2021 Best Online Colleges in Chicago
| James Mielke
Are you ready to discover your college program?
As colleges and universities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we're continuing our efforts to provide you with useful student resources and the latest online program information. Check our coronavirus resources page to learn more.
More than 600,000 college students attend colleges and universities in Chicago, which houses 45 public and private nonprofit institutions offering associate degrees through advanced degrees. No matter what field has piqued your interest, you can find a college that can help you fulfill your educational and professional goals.
Colleges in Chicago offer top-ranked educational opportunities, and the bustling city provides thousands of internship opportunities each year. The city serves as a hub for many financial corporations and emerging tech startups. Additionally, thanks to distance learning, you can choose from the best online colleges in Chicago no matter where you live.
What Are the 2021 Best Online Colleges in Chicago? Here Are Our Top 6:
Ranking compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
|#1||University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL|
|#2||Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL|
|#3||DePaul University Chicago, IL|
|#4||Moody Bible Institute Chicago, IL|
|#5||North Park University Chicago, IL|
|#6||National Louis University Chicago, IL|
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
Why Study in Chicago?
When class is over, the city offers ample opportunities for recreation, cultural experiences, and entertainment.
Dozens of nonprofit colleges and universities call Chicago home, from public two-year colleges and career-focused institutions to four-year universities offering thousands of degrees. You can choose from small liberal arts schools or large universities like the University of Illinois at Chicago, which educates more than 30,000 students annually.
Several schools also provide intense focus on a career specialty, such as the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Chicago is famous for deep dish pizza, but its restaurants serve up an array of cuisine, from comfort food to international flavors. Many restaurants near college campuses offer affordable dining for students. The Chicago Transit Authority offers a U-Pass, giving students an affordable transportation option.
When class is over, the city offers ample opportunities for recreation, cultural experiences, and entertainment. The Chicago Park District operates more than 600 parks across the city, with 8,800 acres of green space. Individuals can take advantage of fitness centers, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, ice rinks, and organized sports leagues. Distance learners who need to attend on-campus residencies or other in-person experiences for school can make their trip to the city memorable.
Top Degree Programs in Chicago
Chicago Employment Outlook
Like many cities, Chicago reported an 8% decrease in jobs from November 2019 to November 2020 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most of those job losses came from the leisure and hospitality industry. Nevertheless, the city still offers economic opportunities in several industries. The 2020 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies features more than 100 Chicago-based businesses. The city is also home to NYSE Chicago — a national securities exchange.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Chicago metropolitan region reported an average hourly wage of $27.48 in May 2019, which was higher than the national average of $25.72. The BLS also reports that Chicago has above-average employment rates in areas related to management, transportation and material moving, production, and business and financial operations. Students looking to find employment in the city after graduation might want to consider earning a degree that can be applied to one of these fields.
Popular Career Paths in Chicago
2021 Best Accredited Online Colleges in Chicago
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
Online degree and certificate programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago provide working professionals the affordability and flexibility they need to enhance their careers. Students complete mostly asynchronous coursework, accessing class content any time while engaging with their cohort through online platforms.
UIC offers online programs in fields like business, engineering, and education. Standout offerings include a bachelor's in business administration degree completion program, a master's in engineering, and a master's in patient safety leadership.
UIC also offers several online professional development tracks, including individual courses, coding bootcamps, and certificate programs.
UIC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Offering online programs since 1998, Loyola University Chicago now provides online learning opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students. Loyola's distance learning courses use fully online, hybrid, and blended delivery methods.
Loyola's online learning opportunities include 36 certificate programs, eight degree completion programs, and many graduate programs. Certificate programs include cybersecurity and paralegal studies, and degree completion tracks include psychology, management, and an RN-to-BSN program. Master's and doctoral program options include bioethics, school psychology, and public health.
Like other Jesuit universities, Loyola emphasizes social justice and global awareness while promoting leadership skills rooted in Jesuit values.
Loyola is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
DePaul University offers several online certificates and degrees in fields like accounting, entrepreneurship, and adult education. Recognizing the value of online learning for working professionals, DePaul invests extensively in faculty training, curriculum development, and digital learning tools.
Professional development and certificate programs include project management, social media marketing, and financial planning. Online undergraduate degrees include applied behavioral science, computer science, and leadership studies. Graduate students can pursue game programming, public administration, and software engineering. Delivery method and admission requirements vary by individual program.
DePaul is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Established in 1886, Moody Bible Institute is a private evangelical Christian institution that offers many online undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs. Striving to provide a flexible Bible-based education to learners around the globe, Moody offers online courses in eight-week and 16-week formats. The institute serves approximately 3,000 students.
Moody's standout programs include an associate degree in biblical studies and a master's in global ministry design. Bachelor's degree options include biblical studies, ministry leadership, and theology and cultural engagement. Graduate opportunities include biblical studies and ministry studies.
Moody is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Established in 1891, North Park University is a private Christian college home to over 3,000 learners. NPU offers accessible, flexible, and affordable online programs. The school's Center for Online Education delivers synchronous and asynchronous coursework.
Undergraduate students select from programs in business administration, nonprofit management, and digital marketing. NPU's graduate degrees include business administration, human resource management, and higher education administration. Additionally, the university offers a seven-semester online doctorate in nursing practice.
NPU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded in 1886, National Louis University is a Chicago-based private institution that provides a variety of online degrees. NLU's online learners complete mostly asynchronous coursework.
A major player in the early childhood education movement in the late-19th century, NLU still emphasizes online graduate degrees in education. Degree-seekers can select from master's degrees in early childhood administration, teacher leadership, and learning sciences education. NLU also offers an online doctorate in higher education leadership.
Additionally, the university offers three online MBA tracks and MS degrees in human resource management and organizational psychology.
NLU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.