site critical practice studio element in LTU’s architecture program. All classes are delivered through Blackboard.

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11 Grace Bible College 57.41 32% Wyoming, MI

Grace Bible College delivers a Christian education in a format that’s designed for busy adults. This fully accredited private school in Grand Rapids builds every program’s curriculum on a foundation of general education, Biblical and theological study, and vocation. Outside of the traditional classroom, Grace also makes its associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs available via accelerated evening classes or distance education. The school’s two-year and four-year online programs in leadership and ministry, business, or human services can be completely entirely online. Adults who have already completed an associate degree or its equivalent can elect to transfer credits to earn their bachelor’s degree online. For those aspiring to careers in pastoral services, the master of arts in ministry is also offered online.

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12 Eastern Michigan University 57.04 37% Ypsilanti, MI

Lying south of Ann Arbor and slightly west of Detroit, Eastern Michigan is home to nearly 18,000 undergraduate students. Campus-based students can pursue one of 200 degree programs across five academic colleges. For distance learners, EMU offers 20 online programs that lead to bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, or graduate certificates. Distance learners can pursue degrees in a range of popular disciplines, including education, engineering, or applied healthcare. EMU administers its online courses through the Canvas distance learning management platform, and classes follow a traditional semester calendar. Distance learners who are eligible to attend EMU enjoy in-state tuition rates, regardless of their home state. This online college in Michigan also offers prior learning assessments where applicable.

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13 Davenport University 56.94 40% Grand Rapids, MI

Davenport is a fully accredited, independent private university. The Grand Rapids-based college is dedicated to helping students succeed, and the school offers programs in health, technology, and business, among others. More than 6,000 students attend classes in Grand Rapids or at one of DU’s 11 satellite facilities; these students may pursue one of 50 programs at the associate, bachelor’s, or master’s level. Recognizing the needs of working adults, DU also offers an extensive online degree platform. Ranging from two-year associate programs to bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and postbaccalaureate certificates, DU’s 48 program offerings stand out among the offerings at Michigan’s online colleges. Online learning at DU is delivered through the Blackboard learning management platform. Most courses are taught asynchronously, though some instructors broadcast their courses in real-time. Adult learners can expect to receive considerable support, including a generous credit transfer policy and school credit for relevant professional experience. Distance learners from out-of-state are eligible for a 33% tuition discount.

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14 Siena Heights University 56.94 43% Adrian, MI

Siena Heights operates a main campus in Adrian and eight satellite facilities throughout the state. SHU’s campus-based undergraduate and graduate students pursue liberal arts degrees in one of 100 programs. Distance learners throughout the U.S. and Canada can take advantage of SHU’s award-winning online learning programs, all of which were designed specifically for working adults. Professionals who have not attended any college may opt to earn an associate of arts in business administration or multidisciplinary studies. Students who have an associate degree or its equivalent can pursue bachelor’s degree-completion programs in nine areas of study. Campus-based students may also augment traditional classes with online minors in management, marketing, healthcare management, or information technology management. This online college in Michigan delivers its web classes in accelerated eight-week sessions. Most courses are offered asynchronously, though some instructors may require occasional synchronous online participation.

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15 Rochester College 56.11 32% Rochester Hills, MI

Located in central Michigan, Rochester College is a private school founded by the Churches of Christ. Traditional students enjoy the many benefits of a small, Christian campus that is conveniently located near metropolitan Detroit. RC offers non-traditional students several accelerated learning options designed for working adults. Students can earn baccalaureate degrees in six disciplines in as little as 16 months. Three of these intensive programs are available entirely online, leading to bachelor’s degrees in early childhood studies, Christian ministry, or nursing. RU delivers its online courses through the Moodle distance education system, and classes run in condensed eight-week sessions. Admission to this online college in Michigan is restricted to applicants who are 21 or older. Applicants should also have three years of work experience, or hold an associate degree or its equivalent. Rochester’s generous credit transfer policy is attractive to distance learners with previous college experience.

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16 University of Detroit Mercy 55.93 57% Detroit, MI

Detroit Mercy is a private Catholic institution that delivers higher education programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. As a small school, UDM is able to maintain an optimal student-to-faculty ratio, and the average class has just 11 students. While traditional undergraduates can pursue dozens of bachelor’s degrees, UDM’s online education programs are targeted toward graduate students. Nursing professionals enjoy particularly comprehensive offerings, with two-year master’s degree programs available in clinical nurse leadership, health systems management, and nursing education. Non-degree-seeking nurses may opt for one of a handful of graduate certificate programs. For business-minded students, master’s degrees in finance, economics, information systems, and cybersecurity can also be completed entirely online. UDM delivers its classes through Blackboard. While all coursework can be completed online, any required practical experiences must be arranged at a facility approved by the department.

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17 Ferris State University 55.37 53% Big Rapids, MI

A public university in Big Rapids, Ferris State educates about 14,000 students per year on its main campus and at 22 satellite facilities across Michigan. It offers nearly 200 degree programs at all academic levels and across a range of disciplines. Ferris is dedicated to helping all students earn a baccalaureate education, and the school accepts more transfer students than any other four-year college in the state. This institutional goal is also reflected in FSU’s online degree-completion programs, many of which are renowned for their academic rigor. Designed for students who hold an associate degree or its equivalent, these programs lead to a bachelor’s degree in 11 areas of study. Graduate students may pursue online master’s degree programs in business administration, healthcare administration, nursing, or public health. Like many Michigan online colleges, Ferris administers its distance learning platform through Blackboard. While online courses are mostly offered asynchronously, some classes do contain on-site elements, such as a summer lab session or practicum.

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18 Spring Arbor University 54.72 52% Spring Arbor, MI

This small private university is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, and the school delivers a liberal arts education from a Christian perspective. Spring Arbor offers traditional students associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in almost 100 areas of study. SAU’s online degree programs include a bachelor’s completion program in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in organizational management, and 12 master’s programs. Nursing professionals will be particularly interested in SAU: in addition to its RN-BSN program, students can earn one of six MS in nursing degrees entirely online. All distance courses at SAU are offered in seven-week blocks, and classes are delivered asynchronously. Where applicable, distance learners are expected to arrange to complete on-site curriculum requirements at an approved facility.

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19 Cornerstone University 53.98 45% Grand Rapids, MI

Cornerstone University, located in Grand Rapids, is a private Christian college that offers undergraduate, graduate, and seminary programs to its 1,250 traditional students. This theologically conservative college builds each of its programs on a foundation of general education and biblical study, regardless of major. These values extend to CU Online, the university’s distance platform. Here, students can pursue two associate degrees, and four bachelor’s degree-completion programs. Graduate students can also earn one of 12 available master’s offerings. Finally, distance learners may also pursue a post baccalaureate certificate in addictions counseling or a doctoral program in education. All CU Online classes are facilitated through the Moodle learning management platform. Course schedules vary, but are generally eight or 16 weeks in length.

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20 Northern Michigan University 53.43 44% Marquette, MI

This mid-sized public school is home to more than 9,000 students per year. Traditional students can enjoy its immediate proximity to Lake Superior, along with a variety of rigorous study programs. NMU’s global campus is designed for both first-time students and working professionals looking to start or complete their degree. These designated programs may be taken entirely online, or in a hybrid format that blends distance learning and traditional seated classes. Distance learners can pursue an associate of science in criminal justice, or bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice or loss prevention management. NMU also offers a variety of online master’s degree options, particularly within the School of Education. This Michigan online college allows students to seamlessly transfer in credits earned at other universities.

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21 Northwestern Michigan College 51.20 18% Traverse City, MI

Northwestern Michigan is a professional community college serving Grand Traverse County. The school offers technical, associate, and bachelor’s degree programs in 96 disciplines. NMC makes six of these programs available to distance learners, either entirely online or in a hybrid format that blends online and traditional courses. Students in Michigan and other eligible states may pursue associate degrees in nursing, science and arts, business administration, criminal justice, or general studies. Nursing students, however, are expected to attend all labs and clinicals on campus. This Michigan online college delivers its distance education courses through the Moodle learning management platform, and classes adhere to the school’s semester calendar. Most courses are taught asynchronously, though some instructors may require students to participate in real-time.

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22 University of Michigan-Flint 49.91 36% Flint, MI

UM-Flint has been nationally recognized for its affordable, academically rigorous educational programs. Traditional students can pursue one of more than 100 undergraduate and 18 graduate programs. UM-Flint was also a pioneer in distance education, and today the school offers a variety of options for online learners, both for undergrads and graduate students. Undergraduates can pursue three degrees online, including bachelor’s programs in applied science and business administration, along with an RN-to-BSN offering. At the postbaccalaureate level, students can pursue advanced degrees in 10 disciplines, including programs in education, technology, applied healthcare, and business. Six other graduate programs are offered in a hybrid format. Distance courses at this Michigan online college are facilitated through Blackboard. UM-Flint maintains a low 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

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23 Wayne State University 44.17 28% Detroit, MI

Nearly 18,000 undergraduates call Wayne State’s midtown Detroit campus home. This public research university delivers education in over 300 subject areas across all academic disciplines. Distance learners at WSU can complete several degrees entirely online. WSU’s online offerings include a bachelor’s in social work and master’s degrees in criminal justice, library and information science, and theatre and dance with a teaching artistry concentration. Educators may also be interested in WSU’s online master’s programs in instructional technology or career and technical education. Finally, distance learners can also pursue a variety of online certificates, in education, business, and more. All online courses are facilitated through the Blackboard learning management platform, and taught by campus-based faculty. Classes follow the traditional semester calendar. Courses are taught asynchronously, though some instructors may occasionally require timed online attendance.

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24 Baker College 40.09 10% Flint, MI

Baker College is an independent private career college that operates 15 campuses across the state of Michigan. Catering to working adults, Baker offers career programs in 150 areas of study, leading to professional certifications, along with associate and bachelor’s degrees. Distance learners can choose from programs in 17 areas of study; Baker Online makes these options available either exclusively online or through hybrid programs. This Michigan online college delivers its online instruction through the Blackboard learning management system; classes follow a traditional semester calendar, and all courses are taught asynchronously. Baker offers distance learners several support services, including an online bookstore, lifetime career advising, and a digital library.

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25 Saginaw Valley State University 37.41 38% University Center, MI

Saginaw Valley State is a public university approximately 10 miles from Lake Huron, and is one of many online colleges in Michigan that offers both graduate and undergraduate programs in a distance format. The school strives to accommodate adult students, both by providing evening classes and by encouraging students to take distance courses. SVSU offers a variety of classes and programs online and in a hybrid format. To check whether a given course is offered online, or whether a particular professor offers classes online, students can use SVSU’s catalog. Distance learners can also use the university’s general course finder tool to identify whether certain classes are offered online or not.

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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
Best Online Colleges in Michigan of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Michigan Online Colleges in Michigan East Landing, MI
2 Northwood University - Michigan Midland, MI
3 Oakland University Rochester Hills, MI
4 Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI
5 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI
6 Cleary University Ann Arbor, MI
7 Grace Bible College Wyoming, MI
8 Lawrence Technological University Southfield, MI
9 Eastern Michigan University MI
10 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI
11 University of Michigan - Flint Flint, MI
12 Spring Arbor University Spring Arbor, MI
13 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI
14 Grand Valley State University Allendale, MI
15 University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, MI
16 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI
17 Northern Michigan University Marquette, MI
18 Cornerstone University Grand Rapids, MI
19 Wayne State University Detroit, MI
20 Baker College of Port Huron Port Huron, MI
21 Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI
22 Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration Troy, MI
23 Concordia University - Ann Arbor Ann Harbor, MI
24 Finlandia University Hancock, MI
25 Northwestern Michigan College Traverse City, MI