Best Online Colleges in Illinois

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by Staff Writers

Published on July 30, 2021 · Updated on January 21, 2022

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Individuals of all backgrounds are increasingly pursuing higher education because they understand the importance of earning a college degree in order to successfully land a job or receive a promotion. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the undergraduate student population in the U.S. will grow from 16.8 million in 2017 to 17.2 million by 2028.

By obtaining postsecondary credentials, you stand to access more career opportunities and higher salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that bachelor's degree-holders (regardless of academic major) make $24,000 more in average annual salary than people with only high school diplomas. They also enjoy a significantly lower unemployment rate.

Featured Online Programs

Top 10 Online Colleges in Illinois

  1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Champaign, IL
  2. University of Illinois at Springfield - Springfield, IL
  3. University of St Francis - Joliet, IL
  4. Lincoln Christian University - Lincoln, IL
  5. Lewis University - Romeoville, IL
  6. Eastern Illinois University - Charleston, IL
  7. Illinois Institute of Technology - Chicago, IL
  8. University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago, IL
  9. Governors State University - University Park, IL
  10. Illinois State University - Normal, IL

As tuition prices mount, more and more students are opting for distance education. Online academic programs provide distinct scholarships and affordable per-credit tuition rates that often ignore residency status. Furthermore, most online schools offer asynchronous classes, which allow you to access course materials and collaborate with peers any time of the day. This flexibility lets you work full time while going to school. Alternatively, you can accelerate degree completion and earn a bachelor's in two or three years instead of the conventional four years.

The plethora of options may seem overwhelming as you search for the school that best suits your academic interests and career goals. This guide helps you by providing information on the 25 top online colleges in illinois with regards to crucial factors such as accreditation, cost, student services, and graduation rates. Each profile details the school's degree offerings and general admission criteria. Do not hesitate to contact the relevant admissions specialists when a college piques your interest. These counselors can help you navigate enrollment and apply for funding.

On top of quality colleges and universities, Illinois boasts one of the healthiest and most diverse economies in the country. You can find exciting career opportunities in key industries such as biotechnology, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, and agribusiness. The healthcare sector is another major employer for the Prairie State.

Best Online Colleges in Illinois

Best Online Colleges in Illinois

  1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL



    Based in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign, the University of Illinois is a public research institution that serves over 51,000 students each year. U of I facilitates 150 undergraduate and 100 graduate programs, many of which learners can complete remotely through Blackboard Learn. The online catalog contains one undergraduate degree, a bachelor of science in earth, society, and environmental sustainability. This interdisciplinary program prepares students to pursue careers in environmental policy consulting.

    Distance learners can earn master's degrees for mechanical engineering; accounting; strategic brand communication; and recreation, sport, and tourism. They may also enroll in a cohort-style business administration program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Additionally, U of I offers online doctoral programs centered on educational specializations such as e-learning in higher education and global studies in education.

    Graduate admissions requirements differ by program, but usually include a minimum 3.0 GPA. Online students pay low per-credit tuition prices based on their program. Financial aid opportunities include the James Hunter Anthony and Gerald E. Blackshear Endowment Scholarship for in-state high school graduates.

  2. University of Illinois at Springfield

    Springfield, IL



    The University of Illinois at Springfield is a public liberal arts institution and the newest campus in the U of I System. More than 5,400 students attend UIS, and many learners take advantage of the flexible remote learning options powered by Blackboard. For bachelor's candidates, online programs cover fields such as information systems security, teacher education, political science, and English. Students can also obtain a bachelor's degree in healthcare informatics, which covers foundational systems analysis and project management competencies.

    Remote master's programs include social services administration, public health, and legal studies. Candidates may enroll in an environmental studies program that focuses on sustainable policy and planning. Students can augment their skills development by earning an online graduate certificate in one of 15 areas.

    Nearly all of the university's online undergraduate learners transfer from local community colleges through the 2+2 and Joint Agreements. To enroll, graduate applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and adequate GRE or GMAT scores. UIS funds a variety of departmental awards, such as the Memorial Nursing Scholarship.

  3. University of St Francis

    Joliet, IL



    Located in Joliet, the University of St. Francis was established in 1920 as a teacher training school, but now delivers comprehensive academics in many fields. In addition to quality campus-based education, learners can engage in remote learning through the Canvas platform. Undergraduate online students may enroll in two bachelor's degree completion tracks. The business option provides the core skills candidates need to work as entry-level budget analysts and labor relations specialists. The two-year RN to BSN program culminates in a evidence-based project with a local healthcare organization.

    USF delivers nine online master's degrees, including education (leading to initial teacher certification), healthcare administration, and organizational leadership. Graduate candidates can also earn a master of business administration accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. MBA candidates may either pursue a generalist track or pick from concentrations in marketing, sustainability, and management information systems.

    Online students benefit from low per-credit tuition rates. USF provides financial aid to nearly all FAFSA applicants. The university also supports distance learners by offering free tutoring services and dedicated success coaching.

  4. Lincoln Christian University

    Lincoln, IL



    Lincoln Christian University was founded in 1944 as a Bible institute. Today, the school offers accessible undergraduate and graduate degrees to 1,000 students annually. Learners can access online programming through Canvas. Undergraduate options include an associate of art in Bible that prepares students for careers in vocational ministry, as well as an online bachelor of Christian ministry program. LCU also offers baccalaureate credentials for business administration and psychology.

    At the graduate level, distance learners can obtain a master of arts in Bible and theology. Students may also pursue an online master's degree in organizational leadership, taking one class at a time over the course of 21 months. Candidates cultivate the advanced strategic decision-making and conflict resolution skills necessary to work as social services managers and nonprofit directors.

    Undergraduate applicants must submit an online application, a personal essay, and a Christian character reference. Graduate candidates need a minimum 2.5 GPA. All prospective students must submit standardized test scores.

  5. Lewis University

    Romeoville, IL



    Based in Romeoville, Lewis University enrolls 6,800 students in over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. The institution delivers remote degrees through Blackboard. Offerings include bachelor's tracks for nursing (RN to BSN), organizational leadership, and information security management. Distance learners can also enroll in accelerated bachelor's programs for business administration and criminal justice to earn their credentials in about two years.

    Online students who want to earn a master's degree can pick from programs such as business analytics, data science, and public safety administration. Candidates can also pursue a master of science in aviation and transportation, taking flexible eight-week courses that allow learners to work full time and obtain their credentials in two years. The aviation program helps students develop the strategic planning and quality management skills to work in transportation logistics and safety.

    Lewis requires all applicants to submit standardized test scores. Prospective graduate students usually need at least a 3.0 GPA. Approximately 97% of learners receive financial aid, which comes in the form of state grants, work-study awards, and merit scholarships.

  6. Eastern Illinois University

    Charleston, IL



    Eastern Illinois University is located in Charleston and offers comprehensive online programming through the Desire2Learn platform. The catalog contains nine bachelor's options, including an accelerated nursing program for licensed RNs. Distance learners can enroll in baccalaureate tracks for psychology, communication in organizations, and business administration. They may also pursue a health program degree, picking from either a community health or emergency management/disaster preparedness concentration.

    The majority of the college's remote offerings target graduate students. These programs include health promotion and leadership, cybersecurity, English, and college student affairs. The university offers a flexible master's program in history for K-12 teachers seeking endorsement. Additionally, graduate candidates can enroll in an online MBA track that comes with three concentration options.

    Distance learners enjoy affordable in-state tuition rates and ample financial aid opportunities. Incoming freshman need a minimum 2.5 GPA and either an 18 ACT or 960 SAT score. Transfer candidates must display at least a 2.0 GPA. Graduate admissions criteria include a minimum 2.75 GPA.

  7. Illinois Institute of Technology

    Chicago, IL



    Founded in 1890 as a private research university, the Illinois Institute of Technology maintains its flagship campus in Chicago. The school provides affordable distance education through Blackboard, enabling students to take individual asynchronous classes or pursue fully online degrees.

    Undergraduate candidates can enroll in a bachelor of industrial technology and management program. Through a 126-credit curriculum, students develop fundamental technical and managerial competencies. The program offers five specialization options. The university also offers a dual-degree program in chemical and food process engineering that allows online students to earn a bachelor's and master's in five years.

    IIT delivers 22 online master's programs, with options such as health physics, chemical engineering, and intellectual property management and markets. Learners can pursue a 30-credit electricity markets degree, cultivating knowledge about how financial markets affect the control of power grids as a commodity.

    ITT maintains a free undergraduate admissions process that uses the Common Application. Applicants generally must submit standardized test results. Graduate candidates can ask for a GRE/GMAT waiver if they display a 3.0 GPA or higher.

  8. University of Illinois at Chicago

    Chicago, IL



    The University of Illinois at Chicago serves over 33,000 students, making it the largest higher education institution in the metropolitan area. In addition to comprehensive campus-based programs, UIC offers flexible remote degree options powered by Blackboard Learn. Students can access individual asynchronous classes and undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate certifications. The university offers three bachelor's degree completion pathways. Options include health information management, business administration, and nursing (RN to BSN).

    Online master's programs cover fields such as patient safety leadership; health informatics; and educational statistics, measurement, and evaluation. Through the College of Pharmacy, experienced medical professionals may earn a master of science in comparative effectiveness research. UIC also delivers four public health graduate programs that include a doctor of public health leadership.

    To enroll for bachelor's completion, candidates must transfer 60 credits earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Graduate applicants usually must demonstrate relevant work experience through a resume and three recommendation letters. UIC charges tuition based on residency status. The university funds a variety of merit scholarships.

  9. Governors State University

    University Park, IL



    Governors State University is a public higher education institution that delivers comprehensive academics across its four colleges. GSU facilitates affordable online degrees through Blackboard Learn. Undergraduate students can choose from three remote bachelor's programs in business and applied sciences, nursing (RN to BSN), and interdisciplinary studies. The third option is a degree completion program that enables working professionals to cater the curriculum to their specific career objectives.

    The graduate catalog contains an online master of health science in addiction studies. Distance learners can also enroll in a master of business administration program that comes with a generalist track and a supply chain management concentration. GSU also delivers a doctorate of education based on a practitioner-scholar model that emphasizes applied research and leadership principles. Ed.D. candidates focus their studies on either higher education administration, social entrepreneurship, or PreK-12 superintendent.

    Undergraduate applicants must possess an associate degree. Graduate admissions criteria differ by program, but typically include a minimum 3.0 GPA. GSU provides ample scholarship opportunities that include awards specifically for transfer students.

  10. Illinois State University

    Normal, IL



    Illinois State University was founded in 1857, which makes it the oldest public higher education institution in the state. The school maintains its flagship campus in Normal and offers distance education opportunities through a course management system called ReggieNet. The school offers several remote programs, including a bachelor of science in nursing for licensed RNs. This completionist track holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. BSN candidates can pick from full-time or part-time degree plans.

    Experienced nurses can further advance their careers by earning an online master's degree in nursing systems administration or an online doctor of nursing practice. The 34-credit DNP program embeds 360 hours of clinical training, which prepare candidates for leadership and advanced practice positions across healthcare settings. Beyond nursing, Illinois State provides online graduate programs in areas such as special education, music education, and physical education pedagogy.

    To enroll in the RN-to-BSN program, applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA. Prospective graduate students must display a minimum 3.0 GPA. The Mennonite College of Nursing funds over 80 private scholarships.

Click here to see the best campus colleges in Illinois. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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