Published on July 30, 2021 · Updated on January 21, 2022
Share this Article
BestColleges.com 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.
Ready to start your journey?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Established in 1828 as a seminary, McKendree University is the oldest postsecondary school in Illinois. The institution now serves 2,500 students and facilitates distance education through Blackboard. Baccalaureate offerings include psychology, nursing (RN to BSN), and computer information systems. Online students can also earn a bachelor of science in business administration. This program provides eight concentrations, including the innovative cyber defense track, which aligns with standards established by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.
Mckendree offers five remote master's degrees and one doctorate. Master's options include criminal justice and education (leading to initial teacher certification). The university delivers a dual-degree option in nursing and business administration. Designed for BSN-prepared nurses, the MSN/MBA track prepares candidates for careers as healthcare leaders and policy experts. Experienced nurses may also earn a doctor of nursing practice over the course of two years.
To enroll in a master's program, applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Doctoral candidates must demonstrate a 3.5 GPA and hold five full years of relevant work experience.
Headquartered in Chicago, DePaul University offers comprehensive academics through its 10 colleges and schools. Over 15,000 students attend DePaul, many of whom pursue their credentials online through asynchronous courses powered by Desire2Learn. Distance learners can enroll in a fully online bachelor of business administration program. The university also offers four degree completion tracks that require candidates to transfer at least 45 quarter (30 semester) credits earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA. These options include psychology, computer science, information technology, and communication and media.
Online graduate students can enroll in master's programs for software engineering; educational leadership; and sport, fitness, and recreation management. Learners can also pursue a master of science in e-commerce technology, developing the programming and data analysis skills to create enterprise solutions for diverse clientele. DePaul also offers graduate credentials in human computer interaction for prospective software developers and IT researchers.
Graduate applicants typically need a minimum 2.5 GPA. The university provides a variety of financial aid opportunities, including scholarships specifically for MA and MS students.
Founded by Jesuits in 1890, Loyola University Chicago is one of the largest Catholic higher education institutions in the United States. The school serves more than 16,000 students and delivers career-relevant distance education through the Sakai platform. On top of technical certificates, online students can pursue bachelor's credentials through degree completion programs. Options include applied psychology, information technology, management, and strategic digital communication. The university also offers an RN-to-BSN track that requires applicants to hold a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Loyola operates 16 master's and three doctoral degrees for distance learners. Master's programs cover fields such as international higher education, Christian spirituality, and business law and compliance. Students may enroll in a master's in bioethics and health policy track that prepares learners to engage in ethical decision-making on behalf of healthcare institutions. Bioethics candidates may also earn a doctoral degree remotely. Graduate admission criteria differ by program, but generally require applicants to demonstrate at least three years of relevant work experience.
Olivet Nazarene University was established in 1907 as a grammar school. Today, the institution enrolls 5,000 students in academic programs that synthesize liberal arts curricula with career-focused skill development. Learners access online learning opportunities through Canvas, with asynchronous classes starting every six weeks. ONU allows online students to fill nearly three-quarters of their degree plan with transfer credits.
Undergraduate students may pursue bachelor's degrees in business leadership and nursing (with a track for licensed RNs and an accelerated option for incoming freshmen). ONU also offers a remote bachelor's program in multidisciplinary studies that targets working professionals. Candidates personalize the curriculum by taking on concentrations such as healthcare, corporate communication, and criminal justice.
ONU also delivers master's programs in urban ministry, nursing education, and organizational leadership. Graduate students can earn teaching credentials leading to endorsements in areas such as curriculum instruction and reading specialist. Experienced educators may also pursue a master of ethical building leadership that prepares candidates to work as school principals.
Based in Chicago, National Louis University is a leader in distance education. The school offers individual asynchronous classes and fully online degrees through the Desire2Learn platform. Distance learners can enroll in bachelor's programs for healthcare leadership, psychology, applied communications, and computer sciences and information systems. They may also obtain a bachelor of arts in business administration that covers fundamental topics such as managerial accounting and legal/corporate governance.
Business students can earn an online master of business administration with a concentration in either accounting, entrepreneurship, or nonprofit management. Additional graduate options include organizational psychology and health services administration. NLU also delivers a remote master of public administration that trains candidates to analyze policy data and implement cost-effective initiatives.
Online students enjoy a free admissions process that does not require standardized test scores. NLU welcomes all transfer candidates by accepting credits for prior college coursework, professional licenses and certificates, and military experience. The university also provides ample financial aid opportunities, including scholarships for existing and transfer students.
Located in Macomb, Western Illinois University is a public higher education institution that supports 5,800 students each year. Learners may pursue campus-based academics or they may opt for a flexible, remote education powered by Desire2Learn. Undergraduate offerings include anthropology, supply chain management, and fire protective services. Distance learners can enroll in a bachelor's of geographic information science program, concentrating their studies on either geoenvironmental planning or geospatial science. The university also offers an interdisciplinary studies track that allows candidates to design their own degree plan.
Graduate programming covers areas such as music, special education, and instructional design and technology. WIU stands apart from other online schools by offering a variety of integrated dual-degree options. For instance, one track enables students to earn their general studies bachelor's degree and master of law enforcement and justice administration in five years.
Freshman applicants need a minimum 3.3 GPA. Transfer candidates must possess at least 24 credits earned with a 2.0 GPA. Graduate admission requirements differ by program, but usually include a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Formerly a school for parochial teacher training, Concordia University Chicago now enrolls 5,000 students in comprehensive academic programs. The institution offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees, many of which learners can obtain through asynchronous coursework facilitated by Canvas. Remote bachelor's opportunities include kinesiology, sports and recreation management, and public safety administration. Students can also pursue healthcare management credentials that prepare them to access leadership positions in hospitals and insurance organizations.
The majority of online programs target master's candidates. Options include applied exercise science, women's and gender studies, and TESOL education. CUC offers a master of business administration accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. MBA students can pick from 10 concentrations and seven certificate options. The university also delivers remote doctoral degrees in education.
Undergraduate applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA. To qualify for full admission, prospective graduate students need at least a 3.0 GPA. CUC does not require standardized test scores. Distance learners can access federal and state funding.
Judson University maintains its flagship campus in Elgin and focuses on flexible academic programming. Students can earn their degrees by taking classes one night per week. Alternatively, they may engage in distance education facilitated by Blackboard. The online catalog includes bachelor's programs in business administration, human services, and organizational leadership. Learners can also pursue an applied psychology degree that prepares them to implement ethically sound clinical research methods.
Judson provides four online master's programs, including human services administration and organizational leadership. The university also offers a master of business administration that focuses on the management and financial analysis skills needed to oversee nonprofit organizations. Furthermore, graduate students can enroll in a clinical mental health counseling program, which leads to the licensed professional counselor designation.
Distance learners pay affordable per-credit tuition based on program level, not residency status. Judson students can access government grants, low-interest loans, and employer tuition discounts and reimbursements. Undergraduate candidates undergo a holistic evaluation process that factors in academic rigor, GPA, and ACT/SAT performance. Graduate applicants usually need at least a 2.5 GPA.
Based in Lisle, Benedictine University is a private higher education institution that serves 5,000 students each year. The school powers remote academic programs through the Desire2Learn platform. Undergraduate students can choose from three bachelor's degree completion options. Two business-oriented programs, management and organizational leadership, lead to entry-level administrative positions. Candidates can also pursue a bachelor of science in nursing designed for licensed RNs, obtaining their credentials in as little as 12 months.
At the graduate level, distance learners can access master's programs in nutrition and wellness, business administration, and professional accountancy. Benedictine also offers dual degree opportunities that enable students to earn two complementary master's degrees at the same time. For example, MBA candidates can bolster their employability by adding a master in public health, nursing, or management and organizational behavior.
Benedictine does not maintain GPA requirements for online students. Instead, applicants submit 2-3 professional recommendation letters and a resume detailing relevant career experiences. Financial aid opportunities include the Alumni Scholarship for returning students and the Graduate Merit Scholarship for candidates with a 3.75 GPA or higher.
Aurora University was established in 1893 as a seminary. Today, the school provides comprehensive academic programming to undergraduate and graduate students. The institution powers distance education through Moodle and offers four fully online bachelor's degrees. These options include general studies, criminal justice, and business administration. Students can also pursue a remote bachelor of social work that enables them to take the Illinois State Social Work license exam after completing two years of work experience. Because the BSW is a degree completion track, candidates need at least 60 transferable credits earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
The online graduate catalog contains master's programs in exercise science and mathematics education (leading to state endorsement). Social work students can earn a standalone master of science accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Alternatively, they may couple their graduate credentials with a master of business administration or public administration. To enroll in these dual-degree tracks, applicants must possess a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and at least a 3.0 GPA.
Founded in 1855 as a female academy, Greenville University now delivers coeducational liberal arts education to 1,000 students annually. Learners may access remote learning opportunities through the Desire2Learn platform. The school provides online bachelor's degree pathways that target transfer students with a minimum 2.0 GPA and at least 30 credits (although the college accepts up to 84 credits). These programs include criminal justice, psychology, and business administration with a concentration option in agribusiness. Undergraduate candidates can also pursue a bachelor of science in organizational leadership.
Greenville provides online master's degrees in management and business administration. The two-year MBA program maintains specialized accreditation from the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. Candidates receive a generalist education that integrates hands-on learning and professional development opportunities. Prospective MBA students must display a minimum 3.0 GPA. They also must currently work in a field conducive to capstone research.
The college also provides remote teaching endorsements for TESOL, special education, and middle school education.
The newest and largest member of the SIU System, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is a predominantly graduate and postgraduate school. However, the institution does deliver two bachelor's degree completion programs for nursing (RN to BSN) and leadership in organizations. The BSN program operates accelerated eight-week courses that enable working RNs to earn their credentials in one year. SIUE maintains specialized accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Online graduate programs cover areas such as criminal justice policy, kinesiology, healthcare informatics, and nursing administration. Experienced educators can pursue graduate credentials for instructional technology that help them critically analyze employee and student performance challenges. SIUE also provides a business administration program that allows students to individualize their degree plans through a concentration in either management, management information systems, project management, or business analytics.
Graduate admission criteria differ by program, but typically include a minimum 2.5 GPA and adequate standardized test scores. Students enjoy affordable per-credit tuition prices regardless of where they reside in the United States. Financial aid opportunities include state grants and institutional assistantships for graduate students.
North Park University is located in Chicago and serves over 3,000 students each year. On top of flexible campus-based programming, the institution offers online degrees through Canvas. Undergraduate learners may choose from bachelor's programs in business administration, nonprofit management, and organizational leadership and management. They may also pursue digital marketing credentials, preparing for careers as social media managers and SEO specialists. Additionally, online students can earn a bachelor of location intelligence, which enables learners to use geographic information systems for data retrieval, storage, and analysis purposes.
NPU offers five remote master's degrees, including human resource management and business administration. The university also delivers a master of higher education administration that teaches students to navigate ethical and legal considerations, pinpoint the needs of consumers, and recruit and manage teams. Furthermore, graduate students can obtain an online doctor of nursing practice. DNP candidates take seven semesters of asynchronous courses and visit campus once per year for hands-on skill development.
To enroll in a master's program, applicants need at least a 3.0 GPA. DNP admission requirements include an active RN license and a minimum 3.2 GPA.
Based in Peoria, Methodist College operates within the UnityPoint Health System, a network of clinics, hospitals, and schools. The college specializes in nursing education and all programs receive specialized accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Licensed RNs who have completed a diploma or associate program may enroll in the fully online bachelor of nursing track. This 30-credit completionist program accepts up to 90 transfer credits, which allows learners to obtain their credentials in as little as 12 months.
The BSN curriculum features classes that align with best practices established by the Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Institute of Medicine. Course topics include community and population health, professional leadership, and organizational systems. Students delve into evidence-based healthcare practices that factor in patient backgrounds and distinct needs. Students also examine specialized topics such as palliative care.
Applicants must display a minimum 2.0 GPA. Methodist bases its affordable tuition prices on program level, not residency status. The college provides a variety of financial aid, including the Bob and Kay Stevenson Scholarship for continuing students.
Quincy University is a private liberal arts institution that serves 1,000 students every year. The school offers over 50 academic programs, including remote bachelor's degree completion tracks powered by Canvas. Distance learners can also earn a banking certificate that covers topics such as community lending practices and the economics of the financial industry.
Baccalaureate programs cover fields such as human services and business administration. BSBA candidates take foundational classes in organizational behavior, marketing for managers, and business laws and ethics. They also learn how to analyze global economic patterns and financial trends. Furthermore, QU delivers an online bachelor of arts in writing that focuses on technical communication. Through a 120-credit curriculum, candidates develop skills in public relations, advertising copywriting, and social media strategies. Writing students round out their training by presenting a professional portfolio.
Online classes span an accelerated eight weeks. Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA. All students benefit from one affordable per-credit tuition price regardless of where they reside. QU provides scholarships specifically for transfer candidates.
BestColleges.com 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.
Compare your school options.
View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.