Illinois Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2015

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Best Online Colleges in Illinois for 2015

As more students require the accessibility and flexibility provided by online programs to fit their busy lives, colleges in Illinois are stepping up to the plate. With over 150 schools in the state currently offering online postsecondary education, potential learners have many choices when it comes to selecting the perfect program to meet their needs. In the midst of so many options, some schools rise above others. The list below ranks online colleges in Illinois in terms of program quality, value and range of choice. See which schools earned spots on our list of the Best Online Colleges in Illinois for 2015.

RANK COLLEGE Tuition And Fees Enrollment Accredited MORE INFO
1 University of Illinois at Springfield$8,0773,631YES
University of Illinois-Springfield offers undergraduate and graduate online college degrees in addition to certification programs and certificates. The college has formal partnerships with dozens of other institutions that help provide online programming. Courses include Blackboard software, and the University of Illinois' YouTube channel has informational videos for students interested in online learning.
2 Governors State University$8,9364,171YES
Governors State University allows students to combine online college and campus courses to complete their degree. All courses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and include Blackboard software.
3 Eastern Illinois University$9,79410,579YES
Eastern Illinois University offers four online college degree programs and one hybrid degree program. The university is a military-friendly school, and online programs are designed for adults students who work full time or have other obligations. Students can choose from two Bachelor's of Arts programs, two Bachelor of Science programs and one Master of Science program.
4 Western Illinois University$9,83711,892YES
Western Illinois University offers online college degree programs and online courses through WesternOnline. Students can choose from three different online degree programs: a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies, a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology or A Master of Science in Education. Online students may have to take proctored exams.
5 Methodist College$10,394661YES
UnityPoint Health-Methodist offers practicing nurses who have passed the NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination, to obtain a fully-online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) degree. The online college program can be completed in as few as four semesters, though students have up to five years to complete their studies.
6 Moody Bible Institute$10,5263,753YES
The Moody Bible Institute offers two graduate-level programs in Biblical Studies. The school has a free trial course with sample lessons and tools to explore the Blackboard software features. Online courses follow two-month long or self-paced formats and students can enroll in multiple online college courses at once.
7 Southern Illinois University Carbondale$10,58117,448YES
Southern Illinois University offers online college degree, certificate, certification and diploma programs through SIU Online. Degree-seeking students can choose from five online bachelor's degree programs and five online master's degree programs in variety of fields, including accounting and business administration. SIU Online is partnered with the Center for Teaching Excellence.
8 Northern Illinois University$10,98118,830YES
Northern Illinois University offers online and blended courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Online college students can choose from bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs, as well as certificate programs. Online coursework includes online games, discussions and simulations. Many online courses still require students to come to some meetings on campus.
9 University of Illinois at Chicago$12,77118,698YES
University of Illinois at Chicago offers more than 30 online degree, non-degree and certificate programs through UIC online. Students can choose from online college programs offered through nine of the university's on-campus colleges. Online students can access their courses at any time and have access to all of the University's online and on-campus educational resources.
10 Ellis University$13,560N/AYES
John Hancock University, formerly Ellis University, is accredited through the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). Online graduated degree programs include master’s in Communication Arts, Education, Business Administration, Computer Science, Human Resource Management, Instructional Technology and Management. JHU’s courses are designed specifically for online learning allowing students flexibility and accessibility to their courses.
11 Lincoln Christian University$14,580716YES
Lincoln Christian University's Hargrove School of Adult and Graduate Studies offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in addition to a certification program. Lincoln's seminary program offers hybrid degree options where students can take up to two-thirds of a degree or degree specialization online. The University is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
12 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign$14,58133,400YES
University of Illinois offers online college undergraduate degree, graduate degree, certificate and continuing education programs. Some of the university's online courses may require students to take tests on campus or at a local community college, while other courses allow students to take tests online. Online lectures may combine several learning methods, including video and text.
13 American InterContinental University-Online$15,66027,100YES
American InterContinental University Online offers accredited online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Online college students can choose from associate’s, bachelor’s and master's degree programs in a range of popular fields, including education, business and criminal justice All of the university's online courses utilize the My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.) learning platform.
14 Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing$16,100468YES
Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing is committed to utilizing a combination technology, classroom and online college programs to help students achieve their education goals. All graduate degree programs are conducted online. The successful candidate for an online degree requires self-management and self-motivation. The college provides access to the resources and training necessary for completing the degree.
15 National Louis University$18,8951,870YES
National Louis University offers online accredited degree programs for students who are unable to commit to coming to on-campus classes. Students can choose from four online master's degree programs and four online bachelor's degree programs. Online students may be able to complete some credits through credit by examination, credit by proficiency or credit by portfolio.
16 Aurora University$19,4503,183YES
Aurora University has online degree options at the bachelor's and master's degree levels, as well as bilingual/ESL and special education endorsement programs. Bachelor's and master's level courses are accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Though a few courses require face-to-face meetings, most are delivered entirely online. Aurora provides a 24/7 help center for students and instructors are available during virtual office hours.
17 North Park University$21,0502,440YES
The North Park University's schools of adult learning, theological seminary, and business/nonprofits all offer online college courses and degree programs. Students can access classes at any time and all course material is delivered through the Moodle platform. North Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
18 Greenville College$22,1981,453YES
Greenville College offers bachelor's degree, master's degree, and endorsement programs. While most are fully online, between 10 to 50 percent of a course may require in-person participation. Greenville College also offers a jump start program for high school juniors and seniors interested in earning online college credits. Online tutoring is available through the college's Student Success Center.
19 Resurrection University$22,616392YES
The BSN for RNs at Resurrection University offers a hybrid online college learning program for working nurses whose schedules require more flexibility than traditional classroom education entails. Face-to-face classes meet only one night per week, while 50% of the course meets online. The curriculum is streamlined to allow for quick completion.
20 Lincoln College$23,0001,395YES
Lincoln College of New England has online bachelor's and associates degrees in criminal justice and health information. Online college classes include audio/visual lectures in addition to live demonstrations, slideshows, video clips, and photos. Students can access classes at any time and some programs are offered in a -- blended -- format for those interested in also taking on-campus sessions.
21 Benedictine University$23,1844,750YES
Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), Benedictine University offers a range of online college degree programs for nontraditional students. Online students can choose from graduate degree programs, doctoral degree programs, bachelor's degree programs, associate's degree programs and graduate certificate programs.
22 Quincy University$24,1401,425YES
Quincy University offers five master's online college programs and a Bachelor of Human Services Degree, with a sixth master's program due to be added in Fall 2014. Quincy University is accredited as a four-year university by the Higher Learning Commission.
23 McKendree University$24,1902,755YES
McKendree University has undergraduate and graduate level online college courses available in education, business, nursing, and psychology. The University also offers a dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration program. A self-assessment quiz for those interested in finding out if online learning is best for them on the McKendree University site.
24 Trinity International University-Illinois$24,6101,286YES
Trinity International University's Online Campus offers three online college degree programs in business, Christian ministries, and psychology, as well as certificate programs. The programs are intended for students who have completed some coursework at the college or university level, and credits from other universities may transfer to the online programs at Trinity University.
25 Lewis University$24,7705,242YES
Lewis University offers undergraduate, adult-accelerated undergraduate, and graduate programs. Some tracks have customized curriculum and all online courses are also taught on campus in a classroom-based format. Lewis University offers a self-assessment quiz on their website for those interested in finding out if online college is the best choice for them.
26 Roosevelt University$25,2004,486YES
Roosevelt University offers 16 online college programs through RUOnline. Online students can choose from six bachelor's degree programs, three master's degree programs, one undergraduate minor, one undergraduate credential and five graduate credentials. The school also offers Guided Independent Distance Education (GuIDE) courses, which can be completed online. RUOnline courses use Blackboard as an online learning system.
27 Rush University$25,402106YES
The Rush University College of Nursing offers several fully online college programs and courses with limited on-campus visits required. In addition to a Master's of Science in Nursing, Rush University has Doctor of Nursing Practice programs with specialty certifications and leadership tracks. The Rush University Medical Center is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
28 Concordia University-Chicago$25,4561,552YES
Concordia University-Chicago offers bachelor's, master's, endorsement, and doctoral level courses online in business, education, and other areas. The school is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the National Association of Schools of Music
29 Judson University$26,1101,213YES
Judson University offers online college general education or elective credits for transfer toward a Judson University degree or for another college/university. Degree-seeking students of Judson University can take a full-time, 12-credit load of online courses. The university also offers online certificates in application software, studies in human behavior, Web administration and design, and an advanced certificate in management and leadership.
30 Dominican University$26,6102,142YES
The Dominican University School of Education offers online master's degrees and certification programs with six session start dates throughout the year. Students can attend online college classes at any time. For those interested in taking an accelerated track, some of Dominican's master's degree programs can be completed in as little as 18 months.
31 Saint Xavier University$27,0603,432YES
Saint Xavier University offers regionally accredited online graduate programs in nursing and education. The online college also has free online tutoring from Smarthinking for those who need assistance with writing, reading, math, science, business, Spanish, or English.
32 Olivet Nazarene University$27,5903,442YES
Programs through Olivet Nazarene University are completed entirely online and are considered accelerated. Students conclude their online college studies in two years or less. The University offers a bachelor's of business administration and five master's programs, with others launching soon.
33 Elmhurst College$30,0543,508YES
Elmhurst College's Online Center has online programs at the undergraduate, graduate and certificate level. The Online Center provides a management system for course readings, lectures, exams, technical help, student discussion forums, and more. Courses last one or two months depending on the term.
34 DePaul University$30,61819,088YES
DePaul University offers online bachelor's degree, master's degree and certificate programs as well as online CPA review courses. DePaul's School for New Learning offers a versatile Bachelor's of Arts degree program designed for students aged 24 an older. Many of the online college programs do not require students to ever come on campus.
35 Loyola University-Chicago$33,29411,095YES
Loyola University Chicago Online offers a variety of programs that can be completed entirely online or through a combination of on-line and on-campus meetings. Students can choose from a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs from ten of the university's schools, including the School of Nursing and the School of Law.
36 Illinois Institute of Technology$34,2602,999YES
Illinois Institute of Technology offers degree and certificate programs in ten different fields, including biological and chemical sciences, engineering and physics. The online college's courses utilize the Blackboard Learning Management System and may use asynchronous video lectures or synchronous video conferences. Online courses follow the same schedule as traditional, on-campus courses. Exams may need to be taken local testing centers.
37 Knox College$34,4641,457YES
Knox College offers a Master of Divinity degree in a hybrid program consisting of online college courses and on-campus classes. Of the 30 credits required for graduation, 10 are taken online and 10 are taken in residency on campus. Another eight credits comprise summer intensives at Knox and two credits come from Theological fieldwork in the student’s own community.
38 Northwestern University$41,98311,076YES
Northwestern University offers online master's degree and certificate programs through its School of Continuing Studies (SCS). Students can choose from a range of accredited online courses in a variety of disciplines, including accounting and museum studies. The University's online degree programs and degrees are the same as the on-campus versions.
39 The John Marshall Law SchoolN/AN/AYES
Students enrolled in The John Marshall Law School can obtain graduate level eDegrees through the online college in estate planning, information technology and privacy law, intellectual property law, and employee benefits. The only graduate-level employee benefits degree in the country is also available online for both lawyers and non-lawyer employee benefits professionals. Students can access course material at any time.
40 Adler School of Professional PsychologyN/AN/AYES
The Adler School of Professional Psychology offers graduate-level courses in criminology, industrial and organizational psychology, and psychology with a specialization in military psychology. The Adler School's online programs are accredited through the Higher Learning Commission and the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Most online college courses are between seven and a half to eight weeks in length. Students take part in discussion and video forums, role-playing, educational games, and other exercises.
41 Chicago Theological SeminaryN/AN/AYES
Students can earn master's degrees and certificates in various religious studies through the Chicago Theological Seminary's online college, or CTS Online. The Seminary uses the Moodle platform and WebEx virtual classrooms. Students have access to a live chat help desk and a broadcast of weekly chapel services. Student mentoring groups are also open to online students.
42 Catholic Theological Union at ChicagoN/AN/AYES
The Catholic Theological Union offers certificates, a master's, and individual courses in ministerial skills. The school is certified for online instruction by the Catholic Distance Learning Network of the National Catholic Education Association's Seminary Department. While certificates can be earned entirely online, the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies Degree includes blended courses. Online courses are taught using the Moodle platform.
43 Erikson InstituteN/AN/AYES
The Erikson Institute's distance learning program offers a master's degree, certificate programs, specialist courses, and webinars for early childhood professionals. Course material on EriksonOnline, the school's online college teaching platform, is available 24/7. The Institute offers a self-assessment quiz on their website for those interested in finding out if distance learning is best for them.
44 Institute for Clinical Social WorkN/AN/AYES
The Institute for Clinical Social Work, or ICSW, offers an accredited Clinical Ph.D. program for those interested in distance learning. Classes meet online during five evenings throughout the semester and students must attend two live, on-site classes in Chicago each semester. The online college coursework is spread over a four-year span. Students have access to ICSW's physical and digital library.
45 Knowledge Systems InstituteN/AN/AYES
The Knowledge Systems Institute, or KSI, graduate program offers an online master's degree in computer science. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. KSI instructors utilize discussions forums, blogs, chat rooms, video conferencing, and other multimedia tools for classes.
46 Lake Forest Graduate School of ManagementN/AN/AYES
The Lake Forest's Graduate School of Management offers an iMBA program. Students spend 75 percent of their time in a virtual-reality environment that simulates work at a real company with a variety of departments. The rest of the students' time is spent in online discussions and completing group projects. Manager avatars in the virtual company assign students work and instructors can see student progress in real time.
47 Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and ScienceN/AN/AYES
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science offer a number of online programs leading to graduate and post-graduate degrees. The MS in Health Professions Education, the MS in Health Administration, the PhD in Interprofessional Studies, the MS in Nutrition and the Post Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy. Some courses of study may require on-campus attendance in addition to online participation.
48 The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at ChicagoN/AN/AYES
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has master's, doctoral, and certificate programs. The school is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Courses require students in a course to be online at the same time for one to two hours each term. Online courses are self-paced and offered through Pearson eCollege with GotoMeeting software and SocialCourse instant messaging.

Search Accredited Illinois Online Colleges

There are probably as many reasons for choosing an online program as there are online students, which is why finding a program fit to an individual’s unique needs can take some research. A good way to begin your search is to put together a list of educational, financial, career and lifestyle priorities, and then consult the custom search engine below. This tool is designed to help prospective students pinpoint online colleges in Illinois by factors such as college type, acceptance rate, location and cost.

Degree Level:
Student Population:
School Type:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, Illinois Four or more years TUITION
  • BS Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability
  • Ed.M. Learning Design & Leadership: Foundations of eLearning in Higher Education
  • Master of Education Human Resource Development
  • Master of Education Learning Design & Leadership: New Learning (P-12 Education)
  • Master of Education Learning Design & Leadership: Technology Specialist (CTER)
  • Master of Education Diversity and Equity Issues in Education
  • Master of Education Global Studies in Education
  • Master of Education Teacher Leader Specialization
  • Master of Science in Teaching of Biological Science
  • MS Agricultural Education
  • Aerospace Engineering Master of Science Degree (Non-thesis Program)
  • Master of Computer Science
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
  • Masters Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Health Communication Online Masters (HCOM) Program
  • MS Food Science and Human Nutrition
  • MS Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
  • MS Recreation, Sport and Tourism
  • Master of Science in Library and Information Science
  • Ed.M. Evidence-based Decision Making
  • MA Program in Translation and Interpreting
  • MS Crop Sciences
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn, Illinois 2+ years TUITION
  • Associate in Applied Science Criminal Justice Degree
  • Associate in Applied Science Library And Information Technology
  • Associate in Applied Science Fire Science
  • Associate in Applied Science
  • Associate in Applied Science Administrative Support Specialist
  • Associate in Applied Science Executive Assistant
  • Associate in Arts
  • Associate in General Studies
University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, Illinois Four or more years TUITION
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management Degree Completion Program
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN Completion
  • Master of Science in Patient Safety Leadership
  • Master of Education in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment
  • Master of Health Professions Education
  • Master of Engineering
  • Master of Public Health in Public Health Informatics
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Master of Public Health in Community Health Sciences
  • Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Administration
  • Doctor of Public Health (DrPH in Leadership)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Post-Masters)
DePaul University Chicago, Illinois Four or more years TUITION
  • Bachelor of Arts in Computing
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication And Media
  • Bachelor of Arts With An Individualized Focus Area
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership ? Higher Education Concentration (Ma)
  • Master of Education in Educational Leadership ? Higher Education Concentration (Med)
  • Master of Science in Accountancy (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Business Information Technology (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Public Service Management (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Sport, Fitness And Recreation Leadership (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Computer Game Development (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Computer, Information And Network Security (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Information Systems (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Network Engineering And Management (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Software Engineering (Ms)
  • Master of Public Administration (Mpa)
  • Master of Science in E-Commerce Technology (Ms)
  • Master of Science in Predictive Analytics (Ms)
Northern Illinois University Dekalb, Illinois Four or more years TUITION
  • Bachelor of General Studies in Health And Human Sciences
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing For Rns
  • Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.)
  • Master of Science in Education in School Business Management
  • Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Geography
  • Master of Science in Industrial Management
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Carbondale, Illinois Four or more years TUITION
  • Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Technical Resource Management
  • Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technologies
  • Bachelor of Science in Fire Service Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in University Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science And Funeral Service
  • Bachelor of Science in University Studies
  • Business Administration
  • Fire Service And Homeland Security
  • Master of Architecture
  • Master of Science in Quality Engineering And Management
  • Master of Science in Medical Dosimetry
Loyola University Chicago Chicago, Illinois Four or more years TUITION
  • Bachelor of Arts in Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing Rn To Bsn
  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Studies
  • Master of Arts in Health Care Mission Leadership
  • Master of Business Administration: The Intercontinental MBA
  • Master of Jurisprudence in Business And Corporate Governance Law
  • Master of Jurisprudence in Children's Law And Policy
  • Master of Jurisprudence in Health Law
  • Master of Laws in Health Law
  • Master of Education in International Higher Education
  • Master of Science in Information Technology
  • Master of Arts in Bioethics & Health Policy
  • Master of Science in Nursing in Health Systems Management
  • Msn in Population-Based Infection Control And Environmental Safety (Pices) Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies
  • Master of Arts in Spirituality
Harper College Palatine, Illinois 2+ years TUITION
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Accounting Associate
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Computers in Business - Applications
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Computers in Business - Computer Support
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Computers in Business - Database Management
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Computers in Business - Management Information Systems
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Computers in Business - Network Administration
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Management
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Marketing
  • Associate in General Studies (Ags)
  • Associate of Arts (Aa)
  • Associate of Science (As)
City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College Chicago, Illinois 2+ years TUITION
  • Associate in Applied Science in Library Technical Assistant
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Spotlight Interview: Online Programs at the University of Illinois at Springfield

We asked one of the universities selected as our Best Online Colleges for 2015 to tell us what made their programs so great. Here’s what they had to say.

Online Departments in Illinois

University of Illinois at Springfield

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

The University of Illinois at Springfield has been the recipient of numerous national awards for online learning. Our approach to online learning is to provide faculty with encouragement, empowerment, and excellent support to allow each faculty member to engage and interact with students in a manner that allows students to learn the content and build relationships with each other and their faculty members. UIS prides itself on reaching out to others to build strong partnerships and to collaborate with other institutions globally while providing an excellent educational experience to students.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Students find our online programs valuable through the relationships that are built with faculty. We have a number of individuals who have taken our programs while serving in the military, as well as working professionals, students finishing their first degrees, working parents, and others in a variety of life situations. Online learning can be very flexible and this is helpful to students in a variety of situations. The most important aspect of value for students is becoming connected to their university. We have chosen to provide Online Program Coordinators who assist students with making strong connections on campus. Students are able to visit with their faculty members, receive help from the Online Program Coordinators, request tutoring services, library services, and participate in student scholarship presentations at a distance. All of these connection points helps to create a valuable online learning experience for students and assists with breaking down any barriers or feelings of isolation that can occur when students are separated in distance from the campus.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

Our online programs will continue to grow through planned strategic growth and measured assessment of our programs. I believe we will continue to add programs as faculty see the need and advocate for new programming and there is student demand. Additionally, I see a number of partnership opportunities that will allow for stronger collaborations between universities in the future. At the University of Illinois Springfield we look forward to continuing to do what we do best, serving students with excellence in education by providing intellectually rich learning experiences to students who live on campus, in near by communities, around the United States, and internationally.

Illinois Online Colleges Guide

Considered by many to be the center of the Midwest, Illinois is also a center for postsecondary education. Schools in the state accommodate students from within its borders and many also draw in additional learners from further afield. Students seeking an online degree program from a quality public university would do well to start with the University of Illinois’s system. UI currently offers online programs and courses originating on all three of its locations: Chicago, Springfield, and its main campus in Urbana-Champaign. Other options include Eastern Illinois University and Western Illinois University.

Other notable choices around the state include Rockford University, Methodist College, Lincoln College, Greenville College, and Illinois Wesleyan University. All of Illinois’s 49 community colleges offer online classes that culminate in degrees and certificates.

There are also a variety of private, not-for-profit online colleges in Illinois to consider, many of which are located in the Greater Chicago area. Chicago is the third largest city in the United States by population, making it a perfect home for so many institutions. Below is a brief look at the online college environment in the Windy City.

City in Focus: College in Chicago

Chicago routinely appears on rankings of the most educated cities in the United States. According to the Brookings Institute, 34 percent of Chicago’s residents held a college degree as of 2010, a 21 percent increase from 1970. Part of this growth can be attributed to the city’s outstanding collection of world-class universities, city colleges, and vocational schools. U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Chicago as the fifth best university in the nation (tied with Stanford), highlighting its freshman retention rate of 99 percent. The institution also earned top honors in the social sciences, with 36 percent of its graduates earning a degree in that field. Chicago’s collection of city colleges adds another dimension to this hub of higher education. With seven locations domestically and various campuses abroad, the city colleges graduate close to 10,000 students each year. Individual institutions include Richard J. Daley College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Kennedy-King College, Harry S. Truman College, Harold Washington College, and Wilbur Wright College.

Online Schools and Courses in Chicago

Chicago boasts a number of schools offering online programs for interested students. In addition to its campus-based degrees, City Colleges of Chicago has a Center for Distance Learning, which provides more than 85 online courses, an online tutoring service, and numerous distance-learning seminars.

DePaul University continues to grow its collection of fully online programs, including 10 online master’s degrees offered by its College of Computing and Digital Media. Like DePaul, other colleges in Chicago provide students with full degree programs via distance learning, including University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University at Chicago, Northwestern University, and Saint Xavier University.

Tuition, Fees & Cost of Living in Illinois

Financing a college education is something every college applicant needs to consider, and tuition is often the largest portion of those expenses. While figures vary by school and location, in 2012 the average resident student in Illinois paid $15,250 per year in tuition.

To provide the best possible college experience, many institutions go beyond the classroom and offer further social and learning opportunities. On top of tuition, they maintain parking, student activities, labs, and technology facilities by charging students an annual fee. Student fees in Illinois averaged $950 in 2012, resulting in a bottom line of $16,200 annually.

In addition to tuition and fees, potential Illinois students need to consider living expenses: food, housing, transportation and miscellaneous expenditures. In general, Illinois has a cost of living index 4 percent below the national average. Below you can find a breakdown of the major cities and their COL indexes as they relate to the national average (100%).

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Springfield -14.20% -29.90% -10.30% -20.20% 4.50% 6.50% -8.30%
Danville -8.90% -25.80% -5.40% 16.40% 9.30% -4.20% -9.30%
Decatur -8.60% -11.80% -10.90% -7.80% -3.30% -8.10% -6.70%
Rockford -7.60% -25.30% -7.40% 11.20% 5.80% 3.30% -3.20%
Galesburg -7.00% -20.00% -0.30% 3.10% -3.90% -2.70% -2.80%
Quincy -4.50% -5.50% -2.60% -4.50% -5.80% -0.20% -4.50%
Peoria -3.70% -5.00% -6.60% -2.80% 1.40% -4.20% -3.20%
Champaign-Urbana -3.10% -9.20% -1.50% -2.90% -1.80% 0.50% 0.70%
Joliet-Will County 2.20% 2.30% 0.90% 16.10% 11.30% 6.50% -4.80%
Chicago 16.90% 34.80% 11.20% 17.30% 16.50% 8.50% 4.40%

Accreditation Standards for Online Colleges in Illinois

Every accredited college or university has a governing body that holds the school to certain standards. Accreditation also makes it possible for schools to accept federal aid and scholarships for their students. Organizations such as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (‎ ) ensure Illinois colleges provide quality education and degrees. While regional accreditation is the most common type among top institutions, Illinois colleges may also apply for specialized accrediting bodies to vet their programs. For example, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education awarded Western Illinois University’s School of Nursing a five-year accreditation in 2014.

Great Resources for Students at Illinois Online Colleges

Distance learning is a new world for many students, requiring the development of a wide range of skills to ensure academic success in an online environment. Fortunately there are countless resources available free of charge to students looking to enroll in one of Illinois’s many online learning programs. Below is a list of organizations and government agencies within the state that are helpful to both distance education novices and experienced students alike.

Major Illinois Educational Resources