What is Central Michigan University Known For?

Central Michigan University (CMU) is a public research university that’s located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Founded in 1892, it has an acceptance rate of 77% and a rolling admissions.

CMU is ranked #250 in National Universities 2023 and #124 in Top Public Schools 2023 by US News, which also gave the school’s business and computer science programs high rankings.

One of the eight research universities in the state and with an R2 designation for its high research activity, Central Michigan University offers more than 300 academic programs.

Some of the most popular majors include accounting, business, marketing and psychology.

CMU also has an online campus that offers certificates as well as undergraduate and graduate programs.

Read on if you are thinking about adding Central Michigan University to the Common App.

Why Choose Central Michigan University

When Central Michigan University was founded in 1892, it was called the Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute.

As the name pretty much suggests, the institution specialized in business courses. It also taught stenography and teaching — during that time, very few teachers in Michigan had formal training in teaching.

The first class, which consisted of 31 students, took place on the second floor of a building in downtown Mount Pleasant.

However, after two years, the Normal School Building, which was worth $10,000, was constructed over land acquired by the school. Today, it is where CMU’s Warriner Hall stands.

After undergoing significant growth, the school was renamed Central Michigan Normal School the following year. After two years, the Michigan State Board of Education took control and renamed it Central State Normal School.

When World War II came to an end, the institution’s name was changed several times, from Central State Teachers College, Central Michigan College of Education to Central Michigan College.

However, in 1959 when the number of students attending it reached 4,500, the school became Central Michigan University.

It was in 1994 when Central Michigan University Online came into being. Even at the onset of the online institution, it offered courses not only to Michigan students but also those all over the planet.

The first online institution to offer alternatives to traditional bachelor’s and master’s degrees was the University of Phoenix, which took place in 1989.

On the other hand, the first fully online university that’s accredited was the Jones International University, which was established in 1996.

Learning online is hard for everyone, but CMU has done a decent job with online learning requirements as a university. The best part about it is that CMU allows students to withdrawl from a course they have done poorly in after their final grades because of online learning difficulties. This has saved many students from a failing grade this semester.


Needless to say, CMU Online was one of the pioneers of online learning in the US. Read on to know more about this online school, especially if you are a non-traditional student interested in sending an application to it.

But before that, here are some quick facts about Central Michigan University:

  • Location: Mount Pleasant, Michigan
  • Campus type: Rural
  • Size: 480 acres
  • Population: 19,431 (on-campus) and 7,658 (online)
  • Education system: Liberal
  • School type: Public research
  • Reputation: Party school
  • Motto: Wisdom, Virtue, Friendship
  • Number of majors: Approximately 200
  • Best majors: Business, Communications, Engineering, Computer Science, Allied Health Professions
  • Selectivity: Somewhat selective
  • Average class size: Fewer than 20 students in 34% of classes
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Retention rate: 77%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Color: Maroon and gold
  • Athletic affiliation: NCAA Division I
  • Number of varsity teams: 16
  • Sports: Basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, football, softball, golf, field hockey, lacrosse, cross country, wrestling, swimming, diving.

Central Michigan University Rankings

Central Michigan University is #221 in Top Public Universities in America by Niche. On the other hand, it is #239 in National Universities by US News.

CMU is #214 in Public Colleges and #454 in Top Colleges, both by Forbes. Many of Central Michigan University Online’s programs rank well, too.

Different college ranking sites use all kinds of metrics in coming up with their annual listings. Most of them obtain data available to the public and conduct student surveys, too.

Niche, which is one of the most popular college ranking sites out there, has ranked Central Michigan University in so many different ways for its listings.

For instance, not only has Niche ranked the institution on a national level but also compared it with various colleges and universities located in The Great Lakes State.

Here are some of CMU’s Niche rankings on a national level:

  • #117 in Best Greek Life Colleges in America
  • #124 in Top Party Schools in America
  • #155 in Best College Athletics in America
  • #180 in Best Colleges for Accounting and Finance in America
  • #221 in Top Public Universities in America
  • #276 in Best Colleges for Student Athletes in America
  • #286 in Best Colleges With the Best Student Life in America
  • #391 in Best Colleges for Psychology in America
  • #433 in Best Colleges for Biology in America
  • #469 in Best College Food in America
  • #535 in Best Test-Optional Colleges in America
  • #603 in Most Liberal Colleges in America
  • #871 in Safest College Campuses in America

Now, let’s check out how the school fares on a state level:

  • #4 in Best Greek Life Colleges in Michigan
  • #4 in Top Party Schools in Michigan
  • #5 in Best College Athletics in Michigan
  • #5 in Best Colleges for Accounting and Finance in Michigan
  • #7 in Colleges With the Best Student Life in Michigan
  • #8 in Best Colleges for Psychology in Michigan
  • #9 in Top Public University in Michigan
  • #13 in Best Colleges for Biology in Michigan
  • #17 in Best College Dorms in Michigan
  • #19 in Best Value Colleges in Michigan
  • #26 in Most Diverse Colleges in Michigan

In a few, we will talk about the rankings of some of CMU Online’s programs. Make sure that you keep reading, especially if you are interested in taking online classes at the school.

But before proceeding to the next topic, there is one very important thing you need to know. And it’s none other than the fact that your college list should not depend solely on college rankings.

When coming up with your college list, focus on factors you find important and necessary — click here for a full-length article on this matter.

Related Article: 14 US News Rankings Alternatives

Acceptance Rate at Central Michigan University

The acceptance rate at Central Michigan University is 70%.

This makes the school a somewhat selective institution. Using a holistic admissions policy, the average GPA of students accepted into CMU is 3.52.

On the other hand, admits have an average SAT score of 1110 and an average ACT score of 22.

With a high acceptance rate, the majority of students who apply to Central Michigan University get accepted.

Just because your GPA is lower than the GPAs of most admits doesn’t mean that it is unlikely for you to get an acceptance letter from CMU’s admissions officers.

Thanks to its holistic admissions policy, anyone with a strong overall application has a fair chance at becoming a Central Michigan University student.

It is completely up to you whether you will submit your standardized test score or not. That’s because the school is test-optional.

But since nearly 80% of students welcomed into the campus submitted their test scores, it is a good idea to submit yours, too, in order to increase your odds of gaining admission into CMU.

Want to calculate your college chances? Click here to check out an informative article about it.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend Central Michigan University?

The tuition at Central Michigan University amounts to $12,750. This brings the total cost of attending the school for one year to $26,370.

For an out-of-state student, however, the cost of attendance per academic year is higher as the tuition amounts to $23,331.

According to CMU, it has had the lowest tuition increase among Michigan’s 15 public institutions for the past decade.

Here’s a breakdown of the estimated cost of going to Central Michigan University for a full-time incoming first-year student living in Michigan, based on 15 credits for every semester:

Student Service Fee$450
Room and board​$10,920
Books and supplies$1,000
Personal expenses$1,250
CMU Cost of Attendance

Like many colleges and universities, CMU makes higher education more accessible by offering financial aid and grants.

The Michigan-based institution offers what’s called CMU Traditions program.

Simply put, it’s a combination of federal, state and institutional aid that brings down the tuition and mandatory fees to $0 for those who qualify for it.

To be eligible for the CMU Traditions program, a student must be:

  • A degree-seeking first-year student or transferee.
  • Enrolled full-time (taking at least 12 credits per semester) at the main campus.
  • A resident of Michigan.
  • From a family with an adjusted gross income of $50,000.

Is CMU Online Accredited?

Central Michigan University Online is an accredited institution.

Its accreditor is the same accrediting agency that has accredited its physical campus, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognize HLC.

What’s scary about attending an online school is that you could end up with a fake degree.

Since Central Michigan University is a legitimate school, it doesn’t come as a surprise why its online counterpart is legitimate, too.

As proof, it is accredited by HLC, which is not just any accrediting agency but a regional accrediting agency. Regional accreditation is more prestigious compared to national accreditation.

As an accredited online school, you can rest assured that CMU Online is not a diploma mill. This means that the degree you can earn from it will be respected by employers, thus helping you to land the job you like the most.

Click here to check out an article that talks about how to tell if an online college is a diploma mill.

Related Article: Do Employers Accept Online Degrees?

Central Michigan University Online Rankings

In the Best Online Colleges in Michigan for ROI by OnlineU.org, Central Michigan University Online is #6.

On the other hand, the school is #3 in Best Online Colleges and Schools in Michigan by Study.com. Many online undergraduate and graduate programs of CMU Online are ranked by US News, too.

Earlier, we made it clear that Central Michigan University Online is not a diploma mill because it’s accredited.

One more thing that helps prove it’s a legitimate online school granting legitimate degrees is the fact that CMU Online appears in the rankings of various well-known college ranking sites.

As mentioned above, CMU is #6 in the Best Online Colleges in Michigan for ROI by OnlineU.org and #3 in Best Online Colleges and Schools in Michigan by Study.com.

Besides the online institution itself, some of the online programs it offers are also ranked by some of the most trusted college rankers on the internet.

The following are the school’s online program rankings by US News:

  • #17 in Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Programs
  • #62 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans
  • #107 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
  • #15 in Best Online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Programs
  • #27 in Best Online Master’s in Educational Administration Programs
  • #29 in Best Online Master’s in Education Programs for Veterans
  • #59 in Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans
  • #98 in Best Online Master’s in Education Programs
  • #100 in Best Online MBA Programs

No matter if you are planning to take a traditional degree or an online degree, always keep in mind that you should not make a college list based alone on what college ranking sites, no matter how popular, say.

What Kind of Online Classes Does CMU Online Have?

Central Michigan University Online offers programs that are purely online and hybrid, a combination of virtual and on-campus classes.

The majority of the programs CMU Online offers can be completed 100% online, making them ideal for non-traditional students who cannot visit a traditional campus.

What’s really nice about CMU Online’s purely online programs is that the courses are archived. Students can access them at times that they find most convenient, thus allowing them to earn their diplomas at the pace that suits them.

Refrain from assuming that taking purely online classes at Central Michigan University Online means you will be on your own from the start of your first class to the time you earn your diploma.

According to the school, its faculty members and staff assist students every step of the way through a variety of support services.

For the price of tuition, the education should be much better. There are constant technical issues, professors do not put assignments online, and the school seems overall sloppy and unprepared. I am very disappointed this semester.


There is also the so-called Online Student Allies, which consists of CMU students who have successfully completed their online programs and are trained to lend a hand to students struggling in their online endeavors.

Besides programs that are 100% online, CMU Online has hybrid programs, too.

Simply put, hybrid programs are completed through a combination of traditional classes and online classes.

Some of the courses are completed inside a physical classroom, while others are completed inside the comfort of the student’s home.

So, in other words, it gives non-traditional students the opportunity to experience being traditional students.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend CMU Online?

At Central Michigan University Online, each credit costs $425. This means that a student who is taking 15 credits per semester will have to pay tuition amounting to $6,375.

Like at other online colleges and universities, the cost of attending CMU Online can vary depending on the program or degree.

Earlier, we talked about the cost of being a Central Michigan University student for one academic year. As expected, completing an online program from the school is easier on the pocket.

The following table is a breakdown of the estimated cost of attending CMU Online for a non-traditional undergraduate student taking 30 credits, the typical number of college credits taken per year:

Tuition$12,750 (cost per credit: $425)
Application fee$40
CMU Online Cost of Attendance

At Central Michigan University Online, the more credits you take per academic year, the higher the tuition becomes.

For instance, someone who likes to take 56 credits or more a year will have to shell out $450 per credit.

But the good news is that there are cheaper or discounted rates available, such as:

  • Undergraduate federal employee: $361 to $383 per credit (depending on the number of credits)
  • Undergraduate Michigan employee: $361 to $383 per credit (depending on the number of credits)
  • Undergraduate military: $299 per credit

Besides online bachelor’s degrees, CMU Online also offers master’s and doctorate degrees online. As expected, the cost per credit is higher for non-traditional graduate students.

For instance, an MBA course at Central Michigan University Online costs $725 per credit. On the other hand, a DHA course costs $850 per credit.

Is Central Michigan University a Good School

Central Michigan University is known for being one of the largest public institutions in Michigan, with an essential liberal arts foundation. It is known, too, for having the lowest tuition increase in the last 10 years among all public colleges in the state.

CMU also offers various programs online.

Read on if you are thinking about putting Central Michigan University on the top of your college list. We will talk about some of the most important things you need to know about this school.

Central Michigan University has both on-campus and online degrees, offering students who wish to earn their degrees from the school a couple of options on how to do so.

Attending CMU Online is suited for non-traditional students who do not have the time to step foot inside a physical classroom constantly.

Cheaper than its traditional counterpart, an online degree is ideal for students who can complete their programs on their own, with minimal assistance from professors.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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