Increased flexibility represents an attractive benefit for many students considering distance education. For example, asynchronous courses and user-friendly learning software, such as Blackboard and Moodle, allow learners to collaborate with peers and instructors at their convenience. Many online programs also facilitate accelerated sessions, enabling students to finish a class in just 7-9 weeks. Online schools in Michigan offer academic programming in several fields, including nursing, business administration, public health, and criminal justice. Distance learners can also choose from many education degree options, including teacher preparation pathways and specializations in sub-fields like early childhood development and instructional technology. Additionally, Michigan colleges and universities provide less traditional degrees in areas that include fashion merchandising and design, game software development, and automotive management.
Affordability stands as another key characteristic of online colleges in Michigan. According to College Board, public state universities charge an annual tuition of $12,000, while the rates at private institutions average $37,000. Distance learners may be responsible for fewer expenses than their on-campus peers due to discounted tuition rates, which disregard residency status, and fewer student fees. Although online learning represents an accessible option for out-of-state students, Michigan residents may benefit further by having nearby access to certain school resources and professional development services. Furthermore, the Great Lakes State is a good place to advance your career following graduation; residents enjoy some of the most affordable living costs in the U.S. PayScale reports that the cost of living in Michigan generally ranks below the national average, from 3% below average in Detroit to 9% and 21% below average in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, respectively.
Four reasons to find an online college in your state:
- Guaranteed in-state tuition saves you money
- Be a part of a university or college you know and love
- Get a degree from a school employers know and trust
- Be close enough to easily visit when desired
Ranking guidelines for the best online colleges in Michigan:
Note: In ranking the best online colleges in Michigan, giving attention to the variety of degree programs available at the institutions is of utmost importance. For this reason, a more prestigious school in Michigan may offer one, or a few online degrees, but that may not be enough for that school to rank highly among the best online colleges in the state. In this ranking, we are dedicated to showing who’s leading the way in delivering quality online degree programs in Michigan.
- See who ranks as the best college and university in Michigan today.
- The University of Michigan ranks among The 100 Best Universities in the World.
The Best Online Colleges in Michigan
1. Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Central Michigan University, established in 1892, is among the country’s largest public universities with more than 25,000 students enrolled. Over 7,000 of these students attend classes online. The university offers about 200 programs of study spanning eight academic divisions.
Central Michigan University’s Global Campus offers a number of baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral and certificate programs entirely online. Bachelor’s degrees include political science and information technology. Master’s degree programs include public administration and educational leadership. Doctoral degrees include health administration and educational leadership. Certifications available include cybersecurity and international health.
Resources available to online students include toll-free hotlines to contact several of the university’s offices and departments, an online job board, an online writing and math tutoring, and an online library with librarian live chat and documents on demand.
Central Michigan University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2. Davenport University
Grand Rapids, Michigan
A Union Army veteran named Conrad Swensburg established Davenport University in 1866 after the Civil War ended. Its first class consisted of only 16 students studying mathematics, bookkeeping, business law and penmanship. When financial troubles threatened the university in 1910, Michael Davenport, one of the school’s teachers, stepped in and managed to revive the school.
Davenport University, a private, nonprofit university, has more than 12,000 students and offers over 50 degree programs spanning 4 academic colleges.
Davenport University offers several associate, baccalaureate, master and certificate programs via DU Online. Online associate’s degrees include health information technology and finance. Online bachelor’s degrees include marketing and sport management. Online Master’s degree programs include information assurance and business administration. Certificates available online include forensic accounting and medical case management. In addition, the university offers combination BA/MBA degrees including professional accountancy and strategic management.
3. Andrews University
Berrien Springs, Michigan
Andrews University, established in 1874, is part of the Seventh-day Adventist School System. The university has over 3,000 students and offers more than 200 degree programs spanning 8 academic colleges. The 1,600 acre campus was originally an arboretum. The university is named after John Nevins Andrews, a scholar and missionary.
Andrews University’s School of Distance Education offers a variety of associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, specialist and certificate programs online. Associate’s degrees include general business. Bachelor’s degrees include general studies. Master’s degree options include educational leadership and public health. Doctoral degree offerings include higher education administration and nursing, while specialist degrees include leadership as well as curriculum and instruction. Certificates available include nursing and instructional supervision.
Resources available to online students includes an online learning hub, online tutoring via video conference, an online job board, livestreaming Sunday services and an online library.
Andrews University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. Siena Heights University
With more than a decade of distance education experience, SHU ranks among the top online colleges in Michigan. Siena Heights boasts the second-highest graduation rank among private online colleges in the U.S. Designed to accommodate working students, SHU’s distance education program offers an assortment of resources for online learners, including academic advising and degree planning; library database access; financial aid services; and technical support. The school hosts both fully online undergraduate degrees and blended graduate degrees that include some campus requirements. Undergraduate programs mainly focus on professional education, such as accounting, business administration, nursing, and marketing. Most bachelor’s programs adhere to a completion format that requires students to complete their lower division credits at another institution (typically a community college). Graduate offerings include programs in healthcare leadership, organizational leadership, and higher education leadership.
SHU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Ferris State University
Big Rapids, Michigan
Ferris State University is the only public university in the state founded by a private individual. Woodbridge Nathan Ferris despised public schooling and thus sought to open his own school and teach classes his way. His school first opened its doors in 1884 and is now among the largest universities in Michigan with over 14,000 students in attendance. Despite its size, most courses are taught by professors rather than teaching assistants.
Ferris State University offers a variety of baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs via Ferris Online. Bachelor’s degree options include dental hygiene and technical education. Master’s degree offerings include nursing and business administration. Certifications available include marketing and vascular ultrasound.
Online student resources include 24/7 technical support and an online library with librarians available via live chat, email, over the phone or text message.
Ferris State University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6. Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University, founded in 1849, consists of 7 academic colleges and more than 23,000 students. Initially a teacher training school, the university now offers its students over 370 degree programs. Its roots go back to the Michigan Normal School, the first such school created in the state. It later became the first normal school in America with a 4-year degree program, paving the way for America’s contemporary universities.
Eastern Michigan University offers several baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs online. Bachelor’s degree programs include nursing and technology management. Master’s degree programs include quality management and human nutrition. Certifications available include educational assessment and human resource management.
Resources for online students include online writing assistance, technical support, an online job board and an online library with librarians available via live chat, email and over the phone.
Eastern Michigan University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
7. University of Michigan-Flint
The University of Michigan-Flint is one of two satellite campuses operated by the University of Michigan. The Flint campus first opened its doors in 1956 at the request of the city’s Board of Education. The campus became a necessity after the influx of new students thanks to the G.I. Bill after World War II. Since then, attendance has swelled to more than 8,000 students and over 140 programs of study.
The University of Michigan-Flint offers a number of baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral and certificate programs online. Bachelor’s degrees include nursing and business administration. Master’s degree options include computer science and physical therapy. Doctoral degree offerings include nursing and anesthesia practice. Available certificates include Africana studies and physical therapy.
Online student resources include technical support and an online library with librarians available via live chat, text message, email and over the phone.
The University of Michigan-Flint is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. Northwood University – Michigan
Based in Midland, NU is one of the top online schools in Michigan for business. The school offers a fully online bachelor’s in business administration with several innovative specialization options, including aftermarket management, automotive marketing and management, entrepreneurship, and franchising management. Designed for working adult students, Northwood’s business program offers multiple course delivery options, including a fully online model and a hybrid format that mixes campus and distance courses. Degree candidates can also combine online learning with in-person courses at any of the school’s regional education centers around the state. All program tracks require 123-126 total credits and include both general business classes and concentration courses. Some pathways, such as aftermarket management and entrepreneurship, include an internship requirement that students can complete at a business within their community.
Northwood is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The business program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
9. Baker College
Baker College, established in 1911, is a nonprofit career college with over 150 programs of study. The college is among the largest independent non-profit colleges in Michigan with over 28,000 students in attendance. The college has a right-to-try policy, meaning students may attend classes without having to meet a set of requirements.
Baker College offers several associate, baccalaureate, master, doctoral and certificate programs entirely online. Associate’s degree programs include information technology and computer programming. Bachelor’s degree programs include criminal justice and game development. Master’s degrees include leadership studies and nursing. Doctoral degrees include business administration, while available certifications include project management.
Online student resources include online tutoring, career services, technical support and an online library with librarians available online, via text message, over the phone or via email.
Baker College is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. University of Michigan – Dearborn
One of the top online schools in Michigan, UM-D serves around 9,000 students through campus and online programs. Distance learners choose from 18 fully online master’s programs, most of which focus on engineering and technology, including uncommon options such as automotive systems engineering, energy systems engineering, industrial and systems engineering, and manufacturing systems engineering. The college also offers an MBA that includes dual degree options in finance or industrial and systems engineering. Most programs use a combination of synchronous and asynchronous course material, including live video streams of campus classroom sessions. Distance learners also complete online assignments independently and interact with both campus and online students through the school’s Canvas learning platform. While most degrees offer all course material online, students may be required to attend proctored exams either on campus or at regional testing centers around Michigan.
UM-D is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11. Spring Arbor University
Spring Arbor, Michigan
Spring Arbor University is a Methodist university which first opened its doors in 1873. It began as a grade-school academy, but entered the collegiate world in 1923. The transition initiated when the school discontinued its primary and intermediate classes in 1930 to focus on its undergraduate endeavors. The college launched its four-year degree programs in 1963. The university hosts over 2,500 students and offers more than 70 degree programs.
Spring Arbor University offers several baccalaureate and master’s degrees online via its SAU Online platform. Online bachelor’s degrees include nursing and organizational management, while online master’s degrees include business administration and multiple topics in education.
Resources available to online students include multiple job boards and an online library.
Spring Arbor University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
12. Wayne State University
Based in Detroit, WSU is one of the largest online schools in Michigan, with more than 27,000 students total. The college is home to several fully online degrees, with options for doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students. WSU offers a bachelor’s degree in social work along with several master’s programs, including sports administration, theater and dance teaching, criminal justice, and library and information science. The school also hosts a transitional doctor of physical therapy program that focuses on advanced knowledge in physical assessment, differential diagnosis, diagnostic imaging, and scientific inquiry. The doctoral program features primarily online coursework but does require some campus clinical sessions. Most of WSU’s online courses use an asynchronous format that requires no set class meeting times, though some courses may include occasional live components. Many courses also require proctored exams, which students complete either on campus or at a regional testing center.
WSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
13. Cornerstone University
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids is home to Cornerstone, a private nondenominational college that is one ofg the top Christian online schools in Michigan. Cornerstone’s distance education program offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in five major subject areas: business, counseling and psychology, human services, ministry, and education. Online learners can choose from more than a dozen different programs, including global business, ministry leadership, educational technology, and organizational leadership. Cornerstone offers most degrees in a fully online format, but students can also choose blended learning options that include one weekly campus meeting. Many advanced degrees, such as the doctorate of education in organizational leadership and the master of counseling, require candidates to attend short campus residency sessions, which usually last 3-4 days. These sessions enable students to perform hands-on learning activities, attend guest lectures and workshops, and collaborate with peers and faculty members.
Cornerstone is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
14. Oakland University
Rochester Hills, Michigan
A major public college that spans the cities of Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, OU serves more than 20,000 students through both campus and distance education courses. The school offers online degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level, with two undergraduate degrees available in nursing and environmental health and safety. At the graduate level, students can pursue programs in engineering management, safety management, and reading and language arts. OU’s doctoral options include a doctor of nursing practice and an education specialist in leadership. While the school hosts most coursework online, advanced degrees may require limited campus residency sessions. Unlike most online colleges in Michigan, OU offers in-state tuition to out-of-state residents, making the school an affordable choice regardless of location. Not all degrees offer the in-state tuition rate, and online learners should check with the school about individual programs.
OU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
15. Northern Michigan University
Based in in the city of Marquette, NMU is another of the top online colleges in Michigan, hosting more than a dozen online degrees and certificate programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level. The school’s undergraduate offerings include uncommon choices such as applied workplace leadership, laboratory medicine, and loss prevention management, along with an associate program in criminal justice. At the graduate level, most programs are in education, such as reading for K-8 and education administration, though NMU also offers degrees in public administration and clinical molecular genetics. Most programs are offered fully online, though options such as higher education and student affairs, molecular genetics, and education specialist use a hybrid format that mixes online material with some required campus sessions. NMU offers in-state tuition to online learners regardless of their state residency, and the school serves students from around the country.
NMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
16. Western Michigan University
Established in 1903, Western Michigan University, a public research university, has one of the country’s largest aviation programs. The university has a turbine engine testing site and runs a Cirrus SR-20 fleet. The university has over 20,000 students enrolled in total and offers over 230 degree programs.
Western Michigan University offers a variety of online baccalaureate, master and certificate programs. Online bachelor’s degrees include family studies and interdisciplinary health services. Online master’s degrees include art education and vision rehabilitation therapy. Certifications available online include educational technology and gerontology.
Resources available to online students include writing assistance via Skype, an online job board and an online library with access to an extensive collection of streaming media and academic journal databases.
Western Michigan University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
17. Madonna University
Located in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Madonna is a Roman Catholic institution that ranks among the top Christian online schools in Michigan. The college offers both bachelor’s and master’s programs online, with undergraduate options including family and consumer science, gerontology, and hospitality and tourism management. Madonna’s graduate program options include humane studies, educational leadership, and senior living administration. The school’s humane studies program is one of only two of its kind in the country, with a unique interdisciplinary curriculum that combines knowledge in sustainability, social justice, and animal protection. The program also results in a professional certificate of nonprofit leadership or animal cruelty investigation. Many of Madonna’s programs include practicum or internship components, which enable students to gain professional experience and connect with employers in their field. For example, in the human studies program, students commonly intern at nonprofits or animal rescue organizations.
Madonna is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
18. Grace Bible College
A private Christian college based in Grand Rapids, Grace’s commitment to Biblical values makes it one of the most popular online colleges in Michigan for Christian students. The school offers online associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in both secular and non-secular subjects. Undergraduates can choose from four associate or bachelor’s degrees in leadership and ministry, business, human services, and psychology. Bachelor’s candidates can also pursue a selection of additional concentration tracks to specialize their skills, with options including adult development, business, criminal justice, marketing, or women’s ministry. At the graduate level, the school offers two programs: ministry and organizational leadership. All degrees feature an accelerated, fully online format that caters to working adult students. Grace also uses a cohort model that enables online learners to complete most of their courses together in a defined sequence, building a deeper academic community and encouraging collaboration between students.
Grace is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
19. Lawrence Technological University
Lawrence Technological University, a private university, first opened its doors in 1932. The university originally taught classes from a building leased by Henry Ford, near a Ford manufacturing building. The university accepted anyone and everyone as a student, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin. To accommodate its working students, the university offered night programs, day programs or a combination of these programs. The university serves over 4,000 students and offers more than 110 degree programs spanning 4 academic colleges.
Lawrence Technological University offers a range of online baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs via Lawrence Tech Online. Bachelor’s degree programs include business administration and information technology. Master’s degree programs include architecture and industrial engineering. Certifications available include project management and workplace technology.
Resources available to online students include online tutoring in several subjects, an online job board and an online library.
Lawrence Technological University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
20. Jackson College
One of the top two-year online schools in Michigan, Jackson offers several associate degrees and certificates in subjects including arts, general studies, accounting, business administration, and management. The college is also home to one of the only fully accredited online medical sonography programs in the country, with three available specialization options: general sonography, vascular sonography, and cardiac sonography. The sonography program offer most coursework online, though students must complete one required science course on campus. All candidates must also perform an in-person professional practicum experience, which students typically complete at a medical facility in their own community. Jackson is a member of the Michigan Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative, a conglomeration of state schools that share online resources to offer a larger selection of courses to distance education students.
Jackson is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The medical sonography program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
21. Walsh College
Based in the city of Troy, Walsh is one of the only online colleges in Michigan dedicated to accounting and business education. The school’s online program features a limited number of degree options, but each program offers a strong professional focus and many opportunities for networking. Undergraduates can pursue a bachelor’s of business administration with four major options: finance, general business, marketing, and management. Walsh also offers three graduate degrees: a master of business administration, a master of arts in business, and dual master of business administration/master of science in management with a concentration in human resource management. Most programs offer fully online course options, though students who want the campus experience can blend classroom and distance education courses. Online students can also take advantage of the school’s extensive career services, which are available to serve graduates at all stages of their careers.
Walsh is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).