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Michigan is the 10th-most populous and the second-most agriculturally diverse state in the nation. Community colleges in Michigan offer affordable and flexible programs in both part-time and full-time settings. Manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture are three of Michigan's major industries, and the state is home to automobile giants like General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford. Michigan also boasts the largest state forest system in the U.S. and offers plenty of natural, recreational, and social opportunities to its citizens.
This guide highlights some of the best community colleges in Michigan in terms of education quality, affordability, and other important factors.
Why Study in Michigan?
Thirty-one community colleges in Michigan offer two-year associate degrees. Three of those schools also operate as four-year institutions. The majority of the students who attend these community colleges take classes on a part-time basis.
As of 2018, approximately 58% of public community college students in Michigan received financial aid, while 34% received federal grants and 24% received state allowances. Prospective students looking to reduce out-of-pocket expenses can apply for various types of financial assistance.
Unfortunately, Michigan was among the most adversely impacted states at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the state's economy rebounded, showing the third-highest GDP growth out of all 50 states during the second fiscal quarter of 2021.
Cost of Living
Michigan is one of the more affordable places to live in the U.S., with an average cost of living roughly 9% below the national average. Additionally, by some metrics, the average housing costs in Michigan are only 65% of the national average. However, housing costs can vary widely by location. For example, renting a house in the suburbs can cost half as much as renting a home in downtown Ann Arbor. In contrast, transportation costs in Michigan are roughly 15% higher than the national average.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Michigan features the world's largest open art competition and various cultural festivals. The state houses lively urban districts and plenty of natural wonders to explore. Surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan is known for recreational activities like swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and diving.
Michigan residents experience a continental climate, although the Upper Peninsula is cooler. Throughout the year, temperatures typically range from 20-83 degrees. The weather is often partly cloudy. The hottest month is July, while the wettest and coldest months are May and January, respectively.
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Michigan Employment Outlook
Although the unemployment rate in Michigan improved significantly in recent months, it still lags behind the national average (5.9% vs. 4.2%, as of November 2021). Some industries have been slow to recover, although short-term projections from the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiativespoint to healthcare, construction, and transportation as fields that should see growth in the coming months.
5 Michigan Jobs in Demand For 2022
These professionals help lawyers prepare for cases by conducting research and gathering facts. They may also help prepare courtroom documents and keep legal materials organized. Paralegals and legal assistants must have a good eye for detail and communicate clearly.
- Annual Median Salary (May 2020): $50,510
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 9%
These assistants help patients carry out treatment plans. They may be responsible for recording vitals and keeping certain medical records up to date. An associate degree is the most common academic requirement for this career. Workers may also need to be licensed, depending on their state.
- Annual Median Salary (May 2020): $49,760
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 17%
Diagnostic medical sonographers use soundwaves and imaging equipment to create images of the body's internal organs and tissues. Sonographers primarily work in hospitals and diagnostic labs. They help doctors and physicians assess and treat various medical conditions.
- Annual Median Salary (May 2020): $65,560
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 8%
These technicians work in the dental field, primarily making and repairing dental appliances, such as dentures. Although some of these positions may be available without a postsecondary education, earning an associate degree can improve a worker's job prospects. Depending on where they work, dental laboratory technicians may also need an occupational license.
- Annual Median Salary (May 2020): $44,860
- Job outlook: 26%
Respiratory therapists examine and assist patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary problems. These therapists work with patients of all ages. Creating effective therapy plans is another key task for these professionals.
- Annual Median Salary (May 2020): $59,920
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 13%
Popular Career Paths in Michigan
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Michigan
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Best Community Colleges in Michigan
West Shore Community College
Located in Scottsville, WSCC enrolls around 1,200 students each year through campus-based and distance programs. The college offers a wide selection of academic and professional programs, including associate degrees and professional certificates. Students can choose from associate of arts, associate of science, associate of applied arts and sciences, and associate of general studies degrees. Numerous transfer programs also enable candidates to continue their studies at a four-year college.
WSCC offers dozens of degrees and certificates, including digital literacy, social sciences, agricultural operations, mechanical systems, and precision machine technology. The school offers many courses in online or hybrid formats, and students can also take courses through the Michigan Colleges Online (MCO) program. MCO enables online learners to enroll in courses offered through other community colleges in Michigan, dramatically increasing potential course selections.
St Clair County Community College
Based in Port Huron, SC4 also maintains learning centers in Algonac, Harbor Beach, Peck, and Yale, serving students throughout the Blue Water area. As one of the top community colleges in Michigan, SC4 offers a wide selection of associate degrees and certificates in areas including business, information technology, health and human services, humanities and fine arts, and social sciences. The school also participates in the Michigan Transfer Agreement, which enables students to transfer their credits toward a four-year degree at many Michigan schools.
SC4 also oversees the University Center program, which enables students to earn bachelor's degrees through partnerships with several four-year Michigan colleges, including Ferris State University, Walsh College, and the University of Michigan-Flint. Participants can complete their bachelor's entirely on SC4's campus, with many courses available in the evenings and on weekends. The University Center program offers several degrees, including criminal justice, psychology, nursing, information technology, and business administration.
North Central Michigan College
Serving more than 2,300 students annually from its campus in Petoskey, NCMC offers dozens of academic and professional programs, including certificates and associate of arts, sciences, and general studies degrees. Students can complete several transfer programs, including specialized degrees in early childhood education and environmental and sustainability studies. NCMC also offers professional programs in areas including communication, criminal justice, education, and health sciences.
As one of the most comprehensive community colleges in Michigan, NCMC provides a generous selection of resources for students, including counseling, academic advising, and career services. The school's learning support services office offers various academic tools, such as academic tutoring in many subjects, a computer lab, study guides and various tutorials, and test proctoring. Students can also receive academic assistance through the school's writing center and math lab.
Glen Oaks Community College
Based in Centerville, GOCC serves students around southwest Michigan and offers a variety of degrees and certificate programs in areas including agriculture, arts and communication, business and management, computer science, and manufacturing and industrial technology. Along with professional and academic offerings, the school hosts several notable programs in the visual arts, including associate of arts tracks in commercial photography, fine art, and graphic design.
GOCC participates in the Michigan Virtual University program, which enables students to enroll in online courses at several member institutions. By making available online courses at other community colleges in Michigan, the Virtual University gives students a wider selection of course and degree options, while still providing support through the home campus. All online students can access free online tutoring through GOCC's NetTutor program, which pairs participants with an experienced academic tutor in a live online environment.
Washtenaw Community College
Serving more than 18,000 students annually, WCC is among the largest community colleges in Michigan. The school operates a main campus in Ann Arbor along with a sizeable distance education program. WCC offers academic and professional programs through 12 major departments, including advanced manufacturing systems, business and entrepreneurial studies, criminal justice and law enforcement, culinary arts and hospitality management, and nursing and health sciences.
WCC maintains articulation agreements with several four-year Michigan colleges, including Eastern Michigan University, Madonna University, and Davenport University. Unlike many community colleges in Michigan, WCC's 3+1 transfer program enables students to complete up to three years of study at WCC before transferring to a four-year school to complete their final year. The 3+1 program features dozens of degree options, including 3D animation, baking and pastry arts, computer science, and web design.
Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College
Mount Pleasant, MI
Founded in 1998 in Mount Pleasant, SCTC is operated by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, though the school offers education and other resources to the Mount Pleasant community at large. SCTC hosts four associate degrees in the arts and sciences: Native American studies, business, liberal arts, and sciences. Each degree requires 62 credits and prepares graduates for professional employment or transfer to a four-year Michigan college.
SCTC provides generous support services for all students, including career development, academic advising, leadership development, financial aid counseling, and transfer assistance. The school's student resource center offers tutoring in common academic subjects as well as refresher courses in math and English for new students. The center also houses the SCTC library, which offers a variety of books and research materials. Additionally, SCTC hosts student advocacy resources for academic and non-academic issues.
Muskegon Community College
Enrolling around 4,800 students annually, MCC hosts a main campus in Muskegon along with extension centers in Coopersville and Fremont. Students can choose from more than 70 degree and certificate programs, encompassing fields such as allied health, applied technology, English and communication, life sciences, and respiratory therapy. The school has offered distance education options since 1998, making it one of the oldest online community colleges in Michigan. Most distance course use an asynchronous format.
MCC offers several special learning opportunities, including internships and study abroad programs. Students can gain professional experience and make valuable connections through internships at many Michigan business and other organizations, in fields like business, technology, and education. Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA to participate in internships. Study abroad programs offer additional opportunities for experiential learning through global partnerships in many foreign countries, including Germany and Belize.
Kirtland Community College
With campuses in Roscommon, Grayling, and Gaylord, KCC serves students throughout Roscommon County. The school offers more than 35 degree and certificate programs to on-campus and online learners. Students can earn a degree in areas including business and entrepreneurship, health sciences, public safety, STEM, and art and design. The college also hosts several fully online degrees and certificates in professional fields, such as accounting, business administration, business management, cybersecurity, and health technology.
Emphasizing both academic excellence and workforce training, KCC provides several helpful resources for campus-based and online students, including career counseling, academic advising, and tutoring services. The school's career counseling office offers connections to jobs as well as interview and job hunting strategies, while the academic advising office assists with enrollment, course selection, and transfer pathways. Students also receive free academic tutoring in many academic subjects, including math, science, and composition.
Gogebic Community College
Founded in 1932, GCC is one of the oldest community colleges in Michigan. The school operates a main campus in Ironwood along with an extension site in Houghton. It offers career, transfer, and certificate programs that encompass most major academic and professional subject areas, such as business, healthcare, liberal arts, and sciences. GCC also hosts several online programs, three of which serve as transfer degrees: general arts, general sciences, and business administration.
GCC's career programs include associate of applied science, business, and technology degrees, along with certificates. Students can choose from dozens of technical and vocational programs, including forestry technology, cosmetology, and ski area management. Most professional programs are not intended to transfer to other colleges, though students may be able to enter related bachelor's programs in some cases. Candidates interested in transferring should consult GCC's faculty advisors.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Serving a student body of more than 11,000 learners, KVCC is one of the larger community colleges in Michigan. With four campuses in the Kalamazoo area, the school offers dozens of professional and academic programs of study in fields including art and new media, healthcare, industrial trades, public service, and sustainable food systems. KVCC also offers several experiential learning opportunities -- including internships and apprenticeships -- along with prior learning assessments that award academic credit for relevant professional experience.
KVCC offers popular programs focused on sustainability, including two associate of applied science tracks in sustainable food systems and sustainable brewing. The food systems degree examines culinary arts and entrepreneurship, building knowledge of the best farm-to-table practices. The brewing degree explores brewing science and technology, along with additional topics in science, sustainability, and business. KVCC also offers related certificate programs in sustainable brewing and dietary management.
Bay de Noc Community College
Operating two campuses in Escanaba and Iron Mountain, Bay serves around 2,000 students annually and offers more than 90 degrees and certificates. Students choose from a wide selection of academic and professional programs, including mechanics and robotic systems, homeland security, fisheries and wildlife management, recreation management, and zoology. Bay also hosts over 100 online courses and three fully online degrees: a general associate of arts, an associate of arts in business administration, and an associate of applied science.
Bay offers several helpful resources for students, including the TRIO Student Support Services Program, which provides special assistance for low-income and first-generation college students. This program offers an assortment of services, including transition support for new and returning college students, peer and professional mentoring opportunities, academic coaching, financial literacy training, and transfer assistance. Students can also participate in community-building activities, including workshops and field trips.
University Center, MI
Based in Bay County's Frankenlust Township, Delta serves more than 10,000 students each year, operating as one of the larger community colleges in Michigan. The college's size enables it to offer a wide selection of degrees and certificates, with more than 178 programs available. Delta also offers a dual-degree option that enables candidates to major in two subjects. These degrees typically combine a management major with an occupational program, such as automotive technology, dental hygiene, or nursing.
Delta offers several experiential learning opportunities, including co-op education, internships, service learning, and study abroad programs. The college also hosts a learning community program, through which students take team-taught courses from two faculty members. These interdisciplinary courses bring together two subjects -- such as history and political science or business and information technology -- to explore the connections between different academic and professional fields.
Lansing Community College
Occupying a 42-acre urban campus in downtown Lansing, LCC serves more than 18,000 students annually, making it one of the largest community colleges in Michigan. The college hosts dozens of degree and certificate programs in fields such as fire science, heavy equipment repair, kinesiology, human services, and medical diagnostic technologies. The school is also home to a major distance education program, with several fully online programs available, including psychology, business, and e-business.
LCC maintains articulation agreements with several four-year colleges in Michigan, helping students transfer seamlessly into a bachelor's program after earning their associate degree from LCC. Many programs lead to specific bachelor's program; for example, candidates who complete an associate of applied science in geospatial science technology can transfer into the geographic information systems program at Michigan State University. LCC also maintains several general transfer agreements.
Monroe County Community College
MCCC serves residents of Monroe County through campuses in Monroe and Temperance. The school hosts a variety of transfer programs and professional degrees in subjects such as agriculture, game design, and culinary skills and management. MCCC also hosts a global studies program that enables students to earn a degree of their choice, while also gaining a broad perspective on multiculturalism and global issues.
MCCC maintains partnerships with Siena Heights University and Spring Arbor University-Toledo, enabling students to complete select four-year degrees through partner courses offered at MCCC's campuses. Participants can pursue several bachelor's programs through SHU, including applied science, business administration, professional communication, and psychology. SAU offers three degrees through MCCC: social work, nursing, and business. Many courses for these partnership degrees are also available online.
Montcalm Community College
Located in Sidney, MCC hosts both professional and academic programs, with traditional classroom courses, online learning, and hybrid options available. Some of the school's many degree options include cosmetology management, business entrepreneurship, digital arts, agricultural operations, and pre-animal health technology.
MCC maintains an articulation agreement with Ferris State University that enables students to seamlessly transfer their credits toward a bachelor's degree in business administration or nursing. Other associate programs fulfill transfer requirements for many four-year Michigan colleges, though students should consult an academic advisor to determine exact credit equivalencies.
MCC also offers annual study abroad experiences that give students the opportunity to enhance their education through international travel. Past study abroad destinations have included India, China, Italy, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
Bay Mills Community College
A tribal college serving the Bay Mills Indian Community of Michigan, BMCC enrolls around 500 students annually, with Native students comprising more than half the school's enrollment. BMCC offers associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas in more than two dozen subjects, including social science, early childhood education, business administration, construction technology, and computer information systems. One of the few tribal community colleges in Michigan, BMCC also serves residents of Michigan's eastern Upper Peninsula.
BMCC offers two unique programs that reflect the college's Native heritage: an associate of arts in Great Lakes Native American studies and the Anishinaabemwin Pane language immersion program. The Native American studies degree explores contemporary and past perspectives of the Anishinaabe people, including language, tribal history, and Native American literature. The extended Anishinaabemwin Pane language immersion program facilitates the acquisition of the Anishinaabe language and lasts 4-6 years.
Oakland Community College
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Enrolling more than 29,000 students annually across five campus locations in Oakland County, OCC ranks among the largest community colleges in Michigan. The college groups its associate degrees and certificates into five major categories: arts and communication; business management, marketing, and technology; engineering, manufacturing, and industrial technology; health sciences; and human services. The school also offers many distance courses and a fully online degree in criminal justice.
OCC offers several specialized education opportunities, including the Global Literacy program. An optional endorsement available to students who complete special activities, the Global Literacy program prepares learners to succeed in a global market by teaching them multicultural communication and intercultural learning skills. The program includes activities and events, life experiences, academic work, and a capstone project.
MCC serves more than 20,000 students annually through four campus locations in Macomb County. The school ranks in the top 2% of U.S. community colleges in terms of associate degrees granted, and students can choose from nearly 200 degree and certificate programs available through on-campus and online courses. MCC students can pursue a wide selection of professional and academic options, such as anthropology, climate control technology, diagnostic medical sonography, and exercise science.
MCC hosts one of the most comprehensive University Center programs in the state, enabling students to pursue bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs by completing campus courses at MCC. The college maintains partnerships with several four-year institutions around the state, including Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, and Davenport University. Students can pursue advanced programs, such as emergency management, elementary education, clinical mental health counseling, and health services administration.
Kellogg Community College
Battle Creek, MI
Based in Battle Creek, KCC also operates education centers in Albion, Coldwater, and Hastings. It offers dozens of degrees and certificates to students around Calhoun County. The college groups its academic and professional course offerings under eight departments, including allied health, arts and communication, industrial trades, and public safety. Students can also pursue several professional credentials and certifications, including those related to computer engineering technology, professional child development, and nursing.
KCC encourages the values of civic commitment in its students, and many courses include service learning. Learners can work in community organizations while simultaneously earning academic credit, giving them practical experiences while drawing connections to course material. Students who complete these courses receive a special transcript endorsement. KCC has received national and regional recognition for its service learning programs.
Southwestern Michigan College
Operating a main campus in Dowagiac as well as a satellite campus in Niles, SMC enrolls more than 3,000 students each year. The college offers associate degrees, certificates, and bachelor's degrees through on-campus and online courses. Students can choose from dozens of professional and transfer programs, with options including creative writing, agricultural technology, graphic design, music therapy, and sports management. SMC also offers an array of online and hybrid programs to accommodate working students.
SWC maintains campus partnerships with Ferris State University and Michigan State University, enabling students to complete bachelor's degrees and additional certificate programs on SWC campuses. FSU offers seven bachelor's programs, including accountancy, business, and computer information technology, while MSU offers campus certificates in agricultural operations and fruit and vegetable crop management. SWC also maintains several bachelor's transfer agreements with Indiana University South Bend.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges In Michigan
Community colleges can help students transition into higher education and learn at their own pace. The national student debt topped $1.7 trillion in 2020, and affordability is top of mind for many students. Learners can save money on their education by earning an associate degree or taking transferable general education courses at a community college and then transferring to a four-year institute.
Community college classes are generally smaller, allowing for a more personalized learning experience. These colleges also offer professional and short-term certificate options for students who want to enter the workforce quickly.
Michigan is home to 31 public community colleges.
Wayne County Community College District is the least expensive community college in Michigan. As of spring 2022, tuition is $109 per credit for in-district residents and $118 per credit for other Michigan residents. For out-of-state residents and international students, tuition is $149 per credit. Financial assistance is available for eligible students. The college offers over 90 AA, AAS, and certificate programs in fields like accounting, surgical technology, and social work.
The average in-state tuition cost at a community college in Michigan was $3,570 per year during the 2020-21 school year. Out-of-state tuition was $6,750. This cost is much less than the annual in-state tuition at a four-year institute in Michigan, which was $12,810.
Located in Southeast Michigan, Macomb Community College is the biggest community college in Michigan. It serves nearly 38,000 students. Macomb offers over 200 degree and certificate courses at approximately 25% of the tuition cost of a public university.
The college provides 250 private scholarships to its students, while 80% of graduates leave debt-free. The student-to-faculty ratio at Macomb is 25-to-1, and students can take some courses entirely online.
Feature Image: Mike Kline (notkalvin) / Moment / Getty Images