Best Online Colleges in Illinois

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Are you ready to find your fit?

Considering an Online Degree in Illinois, then you probably know that online school has become the future of education.

With online education you can study and work at your own pace, you don’t have to worry about lecture halls filling up, and you can save a tremendous amount of money. In recent years, Illinois has emerged as a leader in distance education.

What kind of Online College in Illinois should you attend?

Let’s settle something right off the bat: does it matter where an online college is located? Well, for one, at a public school that offers online degrees, in-state students often save money on tuition. So if you’re an Illinois resident, it would make sense to start your search for online colleges in your home state.

Secondly, even if you’re studying remotely, one of the biggest benefits to college besides the education itself is developing networks of people you can work and collaborate with. So it’s worth considering where your networks will be located.

Top 10 Best Online Colleges in Illinois


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How much money can you make with a degree from an Online College in Illinois?

For starters, Illinois has a GDP of $775 million, which means that if the state were its own country, it would have the 17th biggest economy of any country in the world. And as a home to many of the biggest corporations in America, headquarters to numerous key financial institutions, and the location of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Illinois is a great choice for people looking for opportunities to grow in their career.

According to Payscale.com, Illinois residents who have their Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees earn on average between $58k and $66k per year. Folks who have gone on to earn a Master of Science degree jump to an average annual salary of $73k.

What can you do with a degree from an Online College in Illinois?

These days, you’re bound to find the degree of your dreams in an online format. As you’ll witness below, Illinois programs have some of the best online selections in the country. Is your dream to become a teacher? An criminal forensics specialist? An accountant? You’ll find all of these—and more—through distance education in Illinois.

Another possible approach to your career is to read the market. What jobs are in the highest demand in Illinois? Over at Zippia.com, they’ve narrowed in on the top 10 fastest growing professions in the state. Maybe the time is right for you to jump in on one of these careers. Here’s a quick look at a few of them:

  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Veterinary Technician
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Nurse Practitioner

What are the Best Online Colleges in Illinois?

With that settled, take a look at our list below of Illinois’ Best Online Colleges. Some of these schools have different emphases, but what they all share is a commitment to quality. Academic quality is a key component of our rankings, and as such, is the most important part of each college’s score. But we’ve also considered return on investment, or in other words, how much you’ll get out for what you put in. To do this, we compared the net cost of completing a degree at each institution to how much money a graduate can expect to make early on in their career. That way, you’ll be able to consider whether it’s worth it to actually get the degree.

So without further ado, here are the Best Online Colleges in Illinois!

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Illinois at Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Overview

    The University of Illinois at Chicago is a public, state-supported research institution that is located in downtown Chicago, Illinois, with satellite campuses around the state. It is the largest university in the area and is home to the largest medical school in the country. This school is regionally accredited by the HLC.

    Features

    This university confers three undergraduate degrees, eight graduate degrees, and one doctoral degree, all of which are available wholly online. In addition, on-campus and online students are welcome to take any one of the hundreds of online courses that are available through the school’s virtual portal; however, students are reminded that preference is given to online-only students first. Top online options include:

    • Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Master of Education in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment
    • Doctor of Public Health in Leadership

    Notables

    UIC has made it a mission to provide an excellent online education to all of its students. This school has an incredible online student support staff, which is 100 percent dedicated to online students. In addition, the online library and bookstores are also available to students, allowing them to purchase textbooks and check out research material, then download it directly to their smart device. Technical support and academic services are also provided for online students to ensure they have everything they need to finish their degree on time, making this school one of the best online colleges in Illinois.

  2. University of Illinois at Springfield
    Location

    Springfield, IL

    Overview

    The University of Illinois at Springfield is a public, land-grant, liberal arts institution that is a member of the University of Illinois System. It is also home to a growing number of online degrees which has led it to be nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report. This university holds regional accreditation by the HLC.

    Features

    This university confers 13 undergraduate degrees and 13 graduate degrees. There are also 26 additional certification programs available online, most of which are focused on education or business. The majority of these programs can be completed wholly online; however, certain concentrations may lead to a residency requirement, so students are encouraged to speak to an admissions advisor prior to registering for classes. Here’s a glance at the top three programs:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
    • Master of Arts in Human Services Administration
    • Master of Science in Computer Science

    Notables

    UIS provides its online courses in an asynchronous format; terms can either be eight weeks or 16 weeks in length, depending on the subject matter. Students also have access to a dedicated Online Student Support Services team, which includes 24/7 technical support and online bookstore and library access privileges.

  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Overview

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public research university that is the flagship institution of the University of Illinois System. It is also a member of the University of Illinois Online Portal. This school is regionally accredited by the HLC.

    Features

    This school, along with other member institutions of the consortium, confers 70 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. Over 75 certificate and endorsement programs are available as well. Most of these programs are available wholly online, though some might require residency requirements; students are advised to check with admissions prior to applying. Some of the most popular degree programs are:

    • Bachelor of Science in Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability
    • Master of Science in Computer Science
    • Doctor of Public Health

    Notables

    UIUC’s partnership with other University of Illinois schools has been a boon for online students. From academic advising to the ability for students to take courses in other schools while still gaining college credit, this university is providing a welcoming and comprehensive online portal that should be the model for all universities when it comes to online education.

  4. Western Illinois University
    Location

    Macomb, IL

    Overview

    Western Illinois University is a public institution that is located in Macomb, Illinois. It is a well-respected institution that has begun expanding its online offerings for its students. This school holds regional accreditation by the HLC.

    Features

    This university confers two undergraduate degrees and three graduate degrees. It also offers the National Fire Academy Curriculum for Fire Fighters program, which is a professional-level degree meant for professional firefighters. All courses are available asynchronously without any campus residencies. The top three degree programs here are:

    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion Program
    • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
    • Master of Science in Education – Elementary Education

    Notables

    WIU has spent a lot of time innovating their online curriculum. It has created its own LMS, which students use to complete assignments and exams, to include chat options so that students can better communicate with their classmates and faculty when the class is over. Technical and student support services are also available; however, they are being reviewed for further refinement, so not all services may be accessible to students right now.

  5. Loyola University Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Overview

    Loyola University Chicago is a private, not-for-profit, Catholic research university that is located in the heart of Chicago, Illinois. It is home to one of the most respected online programs in the world, one that offers students the chance to get a top-tier education all from the comfort of their own home. This school holds regional accreditation by the HLC.

    Features

    This university confers six undergraduate degrees, 14 graduate programs, and three doctoral degrees, all of which are available wholly or mostly online. Certificates and endorsements for teachers are also available from this school. Students will need to check with an admissions advisor to learn about any campus residencies that may be required for their chosen degree. Here’s a look at some degrees:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology
    • Master of Jurisprudence in Business Law
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice

    Notables

    LUC provides online students with the same rigorous curriculum that is taught on campus, delivered by the same world-class faculty that teaches it. In fact, instructors are only permitted to teach online once they’ve become certified, ensuring that students only learn from teachers who are qualified to dole out an online education. But the school doesn’t stop there: LUC delivers exceptional online support services to every single one of its students, including academic advising and tutoring sessions, study groups with classmates, online office hours with faculty, and more.

  6. McKendree University
    Location

    Lebanon, IL

    Overview

    McKendree University is a private, Methodist liberal arts university that is located in Lebanon, Illinois. It is also known for its online offerings, all of which are approved by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. This school holds regional accreditation by the HLC.

    Features

    This school confers three undergraduate degrees, five graduate degrees, and one doctoral degree, all of which can be found wholly online. These are some of the finest online programs that can be found in the state. In fact, U.S. News and World Report and Affordable Colleges Online have ranked McKendree as one of the best online colleges in Illinois and in the country. You’ll find top degree programs such as:

    • Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Master of Arts in Education
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice

    Notables

    This school offers its programs asynchronously and in eight-week terms. Courses are taught by certified faculty who have learned the art of online teaching. Students also receive access to the school’s LMS, student support services, and 24/7 technical support.

  7. University of St. Francis
    Location

    Joliet, IL

    Overview

    The University of St. Francis at Joliet is a private, Catholic, Franciscan institution that is headquartered in Joliet, Illinois, but serves cities all over the country. It is also known for having one of the oldest online programs in the country; the online portal was established in 2001. This school is regionally accredited by the HLC.

    Features

    This school offers three undergraduate completion degree programs and over a dozen graduate and doctoral programs. The online offerings focus on nursing and education, which are fast-growing industries within the state. This school also offers online courses for on-campus students as well. Here’s a look at some of the top programs:

    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN Accelerated Program)
    • Master of Business Administration
    • Doctor of Educational Leadership in Superintendent Certification

    Notables

    USF offers courses asynchronously and synchronously, so students are encouraged to check the course descriptions prior to enrolling in courses. Classes are also taught in traditional and accelerated term schedules as well; speaking with the academic advisor assigned at the beginning of a degree will help students out immensely when planning out their degree. 24/7 technical support and career counseling are also available.

  8. Concordia University Chicago
    Location

    River Forest, IL

    Overview

    Concordia University Chicago is a private, Lutheran, liberal arts institution that is located in River Forest, Illinois. It is known for being one of the most comprehensive online universities in the country. This school is regionally accredited by the HLC.

    Features

    This school confers more than 70 undergraduate degrees, 42 master’s degrees, and 13 doctoral degrees. In addition, the school also offers 10 different MBA programs. These degrees focus on education and health and human services and are nearly all 100 percent online. The top three online programs here are:

    • Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems
    • Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction
    • Doctor of Philosophy, Organizational Leadership

    Notables

    Concordia has a storied history of online education, one that stretches back 15 years to when they first began offering virtual degrees. This has led to one of the strongest online colleges on this list, which is complete with a specialized Online Student Support staff, technical support, and access to online libraries and the school’s bookstore. The tuition figure listed above refers only to the per credit cost of undergraduate programs.

  9. Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville
    Location

    Edwardsville, IL

    Overview

    Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, known as SIUE, is a public, comprehensive institution that is located in Edwardsville, Illinois. It is one of the best universities in Illinois for students who are looking for a world-class online education. This school is regionally accredited by the HLC.

    Features

    This university offers one undergraduate degree, five graduate degrees, and one doctoral degree, all available wholly online. There is also a certificate option for students interested in certifying in web-based learning. As many of these degrees focus on nursing, there will be practicum requirements, but these will be fulfilled in a student’s area of residence. Some of the most popular degree programs include:

    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing — Accelerated RN to BSN Option
    • Master of Science in Nursing — Health Care and Nursing Administration
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice

    Notables

    SIUE offers students who are working professionals the chance to finish their degrees while continuing with their careers. That’s why these courses are delivered asynchronously and in eight-week and 16-week formats, allowing students to fit their courses around their busy schedules. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the school’s Online Student Services desk, which provides academic advising, tutoring, and writing and career services. Around-the-clock technical support is also available.

  10. Eastern Illinois University
    Location

    Charleston, IL

    Overview

    Eastern Illinois University is a public, comprehensive state institution that believes that an online degree is just as valuable as an on-campus degree. This school is currently one of the top institutions in the state for online learning. This school is regionally accredited by the HLC.

    Features

    This school currently offers 15 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and specialist levels of education. The majority of these programs focus on business and education, which will come as no surprise since Illinois is experiencing an influx in demand for highly qualified teachers. Students will want to note, however, that many of these programs do have residency requirements, so a call to the school’s online admissions advisors is encouraged. Three of the top programs are:

    • Bachelor of Science in Organizational and Professional Development
    • Master of Science in Educational Leadership
    • Master of Arts in Music, Music Education Concentration

    Notables

    What sets EIU apart from many other online portals is that the school takes a vested interest in the cohort model, which sets students up for success by placing them in a group that moves through their degree at the same time. This also helps to foster an intimate relationship between instructors and students, encouraging them to speak out more and discuss the subject matter in an open forum.

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