An Introduction to Colleges & Universities in Detroit

by Jessica Ponden
An Introduction to Colleges & Universities in Detroit

Detroit is a city on the move. Known worldwide for automobile manufacturing, this city of more than 900,000 is undergoing a revival. A major housing and commercial construction boom and a large road and infrastructure improvement program are giving the Motor city a much-needed boost. At the same time, however, the city's population continues to drop, as census data shows. City officials are hoping to reverse the trend by focusing on improving public safety, accelerating economic and business development, enhancing city services and strengthening Detroit's financial health, according to the mayor's 2005 state of the city address.

The world headquarters of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., along with the North American headquarters of DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen, are located in Detroit. Other corporations with headquarters in the area include The Budd Company, Kelly Services, SBC, Federal Mogul, Kmart, Domino's, Hungry Howie's and Little Caesars.

The city is also home to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, the Henry Ford Estate and the Motown Museum.

The Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers sports teams are also based in the city. And this year, Super Bowl XL will be held there. An economic surge of more than $302 million is expected as a result, according to city officials.

Going to School in Detroit

There are a variety of colleges and universities located in the Detroit metropolitan area, which encompasses Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. There are four-year public and private institutions as well as several professional schools and community colleges. Following is a list of colleges and universities in the area:

The University of Michigan enrolls the most students. A total of 55,028 graduates and undergraduates attend classes at the school's three campuses, located in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint. The most popular areas of study include psychology, business administration, mechanical engineering, political science and English.

A testament to the education students receive is the recent announcement that 29 University of Michigan students have been awarded Fulbright fellowships -- more than any other university in the nation. "What sets us apart is that we have great departments in a wide variety of fields," said Amy Kehoe, who coordinates student Fulbright applications at U-M's International Institute.

Also a state school, Michigan State University is the only Big Ten public university ranked on U.S. News & World Report's 2005 “Great Schools, Great Prices” list. Also, MSU's College of Education elementary and secondary education graduate programs have been ranked number one for 10 years by U.S. News & World Report.

Eastern Michigan University is making a name for itself through its science and math programs. The school was recently awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the Creative Scientific Inquiry Experience. The program is designed to increase the number of science and math graduates.

“This program will allow us to integrate math and science courses. For example, a faculty member who teaches calculus would create questions which connect with the sciences,” said Joanne Caniglia, co-principal investigator and professor of mathematics. “These will be specialized courses with a core theme that unifies them. Faculty from math and science will have time to prepare and work together. It's the ideal way to teach.”

Also getting attention for its new programming is Marygrove College, a private school with about 1,200 students. The school is partnering with Lawrence Technological University to offer the first Master of Education degree in Educational Technology.

“The Masters of Education in Educational Technology is a means for teachers to improve their teaching skills at the same time they improve learning for their K-12 students through the use of educational technology,” said Dr. Susan Clairborne, assistant professor and coordinator of Educational Technology. “The Student-Centered Classroom, while still revolutionary to some, is the wave of teaching in the 21st Century. Instead of ‘old school' teaching methods where the instructor is the center of the classroom and the disseminator of information, tomorrow's students will be much more self-directed, research-savvy and advanced users of information-age tools.”


The cost of attending college in Detroit tends to be fairly reasonable. In addition, there are a variety of grants and scholarships available.

Tuition at the University of Michigan is $9,213 for students from Michigan and $27,601 for out-of-state students. About 70 percent of those enrolled receive some sort of financial aid.

Eastern Michigan University charges $5,880 in tuition and adds another $10,500 for out-of-staters, and Michigan State is at $233.25 per credit hour for in-state students and $625 for out-of-state students.

Financial Aid

Eastern Michigan University recently announced a 28 percent increase in funding from endowed scholarships and endowments in 2004-05. Plus, gifts in excess of $2.1 million were received for student scholarships. “This significant increase…has a direct impact on the University's student population and shows that our donors understand that our students need help to complete their education,” said Thomas Stevick, interim vice president for advancement and executive director of the EMU Foundation.

Eastern Michigan offers scholarships such as the Detroit Compact Scholarship, the Wade McCree Scholarship, a Music Service Award and a Communications and Theatre Arts Service Award. More information and application forms are available from the school.

Wayne State University also recently announced more aid for students. The school's Department of Music, in conjunction with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, will offer the WSU/DSO Scholarships in Music to support five music students beginning in fall 2006. Each scholarship will be renewable up to four years, with a total cumulative value of more than $30,000.


Real world experience has become increasingly important for all college students. Recognizing this, most schools post internship opportunities online, and also host workshops on interviewing, making a resume and what to expect from an internship.

Wayne State, for example, has an online service for internship seekers. Students can fill out what is called a WarriorTRAK profile that will be posted with their resume so students and employers can make a good match. Students can also access the website Internships-USA to review opportunities around the country.

Wayne State also has a Cooperative Education Program. Participating students alternate semesters of full-time, paid work experience and full-time class attendance.

The University of Michigan also maintains a database of internship opportunities for students. Special offerings include a Public Service Internship Program in Washington DC and a New York Arts Intern Program.

Students at the University of Michigan, Wayne State and Michigan State are also regularly accepted into intern and coop programs at the General Motors Corp. In addition, the Ford Motor Co. also has a summer internship program for those interested in materials planning and logistics and component design and vehicle operations.

Employment in Detroit

Detroit's unemployment rate in September was at 7.8 percent, as compared to the national rate of 5.1 percent, according to Department of Labor statistics. And while the city's unemployment has consistently been above average for some time, Detroit's population continues to dip. However, city officials remain optimistic and Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick calls this a time of “phenomenal growth.” The city has established Empowerment Zone and Renaissance Zone programs to spur economic development. There's also the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization to help small businesses.

In addition, Detroit's largest private employers continue to thrive. They include the Chrysler Corporation, the Detroit Medical Center, General Motors Corporation, Henry Ford Health System, St. John Health Corporation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Detroit Edison, Comerica, and MCN Corporation.


With a diverse economy and fabulous recreational resources, in addition to an abundance of excellent educational and internship opportunities, going to school in Detroit is a sound choice for nearly any student.

Related Articles