Almost everyone has a different opinion on what the best school in Michigan is – and rightly so. One school may be a great fit for one person, but not another. In the same way, the answer to this question always depends on the degree/major program you are interested in. For example, one school may be great for engineering but not so good for business while another could be good in business but bad for engineering.
The most recognized of the state schools in Michigan are Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. Some of the smaller state schools include Central, Eastern and Western Michigan University or Michigan Technological University (aka Michigan Tech).
Eastern Michigan has a good teaching program and Western is a good art school. Michigan Tech’s engineering curriculum is also quite impressive. However, this article is about the best overall schools in Michigan, not an overview of them all. Incidentally, the most recognized schools are also the top schools in the state and that is certainly no coincidence. The choice between MSU and UofM is one that many graduating high school seniors in Michigan end up having to make. Both schools have a lot to offer to their students so it is important you visit them both and choose the one that feels right to you. This article can help with that decision, but ultimately you should not rely on it alone if you are choosing a school.
Lets get started with our evaluation of these top schools:
1.) Degree Programs
The University of Michigan is well known for their excellent programs in engineering and medicine. Their medical school is ranked in the top 10 in the country. But Michigan State’s medical program is not to be overlooked coming in at #12 in the USA Today rankings. The same goes for engineering. In recent years MSU has surpassed the University of Michigan in fields like Computer Science/Engineering and Chemical Engineering. UofM’s Business and law schools are also very well regarded. The University of Michigan is generally considered to be more strict in their admission requirements compared to MSU.
The programs for which Michigan State University is most renowned include physics, veterinary medicine and education. In fact, they are ranked 1st in the nation for physics and education and 9th for veterinary medicine. The jewel of the Nuclear Physics program is the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory; a particle accelerator located on the campus. Michigan State recently beat out MIT in a vie to have the FRIB (Facility for Rare Isotope Beams) located at on their campus. The range of programs offered at MSU cover almost every field you can imagine, so it may be a good choice for those unsure of what they want to do who want to keep their options open.
2.) The Campus
MSU and UofM have very different campus settings. UofM is located in Ann Arbor; a cultural hub known for its great downtown district. The university buildings are scattered throughout the city. If you head over to East Lansing you find yourself in a different setting entirely. The campus of Michigan State University is the largest contiguous campus in the nation and the entire city is almost purely a college town. Its smaller downtown area borders the northern edge of the campus. UofM is a college built into an established city, whereas East Lansing is a city built around a school. Both have their advantages. In Ann Arbor, you get the entire city as your playground. In East Lansing, however, you get to enjoy the beautiful green surroundings as well as the benefits of a large contiguous campus area filled with students like you.
This may not be an important thing for students who don’t play sports, but I will include it anyway. In general, the Michigan State Spartans have outperformed the University of Michigan Wolverine’s (at least recently). UofM’s football team used to be a force to reckon with, but have recently found themselves in a slump; having lost the last 4 match-ups with the Spartans. Michigan State climbed to a record #5 in the BCS football rankings for the 2010 season. The University of Michigan is famous for their football stadium known as the “Big House.” It is the largest stadium in the United States and the third biggest in the world with a capacity of 109,901 (although the record attendance is actually 113,090). MSU’s basketball team is considered one of the top in the country after winning the National Championship title in 2000 and has been ranked #2 to start the season for the second year in a row. Tom Izzo is the most winningest coach in NCAA history and turned down an offer to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers (an NBA team) to return for a 16th season at MSU in 2010. Michigan State’s hockey team has also been very successful and won the National Chapionship in 2007. In the 2010 pre-season rankings, MSU and UofM are neck in neck with UofM having a 2 spot advantage over the Spartans. Michael Phelps, the famous Olympic swimmer, trained at the University of Michigan after following his coach there from Florida State University.
These rivalry between these two schools is “too close to call.” You will have toy take the time to explore both schools and decide on your own which is the best for you. It should be noted that the other smaller schools in Michigan also have a lot to offer and should not be ignored. Just because MSU and UofM are the top schools in the state of Michigan doesn’t mean that they will be best for you.