Best Online Colleges in Chicago

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Many of the top colleges in Chicago offer online programs for students seeking more flexibility and affordability. These programs provide the same academic instruction as their on-campus counterparts. For students with full-time jobs or family obligations, this type of education can offer them more scheduling options, allowing them to continue to work toward their academic and career goals.

Students can find Chicago-based online programs in business, marketing, healthcare, biblical studies, and computer science. Top online schools may offer asynchronous learning while others use hybrid or synchronous learning formats. Some schools offer online degree-completion programs for those who started their education but did not complete it.

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Top Online Degree Programs in Chicago

Chicago Employment Outlook

The Chicago metropolitan area is one of the largest in the nation, employing over 4.2 million people, per 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. The region consists of Chicago, Naperville, and Elgin, Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the area added 182,600 jobs from May 2021-May 2022. Some of the fastest-growing industries in the region include manufacturing, transportation, information technology, and health services.

According to the BLS, from May 2021-May 2022, the leisure and hospitality industry saw the biggest employment gains in the region. This was followed by professional and business services, transportation and utilities, manufacturing, and education and health services. In the area, the unemployment rate is 4.2%, and the average annual wage is $61,860.

Positions seeing the highest employment rate in the Chicago area include financial managers, software developers, social workers, elementary school teachers, and registered nurses. The following represent some of the top in-demand jobs.

5 in Demand Chicago Jobs

Financial Managers

  • Annual Average Salary (Region) May 2021: $149,950
  • Job Outlook 2020-2030 (National): 17%

Financial managers analyze data and look for ways to maximize organizations' profits. They may oversee investments, limit risks, and research market trends. These managers work closely with top executives in many businesses, including insurance companies, banks, and investment firms. Many employers require, at minimum, a bachelor's degree and several years of experience.

Software Developers

  • Annual Average Salary (Region) May 2021: $114,000
  • Job Outlook 2020-2030 (National): 22%

There are two primary types of software developers. One creates the computer and mobile apps that people use in their daily lives. The other type develops operating systems for computers. These professionals typically require a bachelor's in computer and information technology or a related field. Certification also helps demonstrate a software developer's skills.

Child and Family Social Workers

  • Annual Average Salary (Region) May 2021: $57,170
  • Job Outlook 2020-2030 (National): 12%

Child and family social workers help families and children in crisis. These social workers may help them find community services for housing, childcare, and healthy food access. They intervene in child abuse or neglect cases and often work closely with foster care and adoption agencies. These professionals typically need a bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited social work program. Some states require licensure.

Elementary School Teachers

  • Annual Median Salary (Region) (May 2021): $71,000
  • Job Outlook 2020-2030 (National): 7%

Elementary school teachers primarily educate children through grade six. In most schools, they teach several subjects throughout the day. In some schools, they work in subject specialization teams, teaching one or two subjects. These teachers usually need a bachelor's in elementary education. Public school teachers need licensure in all states.

Computer Systems Analysts

  • Annual Average Salary (Region) May 2021: $92,230
  • Job Outlook 2020-2030 (National): 7%

Computer systems analysts analyze a business's technology use. They may determine the hardware, software, and networks required to help the organization run more effectively. These analysts also determine if the benefits of different systems warrant the costs. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree. But some organizations prefer applicants with a master's.

Popular Career Paths in Chicago

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Accredited Online Colleges in Chicago

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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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.

#1 Best Online Colleges in Chicago

Lewis University

  • Romeoville, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $430-$1,056
Undergrad, out of state | $430-$1,056
Graduate, in state | $600-$820
Graduate, out of state | $600-$820

As one of the top online colleges near Chicago, Lewis University offers a variety of distance education programs at the bachelor's and master's levels. Online learners can choose from programs in fields such as business administration, computer science, and nursing. Students can also take advantage of technology support and online library resources.

Undergraduate adult learners who have previously earned college credit must submit transcripts from all institutions attended. High school applicants must submit transcripts and either SAT/ACT scores or a personal essay. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$33,270
Out-of-state
$33,270
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
6,359
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#2 Best Online Colleges in Chicago

DePaul University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $722-$959
Undergrad, out of state | $722-$959
Graduate, in state | $681-$1,224
Graduate, out of state | $681-$1,224

One of the best private colleges in Chicago, DePaul University offers online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Candidates can choose from programs such as public service management, leadership studies, and psychology. Online courses use varied delivery methods, with synchronous and asynchronous options both available.

High school students can apply to DePaul using the Common Application. SAT or ACT scores are optional. Students over age 24 can submit transcripts from any colleges attended or high school transcripts if they hold fewer than 12 semester (16 quarter) credits.

Average Tuition
In-state
$40,551
Out-of-state
$40,551
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
22,064
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#3 Best Online Colleges in Chicago

Dominican University

  • River Forest, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $490-$1,195
Undergrad, out of state | $490-$1,195
Graduate, in state | $450-$950
Graduate, out of state | $450-$950

One of the top Catholic colleges in Chicago, Dominican University serves more than 3,000 students total. Online learners can choose from areas of study including business, education, and social work. Many programs use a hybrid format that combines campus and online learning.

Undergraduate applicants must submit high school transcripts with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Successful applicants should be ranked in the top half of their graduating class. Dominican does not require SAT or ACT scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$33,950
Out-of-state
$33,950
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
3,029
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#4 Best Online Colleges in Chicago

Roosevelt University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $544-$893
Undergrad, out of state | $544-$893
Graduate, in state | $991-$1,424
Graduate, out of state | $991-$1,424

As one of the best online colleges in Chicago, Roosevelt University offers several distance programs for undergraduates and graduate students. Available degrees include paralegal studies, second language special education, and performing arts administration. Many programs offer synchronous courses in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate working students.

Undergraduate applicants must submit high school transcripts. SAT or ACT scores are optional for most majors. RU may also request letters of recommendation or a personal statement after application review.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,876
Out-of-state
$30,876
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
4,071
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#5 Best Online Colleges in Chicago

Governors State University

  • University Park, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $313
Undergrad, out of state | $313
Graduate, in state | $353-$797
Graduate, out of state | $353-$797

Governors State University offers online degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Some of the school's numerous online programs include nursing, business administration, and addiction studies. With 200 online courses and more than 60 hybrid courses offered, GSU ranks among the best online colleges in Chicago.

Applicants must hold a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA. As of 2022, GSU does not require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,512
Out-of-state
$15,024
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
52%
Admission Rate
46%
Students Enrolled
4,789
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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.

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#6 Best Online Colleges in Chicago

Trinity International University

  • Deerfield, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $480
Undergrad, out of state | $480
Graduate, in state | $745
Graduate, out of state | $745

One of the top Christian colleges in Chicago, Trinity International University offers several online programs, including certificates, bachelor's degrees, and master's degrees. Distance learners can choose from programs in areas such as theological studies, education, and legal studies. Online courses offer flexibility for students, including accelerated enrollment options.

Online applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma. Students must also demonstrate college writing proficiency through previous college coursework, SAT or ACT scores, or a writing placement test.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,398
Out-of-state
$32,398
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
1,722
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Best Online Colleges in Chicago

North Park University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $585
Undergrad, out of state | $585
Graduate, in state | $503-$1,240
Graduate, out of state | $503-$1,240

One of the best colleges in Chicago for students seeking an education based in the Christian faith, North Park University offers a wide selection of online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can enroll in programs such as business administration, digital marketing, and human resource management. Online learners receive support through NPU's Center for Online Education, including technical assistance and orientation.

Undergraduate applicants must submit high school transcripts, a personal essay, and one academic reference. NPU does not currently require SAT or ACT scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,360
Out-of-state
$30,360
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
48%
Students Enrolled
2,892
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
20% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#8 Best Online Colleges in Chicago

National Louis University

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $430
Undergrad, out of state | $430
Graduate, in state | $685-$1,162
Graduate, out of state | $685-$1,162

One of the top private colleges in Chicago, National Louis University serves more than 10,000 students annually. The school offers online degrees at the bachelor's and master's level, with programs including healthcare leadership, computer science, and public administration. NLU offers significant resources for online learners, including career counseling and technical support.

NLU applicants must submit high school transcripts or transcripts from any other colleges attended. Undergraduates do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,200
Out-of-state
$13,200
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
98%
Students Enrolled
7,005
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges in Chicago

How many online colleges are in Chicago?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are about 42 degree-granting, two- to four-year public and private nonprofit institutions in Chicago, many of which offer online programs. All seven City Colleges of Chicago, one of the nation's largest community college districts, offer online learning courses. Students may complete their general education before enrolling in a four-year institution or earn skills that help them enter the workforce.

Other top-rated colleges that offer online programs include the University of Illinois Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, the University of Chicago, and DePaul University. As the technology and demand for online education continues to advance and increase, more colleges are offering online courses.

Does Chicago have good online colleges?

Chicago is home to several top-ranked colleges that offer online programs. Three public universities are found within Chicago's borders. These include Chicago State University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois Chicago. All three offer online classes or degree programs.

Prospective students also find online programs at some of the state's best private schools. Loyola University Chicago offers several online options, including bachelor's degree-completion programs and master's and doctoral programs. DePaul University offers hundreds of online courses and many degree programs. The University of Chicago provides online and hybrid programs.

How much does it cost to go to college online in Chicago?

The cost of online colleges in Chicago varies. For example, the tuition for all City Colleges of Chicago, whether online or on campus, comes to $146 per credit for in-district, $384 for out-of-district, and $481 for out-of-state students.

The cost for online undergraduate programs at UIC range from about $330-$500 per credit. UIC does not charge out-of-state fees. North Park University charges $585 per credit for undergraduate courses in the School of Professional Studies.

Prospective online students should consider the true program costs, including books, supplies, and any on-campus requirements. One of Illinois's most affordable online colleges is the University of Illinois Springfield.

What is the cheapest online college in Chicago?

The cheapest online colleges in Chicago for in-district students are the City Colleges of Chicago. These colleges are found throughout Chicago and include Harold Washington College, Harry S. Truman College, Kennedy-King College, and Malcolm X College. It also includes Olive-Harvey College, Richard J. Daley College, and Wilbur Wright College.

Community colleges are ideal for those looking to minimize their student loan debt. As part of the Illinois Articulation Initiative, most credits earned at these colleges are guaranteed to transfer to 100 participating colleges and universities. Learn about the best online colleges with the lowest out-of-state tuition.

Who qualifies for free college in Chicago?

Several scholarships and financial aid programs cover the total education cost in Chicago. For example, City Colleges of Chicago cover all tuition and books not covered by financial aid through the STAR Scholarship. To qualify, applicants must be graduating seniors attending a public high school in Chicago. They must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and enroll in one of the City Colleges' programs.

Hope Chicago awards full scholarships to Chicago's high school students. They aim to provide 30,000 scholarships to low-income and first-generation students over the next decade. No minimum GPA is required.

Feature Image: Reinier Snijders / EyeEm / Getty Images

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.

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