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Michigan has a strong tradition of online education, from pioneering legislation on virtual schools to recent high-tech innovations. Find out about Michigan online degrees ranging from bachelor's to doctoral programs.

Online Schools in Michigan

Michigan has been a pioneer in designing online education programs to help students build technology skills and tools needed for success. In 2006, it was the first state in the nation to require students to have an online learning experience in order to earn a diploma.

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Michigan jumped into online learning in the late 1990s with the establishment of Michigan Virtual University (MVU), which provided training for the workforce. Now MVU concentrates on offering college-prep courses to students would not otherwise have access to them: Courses that range from Chinese to career education.

Online education has a growing presence not just in Michigan but nationwide. A 2011 Survey of Online Learning by the Babson Survey Research Group shows that almost one-third of students in U.S. higher education take at least one online course.

Michigan reaffirmed its commitment to virtual education by hosting Digital Learning Day in early 2012 to kick off the "Year of the Digital Learner." Michigan is taking an active part in this national campaign to promote innovative teaching and learning, designed to prepare students for life, college and careers.

Online learning complements traditional instruction in Michigan schools -- as of September 2012, Michigan Virtual University had 24,000 participants from public and non-public schools. To keep the curriculum fresh and relevant, courses are updated with input from groups like the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Michigan Association of Public Accountants.

Michigan Online Colleges Get High-Tech

Michigan boasts a tradition of using high-tech tools to provide opportunities for the community. Projects that began as continuing education for working adults have expanded to include a wide variety of online courses for all audiences. Through its College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (CASL), the University of Michigan (U-M) launched a distance learning undergraduate degree program for UAW-Ford workers in 1996. The U-M CASL program now offers many online options, including an interdisciplinary degree in general studies. Online technology allows the university to share resources among its different campuses.

The UM College of Engineering and Computer Science has built a Distance Learning Network to encourage lifelong learning for adults, particularly graduate studies. The Virtual Learning Tool course management system allows students to watch lectures, participate in group projects, submit assignments, receive feedback from instructors and take part in discussions. Online programs offer dual degree options like an MSE/MBA in industrial and systems engineering and business administration. Specialized Michigan expertise enriches distance learning options such as the automotive systems engineering program, which uses video streaming of on-campus lectures.

Trends in Online College in Michigan

Two Michigan schools ranked among the Center for Digital Education's top tech community colleges in the country for 2012. Delta College made it to the list of large institutions, based on its use of free mobile apps and the availability of technology for faculty and students, while Kirtland Community College placed among the top small colleges for digital education.

Across the state, institutions are broadening their online offerings to help students reach their education goals:

  • Western Michigan University has bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs, as well as graduate certificates. Undergraduates can pursue degrees like interdisciplinary health services or child and family development.
  • Southwestern Michigan College has online and hybrid course opportunities for college students.
  • Michigan State University provides more than 100 Internet-based courses, some with classroom time or face-to-face requirements.
  • MSU online offerings include graduate programs with hybrid and blended options, as well as Web-based certificate programs in subjects like game design and research or counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

A wide variety of private online schools also serve Michigan residents. Online colleges in Michigan offer students the choice of a purely Internet-based education or a hybrid option incorporating virtual and on-campus-academics.

Career Outlook in Michigan

In 2011, the mean annual wage in Michigan of $43,700 was lower than the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also notes that in August 2012 the state had an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, higher than the national figure. In this competitive hiring environment, education and training represent valuable qualifications; the BLS shows that advanced education can lead to lower unemployment rates as well as higher earnings.

Michigan's job market employed more than 4 million people as of August 2012, the BLS reports. The biggest employers in Michigan include trade, transportation and utilities; government; education and health services; and professional and business services. As of 2012, manufacturing ranks number 5 in the list, showing the state's economic diversification. In 2011, health care practitioners, technicians and support professionals outnumbered workers in production occupations such as engine and other machine assembly.

The BLS lists about 35 occupations in Michigan that brought in mean annual salaries of over $100,000 in 2011. These positions, ranging from computer hardware engineer to educational administrator, typically require some type of post-secondary education. Online schools in Michigan can help students gain the education necessary to seek rewarding careers like these.

Sources:
Economy at a Glance: Michigan, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.mi.htm
May 2011 National Occupational Employment & Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
"Innovative Online Career Development Course for HS Students is Launched," Michigan Department of Education, Feb 08, 2007, http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-38924_41644_42825-161970--,00.html
"Michigan Announces Plans to Host Digital Learning Day," Michigan Department of Education, Jan 30, 2012, http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-37818_34785-270411--,00.html
State of Michigan, http://www.michigan.gov/

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