Map: Colleges and Universities in Detroit


In recent years Detroit has seen an influx of college and university satellite sites. Notably, the University of Michigan (UM) Detroit Center opened in 2005 while the Michigan State University (MSU) Detroit Center opened in 2009. Detroit has been host to a number of colleges and universities from its founding. As Michigan’s largest city and former state capitol, Detroit held the greatest number of highly educated individuals. In 1817, Justice Woodward wrote up plans for the University of Michigania (Catholepistemiad) with 13 departments. The building was constructed at Bates and Congress, but due to disagreements over educational ideas, controversy with the land, and general mismanagement, the university never really took off. Land that had been previously earmarked for a new Michigan state capitol soon became the new University of Michigan in Ann Arbor under the leadership of Henry Tappan in 1837. UM’s proximity to Detroit has afforded many “urban research” opportunities for faculty, staff, and students.

Central Michigan University (CMU) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) have both set up satellite locations in the last few years. Lawrence Technological University (LTU) is moving its Detroit Studio from New Center to a new building under-construction at Woodward and Willis.

Wayne State University (WSU) in one form or another has been educating student since 1868. It began as the Detroit Medical College. The iconic “Old Main” building was constructed for Central High School in 1896, but then became the Detroit Junior College and then the College of the City of Detroit. In 1934, a handful of small colleges were combined to create Wayne University. The Law School, School of Social Work, and School of Business were added and in 1956 it was constitutionally established (Michigan) as a public institution by the name Wayne State University. Additionally, WSU has an Oakland satellite campus just northeast of the city limits.

Marygrove College (MG) moved to Detroit in 1927, it had previously been known as St. Mary’s College. The college was a women’s only institution until 1970. The college prides itself on Catholic social teachings and actions. The fenced in campus off of W. McNichols has an Oxford University appearance with its grand buildings and architecture.

University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) was founded by the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) as Detroit College in 1877 and expanded to the University of Detroit in 1926. The Mercy College of Detroit was established in 1941 and was then consolidated with the University of Detroit in 1990 to form the University of Detroit Mercy. UDM is best known for its Dentistry program and growing Law program.

Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) was founded in 1967 downtown Detroit. Currently with six separate campuses across the county (3 within Detroit) with an emphasis on career programs plus traditional college programs, such as Liberal Arts.

The College of Creative Studies (CCS) was formed in 1906 from the Art School of the Detroit Society for Arts and Crafts. Over a two decades of slow expansion, the college began offering one of the first arts and crafts 4 year degrees in 1926. It was known as the Center for Creative Studies—College of Art and Design until it was renamed in 2001 as the College of Creative Studies.

Timeline of Detroit Higher Education:

  • 1817 University of Michigania (UM)
  • 1837 University of Michigania leaves Detroit (UM)
  • 1868 Detroit Medical College (WSU)
  • 1877 Detroit College (UDM)
  • 1906 Art School of the Detroit Society for Arts and Crafts (CCS)
  • 1926 University of Detroit (UDM) & Center for Creative Studies—College of Art and Design (CCS)
  • 1927 St. Mary’s College moves to Detroit as Marygrove College (MG)
  • 1934 Wayne University (WSU)
  • 1941 Mercy College of Detroit (UDM)
  • 1956 Wayne State University (WSU)
  • 1967 Wayne County Community College (WCCCD)
  • 1990 University of Detroit Mercy (UDM)
  • 1999 Lawrence Technological University Detroit Studio (LTU)
  • 2001 College of Creative Studies (CCS)
  • 2005 UM Detroit Center (UM)
  • 2009 MSU Detroit Center (MSU)



Downtown/ Midtown are the obvious focal point for the majority of colleges and universities located within the city. The Lodge Freeway and Woodward Avenue are popular thoroughfares for getting around to educational institutions.

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GVSU members have the longest to travel at 169 miles to get to their Detroit location. My theory is the GVSU building is mainly a marketing piece with its prime name display location behind Comerica Park. CMU comes in second at 154 miles while MSU is 81.2 miles. UM members travel half that distance at 42.3 miles. This all just goes to show the influence of Detroit as both a regional and statewide center for knowledge.

4 thoughts on “Map: Colleges and Universities in Detroit

  1. Pingback: Map: Attainment of Higher Education in Detroit | DETROITography

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