University of Michigan vs. Ohio State University: Which is Right For You?
- The University of Michigan vs. Ohio State: A Quick Overview
- The University of Michigan vs. Ohio State: A Closer Look
- How to Decide Between the University of Michigan vs. Ohio State
- What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
The University of Michigan (UMich) vs. Ohio State University (OSU) is one of the best rivalries in sports. The two schools have squared off on the football field for more than a century in a match that has become so iconic, it’s referred to as simply “the Game.” These two powerhouse public schools compete in more than athletics, though—keep reading to see how they match up on everything from admission to academics to extracurricular activities.
The University of Michigan vs. Ohio State: A Quick Overview
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
U.S. News Ranking
Middle 50% SAT
Middle 50% ACT
Need-blind, no-loan, or meets 100% demonstrated need?
Need-blind and meets 100% of demonstrated need for in-state students
The University of Michigan vs. Ohio State: A Closer Look
Location and Weather
Both the University of Michigan and Ohio State have urban campuses, however, the two universities’ home cites are very different. Ann Arbor is home to about 125,000 people while Columbus has nearly 900,000 residents.
Ann Arbor is commonly considered one of the best college towns in the nation; WalletHub ranks it second-best in the nation and the best small city in its rankings of the best college towns and cities in America. Ann Arbor offers an exciting environment for college students thanks to its quirky vibe, vibrant downtown, passionate sports scene, and a plethora of green space. It’s also the most educated city in the nation.
Columbus is no slouch, though—WalletHub ranks it the 12th-best large college city in the nation. At times, it can seem like Ohio State is a city unto itself. OSU is one of the largest schools in the nation and its 61,369 graduate and undergraduate students are equal to about half of Ann Arbor’s overall population. It sometimes feels like OSU and Columbus are synonymous with one another, however, Columbus is also notable for being the state capital of Ohio, the 14th-most populous city in the U.S., and the third-most populous state capital.
Both UMich and OSU are located in the upper Midwest and have four seasons with hot summers and cold winters.
The University of Michigan is home to 31,329 undergraduates and 16,578 graduate students. Ohio State has 46,984 undergraduates and 14,385 graduate students on its campus. When comparing UMich vs. Ohio State, the University of Michigan has a significantly lower student-to-faculty ratio—15:1 compared to 19:1.
The University of Michigan is one of the most prestigious public colleges in the nation. It’s commonly grouped with 15 other colleges and universities collectively known as the “Public Ivies” thanks to their excellent academic programs, abundant resources, and consistently high rankings.
UMich provides undergraduates a wide breadth of academic areas to explore—it offers 280 degree programs in everything from aerospace engineering to women’s and gender studies. Programming at the University of Michigan is delivered through its 19 schools and colleges (14 of which offer undergraduate programs):
- Architecture & Urban Planning
- Art & Design
- Environment and Sustainability
- Literature, Science, and the Arts
- Music, Theatre & Dance
- Public Health
- Public Policy
- Rackham School of Graduate Studies
- Social Work
Ohio State doesn’t have the academic bona fides of UMich, however, it also attracts scholarly students and is one of the nation’s top producers of Fullbright Scholars. OSU offers more than 200 majors ranging from accounting to zoology through its 16 schools and colleges:
- College of Social Work
- College of Veterinary Medicine
- College of Arts & Sciences
- Fisher College of Business
- College of Dentistry
- College of Education and Human Ecology
- College of Engineering
- College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
- John Glenn College of Public Affairs
- Moritz College of Law
- College of Medicine
- College of Nursing
- College of Optometry
- College of Public Health
- Graduate School
- College of Pharmacy
Despite the challenges COVID-19 has imposed on travel, the University of Michigan’s study abroad program remains highly ranked—the Open Doors report recently ranked it second in the Big Ten and fifth nationally. The Open Doors report also places Ohio State near the top for study abroad, ranking eighth among the nation’s colleges and universities and third in the Big Ten for students studying abroad.
UMich undergraduates are not required to live on campus; that said, nearly all (97%) first-year students choose to do so. Ohio State University requires all unmarried, full-time students within two years of high school graduation to live on campus unless exempted, space is no longer available, or they are living with family.
One noticeable difference that becomes apparent when comparing the University of Michigan vs. Ohio State is the cost. The University of Michigan is $32,272 for in-state students and $69,326 for out-of-state students, while Ohio State University is $29,022 for in-state students and $52,922 for out-of-state students. The $69,326 it costs out-of-state students to attend UMich puts it not far outside the most expensive schools in the nation.
The University of Michigan practices need-blind admissions and will meet 100% of the demonstrated need of in-state students. UMich has also instituted the Go Blue Guarantee, which provides free tuition for four years to in-state, full-time undergraduate students with family incomes of $65,000 or under and assets below $50,000.
Cost does factor into admissions decisions at Ohio State University and the school does not guarantee that it will meet all of a student’s demonstrated financial need. That said, the school has taken some steps to help keep the college affordable. The Ohio State Tuition Guarantee locks in the cost of full-time in-state tuition, general fees, housing, and dining to help keep students from being priced out of an OSU education.
Sports and Extracurriculars
The University of Michigan and Ohio State University are among the best schools for athletics in the nation. The website Niche ranks Ohio State ninth on its list of Best College Athletics in America and UMich 26th.
The two universities are renowned for their football programs and annually compete against each other in the Big Ten. UMich has won ten football national championships, but only two have come after 1948 and the most recent being 1997. Conversely, OSU has won eight national championships, all of them coming after 1942 and two coming in the 2000s.
While football steals the spotlight at both schools, the University of Michigan is also home to the most successful men’s hockey program in the nation—winner of seven national championships—and one of the most iconic men’s basketball teams of all time, the “Fab Five.”
Like many other large, public universities, Greek life is prevalent on the campuses of both schools. More than 60 fraternities and sororities call the University of Michigan home and 17% of undergraduates participate in Greek life. OSU is home to over 60 fraternal organizations and about 10% of undergraduates participate in Greek life.
Culture and Diversity
University of Michigan Ethnic Diversity
Percentage of Student Body
Ohio State University Ethnic Diversity
Percentage of Student Body
Two or more races
American Indian/Alaskan Native
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
Both UMich and OSU have reputations for being extremely LGBTQ friendly as evident by their five-out-of-five scores on the Campus Pride Index, a benchmarking tool for a school’s commitment to LGBTQ students, faculty and community.
How to Decide Between the University of Michigan vs. Ohio State
The University of Michigan is an especially strong choice if:
- You value reputation. The school’s place among the “Public Ivies” ensures excellent name recognition and a place among the most prestigious public schools in the nation.
- The surrounding community is important to you. Ann Arbor is one of the best college towns and most educated cities in the nation.
- You care about return on investment. Payscale ranks UMich 78th for in-state students and 165th for out-of-state students (out of 1,978 schools) on its list of best value colleges.
- Green space is important to you. 90% of Ann Arbor residents live within a 10-minute walk from a park.
- You are a sports fanatic. The Michigan Wolverines are one of the nation’s oldest and most recognizable athletic programs, dating back to 1865 and boasting more than 50 national championships in 12 sports.
Ohio State University is an especially strong choice if:
- You want to attend college in a big-but-affordable city. For example, Columbus is larger than San Francisco, but Columbus’s cost of living is 14.5% lower than the U.S. average, while San Francisco’s is 169.3% higher than the U.S. average.
- You love college football. The Buckeyes are consistently one of the top football programs in the nation and play in the country’s third-largest stadium—Ohio Stadium holds more than 100,000 spectators.
- You want to attend a big school. Ohio State is the fourth largest college in the country.
- You are interested in expansive career opportunities. Columbus is home to the Ohio state government while major companies like Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, and Abercrombie and Fitch are all located just outside the city.
- Your interests extend outside of the classroom. OSU is home to more than 1,400 student organizations that cover an incredible range of interests.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
Whether you’re hoping to become a Buckeye or are excited about the chance of being a Wolverine, understanding your odds of admission at these dream schools is valuable when building a list of prospective colleges. It’s here CollegeVine can help—our free chancing calculator uses a number of factors (such as grades, test scores, and extracurriculars) to estimate your odds of acceptance into hundreds of schools across the country, including UMich and OSU. It can also provide tips to improve your profile, which is particularly useful if you’re locked into attending a specific school.