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20 Top Hidden Gems in Michigan

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20 Top Hidden Gems in Michigan

Hidden Gems in Michigan are some of the best smaller colleges and universities in the state. They offer quality education and also online programs. In addition, Michigan is an education-rich state with many public colleges and universities that provide a good education with affordable tuition. Students can choose from over 80 schools in rural to urban settings.

In addition to the large state schools, there are some excellent small public colleges and small private universities in Michigan. The schools on our list offer quality education and also have programs for online learning. These Hidden Gems in Michigan are some of the best schools you’ve never heard of!


How We Ranked The Hidden Gems in Michigan

The editors at Online Schools Guide found smaller schools in Michigan with an excellent academic reputation that offer online degree programs. Then, we ranked the programs based on the cost of attendance and the number of online offerings.


1. Andrews University

Website: Andrews University

Andrews University is a private Seventh-day Adventist university located in the Michigan city of Berrien Springs. The school opened in 1874 under the name of Battle Creek College and was the first higher education facility started by Seventh-day Adventists. It is even considered the flagship university of the Seventh-day Adventist school system and the world’s second-largest Christian school system overall.

The university offers eight different colleges or schools and 130 undergraduate degree programs, and 70 different graduate majors. Post-baccalaureate degrees are also offered at all of the university’s schools. The school currently has more than 1,300 undergraduate students enrolled.

Students can take online classes in various areas, including religion, Christian discipleship, ministry certificate, health professions, business administration, registered nursing, Bachelor of Science and nursing, public health, and so on. Online offerings include 17 undergraduate and 38 graduate-level certificates and degrees. Students can work at their own pace using the university’s global online learning program and earn their degrees in a shorter time than it would typically take in a traditional setting.

Location: Berrien Springs, Michigan

Online programs: 55 degrees and certificates


2. Baker College

Website: Baker College

Located in the Michigan town of Owosso, Baker College offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. The college was founded in 1911 and offers several additional campuses throughout the Lower Peninsula area of Michigan. The college prides itself on keeping class sizes small so students can get the individualized attention they deserve. All faculty members have experience in the areas of study that they teach. The school offers an academic Resource Center that helps students through virtual tutoring, an online library, and free lifetime employment assistance.

The college offers Baker Online and Online Live for adult students with busy lives. These virtual campuses of the Baker College System offer several degree programs for students to complete without ever setting foot inside a campus building. All they need is an Internet connection, and they can work from anywhere at any time. This helps break down barriers for adult students who have other responsibilities and may not otherwise be able to attend classes.

All online courses are fully accredited and are part of the core curriculums for various areas of study. Some of these include nursing, Health Science, social sciences, liberal arts and sciences, education, information technology and engineering, business administration, occupational therapy, and more.

Location: Owosso, Michigan

Online programs: 43 with Baker Online and Baker Live


3. University of Michigan–Dearborn

Website: University of Michigan-Dearborn

The University of Michigan in Dearborn opened in 1959. The school’s campus is over 200 acres, a gift from the Ford Motor Company. While the school currently enrolls more than 8,000 students yearly, the first class began with only 34 students. The university has continued to grow each year and now offers a total of 128 major programs and 69 minor programs. Seventy-two graduate programs and certificates are also offered, along with six doctoral programs.

Many of the programs offered by the university can be completed fully online to help adult students accomplish their higher education goals. Online classes can be taken to earn degrees in various areas of study, including the arts, sciences, business, education, healthcare, Human Services, engineering, and computer science.

Location: Dearborn, Michigan

Online programs: 36 degrees


4. Cornerstone University

Website: Cornerstone University

Cornerstone University is considered to be a private, non-denominational Christian university. It is located in the beautiful city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It offers a total of 90 undergraduate and graduate programs, two seminaries, and even a radio division referred to as Cornerstone University Radio. The school is focused on teaching students to have a Christian worldview and a positive influence on the world for Christ.

Cornerstone University Offers more than 20 accredited online degree programs in areas such as ministry, psychology, business administration, and more so that students can earn their degrees through the university, no matter where they are located. The university also offers several master’s and certificate programs entirely online, such as Master of Theology, ministry leadership, master of public administration, addiction certification, Bachelor of Science and psychology, project management training, business administration, and communication. Associate degree programs online include biblical studies, Human Services, or business administration.

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Online programs: 33


5. Calvin University

Website: Calvin University

Calvin University began in 1876 as a school for ministry training. Only seven students were enrolled that year, but now the university enrolls more than 3,800 students. The university is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on 400 acres. The university offers various areas of study and was named after Christian reformer, speaker, and author John Calvin.

Calvin University offers a variety of online programs to help adult students with other responsibilities become equipped with advanced knowledge in their fields while earning their degrees or certificates. There are a total of 17 online degree programs offered, and some of those include a master of business with a concentration in business analytics, speech-language pathology, education, exercise science, or in public health.

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Online programs: 18


6. Siena Heights University

Website: Siena Heights University

Siena Heights University, a Catholic university, was founded in 1919 and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. The university prides itself on having a diverse community of students, from traditional-age students to working adult students. It is a coeducational institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The university was founded in liberal arts and offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. The university is headquartered in the Michigan city of Adrian, with degree completion centers in several cities throughout the state. Students can also earn their degrees online.

Siena Heights University offers 75 degree programs, many of which can be completed online. This helps adult students raise a family to build their careers since they can work at their own pace in their free time. Students can choose between online or face-to-face classes conducted in seven-week sessions to finish their degrees within a year. Some of the degree programs offered by Sienna Heights Global University include a bachelor of applied science, community and Human Services, health care management, marketing, multidisciplinary studies, registered nursing, a Bachelor of Science in nursing, and several others.

Location: Adrian, Michigan

Online programs: 18


7. Spring Arbor University

Website: Spring Arbor University

Founded in 1873 as Spring Arbor College, the school attained university status in 1994 before changing its name to Spring Arbor University. It is a private Free Methodist university located in the Michigan city of Spring Arbor. The university is considered the second-largest evangelical Christian university in the state. It began as a seminary for elementary and secondary students before developing into an accredited university that offers a wide variety of different degree programs at various locations across the state, as well as through online degree programs.

Some of the degree programs that adult students can take online include doctor of nursing practice, master of education and trauma and resiliency, master of social work, Master of Education and reading, early childhood education, nurse educator, nurse practitioner, registered nursing to Bachelor of Science in nursing, and an array of different certificate programs as well.

Location: Spring Arbor, Michigan

Online programs: 17


8. Northern Michigan University

Website: Northern Michigan University

Located in Marquette, Michigan, Northern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that has won awards for its leadership programs, nationally recognized academic programs, and cutting-edge technology initiatives. About 7,600 undergraduate and graduate students enroll at the university each year. The school offers more than 170 degree programs, which include 25 graduate programs. More than 75 percent of the university’s faculty have earned doctorates. The university was founded in 1899 under the name of the Northern State Normal School with just a small group of students.

The university offers in-person and online classes for adult students who work full or part-time jobs or are raising a family and still want to earn their degrees. Some of those areas of study include a bachelor of applied science and management, applied workplace leadership, construction management, loss prevention management, criminal justice, Native American studies, Bachelor of Science and Management, Bachelor of Science in psychology, and many other degrees and certificate programs.

Location: Marquette, Michigan

Online programs: 17


9. Davenport University

Website: Davenport University

Founded in 1866 by Conrad Swensburg, Davenport University is now a private university with campuses throughout Michigan and offers programs online. The university offers an array of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs and diploma and postgraduate certification programs in a wide range of areas of study. Those include business, health professionals, technology, and graduate studies.

The university has grown over the decades since it became the second-largest private nonprofit university in Michigan. It is nestled in the beautiful town of Grand Rapids, Michigan, with several regional campuses throughout the state. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers a variety of student organizations and athletic programs.

Through the Davenport University Online Global Campus, thousands of students have been able to earn their degrees while taking their classes fully online. The university is considered the first online learning community in the state of Michigan since it has offered online college degrees for over two decades. Students can choose from 50 different online college degree and certificate programs in various areas of study, such as business management, technology, healthcare, and urban education.

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Online programs: 56


10. Madonna University

Website: Madonna University

Madonna University was founded in 1937 in the Michigan city of Livonia. The school enrolls more than 2000 undergraduate students annually and more than 400 graduate students annually. The student-to-faculty ratio is only 13 to one, which means students receive individualized attention. Students can choose from more than 100 career-focused majors while working towards their associate or bachelor’s degree and more than 30 master’s and doctoral degree programs in education and nursing. The university is the first in the United States to offer a bachelor’s degree in sign language studies. Additionally, the school has added 23 new academic programs just since 2015.

Students can take classes at various campus locations throughout the state of Michigan or opt to earn their degree online. Some online degree programs offer a Bachelor of Arts in general studies, master’s degree and business leadership, criminal justice, criminal justice leadership, educational leadership, and many other degrees and certificate programs.

Location: Livonia, Michigan

Online programs: 15


11. Kettering University

Website: Kettering University

Kettering University was founded in 1919 as the School of Automobile Trades in Flint, Michigan, under the leadership of Major Albert Sobey. The school’s original goal was to provide training for technical and management talent in Michigan’s rapidly growing automobile industry. The school grew to a four-year cooperative education university by 1923, with more than 600 full-time students enrolled. Eventually, the General Motors Corporation took over the school and renamed it the General Motors Institute (GMI). It remained that way for 56 years until it became a full degree-granting university by 1945. The school eventually took on the name of Kettering University and offers a variety of four-year degree programs.

Kettering university after several online degree programs to help adult students who have other responsibilities to attend to while earning their degrees. Some of those include a master of business administration, a master’s in data science, a master’s in engineering management, a master’s in lean manufacturing, and several others. Several graduate certificate programs are also available online for working professionals who want to increase their education levels.

Location: Flint, Michigan

Online programs: 11


12. Michigan Technological University

Website: Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University was founded as a research-focused university in 1885. The university is nestled in the city of Houghton, Michigan, on the state’s Upper Peninsula, that overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway near Lake Superior. The university enrolls about 7,000 students each year. It was initially founded as the Michigan Mining School.

The school offers a total of 41 degree programs, courses, and certificate programs that can be done in person at the university or online. Some of those include a Master of Science and manufacturing engineering, hilarious science and mechanical engineering, Ph.D. in natural hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction, and certificate programs for networking communication systems, public policy, and quality engineering.

Location: Houghton, Michigan

Online programs: 9


13. Lawrence Technological University

Website: Lawrence Technological University

Founded in 1932 on property provided by Henry and Edsel Ford near their Model T assembly plant, Lawrence Technological University focuses on theory and practice in a variety of areas of study. This school offers degree programs that are career driven and practical while being taught through skill-based, technical learning within an online environment. Each school’s online programs are for working adults and are both comfortable yet rigorous to provide the necessary education for adults to advance in their careers.

Students can achieve their online degree goals by working on their classes at any time of the day or night. This means students can work ahead at their own pace and graduate sooner with their degrees if they choose. Some of the degree programs offered online by the Lawrence Technological University include Master of Business Administration, master of architecture, master of engineering management, master of civil engineering, Master of Science in industrial engineering, Master of Science in information technology, master of construction and engineering management, and several others.

Location: Southfield, Michigan

Online programs: 7


14. Saginaw Valley State University

Website: Saginaw Valley State University

Saginaw Valley State University is a public university situated in the Michigan city of University Center in Saginaw County. Founded as Saginaw Valley College in 1963, the university is located on 740 acres. It offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs of study for more than 7,000 students each year. The school has a 97 percent job and Graduate School placement rate for graduates and is ranked number one in the state of Michigan for being the best college campus.

Students can attend classes in-person on campus or choose to earn their degrees online. Some of the online programs include a master of business administration degree with concentrations in accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, management, and health administration. Students can also earn a marketing certificate in international business or a master of public health degree online. Nurses striving to become nurse practitioners can also complete their degree work online.

Location: University Center, Michigan

Online programs: 6


15. Great Lakes Christian College

Website: Great Lakes Christian College

Located west of Lansing, Michigan, Great Lakes Christian College is nestled on a 47-acre campus in a gorgeous residential area. The school opened in 1949 and is affiliated with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. GLCC offers a variety of degree programs that students can complete through online classes. Many of these programs include classes that are completely online with no classroom requirements, and students are still eligible for scholarships and financial aid.

Some online degree programs available for students include Bible theology, business logistics, church planting for those who wish to become church leaders or pastors, church leadership and communication, and youth ministry.

Location: Lansing, Michigan

Online programs: 6


16. Olivet College

Website: Olivet College

Founded in 1844, Olivet College’s mission has always been to provide education for students to help enrich their lives morally, spiritually, and intellectually. When the college was founded, it became the first college in Michigan for women and persons of color on a coequal basis with white males. The first graduating class of the college in 1863 included three women. The college offers 34 majors and 26 minor degree programs. Additionally, the average class size is only 15 students, so the faculty can give individualized attention.

Students can earn degrees fully online or in “Flexschedule” classes tailored to each student’s needs, including online and in-person classes. Students can earn degrees in various areas of study online, such as business administration, criminal justice, insurance, risk management, exercise science, and also sports and recreation management.

Location: Olivet, Michigan

Online programs: 3


17. University of Detroit Mercy

Website: University of Detroit Mercy

With more than 5,000 students enrolling each year, the University of Detroit Mercy is a private Catholic university in the Michigan city of Detroit. Both the Society of Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy support the school that opened in 1877. It is the largest Catholic university in Michigan.

The university offers more than 100 academic programs, including online programs. Students can earn a Business Turnaround Management Certificate online, a master’s degree in Product Development and several degrees within the nursing and healthcare fields.

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Online programs: 2


18. University of Michigan–Flint

Website: University of Michigan-Flint

The University of Michigan-Flint opened in 1956 and recently celebrated its 65th anniversary. It is only one of three campuses that are part of the world-renowned University of Michigan family. The university is constantly growing and offering more undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It is a public university located in Flint, Michigan, committed to equality, diversity, and providing affordable and accessible education for students. The university currently has more than 6400 students and offers 138 majors and concentrations that apply to 12 bachelor’s degree programs, 15 master’s degree programs, and 12 doctoral degree or specialist programs.

The university’s online programs offer the same advantages and experience as the ones on campus. Some online bachelor’s degree programs offer accounting, general business, philosophy, finance, early childhood studies, entrepreneurship and innovation management, history, and healthcare administration. Some of the master’s degree programs offered include Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Arts Administration, and Master of Business Administration. Examples of doctoral degrees offered online include a doctorate in nursing and a doctorate in physical therapy. There are also several certificate programs offered fully online.

Location: Flint, Michigan

Online programs: 35


19. Alma College

Website: Alma College

Founded by Michigan Presbyterians in 1886, Alma College is situated on 128 acres of land in Alma, Michigan. The school also boasts a 200-acre ecological tract of land and enrolls approximately 1,300 students yearly. The college offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in various disciplines, such as Master of Fine Arts and creative writing, Master of Science and communication and information technology, and a variety of bachelor’s degrees.

Students can opt to take classes in person or online to complete their degree programs. In addition to several master’s degree programs, students can earn their Bachelor of Arts, bachelor’s of science, bachelor’s science in nursing, and a bachelor’s in music online.

Location: Alma, Michigan

Online programs: 1


20. Finlandia University

Website: Finlandia University

Created in 1896 by Finnish Immigrants under the name of Suomi College, Finlandia University is now a private, non-profit, accredited, co-educational liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The college is located in the town of Hancock in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula and is the only private university in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The university offers several academic programs that can lead to associate and bachelor’s degrees in art and design, business, liberal studies, and Health Sciences.

Students can take the registered nursing to bachelor science and nursing degree program entirely online, which fits nicely with the busy life of a nurse.

Location: Hancock, Michigan

Online programs: 1


What is a Hidden Gem in Michigan?

A Hidden Gem in Michigan is a college or university with a more petite student body. Many of these schools are private religious schools. However, small liberal arts colleges in Michigan and smaller state schools also fit into this category.


What are the Benefits of Attending a Small College or University in Michigan?

Small colleges in Michigan offer a more intimate college experience. Because of their size, these schools offer more personal attention from faculty and easier access to services. In addition, these small colleges give students a well-rounded education with a community atmosphere.

A large university is very different from a small college. And the size of the school you choose can have a significant impact on your college experience. Of course, students can earn excellent education at any established institution. But other factors make a college experience the best it can be.

Hidden Gems in Michigan are small colleges and universities where students thrive. Many of these schools have a lower student-to-faculty ratio. So students can get more direct attention from instructors. In addition, reduced class size means professors usually teach the course instead of Teaching Assistants (TAs). As a result, the overall education is more personal, and there is a strong sense of community.


Why Do Students Attend Small Colleges or Hidden Gems in Michigan?

Students attend small colleges and universities for many reasons. A lot of students feel more comfortable in a smaller campus setting. University of Michigan and Michigan State are giant institutions with over 40,000 students. A university the size of a small town may be overwhelming.

Shared community and values are another reason students prefer smaller colleges. Many students, especially those attending a religious institution, be part of a community of students with the same goals and values. One of the Hidden Gems in Michigan may be an excellent fit for these students!


Are Small Colleges and Hidden Gems in Michigan More Expensive?

The state and federal governments provide significant funding for public universities. Since private colleges don’t have the same access to government funding, many have to charge more. Therefore, private college tuition is almost always more expensive than the tuition at a state-supported school.

However, many students don’t know that most private schools have additional sources for student aid. The money comes from school endowments and gifts. This school-based aid can reduce the total cost of what a student pays. Therefore, the final price of private school tuition can be less than what you read on a website.

Furthermore, the cost differs for each student since the individual financial need is part of the overall calculation. It surprises many students when they learn that private schools can be less expensive than state schools. So, it is worth going through the steps to learn about the Hidden Gems in Michigan.


Are Smaller Colleges Better?

The best college or university for you is the one that meets your needs. And only you know the right fit for you because everyone is different. So, before you begin your application, take some time to think about the type of environment where you can grow and thrive.

More prominent universities are great for independent learners who don’t need much help from professors. However, students who need more individualized attention may find smaller classes, and a smaller school is a better fit for them. And one of our Hidden Gems in Michigan may be the place for you!


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