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Best Online Colleges in Michigan

Online schools in Michigan offer baccalaureate, graduate, and certificate programs in various disciplines. Learn about the program offerings, costs of tuition and other fees, available financial aid, and career opportunities in the state.

Best Schools with Online Programs in Michigan

The best colleges and universities in Michigan with online learning options provide a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as certificate programs. Tuition costs and access to financial aid are major considerations in choosing a school for an online degree. Below is a list of top schools in Michigan with online education offerings.

1. Siena Heights University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)* % Receiving Financial Aid
Adrian, MI $27,124 100%

Siena Heights University, a Catholic institution that has been providing online education options since 2004-2005, offers graduate and baccalaureate degree programs specifically designed for adult learners, including veterans. Undergraduate programs include nursing, applied science, marketing, accounting, business administration, communication, and multidisciplinary studies, while graduate degree programs include higher education leadership, health care leadership, nursing, and business. Students can also choose undergraduate minors such as finance, information technology management, project management, behavioral science, and religious studies. Bachelor's degree programs are typically delivered in 8-week formats, while graduate studies are offered in 10-week formats.

2. Central Michigan University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)* % Receiving Financial Aid
Mount Pleasant, MI $12,960 95%

Central Michigan University offers undergraduate, master's degree, and doctoral degree programs online through its Blackboard platform, with courses available in 8-, 12-, and 16-week formats. Baccalaureate degree options include nursing, psychology, political science, international relations, fashion design, and public administration. For its graduate programs, the school offers master's degrees in education, public health, nutrition, business administration, and information systems as well as doctoral degrees in education and health administration. Undergraduate and graduate certificates are also offered online.

3. Michigan State University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)* % Receiving Financial Aid
East Lansing, MI $14,460 66%

The online education program at Michigan State University provides more than 100 online courses. Some degree programs are available completely online while others are delivered in a hybrid format, which combines online classes with in-person sessions. The school offers online graduate degrees in education, healthcare management, laboratory science, food safety, judicial administration, and nursing, among many others. Options for undergraduate programs are more limited, with only a nursing degree available online and a bachelor's in early care and education offered in a hybrid format. The university also provides online and hybrid certificate programs in a variety of disciplines.

4. Ferris State University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)* % Receiving Financial Aid
Big Rapids, MI $11,788 97%

Ferris State University offers online bachelor's degree programs in health sciences, dental hygiene, nursing, technical education, automotive management, and business administration, among others. Prospective graduate students can choose to pursue online degrees in nursing, healthcare administration, public health, business administration, and information security. Online certificate programs in areas like marketing, business, healthcare, cybersecurity, geographic information systems, and human resource management are also available.

5. University of Michigan - Dearborn

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)* % Receiving Financial Aid
Dearborn, MI $12,930 96%

The online education program at the University of Michigan - Dearborn features graduate degrees in engineering, computer science, information systems, education, finance, and business administration. Some courses in other on-campus graduate programs are also available online. While the school doesn't offer baccalaureate degree programs, undergraduate students can still enroll in selected online courses as part of their curriculum.

Rank School Name Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)* % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Wayne State University Detroit, MI $13,097 94%
7 Madonna University Livonia, MI $21,900 99%
8 Baker College Owosso, MI $9,800 97%
9 Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI $12,483 89%
10 Cleary University Howell, MI $20,550 98%
11 Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI $15,646 97%
12 Grand Valley State University Allendale, MI $12,484 90%
13 Oakland University Rochester Hills, MI $12,606 92%
14 University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, MI $28,000 100%
15 Cornerstone University Grand Rapids, MI $24,500 100%
16 Andrews University Berrien Springs, MI $29,288 99%
17 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI $12,508 98%
18 University of Michigan - Flint Flint, MI $11,304 96%
19 Spring Arbor University Spring Arbor, MI $28,810 100%
20 Rochester University Rochester Hills, MI $23,282 99%
21 Northern Michigan University Marquette, MI $10,729 93%
22 Northwood University Midland, MI $27,060 99%
23 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI $15,262 63%
24 Saginaw Valley State University University Center, MI $10,308 95%
25 Lawrence Technological University Southfield, MI $33,570 97%

*All statistics gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics; tuition based on the 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

How to Choose an Online School

These are some important factors that prospective students need to consider when choosing an online school.


Accreditation ensures that a school or program adheres to certain academic standards and provides students with quality education. Students can check if a college or university is accredited through the databases of the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics.


Aside from accreditation, another relevant consideration in choosing an online school is to look at rankings by credible organizations or publications like U.S. News & World Report. To determine school rankings, they consider factors such as graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, spending per student, and student performance.

Program Offerings

Prospective students should check what degree programs a school makes available online. Some institutions offer a broad selection of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs online while others focus only on graduate programs. It's also important to confirm if a program can be completed entirely online or if some courses, exams, and other curriculum requirements involve on-campus sessions.


To get a better idea of the quality of programs offered by an online institution, students should ask about the credentials of the faculty, such as advanced degrees in their field of study, prior teaching experience at the college level, and training specific to online teaching. It's useful to find out if the professors are full-time or adjunct faculty and if they also teach on-campus courses.


Tuition and fees can vary greatly among online schools, which make them a relevant point of comparison. In public colleges and universities, state residents are entitled to in-state tuition rates, which are significantly lower than out-of-state tuition. Students should check to see which rate they'll be charged to take courses online. They should also look out for other expenses, such as course materials, textbooks, proctoring fees, non-resident surcharges, and distance learning fees. Some schools provide scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid as well as options for installment payments.

Program Format

Some online schools offer programs delivered in an asynchronous format, which allows students to complete the coursework at their own pace and schedule, while others provide synchronous format programs, which require participation in online classes at a set time frame. There are also programs that offer optional synchronous sessions, which are recorded and made available for review for students who missed the class.

Coursework Experience

Apart from the course schedule, students should also consider other aspects of the coursework, such as modes of instruction, interaction with faculty and other students, class size, and handling of examinations and assessments. They should find out how course modules are delivered (text-based, video, etc.), when and how often they can reach out to professors, how they can take tests and assessments (via testing software, remote proctoring, testing locations, etc.), and other details relevant to completing their courses.

Credit Transfer Guidelines

For students who have completed some courses in another school, it is helpful to know an online school's credit transfer policy. It's also just as important to check if course credits from an online school are recognized and accepted by other colleges and universities.

Student Support Services

Prospective students should review the types and quality of support services provided by an online school. They should ask if the school provides an individual academic advisor, financial aid counseling, career development counseling, 24-hour tech support for online classes, online tutoring, and other resources that can help them achieve their academic goals.

Cost of Online Colleges in Michigan

In-state tuition and fees at colleges and universities offering online programs for undergraduate students in Michigan can range from $10,000 to $30,000 as of academic year 2018-2019. For community colleges, in-state tuition and fees can cost between $3,000 and $10,000 in the same school year. Of course, actual costs will vary depending on a student's program and some of the factors listed below.

Common Fees

On top of tuition, students can expect to pay additional fees for online courses in addition to application fees, enrollment fees, late payment and registration fees, and other service fees as well as program- and course-specific costs. Students who avail of federal loans and payment plans will also have to pay loan origination and installment plan fees.

Other Expenses

A stable internet connection and a personal computer are basic requirements when completing an online program, so students should anticipate spending for these items. Students may also have to spend on transportation costs, as some courses may require on-campus sessions or travel to testing centers for examinations and assessments.

Accreditation of Online Schools in Michigan

Accreditation is a process of evaluating postsecondary institutions and programs to determine if they are able to meet acceptable educational standards. This is conducted by accrediting agencies, which are private organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Regionally accredited colleges and universities in Michigan are evaluated by the Higher Learning Commission. The agency examines a school's mission statement, ethics and conduct, quality of education, assessment and improvement plan, and resources and structures.

Types of Accreditation

There are three types of accreditation for colleges and universities.

Regional Accreditation

This accreditation is conducted by an agency assigned to a specific geographic area and mostly covers degree-oriented, not-for-profit and state-owned schools. Regionally accredited institutions might be more expensive and more stringent in their admissions process. Course credits earned in these schools are usually accepted at both regionally and nationally accredited institutions.

National Accreditation

This type of accreditation focuses more on vocational and technical schools that are often for-profit or faith-based. Nationally accredited schools can be less expensive and less selective in admitting students. Course credits from these institutions are only accepted at other nationally accredited schools.

Programmatic Accreditation

This accreditation is specific to an individual degree program, academic discipline, or department, such as nursing, education, business, or dentistry. This is usually done at the national level.

Benefits of Accreditation

Students can only gain access to federal financial aid or even tuition assistance from employers if they attend accredited schools. A degree from an accredited institution is also a requirement to qualify for state licensure examinations in certain professional disciplines.

Available Financial Aid in Michigan

Students can receive financial aid from the federal or state government, schools, employers, or other private sources. Access to federal funds, and even some private grants, requires filing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to assess eligibility.

Grants and Scholarships

Scholarships and grants are types of financial aid that students don't have to pay back. Awarding of assistance may be based on academic or athletic performance, financial need, specific demographics, or field of study.

Federal Pell Grant Program

Funded annually by the U.S. Congress, the Pell Grant is awarded to high-need students enrolled in their first undergraduate program. The grant amount varies every year, but as of award year 2020-2021, the maximum award is $6,345.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Undergraduate students with exceptional financial need can qualify for the FSEOG, which gives out between $100 and $4,000 per year. Awarding of grants closes once the funds for that year run out, so it's best to apply early.

Children of Veterans Tuition Grant

This state grant is provided for children of Michigan veterans who died or were permanently disabled while in military service. The grant awards up to $2,800 to undergraduate students older than 16 and younger than 26.

Michigan Tuition Grant

This grant awards up to $2,800 to undergraduate Michigan residents who are enrolled in an independent, non-profit school in the state. Eligible students must submit their FAFSA by March 1.

Police Officer's and Fire Fighter's Survivor Tuition Grant

Spouses and children of Michigan firefighters and police officers who died in the line of duty can receive this financial aid. The grant waives tuition of qualified students enrolled in a Michigan public university or community college.

Tuition Incentive Program

This state program awards tuition assistance to Michigan students who were under Medicaid coverage for two years. Students must complete their application before August 31 of their final year in high school.

Fostering Futures Scholarship

This state scholarship awards financial assistance to high-need students who were in Michigan foster care on or after age 13. The scholarship amount is up to $3,000, and the application deadline is June 30.

Michigan Competitive Scholarship

High-need undergraduate students with an SAT score of at least 1200 can qualify for this state scholarship. The application deadline is March 1, and the scholarship amount is up to $1,000.

Student Loans

Student loans are another form of financial aid that, unlike grants and scholarships, require repayment with interest.

Federal Loans

Managed by the U.S. Department of Education, the federal student loan program provides four types of direct loans.

  • Direct Subsidized Loans - These loans are made available to undergraduate students with financial need. The government shoulders the interest payments while a student is still in school and for the first six months after graduation.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans - Undergraduate and graduate students can avail themselves of these loans without having to prove financial need.
  • Direct PLUS Loans - These loans are provided to graduate students and parents of undergraduate students. There is no need to demonstrate financial need, but credit approval is required.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans - These loans allow borrowers to combine all their federal student loans into a single loan with a fixed interest rate.

Private Loans

Private or alternative loans are offered by banks, credit unions, and other private lenders. These loans usually provide higher loan limits, but the interest rates could be variable. Borrowers are not required to submit a FAFSA form; loan approval and terms will be based on credit approval.

School Loans

Some colleges and universities in Michigan provide a variety of student loans, from long-term loans that can help pay for program costs to emergency loans for temporary financial difficulties.

Federal Work-Study Program

Through the work-study program, students with financial need can work part-time to pay for their education and living expenses. Students can work on or off campus and will earn minimum wage or more.

Careers and Salary in Michigan

Students considering which field of study to pursue through an online degree program might want to consider the job market in Michigan. Training for some of the state's most lucrative and in-demand careers can be pursued in whole or in part through online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields like marketing, education, and business.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries in Michigan that employ the highest number of workers as of December 2019 include trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; professional and business services; manufacturing; and the government.

Data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget indicates that occupations in the healthcare sector, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physical therapy assistants, will have the highest job growth at around 30-38 percent from 2016 to 2026. Demand for applications software developers is also projected to increase by 31 percent over the same ten-year period. Other professions with double-digit job growth projections include physical and occupational therapists, health specialties teachers, dental hygienists, market research analysts, financial managers, and industrial engineers.

Meanwhile, these occupations are among the highest earners in terms of hourly wage range:

  • Physicians and surgeons: $29-$100+
  • Health specialties teachers, postsecondary: $36-$82
  • Sales managers: $44-$78
  • Marketing managers: $42-$77
  • Architectural and engineering managers: $51-$74
  • General and operations managers: $33-$74