The Best Colleges in Michigan

With its sweeping shoreline and vast Great Lakes, Michigan is known for more than just automobile plants. It has a wide range of colleges and universities that offer some of the best education around.

We reviewed dozens of colleges and universities in Michigan to identify the best of the best. We looked at features such as school size, academic programs, clubs, organizations, athletics, other services, and even the school’s mission statement.

Top Pick
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan has won numerous awards and accolades for its outstanding overall achievements.

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We chose the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as our winner for best colleges in Michigan. It ranked high for top public schools by U.S. News & World Report, and No. 1 for best college towns by Forbes. With high accolades in both academics and athletics, this university offers students the chance to experience an enriched college life.

The 5 Top-Rated Colleges in Michigan

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best OverallUniversity of Michigan – Ann Arbor 4
Runner UpCalvin University
4
Best ValueMichigan State University4
Best Student LifeHope College3.5
Best AthleticsGrand Valley State University 3.5

*Ratings are from Niche.com at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Known as the No. 1 public research university in the U.S., the University of Michigan has 19 schools and colleges – 14 undergraduate and 5 graduate. Students can apply to their choice of school – each of which have their own admissions requirements – such as art and design, dental hygiene, engineering, nursing, and literature. Each school has numerous degree programs to pick from, and there are more than 1,300 undergraduate research opportunities.

The University of Michigan has a diverse campus life, which extends education beyond the classroom. Aside from the vast array of colleges and degrees, there are more than 1,600 student organizations on campus. This inclusive college has more than 200 study abroad programs, 600 global initiative sites, 30 student entrepreneur groups, and 13 learning communities. With all the university has to offer, students are more prepared for life after graduation.

Activities, other than of the educational nature, include a top-notch athletics department. The University of Michigan participates in Division I competitions, and holds more than 50 National championships across 12 sports. With coaches that have earned Olympic medals, it’s no wonder they coach athletes who then go on to win Olympic medals as well. But even if you’re not that competitive, this university has more than 20 intramural sports in which to be a part of.

Tuition and fees for a year cost roughly $15,600 for in-state students. Out-of-state tuition is a bit pricier at $51,200 a year for tuition and fees, but two-thirds of undergraduates receive financial aid.

University of Michigan Key Features:

  • Undergraduate class size is roughly 30,300 students
  • Campus covers 3,207 acres of city life
  • Graduation rate is 92 percent
  • Division I sports
  • Greek life

Our Runner Up Pick: Calvin University

Runner Up
Calvin University

Calvin University is a private Catholic school that boasts a high percentage rate for students who either become employed or enter graduate school right after graduation.

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Calvin University landed the runner-up spot for our best colleges in Michigan list. This private Catholic school is anchored in Christianity, and students can expect to find a chapel on site, which is a main point on campus. There are more than 100 academic programs students have access to, such as communication, business, education, ministry, and health sciences. Students have the opportunity to engage in faculty research – a faculty where most hold the highest degree in their field. Calvin University also offers an honors program and study abroad.

Campus life at Calvin University includes a myriad of things to do outside of Bible studies and daily chapel. The university has cultural events, concerts, films, and dorm activities, on top of more than 80 student organizations. The university also has an array of centers and institutes for promoting and fostering higher levels of learning.

Twenty-one varsity sports in a Division III league are available for students to participate in. Many of the teams have won championship titles. If you’re not interested in division sports, Calvin University offers intramural sports and club teams. As part of the kinesiology department, students also have access to a 362,000-square-foot field-house, an Olympic-regulation swimming pool, tennis courts, dance studios, a cross country course, and human performance labs.

The cost for yearly tuition and fees is about $36,300. Students can expect that to be somewhere around $25,600 after financial aid.

Calvin University Key Features:

  • Undergraduate size is around 3,625 students
  • Division III sports
  • Campus size is 390 acres
  • More than 100 academic programs
  • Campus is situated on 390 acres

Best Value College: Michigan State University

Best Value
Michigan State University

Michigan State University is a large school on a large campus, and a leading research university.

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Michigan State University wins the best value spot for its lower tuition cost, but high standards in academics and athletics. This large university has everything a student could want in a college. With more than 200 academic programs in 28 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and more than 900 student clubs and organizations, a wide range of subjects are covered for a diversity of students. Ninety-three percent of students obtain employment or enter graduate school after graduation.

Michigan State University helps students discover a number of ways to get ahead in their chosen field of study. With study abroad, honors, and entrepreneurship programs, and the living-learning communities, students gain the advantage of learning more about their area of interest in deeper-involved ways. But there’s more to life at Michigan State than academics. Campus has 10 dining halls plus food trucks, and four indoor fitness facilities. It also has a large athletics and recreation division, including a sailing center.

Sports at this university compete in Division I, and are rated top in the nation. Multiple facilities are housed on campus, including Spartan Stadium, Huntington Club, a soccer stadium, golf center, boat house, baseball stadium, pool, and tennis courts. Student-athletes have support services to help them achieve their educational and professional goals, both in school and after graduation. Many athletes earn top awards for strong academics.

Tuition and fees for a year for in-state students is about $14,450. Though that’s close in price to our top choice, the difference for out-of-state students is greater. Yearly tuition and fees is about $39,750 for those coming from another state.

Michigan State University Key Features:

  • Undergraduates total approximately 39,400 students
  • Division I sports
  • Campus covers 5,192 acres in a suburban setting
  • More than 900 student clubs and organizations
  • Greek life

Best College for Student Life: Hope College

Best Student Life
Hope College

Hope College is the first private, 4-year liberal arts college in the country to have national accreditation for art, music, theater, and dance.

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We chose Hope College for the best student life at a Michigan college. With more than 80 student groups and organizations, 17 fraternities and sororities, and a plethora of volunteer opportunities, Hope College will keep you busy outside of the classroom. The activities committee hosts a number of events, such as concerts, films, comedy shows, drive-in movies, dances, and more. Hope College provides a more active lifestyle away from classes with its Division III sports teams, club sports, intramural sports, and sports camps and clinics.

History and traditions play a large role at Hope College, and some of them go back decades. There’s the annual three-hour tug-of-war game, 24-hour dance marathon, end-of-spring-semester carnival, Nykerk – singing and acting, plus Christmas holiday traditions. The arts program provides students with the opportunity to grace the same stage as well-known performers, filling out a calendar of events throughout the year. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also the newspaper, radio station, student government, and campus ministry.

But let’s not forget about academics. Hope College offers more than 90 academic programs with the possibility of 300 study abroad programs. Some of the more popular subjects to study are business administration, education, engineering, biology, and exercise science. Hundreds of students participate in undergraduate research projects. Ninety-six percent of students were either employed or in graduate school within six months of graduating, in recent years.

Yearly tuition, plus fees, runs roughly $35,300, and $26,175 after financial aid.

Hope College Key Features:

  • Total undergraduates equals about 3,150 students
  • Campus sits on 120 acres
  • Division III sports
  • More than 80 academic programs
  • More than 80 organizations, including intramural and club sports.

Best College for Athletics: Grand Valley State University

Best Athletics
Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University has won the Director’s Cup, “the crowning achievement in college athletics,” seven times.

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Grand Valley State University won our top choice for best in athletics. Not only did this institution go 18 years straight placing first or second for the Director’s Cup, but it also won 22 National Championships. The Director’s Cup is a prestigious award in college athletics, and is only given to colleges or universities who excel throughout the entire athletic department. With 20 Division II varsity sports, 50 club sports, and 18 intramural sports, students at Grand Valley are quite active.

Student-athletes have access to the success center, where you can find academic advising and tutoring. Multiple programs are available, such as faculty mentorship, leadership development, and a life skills series. And for those who are not taking part in varsity sports, the recreation and wellness program at Hope College offers numerous ways to keep active and healthy. Choose from rock climbing, swimming, walking, biking, and even massage services.

Grand Valley State University isn’t just about sports and the active life. This university has more than 135 degree programs. Popular majors include management, communication, psychology, and journalism. Students can expand their education with study abroad programs, the honors college, the learning community, and a host of research opportunities. Ninety-five percent of students are either employed or furthering their education after graduation.

The annual cost for tuition and fees for in-state students averages $12,900, and $18,300 for out-of-state students. Eighty-nine percent of students receive financial aid.

Grand Valley State University Key Features:

  • Undergraduate enrollment is around 21,700 students
  • Campus is situated on 1,391 acres in a suburban setting
  • More than 400 student organizations
  • Division II sports
  • More than 4,000 study abroad programs

Who Should Attend College in Michigan

The state of Michigan doesn’t just have great colleges to attend, it also has some of the best activities for college students to participate in. Some popular spots throughout Michigan include Soaring Eagle Waterpark and Hotel in Mount Pleasant, Pinball Pete’s in Ann Arbor, and Buddy’s Pizza for the finest Detroit-style pizza. A slew of parks and lakes blanket Michigan and beckon many to hike, swim, boat, climb, and kayak through its lush forestry and serene waters.

More than all that, Michigan has some interesting sights to be seen, including Hell. Yes, you can go to Hell. Hell, Michigan. There isn’t much there, but who doesn’t want to say they’ve been to Hell? Other interesting things to do in Michigan include visiting Kitch-iti-kipi in Manistique – a freshwater spring that gushes forth 10,000 gallons of water per minute from underground limestone.

If you’re moving to a college town, then you won’t want to miss Life At College: 5 Keys To Finding Your Perfect College Town Apartment.

Top Pick
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan has won numerous awards and accolades for its outstanding overall achievements.

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Important Features to Consider

A college or university should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a college or university to attend:

  • What size is the school and where is it located. Colleges and universities come in all shapes and sizes. But what a large university might have could be more than what a small college may be able to offer. This is neither good nor bad, it just depends on what you’re looking for in a school. And then there is the type of setting: urban, suburban, or rural. Some schools span city blocks, while others are nestled within their own community.
  • What academic and degree programs are offered. Of course an important feature to consider when choosing a college is what academic and degree programs are available. Colleges have 2-year, 4-year, and graduate-level degrees. Don’t forget to check out extra academic programs, like study abroad or honor society, that could enhance your overall education.
  • What student activities are available. Activities on and off campus are just as important to a well-rounded education and college experience as class lectures and exams. Most colleges offer student-run clubs and organized campus events. If you’re an athlete, consider the division colleges compete in. Division I athletics is tougher competition than Division II or III.
  • What will this cost me. Tuition is often a large factor in picking a college. Ideally it wouldn’t matter, but just in case, look at what type of financial aid, grants, or scholarships are available.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many colleges are in Michigan?

Michigan houses 93 colleges and universities. This number includes 2-year, 4-year, research, and graduate schools.

What is the hardest college to get into in Michigan?

Our top pick – University of Michigan at Ann Arbor – is the toughest college to get into in Michigan. The university requires high scores and grades, and a glowing educational transcript. But admissions also looks at other activities students participate in. Admission to the school is not based solely on scores, but on all that the student accomplishes – excellent grades, top test scores, participation in extra activities, athletic involvement, leadership skills, awards won, community service performed, etc.

What is the most affordable university in Michigan?

Jackson College in Jackson City is the most affordable college, with a yearly tuition – plus fees – of $6,900 for in-state residents. This institution awards both 2-year and 4-year degrees. Tuition and fees for out-of-state residents are $12,000.

What is Michigan college known for?

The University of Michigan – our top choice – is well-known for being one of the best colleges in the U.S. Often referred to as just ‘Michigan,’ this university houses the largest college football stadium, and is also known for being a top public research university.

Other Colleges in Michigan We Reviewed

Top Pick
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan has won numerous awards and accolades for its outstanding overall achievements.

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We looked at 20 other colleges in Michigan. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best colleges in Michigan list, they’re the best of the rest, and each is still a great college to attend. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Colleges in Michigan Under $20K

Lake Superior State University

Lake Superior State University

Lake Superior State University has multiple schools in multiple colleges, with a vast array of academic programs. Popular subjects include law enforcement, firefighting, business, management, and homeland security.

Key Features:

  • Student enrollment is about 2,000 for undergraduates
  • Campus resides on 115 acres in a rural setting
  • Division II sports

Cost: $12,450 for annual tuition and fees

Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University has more than 120 academic programs for undergraduates. The university also offers more than 200 student clubs and organizations, including Greek life.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate enrollment equals roughly 5,800 students
  • Campus is situated on a rural 925 acres
  • Division II sports

Cost: $16,000 for annual tuition and fees for in-state, $35,200 for out-of-state

Saginaw Valley State University

Saginaw Valley State University

Saginaw Valley State University was ranked in the top 5 percent of business schools by the Princeton Review.

Key Features:

  • Student enrollment is roughly 7,700 undergraduates
  • Campus size is 782 acres
  • Division II sports

Cost: $10,800 for annual tuition and fees for in-state, $25,400 for out-of-state

University of Michigan – Dearborn

University of Michigan, Dearborn

The University of Michigan at Dearborn has more than 140 academic degree programs throughout four different schools, including business and education. Students can also choose from more than 160 student organizations, including athletics, community service, and Greek life.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate population is roughly 7,200 students
  • Campus is situated on 202 acres in a suburban setting
  • Division II sports

Cost: $13,300 for annual tuition and fees for in-state, $26,400 for out-of-state

Colleges in Michigan $20K – $30K

Cornerstone University

Cornerstone University

Cornerstone University is a private Christian college that offers undergraduate and graduate programs, which includes theological seminary. Campus life includes athletics, study abroad, and more than 20 organizations.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate enrollment equates to about 1,600 students
  • Division II sports
  • More than 500 campus jobs for students

Cost: $25,400 for annual tuition and fees, $20,400 after financial aid

Madonna University

Madonna University

Madonna University is a private Catholic college that offers both on-campus and online degree programs. Popular areas of study include business, health, marketing, law enforcement, and homeland security.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate population is approximately 2,400 students
  • Division II sports
  • Student-teacher ratio is 12:1

Cost: $23,100 for annual tuition and fees, $15,400 after financial aid

Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor University is a private Christian college that offers more than 70 academic majors and minors, 20 varsity sports, and activities such as theater, community service, and ministry.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate students equal about 1,800
  • Campus sits on 100 acres in a rural setting
  • Division II sports

Cost: $29,600 for annual tuition and fees, $18,700 after financial aid

University of Detroit Mercy

University of Detroit Mercy

The University of Detroit Mercy has seven colleges and schools for undergraduates and graduates, with more than 100 academic programs. Students have an array of activities to choose from, as well, for life outside the classroom.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduate students is about 2,900
  • Division I sports
  • More than 50 clubs and organizations

Cost: $28,900 for annual tuition and fees, $19,800 after financial aid

Colleges in Michigan Over $30K

Kettering University

Kettering University

Kettering University offers 24 degree programs, five of which are completely online. This university also offers study abroad programs and research opportunities.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduate students is approximately 1,900
  • More than 50 student organizations, including intramural sports
  • Greek life

Cost: $44,400 for annual tuition and fees, $37,250 after financial aid

Adrian College

Adrian College

Adrian College provides students with multiple options in academic programs, and an array of student organizations, including Greek life.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate size is approximately 1,800 students
  • Campus is set in the city on 132 acres
  • Division III sports

Cost: $37,800 for annual tuition and fees, $27,200 after financial aid

Andrews University

Andrews University

Andrews University has 15 colleges and schools, with the option of more than 100 academic degree programs. Campus life consists of Division II sports, intramural sports, campus ministry, and more than 180 other student organizations.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduate students is around 1,700
  • Campus is rural and resides on 300 acres
  • Student-teacher ratio is 10:1

Cost: $30,200 for annual tuition and fees, $21,500 after financial aid

Lawrence Technological University

Lawrence Technological University

Lawrence Technological University has more than 100 academic programs, some of which are 100 percent online. Campus life includes study abroad, Greek life, athletics, and student government.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate enrollment is approximately 4,500 students
  • Division II sports
  • Student-teacher ratio is 12:1

Cost: $35,300 for annual tuition and fees, $27,300 after financial aid

Small Colleges in Michigan

Albion College

Albion College

Albion College is a private Christian university that has a student-teacher ratio of 12:1. Ninety-four percent of students are either employed, in continuing education, or volunteering within six months of graduation.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate population is around 1,500 students
  • Campus is situated on 574 acres
  • Division III sports

Cost: $48,100 for annual tuition and fees, $17,900 after financial aid

Alma College

Alma College

Alma College is a private Christian college that offers more than 50 academic programs and 25 varsity sports teams. Students also have the chance to come up with their own course of study.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate size is about 1,400 students
  • Campus size is 125 acres
  • Division III sports

Cost: $41,400 for annual tuition and fees, $21,800 after financial aid

Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College provides students with many majors to choose from. Classes are more intimate, with a student-teacher ratio of 9:1.

Key Features:

  • Student enrollment is around 1,500 undergraduates
  • Campus sits on 400 rural acres
  • Division II sports

Cost: $28,400 for annual tuition and fees

Kalamazoo College

Kalamazoo College

Kalamazoo College has more than 25 academic programs and more than 60 student organizations. Popular subjects to study are biology, business, marketing, psychology, and social sciences.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate population equates to about 1,500 students
  • Campus sits on 60 acres in the city
  • Division III sports

Cost: $50,400 for annual tuition and fees, $23,600 after financial aid

Large Colleges in Michigan

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University offers more than 200 academic programs, with almost 400 student clubs and organizations. This university is the first to introduce neuroscience as an undergraduate degree program in Michigan.

Key Features:

  • Student enrollment is around 16,500 for undergraduates
  • Campus is rural and covers 480 acres
  • Division I sports

Cost: $13,000 for annual tuition and fees

Ferris State University

Ferris State University

Ferris State University offers more than 180 academic programs in subjects such as criminal justice, business, pharmacy, and nursing. Campus life consists of student government, recreation and fitness, and many more organizations.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduate students is around 11,900
  • Campus covers 941 acres in a rural environment
  • More than 200 clubs and organizations, including Greek life

Cost: $13,500 for annual tuition and fees

Wayne State University

Wayne State University

Wayne State University has more than 300 academic programs where popular subjects are psychology, biology, business, and nursing. Students also have the option to choose from more than 200 organizations and off-campus events such as museums, concerts, and professional sports.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate population size is about 17,600 students
  • Campus sits on 190 acres
  • Division II sports

Cost: $14,600 for annual tuition and fees for in-state, $31,500 for out-of-state

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University has more than 140 academic undergraduate programs, such as business, marketing, engineering, health, and management. Students also have more than 300 student organizations for campus activities, including 30 fraternities and sororities.

Key Features:

  • Undergraduate students equal roughly 17,800
  • Campus is set in the city on 1,200 acres
  • Division I sports

Cost: $13,000 for annual tuition and fees for in-state, $16,000 for out-of-state

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