Online Degrees in Michigan

A recent study from the Lumina Foundation sheds some light on the state of higher education in Michigan and where the future might be headed. According to the report, 36.8 percent of Michigan residents ages 25 to 64 held at least a two-year degree in 2011, including 493,381 people with an associate's degree, 899,960 with a bachelor's, and 522,668 individuals with a professional or graduate degree. Furthermore, data shows that an additional 1.3 million Michigan residents had some college experience, but no degree.

These numbers tell a revealing story about how Michigan residents view higher education, showing that many residents place a high value on a college degree, despite the fact that some 1.3 million people haven't earned enough credits to graduate. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to pursue an on-campus or online education in Michigan. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that there are 71 colleges and universities in Michigan where students can pursue a bachelor's degree. Among those options, some offer only on-campus education, while others offer students the opportunity to earn a flexible, online degree.

  1. Why Should I Earn a Degree in Michigan?
  2. What Makes Michigan Ideal for Online Education?
  3. Top 10 Degrees in Michigan
  4. Top Cities for Michigan College Students
  5. College Roadmap
  6. Scholarships and Financial Aid
  7. Discover Degree Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, the state of Michigan is home to 3,998,790 workers with a mean annual wage of $44,540. When it comes to the sheer number of people employed in each career, the following professions are prominent within the state:

Number of Workers
Average Salary
Office and Administrative Support Occupations624,190$35,970
Production Occupations445,320$37,520
Sales and Related Occupations425,860$39,200
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations379,500$22,660
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations274,290$34,850
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations268,410$77,380
Education, Training, and Library Occupations236,510$54,630
Management Occupations195,980$111,230
Business and Financial Operations Occupations194,440$69,340
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations167,290$46,270
Retail Salespersons147,440$26,070
Architecture and Engineering Occupations135,060$80,270
Healthcare Support Occupations134,860$29,370
Construction and Extraction Occupations129,880$48,780
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations124,380$27,170
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

The state of Michigan has a lot to offer its residents in terms of natural beauty, quality of life, and economic stability. Its major metropolitan areas include the regions surrounding the cities of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Kalamazoo. These areas, along with the rest of the state, offer a diverse array of educational opportunities for the students who live there. However, Michigan is also home to many industries that strengthen its economy and offer exceptional opportunities for employment.

According to Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, the state's main industry is manufacturing. Despite past troubles with auto manufacturers, Michigan still produces 24 percent of all vehicles built in the United States. Beyond auto manufacturing, Michigan is also home to North America's largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer and other industries that produce products such as fabricated metals, machinery, food products, and chemicals.

Michigan also relies on tourism for much of its economic output. Because many people travel to see Michigan's beautiful lake shores, birds, and state parks in the summer, and ski, skate, ice fish, and snowmobile in the winter, the state has an almost non-stop trickle of tourists year-round. According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, industries such as food processing, water technology, medical devices, and defense are also on the rise in the state.

According to Michigan's Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, Michigan's unemployment rate, one of its main economic indicators is down significantly since the height of the recession in 2009 -- from 14.2% in August 2009 to 8.8% in November 2013. However, according to recent data, there were 149,150 seasonally adjusted online advertised job vacancies in Michigan in November 2013, up 9.4% over the previous month.

Exceptional job growth is predicted for many careers in Michigan through 2020, including those that require college degrees. A few examples of careers on the rise in the state:


Percent Growth Predicted through 2020

Healthcare Support

24.3 percent

Computer and Mathematical

18.3 percent

Community and Social Services

17.6 percent

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical

16.6 percent

Personal Care and Service

14.7 percent

Fortunately, a strong infrastructure already exists for those who want to pursue on-campus and online degrees in Michigan, including a virtual learning collaborative for community college students. The Michigan Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative serves as a one-stop-shop for students who wish to pursue distance learning in Michigan and learn more about the various online degrees offered. Furthermore, many four-year schools also offer fully-online or hybrid degrees to their students, although options vary by school. Tuition and fees also remain fairly reasonable at institutions of higher education in the state. College Board statistics report that the average tuition for in-state students at four-year public schools averaged out to $11,600 for the 2013-14 school year.

Michigan has a lot to offer when it comes to education and job prospects, but that's not all. Beyond the forecasts, charts, and graphs, Michigan is chock full of natural beauty and wonder -- from its majestic waters to its charming towns and villages. Some quick fun facts about the state:

  • The name "Michigan" comes from the Indian words "Michi-gama," meaning large lake. Michigan is also known as the "wolverine state," although wolverines can no longer be found anywhere within the state's borders.
  • Speaking of lakes, Michigan is the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes. Furthermore, 40 of the state's 83 counties have shores on at least one of them. Michigan is also home to over 11,000 inland lakes.
  • The Mackinac Bridge spans a five mile stretch and is one of the largest suspension bridges in the world. It took three years to complete.
  • Michigan is home to the world's only floating post office. The J.W. Westcott II delivers mail to ships and has been operating for 125 years.
  • Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the world, and more shoreline than any other state besides Alaska.

Educational attainment is on the rise in Michigan. And according to the Lumina Foundation, the following counties are leading the way with the most adults ages 25-64 and older with at least a two-year degree:

  • Washtenaw: 60.37%
  • Oakland: 53.43%
  • Leelanau: 48.77%
  • Ingham: 46.10%
  • Midland: 45.84%
  • Livingston: 43.78%

Students wishing to pursue their studies at a community college level should research the Michigan Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative, a group effort aimed at introducing Michigan students to various online programs. Students seeking a four-year degree also have a vast array of online options to choose from in subjects that span from nursing to computer science.

But, as with most things, 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 of the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida. 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, says Sullivan- online degree programs just have to look for new ways to engage their students. "You make up for the loss of that 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 who "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.

Michigan's Department of Technology, Management, and Budgets predicts healthy job growth in a wide range of industries in the coming decade. Using criteria such as higher than average wages and the number of expected job opportunities through 2018, they report that the following college degrees could be particularly promising:

Computer Science

Careers in technology are booming all over the country, and Michigan is no exception. Students who earn a degree in this field typically do so to start a career in computer programming, computer science, or network systems and data communications. According to the Michigan DTMB, employment of network systems and data communications analysts is expected to increase 41.8 percent in the decade leading up to 2018. Students who wish to work in this field should consider the following schools:

  • University of Michigan-Flint
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Eastern Michigan University

Certified Financial Planner

Money is something we all have in common, whether we like it or not. Fortunately, certified financial planners are there to show us how to make the right decisions regarding our investments and overall wealth. Students who pursue this field typically do so in order to work as personal financial advisors, either alone or as part of a team. Employment projections for this field are also favorable in Michigan, with a 29.2 percent increase expected over the period leading up to 2018. Students interested in this dynamic and exciting career should look into the following programs, both on-campus and online:

  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Central Michigan University
  • Walsh College

Physician Assistant

Because of an overall demand for health care, careers in this field tend to be promising. Employment for physician assistants in Michigan is no exception, with 29.2 percent growth predicted during the decade leading up to 2018. Students who pursue this degree typically look for positions as physician assistants in a hospital, private office, or clinic setting. The following schools in Michigan offer exceptional programs in the field:

  • Central Michigan University
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Wayne State University

Physical Therapy

Those looking for a promising career in health care may need to look no further than physical therapy. A degree in physical therapy typically leads to a career as a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant, although working as a physical therapist does require a master's. That degree may pay off, however; employment of physical therapists is expected to rise 26.7 percent in the years leading up to 2018. Students interested in this field should consider the following programs:

  • Oakland University
  • University of Michigan-Flint
  • Michigan Technological University

Computer Software Engineering

Students who pursue a career in computer software engineering usually desire employment in applications or systems software. Michigan's Department of Technology, Management, and Budgeting predicts steady job growth in both of these fields, with increases of 23-24 percent predicted for both through 2018. Students interested in computer software engineering might want to look into these Michigan schools:

  • University of Michigan-Dearborn
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Eastern Michigan University

Occupational Therapy

Earning a degree in occupational therapy is the first step towards a career in this field, although occupational therapists typically need a master's degree to gain employment. Fortunately, the future looks bright for students who pursue these credentials in Michigan -- occupational therapists are expected to see a 23.3 percent increase in employment through 2018. The following schools can guide you toward a career in this field:

  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Baker College
  • Davenport University

Dental Hygiene

Most students who pursue a degree in dental hygiene do so in order to begin careers as dental hygienists or dental hygiene assistants. Due to an increase in demand for dental care, employment opportunities for dental hygienists are expected to increase by as much as 23 percent through 2018, according to Michigan's DTMB. Michigan students considering dental hygiene as a career should look into the following programs:

  • University of Michigan
  • Oakland Community College
  • Mott Community College


Marketing students pursue careers in a variety of fields and work in advertising, promotions, and more. Thanks to a continued demand for these professionals, the future looks bright for many of these careers. For example, Michigan's DTMB shows that employment of marketing research analysts is expected to rise 22.2 percent during the decade leading up to 2018. If you're considering a future in this field, check out the following schools:

  • Ferris State University
  • Central Michigan University
  • Michigan Technological University

Respiratory Therapy

Earning a degree in respiratory therapy is the first step toward becoming a respiratory therapist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree in the field. Employment projections are promising; Michigan's DTMB predicts that jobs for respiratory therapists should increase 21.9 percent through 2018. The following schools offer excellent programs for students considering this field:

  • Henry Ford College
  • Monroe Community College
  • Northwestern Michigan College

Civil Engineering

A specialized degree in civil engineering typically leads to a career as a civil engineer. Due to the ongoing nature of construction projects and repairs on buildings, bridges, and dams, these professionals remain in high demand in Michigan. A 20 percent increase in employment is predicted for civil engineers in the state through 2018. If you're considering this career path, the following schools can help:

  • Michigan Technological University
  • Western Michigan University
  • Lawrence Technological University


Detroit is not only the car capital of the world, it's also the largest city in Michigan, with over 688,000 residents according to 2013 U.S. Census data. Because of the many individuals who call Detroit home, there are plenty of educational opportunities within the city, including on-campus and online options. However, census data shows that only 12.3 percent of Detroit's working population ages 25-64 held a bachelor's degree from 2008-2012. During that same timeframe, 77.2 percent of working age adults held at least a high school diploma. On the other hand, the median housing value for properties within the Detroit area was only $59,700 from 2008-2012, creating a huge opportunity for those who want to settle in an area with a low cost of living.

With so many colleges and universities in Detroit to choose from, it may be hard to pick just one. However, the following colleges and universities still manage to stand out:

Marygrove College

Marygrove College is a private, liberal arts college with a focus on small class sizes and personalized learning. The school currently offers 37 undergraduate majors and 12 graduate majors, in addition to 15 certificate programs. Marygrove's student-to-faculty ratio remains around 10:1. Tuition and fees vary depending on the program you choose and whether you are a graduate or undergraduate student, but 2014-15 tuition for undergrads currently sits at $707 per credit hour. The following programs are some of the most popular the school has to offer:

  • Online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
  • Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting

University of Detroit Mercy

University of Detroit Mercy offers over 100 degree programs that can help students meet their academic goals. And with a 14 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio, the school is able to offer unmatched personalized attention. According to the school's website, more than 89 percent of UDM graduates who find employment within six months of graduation do so in career-related fields. Undergraduate tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year average out to $45,640 for two terms with 12-18 credits. This amount includes room and board. The University of Detroit Mercy is known for exemplary instruction in the following degree programs:

  • Online-Campus Hybrid Master of Science in Nursing
  • Online Master of Science in Computer and Information Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene

Grace College

Grace College offers a wide range of associate degree and degree completion options for students from all disciplines. And at just $3,998 per semester, Grace College prides itself on its affordability. Out of the more than 60 majors the school has to offer, the following programs exemplify the high quality education Grace College is known for:

  • Associate of Arts in Biblical Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Management
  • Associate of Arts in General Studies

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is Michigan's second largest city with 192,294 residents, according to 2013 U.S. Census estimates. With areas near the shores of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is the perfect place for students who want to enjoy the outdoors while they complete their education. And many adults do -- according to U.S. census data, 28.2 percent of adults ages 25-64 in Grand Rapids hold a bachelor's degree or higher and 83.5 percent have a high school diploma. With a median housing value of $113,900, Grand Rapids is a great place to find an affordable place to live while you study. There are currently 15 institutions of higher education in the area, with a good mix of four-year schools, community colleges, and online schools. However, the following schools stand out:

Ferris State University

Ferris State University enrolls students all over the state of Michigan, both through its main campus in Big Rapids and its 19 off-campus sites, including the campus in Grand Rapids. Current enrollment sits at around 14,000, and the school features 140 degree programs that match up to many in-demand careers in the state. Undergraduate tuition ran $10,444 per year for students for 2014-15 and $15,680 for non-residents. All of Ferris State University's programs are popular, but they are known for several programs in particular:

  • Online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Online Master of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Automotive Management

Grand Rapids Community College

As a community college, Grand Rapids tailors much of its coursework to working adults. That means offering weekend and night classes in addition to online and hybrid learning opportunities. Michigan residents can also pursue a degree for as low as $106 per contract hour, a bargain when compared to other schools with similar offerings. While many of GRCC's programs are in demand, several degrees stand out, including these:

  • Associate of Arts in Accounting
  • HVAC Repair
  • Associate of Arts in Marketing

Aquinas College

With an enrollment of approximately 2,300 students each year, Aquinas College focuses on Dominican traditions of prayer, study, community, and service. The school currently offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate majors that can be pursued in any one of 61 majors. Undergraduate tuition for the 2014-15 school year was $498 per credit hour for the first six credits. The following programs show exactly what Aquinas is made of:

  • Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing


Warren, Michigan is the largest city in Macomb County and the third largest city in the state of Michigan. U.S. Census population estimates put the city at around 134,873 residents as of 2013. Educational offerings in Warren include Macomb Community College, Davenport University, and Central Michigan University, among others. Census data shows that the median housing value in Warren was only $99,700 from 2008-2012, which makes this an attractive area to earn a degree and perhaps start a family. And with Lake St. Clair just minutes away from the center of Warren, this region is also ripe with opportunities of recreation year-round -- from swimming and boating in the summer to ice fishing and snowmobiling in the summer. When it comes to education, the city has you covered there as well. The following schools all have campuses in Warren:

Macomb Community College

When it comes to educational attainment, Macomb Community College steps up to help its students achieve. For starters, Macomb is in the top two percent of schools nationally in terms of the number of associate degrees granted each year. They also offer over 200 degree and certificate programs, and all with tuition that averages out to one quarter of the cost of tuition at a public university. For in-district students, tuition starts at around $146 per credit hour, with discounts offered the more classes you take. Macomb Community College is known for these popular degree programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Studies
  • Certificate in Medical Assisting
  • Associate of Business Administration

Central Michigan University

Although Central Michigan University's main location is in Mt. Pleasant, students in Warren are welcome to pursue studies at the school through its satellite location or its online portal. Currently, students can enroll in any one of the school's on-campus or online graduate degrees for around $387 per credit hour. CMU enrolls around 7,000 online students in its various online degree programs. However, the following degrees are a few of their most popular:

  • Bachelor of Science in Organization Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Administration
  • Master of Arts in Educational Technology

Davenport University

Davenport University's Warren campus boasts a diverse array of undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, and diplomas. With over 12,000 students, Davenport University offers in-seat classes on days, evenings, and weekends, and online courses that are available 24 hours a day. In-seat tuition costs approximately $603 per credit hour or $18,090 for a full year with 15 credits per semester. Some of Davenport University's most popular degree programs offered through the Warren campus and online are as follows:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting
  • Practical Nursing Diploma

Once you've decided to seek out higher education in Michigan, you still have an overwhelming number of options. Consider going on a short road trip designed to introduce you to the various campuses and surrounding areas of schools that spark your interest. If you're up for it, try this route:

For a quick whirlwind trip to see Michigan's colleges and universities, start at the top of the state's main peninsula for sweeping views of Lake Michigan and tours of local schools such as North Central Michigan College and Grand Valley State University. Check out the community colleges in the northwestern part of the state as well, then make our way south on Highway 131. Once you hit Grand Rapids, you'll want to visit Western Michigan University, Davenport University, and Ferris State University. Next you'll move on to Kalamazoo where you'll find Kalamazoo Community College, Kalamazoo College, and the main campus of Western Michigan University. The state's capital of Lansing is up next; there you'll find Lansing Community College and several satellite campuses for other big Michigan schools. Next up is Flint and Detroit. In Flint, you'll discover the University of Michigan-Flint campus, Mott Community College, and Kettering University, among others. Detroit is chock full of campuses to visit -- from the University of Detroit Mercy to Marygrove University and everything in between. The city of Warren is also nearby, which means you can round out your trip by visiting Macomb Community College as well as the local campuses of Davenport University and Central Michigan University.

Feeling overwhelmed? If you're up for it, this college roadmap could be just when you need to decide where you belong as you pursue on-campus or online degree options in Michigan.

Different types of federal aid may be available to you depending on your specific circumstances. Once you've narrowed down your list of schools, consider filling 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 aid is available to Michigan students, including the following scholarships:

  • The Katharine M. Grosscup Regional Horticulture Scholarship
  • The Mildred E. Troske Music Scholarship
  • The Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarship
  • The Warner, Norcross and Judd L.L.P. Legal Studies Scholarship for Minorities
  • The Black Men Building Resources Scholarship
  • The Audrey L. Wright 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 scholarship available to students pursuing on-campus or distance learning in Michigan. Specific aid might be available from your school of choosing, 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.


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"Respiratory Therapists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, "http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/respiratory-therapists.htm#tab-1
"Growth Industries," Pure Michigan, http://www.michiganbusiness.org/grow/industries/#auto-intro
"May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes_MI.htm
"Michigan Economic and Workforce Indicators," Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budgets, http://milmi.org/admin/uploadedPublications/2090_MI_Econ_Ind_Winter2014.pdf
"Michigan Employment Forecasts by Occupational Groups, 2010-2020," Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, http://milmi.org/?PAGEID=67&SUBID=201
"Michigan's Hot 50 Jobs," Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, http://milmi.org/admin/uploadedPublications/1153_LMI_HOT_50.pdf
"Michigan Facts," Michigan Department of Natural Resources, http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-54463_54466_20829-56001 -- ,00.html
"National Center for Education Statistics," http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MI&l=93&ic=1
"State and County QuickFacts," Detroit, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/26/2622000.html
"Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time," College Board, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-sector-and-state-over-time

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