Home to four universities and four community colleges, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is committed to education and workforce development. Our K-12 schools, career technical training centers, middle colleges, community colleges, universities, and SmartZones work closely with industry to align their curriculum and training offerings with the needs of businesses.  They also provide industry with a platform to engage students with opportunities for future employment.

Michigan has invested more than $143 million in the Upper Peninsula, providing businesses with great opportunities and returns. This forward-thinking strategy ensures a constant flow of talent to industry. Employment, internships, apprenticeships, R & D innovation and problem solving assistance are all fostered through interaction between industry and educators.

This relationship is reflected in the three high-tech SmartZones and six business incubators that are housed within the four local universities. The SmartZones support entrepreneurs, emerging companies, and companies looking for talent-bridge opportunities.  The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is one of the most thought-forward regions of the Midwest.

Higher Education Institutions

Northern Michigan University7,865
Michigan Technological University7,238
Lake Superior State University2,229
Bay de Noc Community College2,305
Gogebic Community College1,110
Finlandia University667
Bay Mills Community College432
Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa College106

Michigan Technological University

Houghton-based Michigan Technological University (MTU) is a renowned public research university that offers its 7,000 students an outstanding return on investment. Founded in 1885, the university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, primarily focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

MTU’s strong relationship with the local business community offers students exceptional opportunities for internships and experiential learning. The university’s career services are also impressive. Michigan Tech’s twice-annual career fair is one of the largest in the country. Each year more than 400 companies travel to the Upper Peninsula to recruit some of the nation’s brightest talent at MTU.

The investment pays off: the school boasts a post-graduation placement rate of 94% for undergraduates, and according to Money Magazine, MTU graduates have the sixth-highest starting salaries in the country among public universities — $63,400 annually.

Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University (NMU), located in Marquette, Michigan, is a dynamic four-year, public, comprehensive university that has grown its reputation based on its award-winning leadership programs and nationally recognized academic programs.  NMU has drawn attention for its innovative idea incubator, Invent@NMU, that partners students with professionals to develop and launch real-world projects and new businesses.

Workforce development initiatives in the Upper Peninsula are at the forefront at NMU. The University's close affiliation with local industries has led to the development of nearly two dozen certification programs including: automotive and aviation maintenance, cosmetology and esthetics, manufacturing, law enforcement, deaf studies, HVACR and more.

In addition, the Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at NMU offers other professional workforce development and training for individuals and organizations, training employees in-house at NMU or at the worksite.  NMU provides access to 40 specialized Training Labs at its Jacobetti Complex on NMU’s North Campus. NMU also customizes programs to meet specific employer needs and will assist human resources departments to assess current and future needs.

Investment in and launching of online programs is another enterprise of Northern Michigan University. One example is the Applied Workplace Leadership program, which is a fully online, accelerated program that allows individuals already in the workforce, with some college credit, the ability to complete their bachelors degree, regardless of where they took their previous courses.

Lake Superior State University

Lake Superior State University (LSSU) in Sault Ste. Marie is a public university that encourages big ideas with programs that offer real-world, hands-on learning in a nature-based setting. From its $2 million robotics laboratory, fire science program to its aquatic research laboratory that maintains one of the few fisheries in North America, LSSU offers its 2,200 undergraduates a unique range of opportunities in both liberal and technical studies.

Because it shares an international border with its sister city of the same name in Ontario, Canada, the campus hosts a number of Canadian students. “Lake State” also houses a SmartZone that specializes in developing product prototypes and it boasts a nearly 100% placement rate in its nursing, engineering, and geology program.

Finlandia University

Founded in Hancock in 1896, Finlandia is the Upper Peninsula's only private college. The school offers its students a low 9:1 student-teacher ratio in a friendly, intimate learning environment. The small class sizes allow for significant interaction with its professors.

“FinnU,” as it’s affectionately called, is the only institution of higher learning in North America founded by Finns. Their influence can be found throughout the campus, from the unique Nordic Studies curriculum and resource library, to the influx of Finnish exchange students each year. Finlandia’s liberal arts curriculum is recognized for its business, design and health sciences programs.


Bay College

Established in 1962 in Escanaba, Bay de Noc Community College, commonly known as Bay College, offers traditional day and evening courses with small class sizes at their three campus sites and online. Bay also offers a slate of non-credit training and educational opportunities for students, local employers, and members of the community. The college partners with local companies to provide one- or two-day workforce development trainings that cover topics that are critical to the business community.

Gogebic Community College

Based in Ironwood, with a satellite campus in Houghton, Gogebic was named one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges by the Aspen Institute in 2017. The institute recognizes outstanding achievement in learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and access for minority and low-income students. The college offers its 1,100 students opportunities to pursue certifications, occupational training, and associate’s degrees in programs that range from engineering and education to mortuary science and ski area management.

Bay Mills Community College

Bay Mills, whose main campus is located in Brimley on the shores of Lake Superior, is Michigan’s first fully accredited, tribally controlled college. Originally established to meet the higher education needs of Native Americans, BMCC educates approximately 500 students per year. BMCC students pursue two-year degrees in programs that include business administration, construction, criminal justice, and more. Bay Mills also offers several tuition-free online classes for its Native American students that explore American Indian culture, traditions, and contributions.

Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College

KBOCC is the primary higher education institution for the L’Anse Indian Reservation and its surrounding communities. Traditional leaders consult with faculty and staff to incorporate the Ojibwa language and culture into its programs, and the college offers students opportunities to take part in traditional ceremonies and events. In addition to its certificate and degree programs in such areas as environmental science, early childhood education, and business administration, KBOCC offers a degree in Anishinaabe (Native American) Studies and a variety of community outreach programs.


Our communities are committed to developing a strong and skilled workforce. With that goal in mind, they work closely with the private sector to align with industry needs. While our eight higher education institutions offer training for skilled trades, our communities are investing in CTE programs and partnering with high schools and universities to ensure that local companies have a pipeline of skilled trades talent.

Middle College — Career Technical Education offered through NMU and Marquette and Alger Counties

Middle College is a collaboration between Northern Michigan University and MARESA (Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency) that prepares high school students for high-demand, high-skill, and relatively high-wage occupations. Career and Technical Education (CTE) seeks to better connect the skills and degrees that students are pursuing with the jobs that are currently available and expected to grow within the next ten years. Many of these careers are in the professional trades, health care, business and information technology fields, and STEM areas.

Businesses, government, schools, trade unions, and community groups are working together to ensure that students are presented with more information and more choices about careers that will sustain and grow our economy while developing the technical and critical thinking skills that employers desire. Students can start exploring CTE career pathways at a young age. They may then enter a career right from high school, continue on to earn a one-, two- or four-year college degree, or enter an apprenticeship program.  Adult workers seeking a career change can also benefit from the training provided for these high-demand fields.