Online Schools in Illinois

Article Sources
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  10. School pages, accessed December 30, 2016: Digital Teaching and Learning, The University of Chicago, https://online.uchicago.edu/page/online-courses-university-chicago; Online Programs, DePaul University, http://www.cdm.depaul.edu/onlinelearning/Pages/OnlinePrograms.aspx;

The nearly 300 traditional and online schools and colleges in Illinois offer a wide variety of programs for students to choose from, in terms of academic degrees as well as vocational and professional training.

Here's a quick table to give you an idea of just how many of each different type of institution is represented among Illinois schools, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):

Campus-based schools in Illinois
Institution type No. offering bachelor's degrees No. offering associate degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public 12 49 52 12
Private nonprofit 65 18 24 68
Private for-profit 14 27 126 9

Students at certain Illinois schools may have more access to secondary academic services than others, thanks in part to them having a local economy that's better able to support educational amenities. Here's data from the NCES and U.S. Census Bureau to show where the highest concentrations of students live and work, which may suggest access to helpful peripheral services:

City Total estimated population
(U.S. Census, 2015)
No. of enrolled students
(NCES, 2016)
Student presence as a percentage of permanent resident population % of residents with bachelor's degrees
(U.S. Census, 2015)
Chicago 2,720,546 195,421 7.18 percent 35.6 percent
Champaign 86,096 53,989 62.71 percent 51.4 percent
Evanston 75,527 21,655 28.67 percent 66.4 percent
Dekalb 43,211 20,130 46.59 percent 37.0 percent
Glen Ellyn 28,201 29,678 105.24 percent 61.4 percent
Springfield 116,565 11,849 10.17 percent 35.4 percent
Grayslake 20,915 14,964 71.55 percent 50.9 percent
Normal 54,373 20,760 38.18 percent 50.4 percent
  • According to a report published by The College Board in 2016, students at Illinois schools pay an average of $13,278 per year for tuition and fees at colleges and universities in the state.
  • Several institutions reported higher or lower average tuition than that statewide figure, however &mdash: St. Augustine College in Chicago, for example, charged students a yearly tuition and fees amount of $9,840 in 2016-17, while students at the nationally renowned University of Chicago paid annual tuition and fees of $52,491 the same year.

Online education in Illinois

Whether you're a busy city dweller who needs a flexible schedule or a rural resident who wants to get an education without a large daily commute each way, the prospect of online programs in Illinois might be the break you're looking for. Take a look at this rundown of schools of each type that offer online programs in Illinois:

Online schools in Illinois
Institution type No. offering 4-year degrees No. offering 2-year degrees No. offering certificates and other non-degree awards No. offering advanced degrees (master's, Ph.D., etc.)
Public 10 19 20 9
Private nonprofit 28 4 4 33
Private for-profit 8 8 6 4

Ranking information for traditional and online schools in Illinois

National and global education rankings associations have taken notice of certain campus-based and online colleges in Illinois, as well. Here's some info on the highest-rated Illinois schools for 2016-17:

Rankings for campus-based and online schools in Illinois
School name
Ranking agency
University of Chicago No. 8 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings
Northwestern University No. 21 Global Universities Center for World University Rankings
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign No. 44 (tie) National Universities U.S. News & World Report
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign No. 27 (tie) Best National Universities for Veterans U.S. News & World Report
Elmhurst College No. 10 Regional Universities (Midwest) U.S. News & World Report
Bradley University No. 6 Regional Universities (Midwest) U.S. News & World Report

Top degree programs at online colleges in Illinois

U.S. News & World Report publishes yearly lists of the top degree programs in the country for online students, and Illinois schools have made some strong showings in 2016. Here's a quick list of some of the best degrees available at online colleges in Illinois:

Top-ranked online programs in Illinois
Degree program
National rank
St. Xavier University Graduate nursing No. 3

For three years running, the National League for Nursing has designated SXU as one of only nine Centers for Excellence in Nursing Education in the U.S.

University of Illinois at Chicago Online bachelor's programs No. 4 Top-rated bachelor's degree completion programs for students who have already earned 60 or more credit hours offer 100 percent online content on a rolling admissions schedule at this Chicago school.
Northern Illinois University Teacher education No. 5 NIU offers 24-hour technical support for students in its online programs and scored a 91 out of 100 for the training and credentials of its graduate faculty in teacher education.
University of Illinois at Springfield Graduate business (non-MBA) No. 18 (tie) Online graduate business programs at UIS are taught by the same faculty as its traditional degrees and feature curriculum requirements identical to their campus-based counterparts.

Industries and degrees to get in Illinois

Current analyses of the Illinois economy project just under 6 percent growth across all occupational sectors statewide, according to the Illinois Department of Economic Security (IDES), but certain occupations are expected to see an increase significantly larger than that of the state's job market at large. Here's a table of some of the top careers for graduates of Illinois schools:

Hot degrees and top jobs for Illinois graduates
Why it's hot
Degrees that can help
Operations research analyst Analytics has taken the occupational world by storm in the last decade or so, and professionals who know how to solve business problems with mathematical and statistical methods are in high demand on today's job market. IDES figures predict an employment increase of 33.2 percent for operations research analyst positions by 2024, and the BLS reports an average annual wage of $86,200 for operations analysts in Illinois in 2015. Entry-level positions in operations research are typically accessible to candidates with bachelor's degrees in engineering, computer science, math and other quantitative fields. A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), however, indicates that most operations researchers hold master's degrees in similarly analytical disciplines. Dedicated degree plans in operations research and analysis can be found, but they are rare.
Software developer Software development is one of the tech jobs skyrocketing nationally in the 21st century, and Illinois is no exception to the trend. Systems software developers should see 22.8 percent employment growth over the next several years, and applications development positions are projected to grow by 26.2 percent in the same period. The positions also pay rather well, reporting 2015 average salaries of $104,860 and $91,020, respectively. Pinning down the minimum employment requirement for a software development career can be tricky, but it's safe to say that candidates with at least a bachelor's degree are more likely to attract attention from employers than those without a college education. Computer science, computer programming, software engineering, information technology and informatics are among the most relevant study plans for aspiring software developers.
Cartographer Mapmaking was a popular career track four or five centuries ago, and it's back in the spotlight in a big way in the age of Big Data. Skilled cartographers are expected to see employment growth of 24.4 percent in Illinois between 2014 and 2024, according to IDES numbers, and only six other states reported higher average cartography salaries than the mean annual 2015 wage total of $72,800 reported in the Prairie State.

Most professional cartographers have a degree in a field related to the earth sciences, such as geography, surveying, geomatics or geographic information systems (GIS). Some coursework in computer science, mathematics, remote sensing, geodata and map literacy can be especially helpful, and going on to earn a master's degree in geography or cartography may increase your prospects for employment.

Physical therapist Rehabilitative medicine plays an important role in the health care system, and physical therapists are among the most highly trained personnel in that vital field. Jobs for physical therapists are expected to increase 20.2 percent by 2024, partially because of increased public access to therapeutic procedures, and the field reported a statewide average salary of $85,210 in 2015. Physical therapist assistant jobs are also expected to grow by 22.3 percent between 2014 and 2024. Physical therapists need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree before they can officially practice their art, but it's possible to get experience in the field before completing the full-fledged professional education required for licensure. Physical therapist assistants usually need just a two-year associate degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program before they can begin delivering care under a licensed therapist's supervision.

Featured schools in Illinois

Some of the degrees available at traditional and online schools in Illinois have been recognized as standing among the best in the country in their discipline. Check out this list of campus-based and online programs taught in Illinois schools that ranked especially well on recent reports:

Campus-based and online programs in Illinois
Institution name
Online degrees?
Top programs
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Yes Teacher education (on campus and online), library and information studies, computer science, psychology, chemistry, physics, engineering (on campus and online), veterinary medicine, biological sciences, math, history, English, statistics, social work, political science, sociology, economics
University of Chicago Yes (professional certificates only) Economics, business, law, primary care medicine, medical research, chemistry, physics, English, history, political science, public affairs, social work, sociology, statistics, math, computer science, earth sciences, biological sciences, fine arts, psychology
University of Illinois at Chicago Yes Pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, engineering (on campus and online), teacher education (on campus and online), medical research, graduate nursing, nursing doctorate, nursing midwifery, health care management
Loyola University Chicago Yes Graduate nursing, nursing doctorate, health care law, part-time MBA, teacher education, biological sciences, psychology, social work, primary care medicine
DePaul University Yes Law, business, graduate nursing, nursing anesthesia, clinical psychology, public affairs, social work, teacher education, computer science
Illinois State University Yes Audiology, speech-language pathology, nursing (on campus and online), biological sciences, English, psychology, social work


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