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2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region

301 Colleges
$46,896 Avg Salary*
62% Avg Grad Rate*

As a non-traditional student, we know you have a lot on your plate, and choosing which college to attend to advance your career is incredibly important. Our mission at College Factual is to arm you with as much information as we can to help you make a wise decision.

We analyzed 301 colleges and universities across the Great Lakes Region to determine which were the best for non-traditional students. Our ranking is based on over 20 objective factors, including post-graduate earnings, degree completion, distance and flexible learning options. We steer clear of subjective measures since they don't give a clear picture when determining how one school compares to another.

If you fall into the category of non-traditional, you are a part-time student, a returning or transfer student, or older than 24. We designed this ranking to meet your unique needs.

Find out more about our ranking methodology.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Narrow your list by location and field of study as well as alternative rankings that prioritize different factors such as value, diversity, or veteran success.

One of our other unique offerings is College Combat. This tool lets you build your own customized comparisons utilizing the factors that are most important to you. If you're torn between two schools, you can use it to help you see how they stack up against one another!

Top Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Union Institute & University

Cincinnati, Ohio

Our 2021 rankings named Union Institute & University the best school in the Great Lakes Region for non-traditional students working on their bachelor’s degree. Cincinnati, Ohio is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 403 students in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $545. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Union is $42,400 during the early years of their career.

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The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for non-traditional learners in the Great Lakes Region . Located in Champaign, Illinois, the large public school handed out 8,983 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school boasts a 6-year graduation rate of 85%, which is excellent when compared to the national rate of 62%. The school charges $599 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from UIUC go into careers with an average salary of $61,500 during the early years of their career.

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#3

Ashland University

Ashland, Ohio

Adult learners and other non-traditional students will be in good company if they decide to attend Ashland University. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. Ashland is located in Ashland, Ohio and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 801 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergraduates.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $940. During the early years of their career, graduates from Ashland make an average of $40,400 a year.

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#4

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, Wisconsin

A rank of #4 on our Best Colleges For Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list means University of Wisconsin - Madison is a great place for adult learners and/or non-traditional students working on their bachelor’s degree. Located in Madison, Wisconsin, the large public school handed out 8,915 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Bachelor’s degree students at the school tend to finish their degree on-time. The 6-year graduation rate is 85%, which is impressive compared to the national rate of 62%. The school charges $386 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UW - Madison is $56,200 during the early years of their career.

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#5

University of Wisconsin - Stout

Menomonie, Wisconsin

A rank of #5 on our Best Colleges For Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list means University of Wisconsin - Stout is a great place for adult learners and/or non-traditional students working on their bachelor’s degree. UW - Stout is a public institution located in Menomonie, Wisconsin. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 1,625 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.6%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $315. During the early years of their career, graduates from UW - Stout make an average of $45,100 a year.

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University of Illinois at Chicago landed the #6 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking. University of Illinois at Chicago is a large public school located in Chicago, Illinois that handed out 4,524 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $464 per credit hour. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from UIC go into careers with an average salary of $54,300 during the early years of their career.

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#7

University of St Francis

Joliet, Illinois

University of St Francis did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #7. University of Saint Francis is located in Joliet, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 415 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergraduates.

There are 2,802 adult students enrolled in the school, which is 68% of the student body. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $850 per credit hour. During the early years of their career, graduates from University of Saint Francis make an average of $53,100 a year.

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#8

Indiana University - Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana

With a ranking of #8, Indiana University - Bloomington did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. Located in Bloomington, Indiana, the large public school handed out 7,952 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.6%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $299 per credit hour. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from IU Bloomington go into careers with an average salary of $47,700 during the early years of their career.

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#9

Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State University ranked #9 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. Located in East Lansing, Michigan, the large public school awarded 8,997 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The school boasts a 6-year graduation rate of 77%, which is excellent when compared to the national rate of 62%. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $519. During the early years of their career, graduates from Michigan State make an average of $53,600 a year.

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#10

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Fennimore, Wisconsin

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College ranked #10 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.5%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $137. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Southwest Tech make an average of $33,200 per year during the early years of their career.

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#11

Grace College and Theological Seminary

Winona Lake, Indiana

With a ranking of #11, Grace College and Theological Seminary did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. Winona Lake, Indiana is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 401 students in 2018-2019.

The low student loan default rate of 2.6% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. The school charges $908 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Grace College is $34,900 during the early years of their career.

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#12

Illinois State University

Normal, Illinois

Illinois State University landed the #12 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Located in Normal, Illinois, the large public school handed out 4,822 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. The school charges $384 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State go into careers with an average salary of $47,100 during the early years of their career.

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#13

Ursuline College

Pepper Pike, Ohio

Ursuline College came in at #13 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Ursuline College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Pepper Pike, Ohio that handed out 165 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

There are 654 adult students enrolled in the school, which is 59% of the student body. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $1,104 per credit hour. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Ursuline College make an average of $47,800 per year during the early years of their career.

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#14

National Louis University

Chicago, Illinois

With a ranking of #14, National Louis University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. NLU is located in Chicago, Illinois and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 608 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergraduates.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $430. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from NLU make an average of $44,600 per year during the early years of their career.

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#15

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield, Illinois

With a ranking of #15, University of Illinois at Springfield did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. Located in Springfield, Illinois, the small public school awarded 680 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $331. During the early years of their career, graduates from UIS make an average of $44,600 a year.

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#16

DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois

DePaul University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #16. DePaul is a private not-for-profit institution located in Chicago, Illinois. The school has a large population, and it awarded 3,518 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

There are 8,407 adult students enrolled in the school, which is 37% of the student body. The school charges $655 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from DePaul go into careers with an average salary of $53,300 during the early years of their career.

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#17

Lewis University

Romeoville, Illinois

Lewis University landed the #17 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Lewis is a private not-for-profit institution located in Romeoville, Illinois. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 1,234 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

A high percentage of the school is made up of adult learners. 40% of the students are 25 years or older. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $968. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Lewis go into careers with an average salary of $48,800 during the early years of their career.

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#18

University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Green Bay, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin - Green Bay ranked #18 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. UW - Green Bay is a public institution located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 1,315 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $262. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to earn average salaries of $40,800 a year.

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#19

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #19. This medium-sized public school is located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and it awarded 1,927 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The low student loan default rate of 3.5% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $279 per credit hour. During the early years of their career, graduates from UW - Stevens Point make an average of $40,200 a year.

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#20

Siena Heights University

Adrian, Michigan

With a ranking of #20, Siena Heights University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. Located in Adrian, Michigan, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 756 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The school charges $530 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Siena Heights University is $42,000 during the early years of their career.

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#21

University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

Whitewater, Wisconsin

With a ranking of #21, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region list. University of Wisconsin - Whitewater is a fairly large public school located in Whitewater, Wisconsin that handed out 2,426 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $272 per credit hour. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UW - Whitewater is $42,600 during the early years of their career.

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#22

Edgewood College

Madison, Wisconsin

Edgewood College landed the #22 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Edgewood is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Madison, Wisconsin. It awarded 418 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $960 per credit hour. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Edgewood make an average of $43,300 per year during the early years of their career.

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#23

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #23. U-M is a public institution located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The school has a large population, and it awarded 7,815 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school has an excellent part-time retention rate of 100%, which means part-time students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $644 per credit hour. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from U-M is $63,400 during the early years of their career.

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#24

Viterbo University

La Crosse, Wisconsin

Viterbo University came in at #24 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking. Viterbo University is a small private not-for-profit school located in La Crosse, Wisconsin that handed out 386 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.2%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $825 per credit hour. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to earn average salaries of $43,200 a year.

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#25

Elmhurst University

Elmhurst, Illinois

Elmhurst University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region ranking, coming in at #25. Elmhurst is located in Elmhurst, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 863 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergraduates.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.2%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. The school charges $1,065 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to earn average salaries of $48,300 a year.

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Rest of the Top 15% Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in the Great Lakes Region

Not only did these schools make the top-ranked list, but they also landed in the top 15% of this year’s ranking:

#26

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois
#27

Marquette University

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
#29

Goshen College

Goshen, Indiana
#30

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

Shell Lake, Wisconsin
#31

Western Illinois University

Macomb, Illinois
#32

Concordia University, Chicago

River Forest, Illinois
#33

Aurora University

Aurora, Illinois
#34

Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor, Michigan
#36

Walsh University

North Canton, Ohio
#37

Ferris State University

Big Rapids, Michigan
#38

Greenville University

Greenville, Illinois
#39

Marian University

Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
#40

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, Illinois
#42

Dominican University

River Forest, Illinois
#43

Loyola University Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
#44

Madonna University

Livonia, Michigan
#45

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois

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Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students ranking:

Rank College Location
46 Bethel College - Mishawaka Mishawaka, IN
47 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
48 Bowling Green State University - Main Campus Bowling Green, OH
49 Rochester College Rochester Hills, MI
50 Miami University - Oxford Oxford, OH
51 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale, IL
52 Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI
53 Baldwin Wallace University Berea, OH
54 Cleveland State University Cleveland, OH
55 Malone University Canton, OH
56 Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN
57 Benedictine University Lisle, IL
58 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI
59 University of Wisconsin - La Crosse La Crosse, WI
60 Judson University Elgin, IL
Rank College Location

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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