In order to provide prospective students with the best chance at having a great education, we have compiled this list of the top universities and colleges in Illinois. Some schools may excel at online programs while others may focus exclusively on the traditional, on-campus aspect of higher education. Regardless of the delivery format, these schools excel at providing a quality education for their students.
When the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success was established in 2010, online colleges in Illinois improved drastically. Now students have more options than ever before to enroll in a distance-learning program in this state. Online learning is a great way for people with hectic schedules to receive a quality education. The growth of online options has also attracted many students outside of Illinois. Of the students who attend a higher education institution in Illinois, 10.1% of them are enrolled fully online. Of this percentage, 72.5% are undergraduates, and 39.7% are in-state students.
Students have access to Illinois Community Colleges Online, which is a database of courses and programs at community colleges in Illinois. This organization also offers valuable resources to new distance learners. The effects of this group of community colleges extend to colleges throughout Illinois. These colleges benefit from Illinois Community Colleges Online’s resources and support and receive training to improve online programs. With these resources available, you should have no problem finding the best community colleges in Illinois.
|1||The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Champaign, Illinois|
|2||Lake Land College||Mattoon, Illinois|
|3||University of Illinois Springfield||Springfield, Illinois|
|4||DePaul University||Chicago, Illinois|
|5||Loyola University Chicago||Chicago, Illinois|
Online learners also flock to online colleges in Illinois because of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact. Illinois and 11 other states have partnered to provide students with affordable and accessible education throughout the region. This means out-of-state students pay lower tuition rates, nearly equalling in-state tuition in any of these states. This is a crucial component when considering which online college you will attend. Students need to find the price that is right. Below are some of the best colleges in Illinois offering online programs and traditional academic programs.
The Best Colleges in Illinois
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign was founded in 1867 and now contains fifteen colleges and instructional institutions. It enrolls over 44,000 students from all 50 states and has 425,000 alumni. U of I also has a completely functional school for online courses and degrees for ;students with previous professional and personal obligations.
Lake Land College
Lake Land College offers approximately 200 courses each semester. Through its online programs, students can expect the same rigorous yet rewarding learning offered on campus. It is also among the best medical colleges in Illinois when it comes to their medical coding program. Five programs are available completely online, which includes business administration, health information, marketing, management, and medical coding. Online learning resources are accessible for students to help students reach their education goals.
University of Illinois Springfield
The University of Illinois-Springfield was established in 1969 and provides over 50 bachelor’s, masters, and doctorate degrees. With approximately 900 online students and 1,681 online majors, UIS is a great option for students looking for flexible and schedule-fitting schooling. UIS is well established with over 300 faculty members, and 85 student organizations, and the pleasure of serving over 35,000 Alumni.
DePaul University is the nation’s largest Catholic university. Its partnerships throughout Chicago enable DePaul to provide an exceptional educational experience that is vibrant, pragmatic and socially engaged. Classes are small and taught by knowledgeable and experienced faculty members who take full advantage of Chicago’s resources. DePaul’s mission to provide a quality education to students from a broad range of backgrounds has resulted in one of the nation’s most diverse student bodies. With 10 colleges and schools, DePaul has campuses in Chicago’s Loop and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. 93% of students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree from DePaul are either employed, moving on in higher education, or not seeking employment the first six months after they graduate.
Loyola University Chicago
Loyola is one of the best nursing colleges in Illinois. Students enjoy an intimate class setting thanks to a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio at Loyola University Chicago. Nursing, applied studies, psychology, criminal justice, information technology, and management are the degree programs that students can complete fully online. Students have access to resources that will support them, creating an environment that almost feels like it’s on-campus.
Chicago State University
Chicago State University provides distance education at to make learning opportunities more convenient for students. By earning valued credentials from Chicago State University, students are able to excel in their desired career. CSU has many degree options to choose from at an affordable price, with options to enroll in hybrid courses for students looking to complete their degree at a faster pace. The online realm of learning can be difficult, Chicago State continues to evaluate and improve its online education portal.
Eastern Illinois University
Like Loyola University Chicago, Eastern Illinois University also has a 14:1 faculty-to-student ratio. Students can complete programs in general students, psychology, organization and professional development, and RN-to-BSN fully online. One of the well-known online programs at this university is the general studies degree. The program is catered to people 25-years or older, and they must have their associate’s degree to enroll in this program. EIU has partnered with many community colleges to make this one of the best childcare programs in the state.
The University of Illinois at Chicago
Besides its excellent online programs, the University of Illinois at Chicago is known for its research in cancer detection, wound healing, and climate change. Several of the brightest students in the nation take part in that research. You may not engage in such research, but there are 15 bachelor’s programs you can complete fully online. These include business administration, English, and mathematical sciences. There are also bachelor’s degree completion programs (meaning you must have an associate’s degree to enroll) in nursing and health information management.
The University of St. Francis
The University of St. Francis offers more than 120 online programs. Of these programs, business administration, RN-to-BSN, and healthcare leadership are a few that students can complete fully online. However, one must have an associate’s degree to complete the RN-to-BSN degree online. Students can contact their professors through a discussion forum, which is easy to navigate. If the students need any help with technical issues, they can communicate with the help desk anytime via email or phone.
Southeastern Illinois College
Founded in 1960, Southeastern Illinois College has served more than 52,000 people. SIC offers almost 80 certificate and degree programs as well as specific training in many other areas. SIC also provides a series of online degrees and certificates that will teach students responsibility and organization. With one of the lowest tuition rates in the state, SIC has been voted #1 online college in the entire state.
Olivet Nazarene University
Olivet Nazarene University is a private, Christian university that offers undergraduate degrees, degree completion programs, and graduate degrees online. The options alone make it one of the best online colleges in Illinois. Students can complete programs such as business administration and RN-to-BSN completely online in two years or less. If you want to finish your degree online but still want to be involved with on-campus activities, then you can choose from more than 100 organizations to join.
Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University is among the best colleges for education majors in Illinois. It was established in 1899 and has come very far since its establishment. The school is best known for its law enforcement and justice administration, biology, and agriculture degrees. However, as far as online degrees go, WIU offers general studies, nursing, instructional design and technology, and elementary education programs as well as an MBA. There are also many online minor programs such as fire administration, anthropology, management, women’s studies, computer-mediated communication, marketing, computer science, economics, and pre-MBA.
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville provides students with quality and affordable education enhanced by hands-on and real-world experiences. SIUE provides undergraduate and graduates degrees in the arts, sciences, nursing, education, health, human behavior, business, and engineering, as well as doctoral degrees in dental medicine and pharmacy. Although most of SIUE’s programs are a blend of online and in-class, they also offer a handful of fully online programs.
Trinity International University
Trinity International University was established in 1897 and is a Christ-centered, Bible-based institution. Offering a variety of programs from medicine, law, politics, and public policy, to writing, education, and business. As well as online programs, Trinity also offers fast-track programs that allow you to complete degrees in 3 years. Trinity provides many certificates and degrees, including dual degrees for those who are interested.
Northern Illinois University
There are about 19,000 students at Northern Illinois University, and many of these students are enrolled in online classes. Students can complete their courses through the Blackboard educational platform. Online programs include management, health and human services, and manufacturing and engineering technology. Distance learners do not need to worry about getting confused during their courses. They have tools like academic advising, tutoring, and career services available to them. It is easy to transfer credits to a bachelor’s program online at NIU.
Aurora University is one of the best online colleges in Illinois in-part due to its excellent faculty. Professors at this university are dedicated to the transformational power of learning. If you choose Aurora, you choose flexibility and interactivity. Courses are 5-8 weeks long and are offered all year. Students can complete online degrees in business administration, computer science, general studies, social work, RN-to-BSN, and criminal justice. These degrees require two years of work experience or military service. This is another university that it is easy to transfer credits to.
Benedictine University focuses on scholarship, service, truth, and justice. You can become a part of this culture through various online programs. These programs and courses can be completed in any order. Students can transfer 90 credits to a bachelor’s in management or organizational leadership online. Ben U offers a complimentary success strategies course that helps students master the online format. They also provide 24/7 technical support to students.
About 92 percent of graduates from Quincy University find a job or start graduate school six months after they receive their degree. This fact, as well as many others, makes this university one of the best online colleges in Illinois. 98 percent of students receive some financial aid. There are 40 undergraduate and four graduate programs that can be taken online. Quincy also offers degree completion programs that can be taken fully online. Students use Moodle to complete their courses.
North Park University
North Park University currently offers 20 degrees to pursue with additional benefits such as certificates and hybrid complete options. The online programs at North Park combine quality and personal engagement in its curriculum for a unique experience. The top 3 online programs are master of business administration, master of nonprofit administration, and master of human resource management. The school of professional studies are designed to fit student’s busy schedules and allows students to access and complete most of the course requirements at their own pace.
Judson University is a Christian university that incorporates Christian teachings and values into its programs. Students can enjoy an intimate class setting thanks to a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Online degrees include business administration, applied psychology, and human services. Students do not have to worry about the affordability of these programs. 99 percents of students receive some financial aid. Online students also have many options when it comes to internships and study abroad opportunities.
McKendree University may be the oldest college in Illinois, but that doesn’t mean it is outdated in its online options. Graduates from this university typically go into careers in business, politics, and public service. Online programs are created by the excellent faculty, and they go through an extensive peer-review. Each distance learner has an academic adviser as well as access to tutoring and writing support services. You will get your money’s worth at McKendree, as the school is one of the best for lifetime return-on-investment.
At Roosevelt University, a web browser and internet connection are all you need to pursue an online education from any location. Online classes require equal time commitment as in-person classes. Roosevelt also offers online webinars and training sessions for distance learners which include test prep, tutoring, and tech support. Hybrid options are available to students who want to accelerate their program. Criminal justice, organizational communication, and strategic management and innovations are all programs that can be tailored to a student’s needs.
Concordia University-Chicago is a school that is affiliated with the Lutheran church. Concordia University-Chicago stands out among the online colleges in Illinois because of its accelerated undergraduate degree programs. Fully online bachelor’s degrees include organizational management, sports and recreation, and management information systems. Students can get a head start on their education if they have prior experiences like workshops, corporate training, or military training. Distance learners always have access to assignments, books, and discussions. 100 percent of student receive some financial aid.
Illinois State University
Illinois State University offers online programs across undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. A total of 70 different programs can be pursued from subjects in health care, education, and more. In addition to receiving a quality education, ISU offers online tutoring, academic counseling, writing services, and more. The university has developed its own web-based learning and collaboration system to best deliver online education to all students. Popular degrees from the university include business administration and public health in leadership.
Online students enrolled at Elmhurst College can access everything they need on Elmhurst College Online Center. They can also use services such as tutoring and career services. Students can complete courses fully online or simply take a few courses online. Distance learners improve upon what they already know or learn something new at Elmhurst.
Greenville University invites you to a place where you are known and developed as a whole person. Experience community and mentorship like you never have, and learn by doing, not just lecturing. Employers want graduates who exhibit grit, character, and know it’s not all about them. GU graduates are world shapers, and the world needs more like them. Discover how you are uniquely made to shape the world at Greenville University.
Lewis University, a private Roman Catholic school serves the online community of working and professional adults. Lewis University is unique in its degree options, providing specific and different degree options. It is one of the only schools that offer a degree in aviation and transportation. All professors who teach online courses receive special online training and must be certified as an online professor prior to teaching. This university is a great fit for graduate students, providing many degree options such as criminal and social justice, computer science, and organizational leadership. Lewis also allows students with background and training in certain areas to test out of certain courses in order to earn their degree earlier.
National Louis University
National Louis University is another university on this list that has been around for quite some time. Throughout its history, it has been among the best colleges in Illinois. Now, with advancing technology, the school continues to impress with their online programs. These programs include applied communications, business administration, criminal justice, healthcare leadership, human services, and management information systems.
Lincoln Christian University
About 20 percent of the student population at Lincoln Christian University complete their degrees online. This demographic alone shows that Lincoln Christian is one of the best online colleges in Illinois. Students can earn their degree fully online in programs such as Bible studies, business administration, Christian ministry, and psychology. Students at LCU typically receive some sort of financial aid and tuition is quite affordable.
Governors State University
Governors State University offers more than 120 online and hybrid classes per semester. On top of that, there are two fully online degree programs: interdisciplinary studies and nursing. Governors State is associated with 17 Chicagoland community colleges. Because of this partnership, transferring credits to this university is simple.
Dominican University has small and personal online classes, that are supportive and interactive with peers and professors. DU offers 3 online programs to choose from that are in high demand and hold a high standard for online education. Dominican University is constantly improving its online academics to provide the same type of learning on and offline. The 3 programs include a bachelor of arts in human services, bachelor of arts in legal studies, and master of arts in conflict resolution.
Northwestern University offers online and hybrid degree programs through its school of professional studies. NU bases its teaching and development on current and purposeful theories to apply in the professional work field. Through its universal distance education model, students can interact with their peers and professors and remain connected to the university. In 2013 the university won the honor of Blackboard Exemplary Course Award in recognition of its online course programs.
Monmouth College was established in 1853 by Presbyterian pioneers who believed everyone, including women and students of color, should be able to receive an education. Monmouth believes in a value-centered environment and seeks to deepen students understanding and appreciation of creative tension. With a 10:1 student/faculty ratio and offering over 70 majors and minors, Monmouth is highly esteemed as a historical and accomplished college.
Saint Xavier University
Saint Xavier University (SXU) is one of Illinois’s top providers of teachers and nurses and ranks fourth as providing the best return on investment in Illinois. With more than 80 major programs, SXU prepares students for a variety of career options, though it specializes in business and nursing through the Graham School of Management and the School of Nursing, respectively. With the growing global economy, SXU connects students all across the world through innovate online learning, which is convenient for traditional and adult learners.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago has greatly contributed to fields of medicine, meteorology, and mathematics making it an established university. Currently, the university offers five online certificate programs. Topics include editing, business analytics, medical writing and editing, clinical trials management and regulatory compliance. Students can begin courses at any time, making it adjustable to fit the needs of their schedule. The University of Chicago is dedicated to creating and delivering quality content to distance learners in a more innovative way.
Top Colleges in Illinois Ranking Methodology
We ranked these colleges based on their graduation rates, tuition costs, and other factors. It’s obvious that the most important thing you get from college is a degree. We focused on the colleges that are successful in getting students to that stage while mom and dad take pictures. We also ranked the schools based on the annual cost and the number of degree types they offer. We provided the location, school type, and accreditation of each college; however, they are all accredited, and they are all 4-year universities. See our methodology page for more detail.
If your school is on this list, and you would like to update or edit your information, please contact us. If your school did not make the list, please contact us for consideration for future lists.