Online Colleges in Illinois 2021

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In Illinois, approximately 87.5% of the state’s undergraduate and graduate student population enrolled in at least one online course during their educational journey in 2017. More than 100,000 Prairie State students pursued a degree entirely online.

For the purpose of paying in-state tuition, students must live in Illinois for one full year prior to initial enrollment. Since out-of-state tuition can cost significantly more than in-state tuition, establishing Illinois residency can yield substantial savings for students who plan to enroll in an Illinois college or university. However, some of the best colleges in Illinois allow all online students to pay in-state tuition regardless of residency.

The best online colleges in Illinois offer a quality education at affordable prices. Our ranking of the top online colleges in Washington considers factors such as tuition costs, student-to-teacher ratios, and graduation rates. Availability of financial support, career counseling services, and job placement support also affect rankings. These factors contribute to the program’s overall accessibility and value.


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Frequently Asked Questions About Online Schools in Illinois

  • Q. Do online credits cost more or less in Illinois?

    Each school determines its own tuition for online and on-campus offerings. In most instances, students pay less for online courses than on-campus classes.

  • Q. What is the most affordable college in Illinois?

    McKendree University is the most affordable Illinois online college.

  • Q. How long do you have to live in Illinois to get in-state tuition?

    Illinois requires out-of-state applicants to legally reside in the state for at least one year (12 consecutive months) to qualify for in-state tuition.

Why Choose Illinois for Online Higher Education?

To support and encourage students to choose an Illinois college or university, the state increased higher education funding by 8.2% starting in the 2018-2019 school year. In addition, the Illinois economy boasts several growth-oriented industries, like advanced manufacturing, energy, and life sciences and biotechnology. With increased spending on education and a diverse economy, Illinois online colleges prepare graduates well for the job market.

Common Online Bachelor’s Programs in Illinois

The Prairie State’s approximately 120 two- and four-year colleges and universities offer academic programs in popular fields of study including business, psychology, and healthcare. Many Illinois online colleges offer accelerated programs that students can complete in under four years, allowing them to enter the workforce sooner. The five academic fields below represent some of the more common areas of study for Illinois enrollees.

Graduates with a biology degree can explore diverse career options in the state’s billion-dollar healthcare industry. Several large hospitals, pharmaceutical firms, and medical supply companies provide ample employment opportunities for biology degree-holders.
Illinois hosts 36 Fortune 500 companies, including Walgreens Boots Alliance, Boeing, and State Farm Insurance. These and other companies provide many employment opportunities for business graduates.
Computer Science
The computer science/IT field continues to expand and offer diverse job options for degree-holders. Graduates often work for software development companies and large corporations with extensive IT requirements, many of which are headquartered throughout the state. Computer science graduates can work as programmers, enterprise administrators, and system security analysts.
A broad professional arena, engineering leads to career options in various fields, including healthcare and manufacturing, two major growth industries in Illinois. Colleges and universities across the state offer on-campus and online engineering programs in virtually every specialization in the field.
Graduates of accredited psychology programs can pursue jobs in areas like human resources, counseling, and healthcare administration. Graduates can also pursue master’s and Ph.D. programs in psychology, preparing for leadership roles in the field.

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

Cost of Attending an Online College in Illinois

Enrollees at Illinois online colleges often save on many of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as housing and transportation costs. Additionally, an online program’s flexibility often allows students to continue working while pursuing a degree. Online students may enjoy additional savings if they attend in-state schools.

Public universities usually charge higher tuition for out-of-state enrollees. However, some of the best colleges in Illinois allow online students to pay in-state tuition regardless of residency. The table below shows how much students can save by paying in-state tuition.

Average Undergraduate Tuition in Illinois
Public Four-Year College Private Four-Year College Public Two-Year College
In-State $14,259 $33,454 $3,966
Out-of-State $28,522 N/A $11,480

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Career and Salary Outlook for Students in Illinois

Supporting one of the most diverse economies in the country, Illinois offers many professional options for degree-holders. Many of the following opportunities come with higher-than-average salaries and ample avenues for growth.

  • Computer and Information Systems Managers

    IT administrators carry out and coordinate computer-related tasks for a company. Their duties may include installing and troubleshooting software, training personnel in new or updated digital materials, streamlining processes, and maintaining system security.

  • Financial Managers

    Companies trust financial managers to help them make informed fiscal decisions. A financial expert’s specific tasks depend on the nature and size of the company, but they often perform detailed market analyses to improve product distribution or enhance service delivery. They may also look for ways to improve internal processes and production to maximize profitability.

  • Personal Financial Advisors

    Working closely with individuals, personal financial advisors educate their clients about financial options and instruments that can help them achieve their financial goals. They research and recommend investments, help mitigate risks, and closely monitor accounts to ensure they remain supportive of their clients’ financial objectives.

  • Compensation and Benefits Managers

    Compensation and benefits managers help ensure companies comply with state and federal regulations. They also coordinate with outside partners, such as benefits vendors, manage an organization’s pay and benefits structure, and balance competitive wages with profitability.

  • Sales Manager

    Sales managers find ways to improve profitability and increase sales by attracting new customers and opening new markets. They often analyze sales trends and statistics, set and monitor sales quotas, coordinate staff training programs, and prepare budgets and expenditures.

Highest Paying Careers With a Bachelor’s Degree in Illinois
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Computer and Information Systems Managers $148,990 11.3%
Financial Managers $146,350 16%
Personal Financial Advisors $142,440 7%
Compensation and Benefits Managers $137,540 2.4%
Sales Managers $135,790 5.1%

Source: BLS, ProjectionsCentral

Illinois Scholarships and Grants

Colleges and universities throughout Illinois offer various scholarships and grants for just about every type of student. Government agencies, private companies, and nonprofits also offer financial aid opportunities. The following list outlines several scholarships for students attending Illinois online colleges.

  • Illinois CPA Society Accounting Tuition Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Illinois residents pursuing an accounting degree at an accredited Illinois college or university can apply for the scholarship. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Amount: $1,000-$4,000

    Explore Here

  • Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: In-state students enrolled in a culinary arts and restaurant management program at an accredited Illinois college or university can apply to the program. Applicants must show enrollment in at least nine credits per semester and be younger than 30 years old.

    Amount: Varies

    Explore Here

  • ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The program welcomes applications from high school seniors residing in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Recipients can apply the amount toward any U.S. college or university.

    Amount: $1,000

    Explore Here

  • The Anhelo Project Dream Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Undocumented students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited Illinois institution can apply for the scholarship. The program does not require applicants to hold DACA status.

    Amount: Varies

    Explore Here

Best Online Colleges in Illinois 2021

  1. McKendree University

    Lebanon, IL

    Located in Lebanon, Illinois, McKendree Online offers associate, bachelor's, and master's programs for students who need a flexible education.

    The school offers one online associate degree in business administration and five bachelor's programs in fields such as psychology, sociology, or business administration. Business administration students may choose from nine different concentrations, including accounting, human resource management, and sport management.

    Students can also choose from four master's programs in health administration, business administration, education, and nursing. The school also offers one doctoral program in nursing practice. Online certificate programs round out the school's online offerings, including corporate finance, cyber defense, and digital marketing options.

    First-year applicants do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores, but they can send them to bolster an application. Transfer students must possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 on all previous college coursework. Graduate students must follow the admission criteria for their chosen department to begin the admissions process.

    McKendree is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  2. DePaul University

    Chicago, IL

    Based in Chicago, DePaul Online offers a selection of bachelor's and master's programs, as well as professional certificate programs.

    Bachelor's options include programs in decision analytics, computing, and applied behavioral science, with several programs offered as degree completion programs. Master's choices include data science, educational leadership, and public administration. Certificate options allow students to gain professional development in subjects like Python, artificial intelligence, cloud computing technologies, and social media marketing.

    The school does not require undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of the admissions process. Graduate applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school to qualify for admission. Applicants must also visit individual department pages to verify additional requirements.

    Depaul is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. Lewis University

    Romeoville, IL

    Based in Romeoville, Illinois, Lewis Online offers graduate and undergraduate programs, with several bachelor's programs offered in accelerated formats. Students can work at their own pace, and most degrees do not require any time on campus, even for exams.

    Bachelor's students may choose from six bachelor's programs, including options in nursing, computer science, and organizational leadership. Accelerated options allow students with some college credit and work experience to finish their degree with the flexibility of online instruction.

    Master's programs include computer science, criminal justice, cybersecurity, and data science. The school also offers one doctoral program online: a doctor of nursing practice.

    Undergraduate applicants need at least30 undergraduate hourswith a minimum 2.0 GPA to enroll in online bachelor's programs. Graduate applicants must follow the individual admissions criteria for each individual department.

    Lewis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. University of Illinois at Springfield

    Springfield, IL

    Based out of the Springfield campus, UIS Online offers a variety of bachelor's and master's programs, as well as undergraduate minors and graduate certificate and licensure programs.

    Students can choose from undergraduate programs in communication, healthcare informatics, and teacher education. Graduate choices include data analytics, education, and legal studies. Students can also participate in certificate and licensure options, such as data science or advocacy studies, allowing students to hone their professional career goals.

    The school does not require undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students must possess a minimum GPA of 2.0 on at least 30 hours of transfer credits to qualify for admission. Bachelor of business administration applicants must follow the department's requirements for its limited admission. Graduate admission requirements vary by department.

    UIS is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. Eastern Illinois University

    Charleston, IL

    Located in Charleston, EIU Online offers several undergraduate and degree completion programs, as well as master's programs and graduate certificates. Students can also pursue online minors to customize their degree track.

    Bachelor's options include programs in general studies, psychology, and health promotion. Online minors include communications, organizational leadership, and talent development. Master's programs include options in fields such as art, history, aging studies, and education, as well as in-demand fields like cybersecurity or nursing. Online students pay the in-state tuition rate, which even extends to international students.

    The school allows students to transfer up to 100 credits toward undergraduate degrees, including credits from military experience. EIU does not accept SAT or ACT scores in the admission packet, but students with less than a 2.5 GPA may use them for standard admission. Graduate applicants should apply based on the individual department criteria for their chosen program.

    EIU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  6. Olivet Nazarene University

    Bourbonnais, IL

    Located in Bourbonnais, ONU Online offers students several graduate and undergraduate program options, as well as degree completion programs and certificates.

    Students can complete undergraduate degrees in business, education, nursing, or multidisciplinary studies. Many of the programs also include graduate options. The school also offers several master's programs in ministry, including a master of arts in pastoral leadership, a master of arts in urban ministry, and a master of divinity. Students can also pursue one doctoral program online: a doctor of education in ethical leadership.

    Certificate programs allow students to take charge of their professional growth, with programs including certified life coach, hospitality, and computer applications. Accelerated courses meet online in six-week formats.

    Most undergraduate programs require students to possess a minimum 2.0 GPA to qualify for admission. Graduate students must also check with their chosen department for program-specific admission requirements. Students may speak with admissions counselors to answer any other questions.

    ONU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Aurora University

    Aurora, IL

    Based in Aurora, Illinois, AU Online offers students pathways for both graduate and undergraduate degrees.

    Students can choose from one of seven bachelor's programs, including options in business administration, general studies, or psychology. Master's programs include digital marketing and design, mathematics education, or public health. Students can also choose two dual-degree programs, pairing a master of social work with either a master of public administration or a master of business administration. Social work students can also get a post-bachelor's certificate in school social work, while education students can move on to a fully online doctoral degree.

    Undergraduate admission requirements vary by department. For example, the business administration program requires two years of work experience, and students with fewer than 15 transferrable credits must submit ACT or SAT scores. Graduate applicants must also check with their individual departments for application requirements.

    AU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. Greenville University

    Greenville, IL

    Offering a Christ-centered education to students worldwide, Greenville Online offers students the chance to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees with flexibility. Students enjoy multiple start dates per year and can transfer up to 90 credits into the bachelor's degree of their choice.

    Students can choose from one of six bachelor's programs in fields such as education, organizational leadership, or business management. Master's programs include five different education options, as well as a master of science in management and a master of business administration.

    Students work with an admissions counselor to establish the best route for admissions. Graduate applicants must possess a minimum GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 hours of undergraduate work to qualify for master's degree programs. Students also need either current employment or enough experience to complete graduate capstone experience projects.

    Greenville is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. North Park University

    Chicago, IL

    Based in Chicago, NPU Online offers several undergraduate and graduate options for students seeking a flexible education.

    Students can choose from bachelor's degree completion programs, including options in business administration, location intelligence, or organizational management. Graduate programs include higher education administration, nonprofit administration, or human resource management. Nursing students may also continue on to the doctoral level with the school's doctor of nursing practice.

    The school accepts applications on a rolling basis. Degree completion programs require a resume and transfer credits for eligibility, but students must also verify individual department requirements. Graduate applicants must also follow the admissions criteria outlined for their chosen field. Admissions counselors can help students gather all the necessary information.

    NPU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  10. Western Illinois University

    Macomb, IL

    Based in Macomb, WIU Online offers students the chance to pursue flexible undergraduate and graduate programs. Students may also pursue unique dual-degree programs online, which allow students to finish both a bachelor's degree and a master's in less time.

    Bachelor's options include programs in fields such as communication, anthropology, economics, and accountancy. Students can also study business concentrations or complete a nursing degree with the registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing track.

    Graduate programs include a master's program in business administration, curriculum and instruction, public safety, and music. Motivated students may also choose an integrated track, allowing them to complete a bachelor's and master's degree in just five years. Notable choices include a bachelor of accountancy and a master of business administration and a bachelor of general studies and a master of science in instructional design and technology.

    Undergraduate applicants do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores. The school guarantees admission to students who possess a minimum GPA of 2.75. Students with a 2.0-2.74 GPA can apply for conditional admission. Graduate applicants must adhere to the individual admissions requirements of their chosen department requirements.

    WIU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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Emma Yenko

With an undergraduate degree in communications and a master’s in education, Emma finds writing for the education vertical to be the perfect niche.

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