2023 Top Colleges in Michigan
Published: September 1, 2022
By: Colleges of Distinction Staff
Jump to: Adrian College | Alma College | Central Michigan University | Cornerstone University | Hillsdale College | Kalamazoo College | Siena Heights University | Spring Arbor University | University of Michigan-Dearborn | University of Michigan-Flint | Western Michigan University | 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 for the 2022-2023 academic year, 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, 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.
RIBBONS OF EXCELLENCE
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
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
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI ‧ Public ‧ 4-year
Pursue excellence, live with compassion, and transform into a leader at Central Michigan University. CMU is a public university in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
Don’t just adapt to a changing world. Play a role in shaping the future. Action is a hallmark of the CMU experience. Here, you’ll go beyond the classroom to apply your learning in the real world. You’ll explore your passions, find your voice, and get fired up to take on the world.
Acceptance rate 69% • Net price $15,758 • SAT Range 1000-1210 • Students submitting SAT scores 94%
Total Undergrad Population 17,311 • Setting Town • Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 64% • Retention rate 80% • Student-to-faculty ratio 18:1
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
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
Kalamazoo, MI ‧ Private ‧ 4-year
As one of the oldest institutions in America, Kalamazoo College prepares its students for success. Collaboration with faculty and experiential learning opportunities groom students into intelligent and mindful leaders of tomorrow.
SOCIAL JUSTICE LEADERSHIP
Kalamazoo values social justice and expects every student to observe tolerance and equality of all groups. The Arcus Center for Social Justice is the hub for service initiatives. Students and faculty can propose specific efforts and see that they are followed through. Kalamazoo’s commitment to social justice is outlined in a set of values: inspire unity, spark intellectual growth, nurture leadership, build community, and embrace change.
THE DISCOVERY EXTERNSHIP PROGRAM
The Discovery Externship Program links Kalamazoo students with alumni all over the world. Students have the opportunity to live and work with alumni—a priceless experience whereby students gain industry knowledge and build their professional network.
Acceptance rate 74% • Net price $27,596
Total Undergrad Population 1,451 • Setting City: Small • Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 79% • Retention rate 83% • Student-to-faculty ratio 13:1
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.
COMMON DIALOGUE DAY
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
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.
A COMMUNITY OF LEARNERS
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.
TOTAL COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST
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
University of Michigan–Dearborn
Dearborn, MI ‧ Public ‧ 4-year
University of Michigan-Dearborn emphasizes hands-on learning, small class sizes, engaged faculty, and a commitment to impact southeast Michigan. Faculty prepare students to be Difference Makers in industry and in the community long before they graduate. And the community is addressing challenges to the region head-on through pioneering research, strategic partnerships, and civic engagement.
The UM-Dearborn community is made of creative thinkers, innovators, and leaders. The beautiful campus, once owned by Henry Ford, continues to foster his bold spirit of entrepreneurship and collaboration.
Representing more than 50 birth countries and diverse backgrounds, students value and uphold an inclusive culture built on mutual respect and integrity. Together, students and faculty cultivate an environment in which all can learn from each other and work toward a greater understanding.
Acceptance rate 68% • Net price $12,639 • SAT Range 1090-1320 • Students submitting SAT scores 92%
Total Undergrad Population 8,783 • Setting City: Midsize • Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 55% • Retention rate 82% • Student-to-faculty ratio 16:1
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.
GO BLUE GUARANTEE
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
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI ‧ Public ‧ 4-year
Midway between Chicago and Detroit, the city of Kalamazoo thrives with both urban resources and rural landscapes, enriched with numerous cultural festivals, arts venues, and major science and research centers. Most notably, it is the proud home of Western Michigan University, a top-notch public research institution that supports active learners across 149 undergraduate, 75 master’s, and 32 doctoral programs. Its diverse population brings life to its academics, always collaborating with a mix of cultural viewpoints and a broad span of disciplinary perspectives.
As a major research institution, Western Michigan University stands as a leader in experiential learning opportunities. Its professors make a point to form strong relationships with their students, all while giving them the tools and experiences they need to thrive as future professionals.
Diversity is embraced as an important feature of WMU’s forward-thinking college environment. In fact, WMU was the first American university to require all students to study the non-Western world, incorporating global awareness into its general education curriculum. The University commits to inclusion, providing a safe outlet for students of all backgrounds to share their experiences and explore new cultures. Students are also invited to study, intern, or volunteer abroad to themselves firsthand to communities beyond WMU’s walls. Across over 40 countries, they can enact service and gain professional experience while earning academic credit and growing inspired for a lifetime of globally conscious citizenship.
The Office of Sustainability strives to engage each WMU student in initiatives that enact positive change to the environment. Campus-wide projects include a Bike Stable to promote clean methods of transportation, a waste reduction program that conducts research and promotes recycling, and the Gibbs House, which is a new laboratory within a historic campus building that provides space for students to design new technology for sustainable living.
Acceptance rate 85% • Net price $18,091 • SAT Range 1010-1220 • Students submitting SAT scores 67%
Total Undergrad Population 19,887 • Setting City: Small • Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 57% • Retention rate 78% • Student-to-faculty ratio 18:1
What it’s like to attend schools in Michigan and other FAQ:
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.
University of Michigan-Flint has an average net price of $12,546, making it the least expensive institution in Michigan that made our list.
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.
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.
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