Michigan Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2016-2017

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A Guide to Online Colleges in Michigan

In addition to private for-profit schools focused on distance learning, traditional educational institutions in Michigan have also adopted online delivery, enabling remote studies for a variety of subjects and degree programs. In 2013, Michigan students had access to 42 four-year colleges offering some level of online learning. Central Michigan University’s online education opportunities exemplify the state’s overall growth in this area. CMU offers more than 50 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, in addition to various certificate options. The school’s online learning resource center provides students with step-by-step support services from application to graduation. A great way to grasp the range of academic options is to explore campus and online learning opportunities in one of the state’s largest cities, Detroit.

Detroit Colleges and Universities

Detroit is known as the original seat of the American automobile industry and supports an outstanding group of colleges and universities. Wayne State University is located in the city’s cultural center and offers over 370 degree and certificate programs. The University of Detroit Mercy offers more than 100 programs taught from a Catholic perspective. Wayne County Community College operates five campuses throughout the city, providing occupational and career programs at certificate and associate degree levels in a range of studies.

The College for Creative Studies is a visual arts school ranked as the fifth Most Creative Campus by Her Campus magazine. BusinessWeek also named it as one of the world’s best design schools.

Online Colleges in Detroit

Several of Detroit’s acclaimed colleges and universities provide online learning opportunities for those who cannot partake in the on-campus experience. Wayne State University offers an array of online options, including a bachelor’s degree in social work and master’s degree programs in education and library/information science. The school also offers an online MBA and a PhD in transitional physical therapy. Additional opportunities can be found at the University of Detroit Mercy, which provides 12 online degrees programs in topics such as business, engineering, and nursing. High school students seeking an early start on their college education can apply to Wayne County Community College, which has a Virtual Middle College program with dual enrollment offerings.

Tuition & Cost of Living in Michigan

When making a college budget, aspiring students in Michigan need to calculate the different types of expenses they may encounter. Tuition varies depending on the type of school and an applicant’s residency status. Annual tuition for Michigan residents averaged $12,322 in 2012, with the state ranking 22nd nationwide in terms of in-state tuition affordability.

While tuition represents a crucial factor in choosing a school, other costs figure into the equation as well. Students may discover fees for parking, on-campus transportation, and basic services such as registration. The combined tuition and fees for Michigan students totaled $12,478 in 2012.

After examining schools’ tuition and fees, well-organized students also estimate their living expenses and other costs related to college. Miscellaneous expenditures could include books, supplies, and a robust Internet connection for online coursework. Living costs in Michigan come in six percent below the national average. The following table depicts the cost of living (COL) for Michigan’s metropolitan areas, ranked in comparison to the national average (100%):

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Grand Rapids -9.3% -22.4% 2.7% 0.6% 3.7% -5.6% -10.0%
Kalamazoo -8.8% -18.7% -4.4% 1.8% -0.6% -7.5% -7.6%
Detroit -0.6% -4.8% -7.3% 29.5% 1.3% -5.8% -3.4%

Accreditation Standards in Michigan

Before committing, Michigan students should inquire about a school’s accreditation status. Financial aid programs generally require colleges be accredited, meaning they meets official quality standards. In Michigan, institutions gain accreditation from bodies such as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Colleges and universities in the state may also be accredited by various specialized agencies. For example, business and nursing programs can be accredited by associations with detailed knowledge of their respective fields. Institutions with distance learning opportunities have the option of seeking accreditation by the Distance Education and Training Council, a national body with concentration in online education.

Best Online Colleges In Michigan For 2016-2017

With nearly one million students currently enrolled in 204 postsecondary institutions, educational offerings in Michigan cover a wide range of degree levels and disciplines. Community colleges, technical and trade schools, universities, and online colleges offer programs ranging from certificates to doctoral studies. Michigan’s state government is known for being generous in providing financial aid: since 1964 it has dispensed approximately $4 billion in assistance to more than three million students. In the guide that follows, prospective online students can learn about the best programs to meet their educational goals. Schools that have risen above the competition by demonstrating excellence in online education can be found on our list of the Best Online Colleges in Michigan for 2016-2017.

Rank University Score Annual Tuition Financial Aid % #ONLINE PROGRAMS Student-teacher RatioGrad RateSchool Description Credit for experience Placement Services Counseling Services
1 Siena Heights University 99.67 99% 127 11:1 51%

Degrees at Siena Heights University are career focused. Pre-medical, art, child development, engineering, marketing and theater are a few majors and programs at Siena Heights. The chance to finish a bachelor's degree that adults started taking classes toward a year or more ago is made possible through the adult degree completion program. Ten campuses are part of the university's system. For each 12 students at the campuses, there is about one instructor. It's free to submit an online application. Students who have not taken a class at the university for one term or longer must submit a readmission application online or in person.

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2 Davenport University 97.48 89% 71 14:1 40%

Davenport University is a private, non-profit university serving 9,000 students enrolled at its campuses in Michigan and online. Students can find their field of interest among the more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered by the Colleges of Business, Arts and Sciences, Health Professions, Urban Education, and Technology. Distance degree students can pursue one of the 50 undergraduate academic programs offered entirely online. Technology, healthcare, and business professionals can build their credentials through Davenport’s online graduate and post-baccalaureate certificate programs. At the graduate degree level, online students can complete the online program in business administration (MBA) or one of MS degrees in Nursing, Information Assurance, and Health Informatics.

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3 Baker College 96.76 72% 48 13:1 20%

Flint, Michigan is where the main campus of Baker College is situated. The college is a private, non-profit school that was established in 1911. More than 10 campuses are located throughout Michigan, including in Fremont, Jackson, Allen Park and Auburn Hills. As the state's largest independent postsecondary school, Baker offers the chance to earn more than 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Adults who only have time to go to school for one year, can pursue professional certificates. Supplementing its fully online programs is an online orientation that covers Blackboard, MyBaker and BakerMail, tools that the college stores online course and exam records in.

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4 Eastern Michigan University 96.01 90% 17 18:1 37%

Eastern Michigan University, located in Ypsilanti, was founded in 1849 as the Michigan State Normal School., the first-such teacher’s school outside the original 13 colonies. Today, EMU offers 23,000 students undergraduate and graduate degree programs through its six academic divisions. Students who cannot attend campus studies can pursue 20 online programs leading to baccalaureate and master’s degrees and career certificates. Online graduate degrees include the popular programs in human nutrition and dietetics. Educators can choose a master’s specialty in K-12 administration, educational technology, and educational psychology. Business programs offer graduate studies in areas of marketing, quality management, engineering and technology management.

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5 Northwood University-Michigan 95.75 95% 24 16:1 56%

In 1959, Northwood University-Michigan enrolled its first class of 100 students and offered classes in a former mansion in Alma, Michigan. Today its residential campus is located in Midland, northwest of Detroit. Its Adult Degree program is available at 20 program centers in eight states. Northwood’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) is now available entirely online, joining the online MBA degree program offered through the DeVos Graduate School of Management. Other online degrees are available in majors including accounting, automotive marketing and management, computer information management, entrepreneurship, finance and healthcare management.

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6 Ferris State University 95.70 63% 33 16:1 43%

Ferris State University was founded at Big Rapids in 1884. Today it claims to be second only to the University of Michigan in having the greatest number of professional majors for top-demand careers. And FSU’s 14,560 students comprise the ninth-largest university student body in Michigan. Distance students receive a wide option of online programs including bachelor-completion and master’s degrees, and undergraduate and graduate certificates. Ferris State’s blended undergraduate Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC) degree, its Technical Education program (Pro-Mo-Ted), and its Master's degree in Business Administration require part-time campus attendance.

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7 Cleary University 94.98 77% 24 12:1 45%

Cleary University was established in 1883. Credits toward degrees in fields like culinary management, business administration, human resource management and public accounting can be earned by gaining real life work experience. To encourage independent work, the school hosts events like entrepreneur boot camps. Cooking competitions are hosted to encourage adults striving to earn a culinary degree or certificate to fulfill their goal of serving as a chef. Cleary University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school is in the process of building onsite student apartments.

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8 Madonna University 94.88 82% 6 11:1 50%

The path to a degree at Madonna University starts with a visit to the campus in Livonia, Michigan. The school also has locations in Southwest Detroit, Gaylord and Macomb. Policies at the university rest on an academic and a Christian foundation. Originally overseen by the Felician Sisters in 1937, Madonna University awards undergraduate and master's and doctorate degrees. The Higher Learning Commission accredits the university. Individual colleges and schools are accredited by regional and national agencies like the American Bar Association, Council on Social Work Education and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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9 Grace Bible College 94.36 85% 3 13:1 52%

Grace Bible College offers associate, master's and bachelor's degrees online. Courses are delivered on an accelerated schedule in a cohort format that groups students into teams of 10-16 pupils. Each cohort meets weekly online or in person. Fields of study include leadership and ministry, business and business management, and human services. All programs are accredited regionally by HLC and ABHE. Distance learners will learn from faculty who have real-world experience in the ministry or in their respective field. Online programs, like all programs available at the school, prepare students for the 21st century workforce while maintaining a Christ-centered, Scriptural focus.

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10 Northern Michigan University 94.27 81% 3 21:1 48%

The NMU Global Campus allows students to begin degrees or complete degrees online. Distance learners can choose between an associate degree, two bachelor's degrees and eight graduate degrees. Students can reach the HelpDesk by phone, email or real-time chat, and can also utilize a wide range of other IT services. A new student orientation acclimates distance learners with the format and feel of online education at Northern Michigan University. Online students have access to an academic and career advisement center, career services, the student services center, and a multicultural education and resource center.

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11 Oakland University 94.13 76% 9 21:1 46%

There are two undergraduate degrees available to distance learners, a BSN degree completion program for nurses and a BS in occupational health and safety. There are also several graduate degrees and certificate programs, as well as an online doctorate. Most coursework is delivered through the Moodle learning management system. The school created a sample course, basic astronomy, to help familiarize distance learners with the format and feel of online learning. Students have access to troubleshooting and technical assistance by phone or through webform. All online programs are unique. Some are asynchronous, while others require students to be online at specific times.

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12 Lake Superior State University 94.13 78% 3 16:1 46%

Lake Superior State University offers dozens of degree programs. Students have access to the Office of Advising and Retention, which offers a new student orientation. The university is home to the unique ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) system, which uses artificial intelligence to help student improve. ALEKS provides individualized instruction and gives immediate feedback on work. Students also have access to structured learning assistance, a writing center, a math center and a computer lab. Students can also participate in seminars offered by the academic success center, which cover topics like note taking, critical thinking and study strategies.

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13 Wayne State University 93.79 80% 3 15:1 34%

Distance learners have the option of a bachelor's degree in social work, as well as half a dozen master's degrees in the School of Library and Information Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, and the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. There are also several certificates available completely online. Students can also choose online options for doctoral degrees and certificates. An online student orientation prepares distance learners for their pursuit of web-based learning. Online advising is available to guide students from application through graduation.

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14 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 93.43 47% 3 12:1 91%

E-learning programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels across several fields of study, including engineering, public health, nursing, dentistry and the medical school. The school offers counseling and other therapeutic services, including preventative, crisis and educational help. Students with disabilities have a wide variety of services at their disposal, and all students have access to IT and tech help. The school values diversity, and has several programs and offices dedicated to religious and ethnic outreach and inclusion. Distance learners have access to academic and career services, language services, and study and research resources.

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15 Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration 92.83 N/A 12 12:1 N/A
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16 Michigan State University 92.75 44% 3 17:1 79%
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17 University of Michigan-Flint 86.77 50% 31 15:1 34%
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18 Spring Arbor University 86.56 99% 12 12:1 54%
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19 Michigan Jewish Institute 86.00 N/A 3 16:1 38%
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Rank University Score Annual Tuition Financial Aid % #ONLINE PROGRAMS Student-teacher RatioGrad RateSchool Description Credit for experience Placement Services Counseling Services
1 Washtenaw Community College 93.34 14% 19 19:1 16%

Washtenaw Community College was founded in 1959. A large part of the college's student population resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the city that the school is based in. At its inception, Washtenaw focused on providing the community with strong technical and workforce training. Today, Washtenaw teaches about 1,500 classes a year in business, manufacturing, humanities, arts, healthcare and media. Schedules for classes are in the day and evening. Weekend classes are also scheduled. A strong background in general education courses like communications and math is advantageous. WCC Gateway connects students enrolled in online courses with their instructors and classmates.

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2 Bay Mills Community College 92.10 53% 3 15:1 16%

The mission of Bay Mills Community College is to support individual learning, development, diversity and research. Bay Mills strives to strengthen the culture of the Anishinaabek. The tribally controlled school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Associate of Science, Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees are awarded at Bay Mills. The school also awards diplomas and certificates. Associate degrees are generally built upon 62 credits of core classes and electives. Certificates and diplomas can be earned in less than a year.

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3 Kirtland Community College 91.47 18% 15 18:1 16%

Kirtland Community College's main campus is in Roscommon, Michigan. Satellite academic centers are located in Gaylord, West Branch and Grayling. Adults looking to enhance their professional skills could enroll in a non-credit career program at Kirtland. Community or non-degree classes are taught at the Kirtland Center. There are more than 39 associate degrees and certificates to choose from. After Kirtland accepts applications, students need to sign up for orientation and registration. They also meet with an advisor to map out a manageable academic plan. Academic advisors also help students choose classes that are transferrable to other schools, including accredited colleges that award bachelor degrees.

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4 Henry Ford Community College 91.43 1% 30 24:1 6%

Henry Ford Community College is named after the Henry Ford Trade School, a learning institution that builds upon the work of Henry Road, one of Michigan's renowned sons. Founded in 1938, the college confers more than 120 degrees. Its main campus and administrative offices are in Dearborn. Local students as well as adults from other states and countries take classes at Henry Ford Community College. To support its growing student population, the college offers online learning, childcare, a learning lab, sports and student organizations. Skilled trades training and an English Language Institute help students assimilate into academic programs and new communities.

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5 Glen Oaks Community College 90.44 28% 3 13:1 18%

Choices to degree completion at Glen Oaks Community College fit recent high school graduates, older students and busy, working parents. Options include full-time and part-time schedules and online courses. The school is set on a sprawling campus in Centreville, Michigan. Industries that the school's associate degree and certificate programs prepare students for include nursing, allied health, technology, education and business. The grading system operates on a 4.0 scale. If adults want to attend classes but not earn credits, they can do so by signing up to be a class auditor.

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6 Schoolcraft College 89.70 13% 12 25:1 17%

Schoolcraft College has a main campus in Livonia, Michigan. More than 36,000 students take classes at the public institution that's located off major roadways like I-275 and I-96. The school has an open admissions cycle for its degree, certificate and non-credit classes. There are three class options, classes that run for 7 weeks, 12 weeks or 15 weeks. These options are available in more than 70 majors. Blackboard, Web Advisor and SC mail are distance education resources that Schoolcraft uses to deliver fully online and blended course material.

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7 Delta College 88.80 9% 3 17:1 16%

Campus life at Delta College opens a doorway to a planetarium, summer camps, real life public broadcasting opportunities and athletics. The college hosts special events at the Carlyon Farmhouse, a residential home that was built during the 1870s. When the college opened in 1961, it had a student population of 1,800. Presently, nearly 2,000 students graduate from Delta College a year. More than 50 majors are offered at Delta. Many graduates work in the surrounding tri-counties of Saginaw, Midland and Bay, Michigan. More than half of the students attend school part-time.

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Search Accredited Michigan Online Colleges

Online students in Michigan often live very busy lives. In the midst of personal and professional obligations, it can be overwhelming to search among hundreds of options for degrees and certificate programs. One way to streamline this process is to use the custom search tool below to filter prospective online colleges and programs by factors such as tuition, types of degrees offered, acceptance rates, and accreditation.

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Best Online Colleges in Michigan for 2015-2016

RANK COLLEGE ScoreStudent-Teacher RatioFinancial AidCostMORE INFO
1 Ferris State University 99.0716:196%

Ferris Online offers bachelor's and master's degrees, classes, and certificates that are mostly or fully online. "Guest students" who want continuing education units, want to maintain a certificate, or who are just interested in attending a few courses can bypass some of the admission process. A self-assessment quiz for those interested in finding out if online college learning is best for them can be found on the website.

2 Michigan Jewish Institute 97.2419:199%

Michigan Jewish Institute provides online learning options at the undergraduate level to students interested in expanding their religious education. Online college programs include a Bachelor's of Science degree in Judaic Studies with concentrations in areas such as education and leadership. The school, accredited through the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools, also provides related certificates and degrees to choose from.

3 Baker College 95.5914:1100%

Baker College's online programs are available for earning certificate, associate and bachelor's degrees. Classes follow a set schedule similar to that of in-person courses, with specific start and end dates, and due dates for assignments throughout the semester. However, they are asynchronous, allowing students to view material and complete coursework at any time before the given deadlines. All online programs can be completed fully from a distance, with no campus visits required. The courses are smaller than those on campus, with only 12-15 students per class. Students can communicate with one another and with professors through the Blackboard system, and with email and discussion board.

4 Siena Heights University 91.8012:1100%

Sienna Heights University offers fully online college degrees to students who want to complete an undergraduate education via distance learning. E-learning courses are eight weeks in length and feature weekly discussion threads. The university is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, and provides degrees in areas that include business administration, multidisciplinary studies, and professional communications.

5 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 90.2712:163%

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor offers online college master's programs in engineering. Students from throughout the United States and nearly 50 countries have received their degree through the program. All courses use the CTools management system and are self-paced. Non-candidates for the degree can be introduced to courses before applying to U-M or another institution. Visitors taking classes for no credit are also allowed.

6 Grace Bible College 90.2411:1100%

Grace Bible College offers undergraduate, graduate and online programs that can be taken along two- orfour-year degree tracks. With a Christ-centered and biblical core, this small, close-knit college provides a curriculum that prepares students for the evolving needs of the society around them. On campus students will attend twice weekly chapel services and Ministry Labs. Online students can earn an Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Science in leadership/ministry. Online courses are offered asynchronously for students convenience and flexibility and with the option of taking classes in an accelerated format. Online degree programs operate on a weekly basis using the Blackboard learning management system.

7 Lawrence Technological University 88.7411:186%

Lawrence Technological University offers online college programs for bachelor's degrees in business administration or information technology, and master's degrees in business administration, architecture, educational technology, engineering, and information systems. The University also offers certificate programs and all courses include Blackboard software. Lawrence Technological University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

8 Wayne State University 88.7215:189%

Students can obtain bachelor's and master's degrees in addition to certificates through Wayne University's online college program. Some degrees are offered fully online, while others only have some online course options. Most instructors administer tests online, though some ask students to take proctored exams at testing centers. Many classes utilize Blackboard learning software, Skype, and Wimba.

9 Central Michigan University – Global Campus 88.5921:192%

Central Michigan University's global campus offers undergraduate and graduate-level certificates and degrees. Most online college courses require students to take at least one, in-person proctored exam and online classes may also meet online at scheduled time for chat sessions. All classes use Blackboard software and material is available at any time.

10 Rochester College 88.0511:1100%

Rochester College is a Christian-centered institution of higher learning that has values deeply rooted in faith, leadership and innovation. The college offers undergraduate degrees as well as adult and professional programs for a wide range of topic areas, including Biblical studies and ministries, accounting, business, education, digital and broadcast media, nursing, sports management, psychology, journalism and public relations, and music. Students will benefit from their Integrated Learning Model, which emphasizes a liberal arts curriculum and focuses on teaching critical thinking, effective communication skills and scholarly research. Online classes are offered using Moodle learning management system. Undergraduates can earn a Bachelor of Science in leadership entirely online.

11 Cornerstone University 86.7920:198%

Cornerstone University Online, or CU Online, offers adult learners degrees in business, education, and ministry. The University also has individual online college courses. Textbooks and other learning resources can be accessed on mobile devices. Cornerstone University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Deans Talk: Inside Michigan’s Online Colleges

What makes the best online colleges unique? We asked each of the schools on our list to describe their programs and what sets them apart. Here’s what they had to say:

Online Departments in Michigan

Ferris State University

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

Ferris has developed degree programs for online delivery that we feel demonstrates our unique strengths, such as our Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration degree, our Automotive Management degree, and our many and varied programs in the health professions areas. Additionally, we have developed many of our 300-and 400-level courses for online delivery to provide alternatives for students who are unable to attend one of our campus locations. All of our programs and courses have the same outcomes and rigorous standards as our traditional face-to-face offerings, and our faculty members develop and encourage collaborative learning environments within our online offerings.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Students today have many areas competing for their time and attention, such as work and family obligations. People who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree recognize the value of the higher degree in the job market, but the attainment of the degree also results in additional financial obligations. Ferris provides online degree programs that allow students to transfer in portions of their degree requirements from prior college coursework that can help to reduce student debt. We are providing a cost-efficient and convenient method for students to complete their degree. These features, combined with responsive faculty and a culture of caring student services, make Ferris stand apart.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years?

We’re committed to growth in our online programs while at the same time continuing to provide exceptional student services. We have new degree programs in development to provide more options for our students. In addition, Ferris State University continues to explore new technologies to enhance the students’ learning experiences.

Grand Valley State University

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

Grand Valley State University believes that the most successful online educational experience engages students and promotes interaction with faculty members.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Our students enjoy the flexibility of fully online programs and courses combined with personal, face-to-face contact with professors.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

We will continue to grow our online learning programs based on demand, opportunity, and ability to deliver the academic excellence for which the university is known.

Western Theological Seminary

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

Simply said, our approach to online learning is to offer "one degree." For 125 years Western Theological Seminary students have earned their Divinity degrees on campus, in our city, sitting at a desk, in a classroom, face to face with their professor. Online learn changed most of that. We knew that the quality of learning could easily decline. Therefore we approached Distance Learning with a commitment to maintain "One Degree." Our goal was to extend formal theological education with online learning, without sacrificing the high educational outcomes expected from our residence students. "One Degree" at Western Theological Seminary means that our Distance Learning students may expect the same curriculum, instruction from the same tenured faculty, the same diploma and the same quality as our residential students receive. It is "one degree" that comes in two formats, both Residential and Distance Learning. Beyond academic courses both formats include tenured faculty attention for advising, mentored internships, annual spiritual formation retreats, daily worship, cultural immersion trips, shared meals on campus, seminars focusing on diversity training, self-care and sexual abuse prevention. All vital learning is experienced by all students pursuing a degree, whether they are residential students or distance learning students.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

  • Our online programs allow a manageable pace for degree completion.
  • Our online students do not need to relinquish their incomes, or uproot their families to earn a degree.
  • Required internships are completed in the churches or ministries to which our online learners are already committed.
  • All students keep to the same pace of learning in each course but there are no synchronous requirements. Each week students engage the lectures and readings on their own schedule.
  • Weekly message boards lead to more thoughtful, in-depth and enriching discussions than time could ever allow in a classroom setting.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

Western Theological Seminary has been on the front edge of using technology to make formal theological education accessible. We will remain there, blending the best of academic rigor, faith formation, and technological advances to equip men and women who are called by God to lead the church in mission. As educational technology improves we will adopt it, reducing where we can the time and travel expense of face-to-face learning sessions. However, we will do this as long as the quality of learning is not compromised.

Great Resources for Online Students in Michigan

Online students need resources at their fingertips for exploring Michigan’s student aid programs, tips for budgeting and saving for school, and preparing for their online education. The following in-state organizations provide free resources to assist students in planning for college and financing their education.