The University of Michigan Undergraduate Programs
September 1, 2020
The University of Michigan Undergraduate Programs
“What major is the University of Michigan known for?”
This was a common question at college fairs from high school students who were not familiar with the university and always a difficult question to answer. If you too are less familiar with the University of Michigan, you might not understand how this could be such a challenging topic to address. I may be a bit biased as an alumni, but there are simply so many disciplines in which the University of Michigan excels. Allow me to back up this statement by sharing that 70% of the University of Michigan undergraduate programs are ranked in the top 10 in their field while 90% are ranked in the top 20. So if you want to know what academic area Michigan is known for, the answer is quite honestly… almost EVERYTHING!
As a University of Michigan graduate and former senior admissions counselor, I have spent quite a bit of time on campus getting to know faculty and staff in many of the university’s schools and colleges. I have advised countless students interested in majors from Aerospace Engineering to Philosophy, Politics and Economics (yes... that’s one major!) and attended staff-only presentations on the curriculum for countless programs. I will use this article to share some of this knowledge on the University of Michigan undergraduate programs with you!
The Big Picture
With approximately 275 majors and 14 undergraduate schools and colleges, the University of Michigan can be a great fit for many types of students — one of the reasons the campus is so diverse. No matter where you are from or what your interests are, it is easy to find a place to “fit in” not just academically, but also socially and extracurricularly. Oh and did I mention that there are over 1600 clubs and organizations available on campus so you should have no trouble finding “your people”?
Another appealing characteristic of the University of Michigan’s undergraduate experience is flexibility. Double majors are fairly common on campus and dual degree programs allow students to adopt two majors in separate colleges. Are you a student who wants to study Music Performance and Data Science? Do you have interests in Business and Computer Science? Although it may not be easy to meet the requirements for majors in two different schools, the opportunity is available for students who qualify.
University of Michigan Undergraduate Programs at the Different Schools
The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Instead of choosing only a few majors to highlight, I will share some of the more interesting facts about the undergraduate schools and colleges at Michigan. First, the College of Literature. Science, and the Arts (LSA) is the largest college on campus in terms of majors and enrollment. LSA is the liberal arts college and houses some of Michigan’s most popular majors such as Economics (ranked #12), Political Science (ranked #4), Psychology (ranked #3), and Sociology (ranked #1). Are you a student who is still considering more than one major? If so, allow me to point out that undecided students thrive in LSA because the curriculum allows for ample exploration in years one and two before students are asked to declare a major in year three. In addition to the ability to choose from over 85 majors and 100 minors, students in LSA are provided with two unique options to enhance their learning. The Honors Program and Residential College are two learning communities that I highly suggest looking into if you are considering the university.
The Honors College is a great program for students who want to take their learning to the next level with more rigorous study, smaller class sizes, and the opportunity to build closer relationships with honors faculty. The Residential College (RC) also provides smaller class sizes, more faculty contact and emphasizes interdisciplinary learning and foreign language proficiency. The RC is great for those who are excited about the resources of a large university like Michigan but would feel more comfortable in a smaller learning and living environment.
The College of Engineering
Another popular college at Michigan is the College of Engineering. As one of the strongest undergraduate engineering programs, Michigan Engineering boasts an amazing program with 17 different specializations. The most exciting fact about engineering at Michigan is that unlike many other programs, you do not need to declare your specific major on your application. All freshmen will begin as undecided students and have the option of taking introductory courses in year one to help solidify their specific field of interest. There are no caps on majors which means that no matter which area within the school you declare, there will be space available and there is never a secondary application process.
Hands-on experiences are always readily available for engineering students through, project-based courses, internships, and student project teams. Internships and co-ops are a major piece of the engineering experience and the Engineering Career Resource Center is there to help every step of the way. You’ll be happy to know that top organizations are now closer to campus than ever before with the recent creation of the Ford Robotics Building which opens this year and will house offices for the Ford Motor Company as well as space for Michigan students.
The Ross School of Business
The Ross School of Business, ranked the #3 BBA program by US News and World Report, is another top choice for many applying to the University of Michigan. If you are one of the many students considering Ross, it is important to know that you cannot apply directly. Students are first asked to select another freshman unit like LSA or Engineering before selecting the preferred admission option for Ross on the Common or Coalition application. This means that in order to even be considered for the Ross School, applicants must first be admitted to another freshman program.
For those lucky enough to be evaluated for and admitted to Ross, opportunities are extensive. The foundational Ross degree prepares students for all aspects of business with elective courses in a variety of interesting sub-areas like Management and Human Resources, Non-profit and Social Impact, and Supply Chain Management. One of the aspects that I love most about the Ross curriculum is the optional Global Semester Exchange program that takes place the winter semester of junior year. Students who elect to participate in the exchange program will be placed in one of thirty-three top business programs around the world while earning credits for their Michigan Ross degree. For those looking for a flexible business curriculum that emphasizes intercultural understanding and builds well-rounded graduates, Ross is the answer.
School of Music, Theatre, and Dance and the School of Art and Design
While the University of Michigan’s most well-known programs are in the schools and colleges listed above, I would be crazy not to at least mention the amazing talent-based programs in the School of Music, Theater, and Dance and the School of Art and Design. Both of these schools are very selective and require the submission of one’s talent through an audition or portfolio along with the academic application. The School of Music, Theater, and Dance has produced talents such as Justin Paul and Benj Pasek (Best Song Oscar winners for La La Land) and the infamous James Earl Jones. Equally notable, the School of Art and Design is the only program on campus that requires its students to complete a global experience prior to graduating.
Obviously, I cannot highlight all of the University of Michigan undergraduate programs in only one blog post, but hopefully you can tell that the opportunities at the University of Michigan are numerous. No matter your undergraduate major, there are endless clubs, organizations, and support services at Michigan to assist you on your collegiate journey. For those of you who are still building your candidacy for schools like Michigan, I advise you to focus not only on your academics but also on your leadership development and the impact that you are having in your own community. Leadership and impact will be a top consideration when admissions officers evaluate how you might contribute to the campus community at Michigan. For more information on schools, colleges, and the University of Michigan admissions process, please visit www.umich.edu. Good luck!