Illinois boasts dozens of well-known, top-ranking colleges and universities. Even online colleges in Illinois have become prominent in recent years allowing students the ability to have flexible schedules while attaining their educational goals.
If you’re interested in pursuing your higher education, Illinois colleges and universities offer plenty of opportunities. You can even find colleges that suit your personal preferences, such as Christian colleges in Illinois.
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Whether you’re looking for a traditional educational experience by attending classes on campus and taking advantage of room and board, or you’re looking for a more flexible degree program that offers online courses, the state of Illinois can help make your goals a reality.
Online Colleges in Illinois
Most top colleges in Illinois offer online degree programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 51% of students in Illinois are enrolled in fully online college degree programs. An additional 21% are enrolled in one or more online courses.
Online programs make it easier for students to further their education without moving or sacrificing professional or personal commitments. Online programs also make it possible for you to have a working schedule that fits your employment and lifestyle needs. Some Illinois colleges also offer hybrid programs, which involve some on-campus requirements. Online, hybrid, and on-campus options are also available for graduate students.
Illinois community colleges are equally progressive. The Illinois Community Colleges Online (ILCCO), a consortium of community colleges in the state, provides a database of every distance course and program offered at an Illinois community college, and offers streamlined enrollment and prep courses.
Common Online Degrees in Illinois
Illinois online colleges offer a variety of degree programs that students may choose from. Below is a list of a few common programs in online colleges in IL.
- Business Administration: A business administration degree program teaches students many aspects of a business. In this program, students learn everything from marketing to business law so that they can gain a foundation in these aspects. Upon graduation, these graduates of business schools in Illinois may go on to become entrepreneurs, financial advisors, and consultants.
- Education: Education degrees are designed to prepare students for teaching careers. Education programs are varied since students may want to become teachers in a variety of settings. Some want to teach elementary school children while others seek to become professors.
- Engineering: Engineering programs prepare students to enter a variety of engineering fields. Some schools offer concentrations so that students can specialize in a given field. In general, an engineering program will expose students to math and science-based classes to give them a foundation in engineering.
- Computer Science: Computer science is an increasingly popular program that uses engineering, math, and science to teach students how to build computers and more. These graduates may enter software development companies and the IT field.
- Biology: Biology degrees focus on the functions of organisms, meaning students predominantly take a variety of science classes. Depending on the program they may also be able to take a concentration to enter a specific sector of biology.
These are only a few programs offered in Illinois colleges and universities. You shouldn’t be discouraged if these programs don’t interest you since there are many more to choose from.
Overview of Higher Education in Illinois
There are 157 degree-granting institutions in Illinois, according to a recent report by the NCES. Of the 157, 60 are public, 80 are private non-profit and 17 are for-profit. Tuition in the state is much higher than the national average. To attend one of the state’s 4-year institutions, NCES reports that residents will pay an average of $14,259. Those coming from out of state will pay $28,522, on average.
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Residents of neighboring states may get a break, though, thanks to Illinois’ membership in the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP). Through the MSEP, public universities agree to charge no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate to residents of the 9 participating states.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in Illinois
In a general sense, employment outlook and opportunities vary due to a few factors. Certain industries are known to experience more growth and require more employees than other industries. For instance, law, IT, and healthcare continue to experience strong growth.
That said, employment opportunities have risen in Illinois, with many sectors having grown throughout recent years. Additionally, unemployment rates have decreased, specifically in major metropolitan areas like Davenport, Rockford, and Lake County. Having a college degree is likely to increase your job prospects, but it does not guarantee immediate employment. Fortunately, the market has been on your side in recent years.
Careers & Salaries in Illinois
Online Illinois colleges can open many doors for students. Depending on what they study, they may have the opportunity to enter numerous fields. If you’re interested in researching Illinois online colleges, know that you have options and that attending could lead to future success.
Online colleges in IL generally offer the same variety of programs as attending a campus in person. Depending on what you choose to study, you may find yourself in fields like management, computer and mathematical industries, and business and financial settings.
Below is a list of careers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) so that you can have an idea of occupations that may be available to you after graduation.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer Research Scientists||$109,800|
|Advertising and Promotions Managers||$99,900|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$65,020|
|Human Resources Specialists||$61,860|
These careers only represent a fraction of the jobs you may encounter post-graduation. What you study will be a large determinant for the careers you may take, but what’s important is that having a degree does increase your job prospects and salary potential.
Choosing an Illinois College Online Program
If you’re considering attending one of Illinois’ online colleges, then there are a few factors you may want to consider before making your decision. Here are some factors to consider before making your decision:
- Cost: Cost can be a significant determining factor when choosing a school. Residency, program, and the school itself can all affect the cost of your education. Financial aid can help reduce the cost and even cover most, if not all, of it depending on your circumstances. That said, this is always worth considering before enrolling.
- Flexibility: Flexibility is important for many students, especially if they have other obligations that may prevent them from adhering to a strict schedule. Consider if you plan to study full-time or part-time and if you have obligations outside of school. Finding a program that accommodates these circumstances may be essential.
- Type of school: The type of school you attend can have a large impact on your college experience. Public and private schools offer different features, whether it be class size or type of instruction. Considering what your ideal college experience looks like can help you ensure you make the most of your time in school.
- Residency requirements: Some schools require students to live on campus and others are more flexible with their residency requirements. If you want to take college classes exclusively online, then you’ll want to ensure your program allows for this.
How much these factors play a role in your decision could depend on the schools you’re considering, especially if you’re considering top online schools in Illinois.
Online Universities in Illinois Admissions Requirements
Undergraduate admissions requirements may vary by school and by program, but there are some general admissions requirements for those pursuing a bachelor’s degree, including:
- GPA requirement (Minimum of 2.0)
- High School transcript
- ACT or SAT scores (if required)
- Application fee
It’s important to do your research before applying to any school to ensure that you can meet their requirements. Use the above requirements as a reference when narrowing down your list and make sure to see how their requirements may differ.
IL Online Colleges Accreditation
Accreditation is the process wherein a school is examined by an accrediting agency. An agent from this accrediting agency will review the college’s multiple schools and programs to assess whether or not the college provided a high-quality education as a whole.
You may wish to give special attention to schools that are accredited by CHEA, or the Council for Higher Educational Accreditation. These schools have been evaluated for educational excellence in order to receive accreditation.
Attending an accredited college or university could provide numerous benefits. A primary one is a financial aid since federal aid is only administered to accredited schools. Another benefit is that it may make you more attractive to employers.
Employers want to hire a knowledgeable and accomplished individual, and attending an accredited university gives you this credibility. While not essential to future career success, it could give you an advantage after college.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re thinking about attending a college or university in Illinois, you should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will give you access to federal, state, and private financial aid.
You will want to fill out your application as soon as possible. The FAFSA becomes available each year on October 1st, and funds are distributed on a first come first served basis. To fill it out, you will need to include financial information for yourself as well as your parents (unless you’re considered an “independent” according to FAFSA’s requirements).
This information will be used to calculate your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) and how much and what type of assistance you are offered. Ideally, you will want to receive grants and scholarships, as they do not have to be repaid.
In addition to federal grants, the state of Illinois offers the following grant opportunities for residents:
- Monetary Award Program (MAP): Must maintain academic progress as determined by college; Award amount varies by school and year
- Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program: Must be a National Guard member attending public universities or community colleges; Must maintain acceptable GPA as defined by the school; Covers full tuition and fees
- Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program: Must have served at least one year of federal active duty service in the Armed Forces of the IS, a reserve component, or the Illinois National Guard, and meet additional qualifications; Must maintain acceptable GPA as defined by the school; Covers full tuition and fees
- Grant Program for Dependents of Police or Fire Officers: Must be the spouse or child of a police or fire officer at the time of death or disability; Must maintain academic progress as determined by college; Covers full tuition and fees
- Grant Program for Dependents of Correctional Officers: Must be the spouse or child of a correctional officer at the time of death or disability; Must maintain academic progress as determined by college; Covers full tuition and fees
- Higher Education License Plate (HELP) Program: Must be attending a college for which the special collegiate license plates are available; Funds are contingent on a number of license plates sold
Scholarships are the other type of ideal financial aid. Many scholarships are offered based on academic merit, but they may also be awarded based on geographic location, chosen field of study, unique traits or hobbies, and so on.
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Be sure to check with the financial aid office at the school you’ve chosen as well. They can tell you about any additional private aid that you may be eligible for.
Illinois Online Education Resources
The process of applying for college can be difficult and confusing. Fortunately, Illinois provides prospective students with resources to help them in their journey. These include:
- University of Illinois System Online Course Database
- Illinois State Board of Education
- Illinois State Library’s Online Database
These resources allow students to find funding resources, mentors, and learn about schools and their programs.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in Illinois?
Attending a university online can be a great alternative to in-person learning. These programs generally cost less than in-person schooling because students don’t have to pay for housing and transportation.
Your savings can also increase if you were to attend an in-state college since an out-of-state education usually charges students more to attend. In-state colleges in Illinois cost approximately $26,252 while out-of-state colleges cost $28,660.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Tuition breaks may be afforded to a student if they qualify for them. If you’re considering attending college out-of-state and believe you may qualify for tuition breaks, then you can apply for the Midwestern Higher Education Compact.
The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) gives students access to courses and programs from numerous colleges and universities outside of Illinois, at a reduced cost. These programs are generally reduced to the price of in-state tuition. Students who qualify for tuition breaks can expect to save anywhere from $500 to $5000 on tuition every year.
What Are the Most in Demand Jobs in Illinois?
Many students who go to college or university want to ensure that they will have the option to take a relevant job after they graduate. Fortunately, Illinois is home to many successful industries that may afford you the opportunity to take an in-demand job.
Below is a list of a few careers that are currently in high demand and expected to grow in popularity:
- General and Operations Managers
- Marketing Managers
- Financial Managers
- Management Analysts
- Software Developers
These only represent a few of the many jobs that may be available to you. Make sure to research to see which careers may align with your desired degree.
What Are the High Paying Jobs in Illinois?
Illinois is also home to many high-paying jobs. Below is a list of some high-paying careers for online Illinois colleges degree holders.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Advertising and Promotions Managers||$99,900|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$94,970|
|Buyers and Purchasing Agents||$71,160|
Remember that having a degree doesn’t guarantee these careers since there are many factors that contribute to the hiring process, including what you studied in college.
Best Online Colleges in Illinois
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Aurora University aims to offer its online students a high-quality education. Most of the school’s professors are experts and hold the highest degrees in their fields. AU offers bachelor’s degree completion programs for students who have finished most of their core courses. Students can also earn master’s degrees, doctorates, certificates, or endorsements. Fields of study offered include education and psychology.
Aurora University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Benedictine University—Lisle offers a holistic education that aims to help students find their passions and move into careers where they can make positive changes. Benedictine offers online courses that are asynchronous to fit students’ needs. The school offers one online bachelor’s program, an RN to BS in Nursing. Online students can choose from several graduate degrees in the health and business fields.
Benedictine University – Lisle is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Chamberlain University is a school for students who want to become nurses or work in other healthcare-related professions. It has 23 campuses across the country. Students can earn a BS in Nursing in a hybrid program that is available in select states. Students must attend live virtual classes and clinicals in one of the states the program is offered.
Chamberlain University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Concordia University—Chicago’s online degree programs are designed to give students a high-quality education while fitting into their busy schedules. Each program follows a path of one course per 8 week session to help students succeed. Students can choose from accelerated bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate programs in fields such as kinesiology, church music, or ESL.
Concordia University – Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the US. It offers four start dates throughout the year. DePaul offers online degree completion programs, full undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and professional certificate programs. Students can choose to study in fields like artificial intelligence, game programming, leadership studies, social media marketing, and nonprofit management.
DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dominican University is committed to offering students an immersive online learning experience. Students are given opportunities to interact with their instructors and peers and complete engaging projects to prepare for future careers. The school’s degree programs are delivered in fully online or hybrid formats. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in fields like business, mediation and conflict resolution, and nursing.
Dominican University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Eastern Illinois University’s online program has received multiple accolades, including “best regional university.” The school aims to offer the same quality education to online students as to its on-campus students. For most programs’, online students pay in-state tuition, even those that live out-of-state. Students can earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees online in fields such as aging studies, music, and psychology.
Eastern Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Greenville University strives to offer students a Christ-centered education along with academics that will prepare them for the working world. Courses are offered fully online to accommodate students with other obligations. Students can earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees in fields like agribusiness, social work, elementary education, business, and coaching.
Greenville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Governors State University was named one of the best online undergraduate business programs by U.S. News & World Report. The school’s online program offers a select number of degrees. Students can earn bachelor’s degrees in fields like nursing or interdisciplinary studies. Master’s and doctorate degrees are available in fields like education and addiction studies.
Governors State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Illinois State University has high retention and graduation rates, and 97% of its professors hold terminal degrees. ISU offers graduate degrees and professional certificates in select fields. The degrees can be earned either fully online or in a hybrid format. Fields of study offered include agricultural education and leadership, chemistry education, business administration, and more.
Illinois State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Judson University gives students a rigorous education rooted in the Christian faith. Judson’s online programs are designed to offer the same education students on campus receive.
Judson offers a limited number of online degree programs. Online students can earn an AA in Liberal Arts or a BA in Applied Psychology, Business Administration, Human Services, or Organizational Leadership. Graduate degrees are offered in ministry and leadership, business administration, human services administration, organizational leadership, and computer science.
Judson is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Lincoln Christian University specializes in degrees in the field of Christian ministry. LCU offers six fully online programs, both at undergraduate and graduate levels. Programs include a BA in Christian Ministry and an MA in Bible and Theology or Organizational Leadership. Students in the MA in Divinity program may complete two-thirds of their courses online.
Lincoln Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Loyola University—Chicago bases its programs on Jesuit values, particularly service to others, ethical leadership, and giving one’s best. For students who already have some credits and are seeking bachelor’s degrees, Loyola offers online degree completion courses. The school also offers several master’s and doctorate programs. Fields of study offered include information technology, Christian spirituality, and nursing.
Loyola University – Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
McKendree University was founded almost two centuries ago and has been helping nontraditional students earn their degrees since the 1970s. Some students may be eligible for discounted tuition. Students can pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in fields like business administration, sport management, cyber defense, entrepreneurship, nursing, and more.
McKendree University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
National Louis University is a career-focused university that aims to help students develop the skills they need to excel in their careers. Its online programs encourage interaction and collaboration between teachers and students. Online students can pursue bachelor’s or master’s degrees in fields like criminal justice or public administration. The school offers seven start dates throughout the year.
NLU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students at Olivet Nazarene University are encouraged to think beyond themselves and learn to serve God and others. ONU offers accelerated degree programs to help students quickly advance in their careers while maintaining other responsibilities. Students can earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees in fully online or hybrid formats. Fields of study offered include ministry and business.
Olivet Nazarene University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Quincy is a Catholic-based university, and its motto is “Success by Design.” The school aims to help students grow as people and learn the skills needed for their jobs. Online students take 8 week courses, with two courses per session. Students can choose from three programs with various concentrations: Bachelor’s Completion, Business Administration, and Education.
Quincy University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Illinois—Chicago’s online programs are designed to guide students along their degree paths. Online programs are held to the same standards as on-campus programs. Courses are asynchronous. Students can earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fields like pharmacy, engineering, and social work.
The University of Illinois – Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Since its founding in 1996, the University of Illinois—Urbana Champaign has been an innovator in online learning. The school has received many accolades. Students can choose from over 120 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, certificates, and endorsement programs. Students can choose from fields like civil engineering, crop sciences, and health communication.
The University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Western Illinois University is committed to helping students find and achieve their passions. The school currently offers many completely online degree programs and is working to add even more. Students can pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees online. Fields of study offered include music, teaching mathematics, economics, fire protection services, and law enforcement and justice administration.
Western Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your College Degree in Illinois Online
If you’re a resident of Illinois or simply wish to attend a school based in Illinois, then you have many ways to make your goal a reality. Illinois online degrees open pathways to success by providing you with different fields of study and skills to succeed outside of the classroom.
With the financial aid and tuition break opportunities available to you, as well as the ability to enroll in an online school while out-of-state, the barriers to beginning your education are minimal. If these factors interest you, then begin researching accredited universities today so that you can take your education to the next level.
You can also view our Online Colleges in Idaho and Online Colleges in Indiana guides for more options.