Home College Towns Ranking Michigan’s State Universities: Here’s Our Top Ten

Ranking Michigan’s State Universities: Here’s Our Top Ten

Ranking Michigan’s State Universities: Here’s Our Top Ten

3. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Number 3,  Michigan State University in East Lansing, is a flagship university. This is an impressive place. It is a world-renowned research university and the first land-grant university established to teach agriculture under the Morrill Act. It became the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions.

In 1857 there were 5 faculty members teaching 60 students in three buildings. Now, there are over 200 academic programs offered to undergraduates, graduates and pre-professionals. Fifty thousand students attend! Big surprise it has one of the largest intramural programs in the country. There are 600 plus student organizations – you have to find at least one that looks fun. There are 275  study abroad programs in 60 countries.

And, of course, there is the Big Ten, Division I sports thing. So they won the Cotton Bowl in 2015 and the Rose Bowl in 2014 (yes, that is football). Picture yourself at one of their games. You can wave to your parents on TV. A top major is Communication and Media Studies, but other areas of study are packaging, hospitality business, supply chain management and music therapy.

Michigan State has a pretty campus with grass, trees, brick and glass. Buildings are a mix of old and new. There is an art museum, performing arts center, planetarium and seven and a half acres of horticultural gardens.The oldest part of campus is North Campus with its picturesque gothic style buildings and wandering roads. The university museum and hotel are located here. South Campus is not as charming with newer buildings and less green appeal.

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Some rights reserved by gawnesco

A few interesting historical tidbits, women were first admitted in 1870 and studied the same scientific agricultural courses as the men. A Women’s Course was added in 1896 combining home economics, liberal arts and science. The first African American was admitted in 1899. Booker T. Washington spoke at the 1900 Commencement and a female African American enrolled and graduated in 1907 receiving her degree from President Theodore Roosevelt.

Students graduate with about $28,000. in debt, a salary of roughly $40,000. after spending about $26,100. annually to attend. Sixty-eight percent of the students are White, 7% Black, 4% Hispanic, 3% 2 or more races, 14% International and 1% unknown.  And just for fun, in case your interest hasn’t been caught yet, they have a campus in Dubai. If you think you want to leave home for a semester, how about Dubai?

2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

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Some rights reserved by cseeman

Number 2 on the list is the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Also a flagship university and hosting about 43,000 students annually, it sits on a central campus of about 40 acres that seamlessly blends into the city, but extends far beyond those initial acres and has a large arboretum.

There are four parts to campus, North, Central, Medical and South. The Huron River separates the North Campus. The school golf course is on the South Campus. The campus buildings are quite impressive. There is a reading room in the Legal Research Building that looks like something out of Hogwarts! But oh, the campus is just so wow.

UMich is also a top research university. It is the oldest university in Michigan, graduating the first 11 students in 1837. The first woman was admitted in 1870. UMich introduced the seminar style of teaching. Inspiring. There are 19 schools and colleges offering 260 degree programs, which, of course, are also tops in the rankings. Many students major in Health and Physical Fitness Studies, but there are well-respected programs in architecture and urban planning, public health, social work and business, as well as so many, many more.

There are 1200+ student organizations. Every state is represented here as well as 114 countries. Did I mention Division I athletics? UMich is part of the Big Ten. Really good sports teams. Yes, Michael Phelps went to Michigan. Doesn’t get much better than that. Well, except, didn’t Michigan State win last year’s football game? Sorry, is that salt in an open wound?

In-state students attending UMich spend about $27,800. yearly, graduate with about $24,700. in debt and have an average salary of $46,000. The campus is fairly diverse with 65% White, 13% Asian, 4.8% Black, 5.4% Hispanic, 3.6% 2 or more races, and 7.1% unknown. This has to have you excited to look at colleges in Michigan.

1.  Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan

By Michigan_Tech_campus_2011.jpg: Michigan Technological University Photo Servicesderivative work: Two Hearted River (Michigan_Tech_campus_2011.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL]
By Michigan_Tech_campus_2011.jpg: Michigan Technological University Photo Servicesderivative work: Two Hearted River [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL]
The number 1 university in the Michigan public system is….Michigan Technological University. It costs $27,700. to attend each year, but, and your parents will LOVE this, the average salary at graduation is $52,000! This means you can move out of your parent’s house for sure. The average debt at the end of 4 years is $29,300., and there is a 93% job placement rate at graduation.

Michigan Tech is in Houghton and is considered the safest campus in the system and according to Reader’s Digest, the 3rd safest campus in the U.S. Houghton is in the Upper Peninsula overlooking the Keweenaw Waterway and Portage Lake.

The campus is tall and compact and sits on about 925 acres, but there are 4500 acres of research forest to explore. There is a ski hill, golf course, trails, and a mineral museum. The trails are groomed and lighted in the winter for all kinds of outdoor adventures.

Michigan Tech was founded in 1885 to support the local copper mines by educating engineers to work for them. Presently, there are about 7238 students studying in 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, math, engineering and technology. Mechanical Engineering is the top major, but as you can see, there are many options.

Of course, this being a technical school, there are fewer women than men. But there are 220 student organizations including Greek Life to enjoy and Division II athletics as well as plenty of intramural sports. There is also a very strong music and fine arts interest on campus, just for fun. Around 600 students participate. So, you can add to your income with a little moonlighting. I know a piano instructor that tells his students to think of those college days when you want easy money. Practice pays off. Did I mention 93% job placement at graduation?

Still not sold? Michigan Tech hosts Winter Carnival every year and there is a snow statue competition.  Just imagine 7000 of your best techy friends competing to build the best snow sculpture using all they have learned in science, math, engineering and technology. The results are limitless. Just to see the amazing finished products and be inspired by the creativity is humbling and educational. This is a must see.

One Other Option: Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, Mount Pleasant, MIchigan

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There is one more school that is too specific to make it on the list, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College. This college was founded in 1998 in Mount Pleasant to meet the ever increasing need to join higher education and tribal culture. The goal is to promote education among members and employees while preserving the traditions of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe.

Three degrees are available: Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts, Associate of Arts in Native American Studies and Associate of Arts in Business with the hopes that the student will move on to their bachelor degree at another school, if they so choose.  A friendly little school that is taking on a big job. Very awesome.

Now you know our Top Ten and then some in Michigan. There is no way you cannot find a school to attend in this assortment. You want huge? Head to Michigan State or UMich. You want big city, look at Wayne State. Smaller? Michigan Tech or Lake Superior State. And then there are so many in between! And they are here in the state of Michigan, but all with study abroad options for when you really need a semester away. And, if you go looking within the next 3 weeks, I heard Tom Brady might be wandering around the state. Oh get over it! He didn’t deflate the balls!

Anyway, enjoy the search and what you learn about yourself, your parents and your state as you find a college to call home. Best of luck. Embrace the process and enjoy Michigan.


Featured image: By AndrewHorne (talk) – Own work (Original text: I (AndrewHorne (talk)) created this work entirely by myself.), Public Domain,



  1. Thank you for ranking Michigan Technological University #1 among public universities in Michigan. We here at Michigan Tech think so too. However, some of your figures are inaccurate. The total cost of a year at Tech for in-state students (tuition, room & board) is $24,439, not $27,700, and the average starting salary of a graduate is $62,800, not $52,000. Once again, thanks for recognizing the excellent education offered by Michigan Tech.


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