Spoon River College (Canton)
Spoon River College meets the needs of diverse students. It offers on-campus housing, online courses and a variety of degrees and certificates. The college has been recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the best community colleges in the nation.
The programs at SRC include 11 career programs, three healthcare career programs and more than two dozen transfer education options. Examples of its offerings are a 16-week locomotive mechanical certificate, a four-semester associate degree in health information management and a transfer degree in criminal justice. Online associate degrees in arts or science are also available.
Students at SRC can design their learning using a mix of online and on-campus courses that may range from 3 weeks to 16 weeks in length. Dual credit programs are an option in some fields of study.
Oakton Community College (De Plaines)
For 50 years, Oakton Community College has been educating Illinois students. It offers more than 2,500 courses spanning 80 fields of study. The school has two main campuses in De Plaines and Skokie and also offers programs and classes at more than 240 off-campus sites. Distance learners can choose from more than 90 online courses.
Oakton awards both associate degrees and certificates. Options cover popular subjects as well as niche fields of study. You'll find degrees in business, accounting and education here, but the college also offers programs such as a cannabis dispensary and patient care specialist certificate and radio frequency identification classes.
In addition to its online courses, Oakton offers nearly 10 online programs. These include certificates, an Associate of Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in accounting.
William Rainey Harper College (Palatine)
Known simply as Harper College to many people, this institution is one of the largest community colleges in the nation. It enrolls more than 35,000 students annually and has its campus in Palatine, a suburb northwest of Chicago.
Programs at Harper include transfer degrees, certificates, workforce training, continuing education classes and more. These cover ten areas of interest including education, health science and public service. Several degrees and certificates, including an associate degree in business administration, will be offered with an accelerated, fast track option in 2020.
The school's business associate degree is also available online as are a dozen certificate programs. These include an online eMarketing certificate and an online assistant teacher certificate. For those who want to earn and learn, Harper offers apprenticeships in eight fields.
Waubonsee Community College (Sugar Grove)
Offering classes on four campus locations as well as online, Waubonsee Community College says its focus is on providing a personal, hands-on learning experience for students. The school was founded in 1966 and enrolls more than 9,000 students annually.
Waubonsee offers both transfer degrees and career technical education options in ten broad areas of study. You can learn a world language such as Chinese or Spanish, train in a skilled trade like welding or auto body repair or explore STEM fields including astronomy and sustainability. Interdisciplinary studies, independent study and internships are also program options.
Several fully online degrees and certificates are available at Waubonese as well. These include a general Associate of Arts degree and a marketing certificate. Through the QuickPath option, associate degrees may be earned in as little as one year.
Southeastern Illinois College (Harrisburg)
Southeastern Illinois College prides itself on being accountable, accessible and affordable. It says it is among the top 10 percent of colleges in the U.S. and is ranked sixth among Illinois community colleges in terms of its completion rates.
Students can choose from among six associate degrees or earn an occupational certificate at SIC. These are offered by seven departments that include applied technology, humanities and workforce and community education. While some programs, such as cosmetology, require in-person training, four associate degrees and more than a dozen certificates are offered online. These include an associate degree in early childhood education and a certificate in business management.
Dual credit programs allow high school students to start earning college credit early. In fact, SIC says nearly half of students at area high schools take classes at the college.
Parkland College (Champaign)
With a history that dates back 50 years, Parkland College attracts students from more than 40 countries. Its 18:1 student-faculty ratio helps ensure individualized instruction, and the college ranks first when it comes to student transfers to the University of Illinois.
There are more than 130 degree and certificate programs at Parkland. Popular options include a nursing assistant certificate and an associate degree in network administration and support. However, with diverse program options, ranging from agriculture to visual arts, there is likely something at Parkland for almost everyone.
Students have the option of taking many classes online or in a hybrid format that combines online learning with some on-campus requirements. Both online and traditional students can use the school's Center for Academic Success for support services.
College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn)
College of DuPage is second only to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when it comes to the number of students it educates at the undergraduate level. Approximately 26,000 students enroll each year in the school's more than 250 degree and certificate programs.
Many students use COD as an affordable way to complete the first two years of college on their way toward a bachelor's degree, and programs such as the business administration associate degree are designed specifically for transfer students. Meanwhile, career technical education programs like degrees and certificates in culinary arts are intended to take graduates directly from the classroom to the workplace.
COD offers more than 370 courses online, making it convenient for working students to finish their education. These classes cover more than 75 disciplines.
Lincoln Land Community College (Springfield)
Affordable tuition rates and experienced faculty members help make Lincoln Land Community College another of the best community colleges in Illinois. Geographically, the school has the largest district of all community colleges in the state, and more than 13,500 students take its credit and non-credit courses.
LLCC notes 60 percent of its students are enrolled in transfer degree programs. These students can choose from several fields of study including business, criminal justice and psychology. Most of the remaining students are preparing to enter the workforce by taking occupational classes through specialized divisions at LLCC such its Industrial Center for Excellence and Health Care Center for Excellence.
Through LLCC Online, the college has approximately 20 online degrees and certificates. These include transfer degrees and occupational certificates of completion.
Moraine Valley Community College (Palos Hills)
Founded in 1967, more than 26,000 credit and non-credit students take classes at Moraine Valley Community College each year. Nontraditional students will be in good company here since 44 percent of students are age 22 or older, and 59 percent are studying on a part-time basis.
Programs at MVCC include transfer degrees and workforce training that are intended to prepare graduates for some of the fastest growing jobs in the greater Chicago area. Transfer associate degrees are available in majors such as biology, business and education. Career degrees are offered in fields like IT security specialist and nursing. There are also dozens of certificates available.
The Associate of Applied Science in criminal justice is one of 10 degrees and certificates offered online. High school students can earn college credit at MVCC through the school's dual enrollment program.
Black Hawk College (Moline)
Serving the Quad Cities, Black Hawk College was founded as Moline Community College in 1946. Over the years, it has expanded and now covers a nine-county region that spans 2,200 square miles. The college holds classes on its Quad-Cities Campus, East Campus and online.
BHC offers both transfer degrees and career programs. Among its transfer degrees is an Associate in Science - Ag Transfer which has transfer agreements with four Illinois universities or can be used as the foundation for a bachelor's degree at universities across the country. Those interested in career programs will find degrees and certificates at BHC in five areas: agriculture, business, health sciences, trade and technical and computer technology.
Online courses are available in many subjects, and distance learners pay in-district tuition rates regardless of where they live.