To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- 2018 MCO Distance Education Administrators Survey Results, Michigan Colleges Online,http://www.mccvlc.org/~staff/content.cfm?m=80&id=80&startRow=1&mm=0 , accessed July 2018
- Career and College Readiness, Michigan,www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/NGSS_in_Terms_of_CCR_396895_7.ppt, accessed March 2018
- Collaboration across Higher Education Institutions in Michigan, Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities, March 2017,https://www.house.mi.gov/hfa/PDF/HigherEducation/HigherEd_Subcmte_Testimony(MICUCollaborationAcrossHigherEdInsitutionsInMichigan_3-23-17).pdf
- Consortium of Michigan Veterans Educators, accessed March 2018
- Data Center Mathematics Pathways, Michigan,https://dcmathpathways.org/where-we-work/michigan, accessed March 2018
- Faculty Briefs, Northwood University - Michigan, https://ideamagazine.online/ideamagazine/2017/04/18/faculty-briefs-5?rq=quality%20matters, accessed July 2018
- Fostering Success Michigan Program Summary, Center for Fostering Success, October 2017,https://www.house.mi.gov/hfa/PDF/HigherEducation/HigherEd_Subcmte_Testimony(Fostering%20SuccessMichiganProgram%20Summary_10-5-17).pdf
- From rough ride to respectable: Michigan wins for most improved, CNBC, July 2017,https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/11/michigan-automakers-from-a-rough-ride-to-a-new-manufacturing-economy.html
- Michigan's bid for Amazon HQ2 helped by ability to attract young talent, state expert says, Detroit Free Press, January 2018, https://www.freep.com/story/money/personal-finance/susan-tompor/2018/01/11/michigan-amazon-hq-2-attract-talent/1005299001/
- Michigan Data Dashboard Community Report, Michigan College Access Network,http://www.micollegeaccess.org/about/dashboard ,accessed February 2018
- Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, Employment Projections 2014 to 2024, accessed February 2018
- Michigan's Progress toward the Goal, A Stronger Nation, Learning Beyond High School Builds American Talent, Lumina Foundation 2017, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2017/#state/MI
- MSU Quality Matters, Michigan State University, https://tech.msu.edu/teaching/tools/quality-matters/, accessed July 2018
- Narratives in U.S. Higher Education, Michigan in Context: Governor Snyder's 2016 State Universities Summit, May 2016,https://www.masu.org/Portals/0/docs/MASU-GSUS%205-24-2016.pdf
- Pay gap between college grads and everyone else at a record, USAToday, January 2017,https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/01/12/pay-gap-between-college-grads-and-everyone-else-record/96493348/
- Reaching for Opportunity: An Action Plan to Increase Michigan's Postsecondary Credential Attainment, Michigan State Board of Education, December 2015,http://mitalentgoal2025.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Reaching-for-Opportunity-2015-Report1.pdf
- The Great Recession, The State of Working America, Economic Policy Institute,http://stateofworkingamerica.org/great-recession/, accessed July 2018
- The Michigan Transfer Network,https://www.michigantransfernetwork.org/, accessed March 2018
- What We Do, Michigan College Access Network http://www.micollegeaccess.org/about/what-we-do, accessed February 2018
- Why Michigan needs newcomers to improve economy, Crain's Detroit Business, December 2017,http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20171201/news/646471/why-michigan-needs-newcomers-to-improve-economy
Michigan has a good success story to share. From having the lowest employment rate in 2009, post the Great Recession, the state of Michigan has risen to become the 9th best state for business, according to CNBC. In 2017, the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, lower than the national average of 5.2 percent. Not only is the auto industry enjoying a historic comeback in the Wolverine state, boasting the highest concentration of STEM workers in the country, but other industries are also seeing exciting employment growth potential, particularly for those who hold a college credential.
Whether you're a high school graduate, a professional in the workforce, or a busy parent, online education can be a convenient way to earn a college degree, allow you to explore a diverse range of career opportunities and enjoy the potential increase in pay that can come with a college degree.
Check out this page to see why earning an online degree in Michigan might benefit you, along with information on top online colleges in this state, popular degree programs, and what you should look for when choosing an online degree program. You can also see a listing of state-specific scholarships and much more.
Why Earn an Online Degree in Michigan?
The current education levels of Michigan's workforce have yet to align with industry's expanding demand for college graduates. This presents an array of opportunities and incentives for students to earn a degree and seek employment in the state. In fact, so great is the need in Michigan for more people with a postsecondary credential that the state is working toward attracting people not only from within the state but outside Michigan as well to meet the workforce gap.
With only 38 percent of working-age Michiganders holding an associate degree or higher (Lumina Foundation, 2017), the state has set a goal to increase the percentage of people holding a college credential to 60 percent by 2025.A Georgetown University 2013 report indicates that by 2020, in Michigan:
- 70 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education
- 37 percent of all jobs will require some college, an associate degree or a postsecondary vocational certificate
- 22 percent of all jobs will require a bachelor's degree
- 11 percent of all jobs will require a master's degree
This means that by 2020 the state's workforce would require:
- 150,000 people with an associate degree
- 339,000 people with a bachelor's degree
- 184,000 people with a master's degree
Not only would an increased level of educational attainment benefit Michigan employers, those new college graduates can look forward to higher salaries that come with a postsecondary credential. According to a 2017 article in USAToday, on average a college graduate can expect to earn 56 percent more than a high school graduate. The article goes on to cite other benefits that typically come with a college degree such as being able to afford owning a house, having retirement security and increased job opportunities in a nation-wide job market. And for those who'd prefer to enjoy these benefits with a life partner, the report also cites that college graduates are more likely to get married.
Top Online Colleges in Michigan
Retrieving data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we established a ranking methodology based on criteria we believe are specifically helpful to prospective online students.
The following list of top Michigan colleges that offer online degree programs has taken into consideration factors like accreditation, tuition and fees, percent of graduates awarded financial aid and the average amount of aid received along with graduation rates for each. For a more complete list of factors, check out our methodology below.
Top Online Degree Programs in Michigan
Based on information by the Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS), take a look at the most popular online degree programs in Michigan. Popularity of degree programs is usually an indication that these degrees are in good demand in Michigan's job market.
Quality of Online Education in Michigan
The quality of an online degree program can vary dramatically and the choice you make can have an impact on your career and earning capacity. It is important that you choose a quality online degree program that earns you a marketable postsecondary credential.
Many colleges in Michigan are subscribers of the program Quality Matters, an assurance system designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. The program gives teachers and educators of participating colleges access to resources that can help them design high-quality online courses for students. Michigan State University (MSU) and Northwood University - Michigan are two such examples.
Prospective students may want to look for online programs offered by colleges that are participants of SARA. According to the annual Distance Learning Administrator Surveys conducted by Michigan Colleges Online, 44 percent of the state's online institutes are participants of SARA. The State Authorization of Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a national initiative that standardizes the quality of online programs across the country.
Other indicators of quality online degree programs in Michigan include those offered by schools that are accredited. Accredited programs are regularly evaluated by an external, unbiased agency and are expected to meet and maintain quality standards of education. To name a few, look for accrediting bodies such as:
- The American Bar Association
- Higher Learning Commission, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
- The National League for Nursing
- The National Association of Schools of Music
State Efforts to Advance Student Success
The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) continuously monitors college access and success data to measure the outcome of goals set and to improve upon them. These efforts apply to improving the quality of both on-campus and online degree programs in Michigan. MCAN has mobilized local community leaders to work toward the single goal of providing high-quality post-secondary education to everyone "particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students, and students of color."
The state has a strong infrastructure in place for those who want to pursue online degree programs in Michigan, including a virtual learning collaborative for community college students. Michigan CollegesOnline serves as a one-stop-shop for students who wish to pursue distance education and learn more about the various online degree programs offered in any one of their 28 colleges spread across the state of Michigan. Their unified, online portal consolidates all the online programs from each of its member colleges and provides a single platform to initiate the enrollment process.
The Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU) and the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) have collaborated together to advance student success (both campus and distance education students). These are just a few of the initiatives they have taken:
- Career and College Readiness Standards - this is a series of efforts to help prepare high school students for college and a career. It focuses on improving skills in reading, writing, speaking/listening, research/inquiry and more.
- Coalition of Michigan Veterans Educators - this consortium seeks to help student veterans, military service members and their families find the support they need to earn a postsecondary credential through Michigan's colleges and universities that would lead to gainful employment.
- Math Pathways to Completion Initiative - this was developed to increase the success of underprepared students and to promote credential completion. The goal is also to enhance course transferability and implement math pathways that are designed to meet the educational goals of Michigan students.
- Michigan Transfer Network - this is a unified online portal to view transfer course equivalencies across Michigan's postsecondary institutions.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in Michigan
Online education isn't perfect, and some online schools certainly do a better job than others. That's why students who choose to earn a degree online should select their degree program carefully, says online educator Rod Sullivan, who earned his LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. According to Sullivan, students should look for online programs that have some interactive feature - things like message boards, group chats, or online forums.
"The quality of the program is really in the interaction with the professor and the other students," Sullivan says. "Without interaction, the program can be dull and students can feel like they are alone and isolated."
But online education shouldn't be that way. According to Sullivan online degree programs just have to look for new ways to engage their students. "You make up for the loss of that [in-person] give-and-take in a number of ways. Online lectures should always be well-planned, usually by PowerPoint, and are succinct," he notes. "You lose intimacy, but you gain directness."
While the process isn't always perfect, schools that "get online education right" do have a lot to offer students, especially working adults. And in many cases, the benefits far outweigh the cons. According to Sullivan, online education should definitely be considered by students who want a specialized education and those who work full-time or have family obligations.
Top Occupations in Michigan
Business leaders are increasingly looking at Michigan as a great place to grow a business, according to a 2018 report by the Michigan Economic Outlook. Between 2014 and 2024, the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market expects the workforce to increase by 7.4 percent in all occupations.
Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this list of top occupations (based on the number of people employed in them), along with the average salary for each, may give you something to think about, in terms of career choices you may want to consider.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||624,800||$36,530|
|Sales and Related Occupations||420,590||$39,640|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||388,040||$23,520|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||279,080||$78,990|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||278,130||$35,360|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||236,970||$52,890|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||204,080||$71,130|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||170,910||$47,310|
|Architecture and Engineering Occupations||139,590||$82,170|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||135,370||$49,930|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||134,440||$30,080|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||125,700||$27,710|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Michigan
Federal aid may be available to you depending on your specific circumstances and how well you qualify. Once you've narrowed down your list of schools, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. Types of federal aid can include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.
Beyond federal aid, plenty of other options may be available to Michigan students who qualify, such as the Michigan Tuition Grant, as well as the following scholarships:
- The Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarship
- The Warner, Norcross and Judd L.L.P. Legal Studies Scholarship for Minorities
- Fostering Futures Scholarship
- Michigan Competitive Scholarship
- Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship
- Michigan Competitive Scholarship
- Ann Arbor AWC Scholarship for Women in Computing
- GET-IT Student Scholarship
Obviously, these are just a handful of the many scholarships that may be available to students pursuing on-campus or distance learning in Michigan. Specific aid might be available from your school of choice, and additional scholarships could potentially become available depending on your chosen degree program. When in doubt, call your school to find out if any of these opportunities exist.
This list provides additional information on scholarships and grants available to eligible Michigan students.
Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-19 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
Tests You May Need to Take
The SAT or ACT with writing test scores are generally required during the admissions process. Admission requirement for graduate-level programs may include GMAT or GRE scores. Non-native speakers of English may be required to submit their test scores for any one of the following:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
- The Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
Some schools and colleges in Michigan may have additional application requirements, depending on the university and program you choose.
Explore online colleges in Michigan!