Top Colleges in Michigan

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: Adrian College | Alma College | Cornerstone University | Hillsdale College | Siena Heights University | Spring Arbor University | University of Michigan-Flint | Frequently Asked Questions

Colleges of Distinction has hand-picked a selection of top schools that are well equipped to provide a personalized education catered to students’ interests. Through a rigorous vetting and interview process we have refreshed and reaffirmed that these institutions strive for excellence in line with the four overarching distinctions—Student Engagement, Teaching, Community, and Outcomes.

These schools vary in size, cost, location, academic offerings, and more, but they are all distinguished by their commitment to the undergraduate experience. The diversity of the college list is intentional, giving students and parents a variety of public and private universities to consider. No matter what, they all exhibit the foundational qualities of a fulfilling undergraduate education.

Adrian College

Adrian, MI ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Adrian College is a private college in the liberal arts tradition affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The college was founded in 1859 by Asa Mahan.

With over 40 majors and pre-professional programs to choose from, more than 80 student organizations, and 22 varsity sports, the opportunities to achieve and excel are limitless at Adrian College. Whether students are applying their liberal arts education in AC’s innovative Institutes, directing a play in historic Downs Hall Studio Theatre, or scoring in new athletic facilities like the Arrington Ice Arena, Adrian College students are a part of a 150+-year history as it surges into the future.

Student engagement at Adrian College involves cutting-edge teaching and learning for students. From service-learning opportunities to class projects to lecture series, students learn in an environment rooted in a philosophy called the “Ribbons of Excellence.” These values are taken from the long-standing tradition of attaching ribbons with graduates’ names to the shepherd’s crook during graduation ceremonies. These ribbons of excellence support the College’s mission—a mission rooted in personal and professional excellence standards. Just as the Latin inscription on the shepherd’s crook suggests, the Ribbons of Excellence cannot be achieved without hard work.

The Ribbons of Excellence are: Caring for humanity and the world; Crossing boundaries and disciplines; Thinking critically; Developing creativity; Learning throughout a lifetime

Acceptance rate 61%      •      Net price $25,520      •      SAT Range 927-1120      •      Students submitting SAT scores 76%
Total Undergrad Population 1,865      •      Setting Town      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 53%      •      Retention rate 66%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

Click here for available majors

Alma College

Alma, MI ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Alma College is at its best when it’s working with students who don’t have all the answers, but love to ask the questions. A beautiful residential college located in the middle of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Alma College offers an individualized education through which each student is encouraged to identify personal and professional goals as they chart a path for the future. Alma does not prescribe a formula for success; rather, it helps students discover their options and open the right doors. Perhaps the best thing about an Alma College education is its dedication to help students put the ideas and theories that they discuss in the classroom to work in real-world settings. Or maybe it’s the lifelong friendships and amazing memories that are made in the process.

Through the Alma Commitment, faculty work with students to plan a college experience that includes all the classes necessary to graduate on time. The Alma Venture and other college-sponsored grant programs provide up to $2,500 to every student to offset the cost of a personalized experience, such as study abroad, internships, hands-on research or clinical project, and service. Students have practical experiences that look great on their résumés, all while having the time and resources to include other campus opportunities that are important to them (performing arts, athletics, Greek life, etc.).

Acceptance rate 67%      •      Net price $23,635
Total Undergrad Population 1,435      •      Setting Town      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 71%      •      Retention rate 83%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 13:1

Click here for available majors

Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids. Build a Life That Matters.

Cornerstone University

Grand Rapids, MI ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

At Cornerstone University, students are more. More than a major. More than a degree. Each student is a story. At Cornerstone, students are encouraged to discover their unique gifts and abilities, pushed to think outside their comfort zones, and equipped to graduate with the skills needed to make an impact on the world for Christ.

Cornerstone believes in helping students discover their calling. CU’s LIFEPATH program provides purpose-guided academic and career planning to help students discover how God has gifted and equipped each of them with unique skills, abilities, and passions. Elements of the LIFEPATH program include:

Center for Career & Life Calling: Staff members help students make meaning of their talents, interests, and values, providing such additional services as networking, résumé development, graduate school preparation, and internship and job search strategies.

Center for Academic Success: Academic advisors assist first-year students with planning their schedules as well as tutoring, academic coaching, and services for students with disabilities. After their first year, students will have completed an individualized 4-year plan to keep them on track toward graduation. 

Acceptance rate 87%      •      Net price $20,112      •      SAT Range 1040-1060      •      Students submitting SAT scores 85%
Total Undergrad Population 1,917      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 66%      •      Retention rate 86%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

Click here for available majors

Hillsdale College

Hillsdale, MI ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Hillsdale College was founded in 1844 by men and women who described themselves as “grateful to God for the inestimable blessings” of civil and religious liberty, “believing that the diffusion of sound learning is essential to the perpetuity of those blessings.” The College has maintained institutional independence since its founding, having refused to accept aid from or control by federal authorities. Its far-reaching private support from a national constituency has enabled Hillsdale to continue its trusteeship of the intellectual and spiritual inheritance derived from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture.

The College maintains its defense of the traditional liberal arts curriculum, convinced that it provides the best tools and preparation to meet the challenges of modern life. The liberal arts are dedicated to stimulating students’ intellectual curiosity, to encouraging the critical, well-disciplined mind, and to fostering personal growth through academic challenge.

Acceptance rate 24%     •     Net price $24,057     •     SAT Range 1340-1510     •     Students submitting SAT scores 22%
Total Undergrad Population 1,515      •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 88%     •     Retention rate 94%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 8:1

Click here for available majors

Siena Heights University

Adrian, MI ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Siena Heights University is a coeducational, Catholic institution in the Dominican tradition, founded in 1919 and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

At Siena Heights, students do so much more than earn degrees. They develop interests that transform into passions. They discover talents they never knew they had. They make friendships that last forever. Siena Heights University has dedicated almost a century to creating an educational environment in which students feel both instantly comfortable and infinitely challenged.

Unique to Siena Heights, the University conducts an annual “Common Dialogue Day” for thoughtful discussion and debate on campus. It is open to students, faculty, staff, and even members of the local community. Class is canceled on this day to encourage participation, and students are invited to attend several guest presentations related to the year’s academic theme. It is an enlightening day of debate and discovery that takes to heart the mission of the Siena Heights community.

At Siena, effectiveness in the classroom means plenty of one-on-one interaction. The University’s small size allows professors to know students personally and act as active participants in helping them reach their goals and aspirations. Faculty also share the benefit of their own considerable accomplishments; Siena professors conduct scientific research, publish literature, and excel in their field of expertise.

Acceptance rate 74%      •      Net price $18,910
Total Undergrad Population 2,036      •      Setting Town      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 53%      •      Retention rate 74%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

Click here for available majors

Spring Arbor University, a Christian school in Spring Arbor, Michigan

Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor, MI ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

At Spring Arbor University’s core is a dedication to help students pursue a life of wisdom, grounded in a Christian liberal arts education and the cultivation of academic and spiritual growth. Since its founding in 1873, Spring Arbor University (SAU) has developed this culture. That commitment continues today. “The Concept” guides the university, serving as the cornerstone of academic and spiritual life both on campus and beyond.

SAU students both live and learn in community. Whether they hear their favorite professor give a multidisciplinary lecture, take a day off from regularly scheduled classes to highlight a contemporary issue at the annual FOCUS series, or continue their classroom discussions in the dining commons, SAU students incorporate learning and understanding into their lives. The result of this is a student body dedicated to academic, spiritual, and social excellence, striving to pursue wisdom well beyond the classroom.

Spiritual life is a priority across campus. The faculty foster the rigorous classroom experience as an opportunity for growth in both wisdom and knowledge. Outside of the classroom, the entire student body gathers on Mondays and Wednesdays for chapel services, participating in worship and listening to engaging messages from a variety of speakers from across campus and the nation. Other worship opportunities include Worship Arts Vespers Experience (WAVE), which is led by worship arts majors. Students also take advantage of local ministry opportunities, small groups, and annual retreats in pursuit of deepening and strengthening their relationship with Christ.

Acceptance rate 63%      •      Net price $21,535      •      SAT Range 980-1190      •      Students submitting SAT scores 88%
Total Undergrad Population 3,118      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 64%      •      Retention rate 78%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

Click here for available majors

University of Michigan–Flint

Flint, MI ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

University of Michigan-Flint is a public university in historic Flint, Michigan. Join a network of nearly 7,000 students in over 100 areas of study.

The University of Michigan Go Blue Guarantee is available to eligible students, granting those who qualify a free college tuition at UM-Flint. High-achieving students from lower-income backgrounds are welcome to apply, making the dream of a college education possible for those who might otherwise choose not to attend.

Acceptance rate 77%      •      Net price $12,546      •      SAT Range 970-1210      •      Students submitting SAT scores 92%
Total Undergrad Population 6,829      •      Setting City: Small      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 38%      •      Retention rate 72%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

Click here for available majors

What it’s like to attend schools in Michigan and other FAQ:

What are average tuition costs in Michigan?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in Michigan is $7,269 for in-state students at public institutions, $17,761 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $20,189 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest degree program in Michigan

University of Michigan-Flint has an average net price of $12,546, making it the least expensive institution in Michigan that made our list.

Easiest degree program to get into in Michigan

Cornerstone University has an acceptance rate of 87%, with an SAT range of 1040-1060, making it the least exclusive college in Michigan on our list.

Degree program with lowest student debt in Michigan

Siena Heights University has a median total debt after graduation of $18,750. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.