School Finder

Online Colleges in Illinois

Are you considering pursuing an online degree in Illinois? In this article, we rank the top 20 online colleges and universities in Illinois.

According to NCES, there are 93 nonprofit four-year colleges and universities in Illinois. Of those, 12 are public colleges, and the rest are private. Many of these schools offer fully online degree programs. With an online program, you can earn your degree from just about anywhere. Have you always dreamed of going to college in Chicago? Now you can. In this ranking of the best 20 online colleges in Illinois, you’ll find plenty of resources to help you get started.

Best Online Colleges in Illinois

Methodology for the Best Online Colleges in Illinois

Best Online Colleges in Illinois

To find the top 20 online colleges in Illinois, we consulted NCES College Navigator. We looked only at four-year accredited schools offering undergraduate and graduate online degrees. Then, we created our ranking for the best online colleges in Illinois. Our list is ordered according to affordability. 

Please note that the tuition listed is based on the cost per academic year for undergraduate students. Out-of-state students and those pursuing a graduate online degree may have different rates. However, some of the top colleges in illinois offer the same low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students. 

See Also: The 50 Most Affordable Online Colleges

Best Illinois Online Colleges and Universities by Affordability
University of Illinois-Springfield$12,077
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville$12,558
Northern Illinois University$12,662
Eastern Illinois University$13,101
University of Illinois-Chicago$14,046
Illinois State University$15,170
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale$15,416
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign$15,714
Millikin University$26,892
Greenville University$30,548
McKendree University$33,430
University of St Francis$36,000
Lewis University$36,530
Bradley University$37,800
Elmhurst University$40,232
DePaul University$42,840
Loyola University Chicago$49,498
Illinois Institute of Technology$50,640
Northwestern University$63,468
University of Chicago$64,260

Ranking The Best Accredited Online Colleges in Illinois

Best Online Colleges in Illinois

1. University of Illinois at Springfield

University of Illinois at Springfield

The University of Illinois at Springfield is a public research college of around 4,000 students. It’s one of the most well-known public colleges in Illinois. US News & World Report has ranked it as the top public regional university in Illinois multiple times. It has also been rated among the top three in the Midwest. The school is part of the University of Illinois system. It features small class sizes and a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1. 

UIS has been a leader in online education for 20 years. The university offers 52 online programs. These include undergraduate and graduate online degrees across a range of fields. Plus, students can pursue several graduate certificates and licensure programs. Some of the top bachelor’s online programs at UIS include:

  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Communication
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • English and Modern Languages
  • History
  • Information Systems Security
  • Liberal Studies
  • Management Information Systems
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Public & Nonprofit Administration

Online graduate programs at UIS are offered across many of the same fields. A few options include:

  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Cybersecurity Management
  • Data Analytics
  • Data Analytics
  • Education
  • Environmental Studies
  • Finance
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Human Resource Management
  • Legal Studies
  • Management Information Studies
  • Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Public Health
  • Social Services

The distance learning programs are taught by the same esteemed faculty that teach on campus. And you will earn the same degree. Additionally, all students have a dedicated online program coordinator. These coordinators are experts in their fields. And they will guide you through every step of your academic journey. Online students, including those outside of Illinois, pay e-tuition. These special rates are less than those for traditional out-of-state students. Financial aid is also available. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Tuition: $12,077

2. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is a four-year public university. It was established in the suburb of Edwardsville in 1957. Although it is the younger of the two SI schools, it has a higher student enrollment. SIUE has been nationally ranked for excellence in research. And it has a solid commitment to anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

The school’s 100% online programs provide a combination of community and personalization. They are delivered in a convenient format that is ideal for working professionals. SIUE features online bachelor’s degree and completion programs in the following areas:

  • Applied Communication Studies 
  • Public Relations 
  • Business Administration 
  • Criminal Justice Studies 
  • Integrative Studies 
  • Leadership in Organizations
  • Psychology 

SIUE offers a popular online MBA program with several specializations. These include everything from healthcare administration to project management. Some of the other master’s degree distance learning programs include:

  • Criminal Justice Policy 
  • Curriculum and Instruction 
  • Educational Administration 
  • Healthcare and Nursing Administration 
  • Healthcare Informatics 
  • Healthcare Informatics 
  • Instructional Technology 
  • Kinesiology 
  • Exercise and Sport Psychology
  • Physical Education and Coaching Pedagogy 
  • Public Administration

Online students will develop personal relationships with the school’s expert faculty. They will also enjoy an individualized, comprehensive, and affordable learning experience. Federal financial aid, scholarships, and grants are available. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $12,558

3. Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University is a public research university in DeKalb, Illinois. Founded in 1857, it is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity.” The school is known for its inclusive campus culture. It is committed to making its programs affordable and accessible to all. The college features over 100 areas of study. Many of its 15,000+ students earn their degrees online. Some of the most popular online bachelor’s degrees at NIU include:

  • General Studies
  • Health Sciences
  • Applied Management
  • Political Science 
  • Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • Nursing
  • Applied Manufacturing Technology

Through NIU Online, graduate students can also pursue over 20 areas of study. These include online master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. Some of the master’s online programs include:

  • Accountancy
  • Elementary Education 
  • Business Administration
  • Public Administration 
  • Master of Public Health
  • Art Education
  • Data Analytics
  • Digital Marketing
  • Health Sciences
  • Industrial Management
  • Engineering Management

There are four doctoral online degrees offered as well. These include:

  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
  • Doctor of Education in Higher Education with an emphasis in Community College Leadership
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Instructional Technology
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

NIU Online provides a full range of resources and support for online students. You’ll have an academic advisor, access to career development, and tutoring. You can use all of NIU’s libraries. And you’ll have all the tech support you need at your fingertips. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $12,662

4. Eastern Illinois University

Eastern Illinois University

Eastern Illinois University is a small public college in Charleston, Illinois. It was founded in 1895 and serves around 8,000 students across seven colleges and schools. EIU is known for service learning, civic engagement, and volunteering. And it consistently ranks among the top Midwest universities by US News and World Report. The school features a wide range of online degree options. Some of the undergraduate and degree completion programs include:

  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Communication in Organizations
  • Psychology
  • Organizational Development
  • RN to BSN
  • Business Administration
  • Health Communication
  • Public Health

Eastern Illinois University also offers close to 20 online master’s degree programs. Some of the most popular online degrees include:

  • Art Education 
  • Music Education 
  • Public Administration & Public Policy 
  • Aging Studies
  • Cybersecurity
  • Health Promotion
  • Talent Development
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Communication and Leadership
  • Geographic Information Sciences

Eastern Illinois University awards millions in scholarships each year. Financial aid is available. Plus, nearly all online students pay in-state tuition rates. This makes it one of the best online Illinois colleges on our list in terms of affordability.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $13,101

5. University of Illinois at Chicago

 University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago is a public research university. It is also the largest college in the Chicago area. The school is known for its ethnically diverse student body of over 33,000 learners. This large school offers over 250 academic programs through sixteen colleges. UIC has been ranked among the best in the nation for online degree programs. And it has also been recognized for high student satisfaction rates. 

Over 40 UIC academic programs can be accessed online. Students can choose from undergraduate and graduate online degrees and certificates. All are taught by the same world-class faculty that the UIC is known for. Undergraduate students can pursue three online bachelor’s degree programs. These are completion programs for those who already have some credits. They include Business Administration, Health Information Management, and an RN to BSN program. 

Graduate students have a few more options. Some of the online master’s degrees at UIC include:

  • Public Health-Community Health Sciences
  • Public Health-Health Policy and Administration
  • Public Health-Public Health Informatics
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management
  • Patient Safety Leadership
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Education in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment
  • Engineering
  • Health Professions Education
  • Public Administration

The University of Illinois at Chicago has a wide range of resources for online students. Remote learners enjoy the same services as on-campus students. Some of these include:

  • Tutoring
  • Research Assistance
  • University Library
  • Disability Resource Center
  • Student Veteran Affairs
  • The Writing Center
  • Academic Coaching
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Student Hardship Assistance
  • Counseling

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $14,046

6. Illinois State University

Illinois State University

Illinois State University was founded in 1857. It is the oldest public university in the state. The school is located in Normal, Illinois. And it serves over 20,000 students from 47 states and 74 countries. It has been ranked by US News & World Report as the best value among public universities in Illinois. This is no surprise. Tuition is under $15,000 per academic year. And four out of five students receive financial assistance. We found it to be one of the best online Illinois colleges for affordability. 

This college is one of the largest producers of teachers in the nation. Many of the programs are focused on education. There are no fully online undergraduate programs. However, the school does feature several online and hybrid graduate degrees. Some of these include:

  • Agricultural Education and Leadership 
  • Chemistry Education
  • Physical Education Pedagogy
  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Public Health
  • Actuarial Science 
  • Elementary and Middle School Mathematics Education 
  • Music Education
  • Special Education 
  • Data Science: Computer Science 
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner 
  • School Nurse 
  • Special Education
  • Teaching and Learning – Library Information Specialist 
  • Higher Education Administration 

Most of the courses involve self-paced work and scheduled online meetings. The university has a range of financial aid programs for graduate students. Some of these include paid assistantships. Endowed grants, scholarships, and fellowships may also be available. Graduate teaching assistants often receive Thesis and Dissertation Awards based on outstanding performance. And federal financial aid is also an option. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Tuition: $15,170

7. Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a four-year public college in Carbondale, Illinois. Founded in 1869, it’s the flagship school of the Southern Illinois University system. SIUC is among the country’s top five percent of all doctoral research colleges. It is known for its commitment to sustainability and the environment. SIUC’s 11,000+ students are highly involved in service projects within their communities. 

Students at SIUC can enroll in a wide range of online academic programs. This includes bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. The school also features over 20 online certificates and other non-degree programs. Some of the most popular bachelor’s online degrees at SIUC include:

  • Aviation Management
  • Dental Hygiene Education and Management
  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Hospitality, Tourism, and Event Management
  • Industrial Management and Applied Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • Journalism
  • Organizational Learning, Innovation, and Development
  • Psychology
  • Public Safety Management
  • Special Education
  • Technical Resource Management 

Some of the most popular options for online master’s degree programs at the college include:

  • Architecture
  • Behavior Analysis and Therapy
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Business Analytics
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Health Administration
  • Health Informatics
  • Medical Dosimetry
  • Public Health
  • Public Safety Administration
  • Quality Engineering and Management
  • Radiologic Sciences

The school also features two online doctorate degrees. These include an online Doctor of Medical Science and a Doctoral program in Education Administration.

All of the distance learning programs are taught by SIUC faculty. Students have the chance to engage in class discussions. They also get plenty of one-on-one time with their instructors. They can also access free tutoring, research help, and career development. In addition, SIU offers scholarships and federal financial aid. And online students pay the same low tuition costs as in-state students. This makes SIU another one of the best Illinois online colleges in terms of price.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $15,416

8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

UIUC is the flagship university of the University of Illinois system. Founded in 1867, it is a public land-grant research university with over 56,000 students. The school features over 250 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. These are offered across 16 schools and colleges.

The school is best known for being a world-class leader in teaching, research, and public engagement. UIUC offers several of its programs online. UIUC students can also choose to take single classes online. There are three undergraduate distance learning programs, including:

  • Early Childhood Professional Education 
  • Bachelor of Science degree in sustainability and the environment
  • Bachelor of Social Work 

Graduate students have a more comprehensive range of online degrees to choose from. Some of the most popular online graduate majors at UIUC include:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Bioengineering 
  • Biomedical Image Computing
  • Chemical Engineering Leadership 
  • CyberGIS and Geospatial Data Science
  • Digital Agriculture
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Environmental Geology 
  • International Education Administration and Leadership
  • Information Management
  • Journalism
  • Learning Design and Leadership
  • Library and Information Science
  • Mechanical Engineering 
  • Recreation, Sport, andTourism
  • Social Work
  • Strategic Brand Communication
  • Translation and Interpreting
  • Weather and Climate Risk and Data Analytics

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also features five online doctoral degree programs. These include:

  • Diversity and Equity in Education 
  • Global Studies in Education 
  • Human Resource Development 
  • International Education Administration and Leadership 
  • Learning Design and Leadership 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Tuition: $15,714

9. Millikin University

Millikin University

Millikin University is a private, nonprofit college in Decatur, Illinois. The school was founded in 1901 by local businessman James Millikin. It was initially associated with the Presbyterian Church. However, Millikin didn’t want the school to be exclusionary. So, he ensured it was open to students from all backgrounds and walks of life. Today, the school is as welcoming and inclusive as it was over 120 years ago. 

Millikin utilizes a unique approach to on-campus and online education called Performance Learning. With this approach, students don’t just focus on theoretical concepts. They learn from real-world experiences like internships and research. Innovation is encouraged. And students are rewarded for their hard work. 

Millikin features programs in professional studies, fine arts, business, and arts and sciences. Not all of the school’s programs are offered online. But, the programs that are online utilize a “Flex Learning” program. This involves a combination of online, evening, and weekend classes. There are also hybrid programs. These allow students to attend some online classes and others on campus. Some of the areas of interest at this online university in Illinois include:

  • Organizational Leadership
  • Business Management
  • Communication
  • Digital Marketing
  • Elementary Education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • History
  • Instructional Development
  • Management Information Systems
  • Political Science

Flex Learning students have access to all the tools and resources they need to succeed. They can take courses part-time or full-time. They can take advantage of services like coaching, tutoring, and career guidance. Additionally, Flex Learning Students can pay a flat fee per course. Financial aid, grants, and scholarships are available. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $26,892

10. Greenville University

Greenville University

Greenville University is one of the top private liberal arts universities in Illinois. It was established in 1892 and is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. This small nonprofit college serves just over 1,000 students. The school offers an immersive and innovative faith-based education. And students are encouraged to live lives of character and service. Greenville features over 50 majors and minors. A few of these can be completed online. The bachelor’s online degrees include: 

  • Agribusiness
  • Business Management
  • Criminal Justice
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Psychology

Graduate students can opt for an online MBA or a Master of Science in Management. Both of these allow students to go at their own pace. So they are ideal for busy, working professionals. Online learning at Greenville involves collaboration with peers and professors. Online learners will apply what they learn to real-world challenges. They will be guided by industry experts. 

Greenville University is one of the more costly schools on our list. However, 100% of traditional full-time students receive some type of financial assistance. For example, there are over 300 scholarships available. And online learners can apply for Federal financial aid, grants, and more. The average undergraduate financial aid package at GU is over $20k. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Tuition: $30,548

11. McKendree University

McKendree University

Founded in 1828, McKendree University is the oldest college in the state of Illinois. It is known for small class sizes and experiential learning opportunities. The college participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and has a center at Scott Air Force Base. This private, nonprofit school is home to just under 2,000 students. It boasts a post-graduation success rate of 98%. There are over 100 academic programs to choose from. Several of these are offered entirely online. A few of the online bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Healthcare Management
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Sociology/Criminal Justice

Online learners can also enroll in a unique bachelor of business administration program. It features nine distinct concentrations. Additionally, there are four online master’s degrees, including:

  • Curriculum Design and Instruction
  • Business Administration
  • Health Administration 
  • Nursing

McKendree University also features an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This two-year cohort program does not require any campus visits. Instead, students participate in two campus immersion experiences via ZOOM. 

Online learners at McKendree give glowing reviews of the remote degree programs. Most are particularly impressed with the outstanding faculty mentors and personal advisors. The professors truly go out of their way to help online students succeed. Participants have access to the same high-quality resources as on-campus students. And they earn the same respected degree. This is one of the more expensive colleges on our list. However, financial assistance is available. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $33,430

12. University of St. Francis

University of St. Francis

The University of St. Francis is a Catholic college in Joliet, Illinois. This nonprofit liberal arts institution is well regarded in prominent publications. For example, US News & World Report has consistently given USF high marks in several categories. Established in 1920, USF is a small, warm, and welcoming school with about 4,000 students. This includes both on-campus and online learners. The school features online bachelor’s degrees in three areas of study:

  • Business Administration (With Multiple Specializations)
  • Health Care Management 
  • Nursing RN- BSN 

USF also has an extensive offering of master’s degree programs. Depending on your major, you can complete these programs online, onsite, or in a hybrid format. A few popular areas of interest include:

  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Educational Leadership 
  • Elementary Education 
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Health Administration 
  • Human Resource Management
  • Instructional Design in Online Learning
  • Performance Improvement
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Middle Grades Education
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Work 
  • Special Education 
  • Visual Arts Education

The college offers generous financial assistance packages. Nearly all incoming freshmen receive some form of financial aid. The school has over 80 scholarship and grant opportunities for students. These are awarded at all levels, and online learners are also eligible. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Tuition: $36,000

13. Lewis University

Lewis University

Lewis University is a private liberal arts college in Romeoville, Illinois. This nonprofit Catholic school was officially chartered in 1934. It services around 6,500 students each year. The school has an excellent student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. Students receive individualized attention and benefit from small class sizes. 

The school is known for its diverse and welcoming community of learners. And although it is more pricey than some on our list, it’s still a great value. The school awards nearly $40 million a year in financial assistance. Over 98 percent of students at Lewis receive some sort of financial assistance. The financial aid office works hard to help students determine how to pay for college. That makes it one of the best online Illinois colleges on our list. 

Lewis University features over 80 undergraduate programs and 37 graduate programs. A few of these are offered online. Courses are administered through Blackboard. There are weekly assignment deadlines. However, much of the coursework is self-paced. In some cases, you may need to come to campus for short residency requirements. So, be sure to check the details of each program before enrolling. The online bachelor’s degree programs include:

  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Healthcare Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Professional Studies
  • Criminal Justice

Many of the undergraduate programs are accelerated, saving online learners both time and money. The online graduate programs at Lewis University include:

  • Aviation and Transportation
  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Business Analytics
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Science
  • Health Information Management
  • Nursing, Bachelor’s to BSN 
  • Nursing, MSN
  • Nursing, DNP
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Public Safety Administration

Lewis also offers credit for prior learning through its Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). Online learners with previous experience may be able to apply that knowledge to earn credit. Some ways to do this are through a PLA portfolio or proficiency exams. Additionally, military and professional training and certifications may qualify. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Tuition: $36,530

14. Bradley University

Bradley University

Philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley established Bradley University in 1897. This private liberal arts college is located in Peoria, Illinois, and is home to around 5,500 students. It is known for its strong commitment to undergraduate research. And 100 percent of graduates have completed at least two real-world, hands-on experiences. This nonprofit college offers over 185 programs across five different schools. And many of them can be completed online. 

The undergraduate programs are bachelor’s completion programs. Students can complete a General Studies program or an Interdisciplinary Innovation program. In both programs, students work with an advisor to develop a personalized plan of study. They will choose a focus area that most closely aligns with their professional goals. Students must have at least 90 prior credits to enroll in either program. 

There are also over 20 online master’s degree programs at Bradley. These span a wide range of interests and include:

  • Nonprofit Leadership
  • Computer Science
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Professional School Counseling
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration 
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Finally, Bradley offers nine online doctoral programs. They include:

  • Post-Professional Doctorate Of Occupational Therapy
  • Doctor Of Education – Educational Technology
  • Doctor Of Education – Higher Education Administration
  • Doctor Of Education In Prek-12 Education Administration And Leadership
  • Doctor Of Nursing Practice – Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Doctor Of Nursing Practice – Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Doctor Of Nursing Practice – Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Doctor Of Nursing Practice – Leadership
  • Doctor Of Nursing Practice – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Bradley University offers a range of financial assistance programs. These include Federal Financial aid, grants, and scholarships. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Tuition: $37,800

15. Elmhurst University

Elmhurst University

Elmhurst University is a private liberal arts college in Elmhurst, Illinois. This nonprofit college was established in 1871. It is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. However, this close-knit college has a diverse community of around 3,700 learners. Students from all backgrounds are welcome. The school has recently achieved designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution. It is consistently ranked among the best regional universities in the Midwest.

Students at Elmhurst can choose from over 87 undergraduate and graduate programs. A few of these programs can be completed online or in the evenings. The undergraduate online programs are bachelor’s completion programs. They include Business Administration, Information Technology, and an RN to BSN program. 

Master’s students can choose from programs that are either fully online or blended. The school calls these hybrid programs EU Flex Options. They allow students to attend online classes, on-campus classes, or a combination of both. Choose from the following areas of study:

  • Part-Time MBA (online) 
  • Full-Time MBA online 
  • Project Management (EU-Flex)
  • Supply Chain Management (EU-Flex)
  • Data Science and Analytics (online)
  • Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice (Online)
  • Public Health (online)
  • Computer Information Technology (EU-Flex)
  • Data Science and Analytics (online)

Elmhurst University features generous financial aid packages. A full 100 percent of all students receive some form of financial assistance. This includes grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans. The financial aid office will work carefully with each student. They will also help you to determine the best way to finance your education. Payment plans are also available. For these reasons and more, it made our list of the best online universities in Illinois.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $40,232

16. DePaul University

DePaul University

DePaul University in Chicago is America’s largest Catholic university. And it is also one of the largest private universities in the country. DePaul University enrolls over 20,000 students a year. It is highly ranked by several major publications. It offers over 300 academic programs. Many of the undergraduate and graduate programs can be completed online. All are taught by DePaul’s distinguished faculty, who are experts in their fields. Some of the bachelor’s degree programs include:

  • Applied Behavioral Sciences 
  • Business Administration 
  • Communication and Media
  • Computer Science 
  • Computing 
  • Decision Analytics
  • Information Technology
  • Leadership Studies 
  • Nonprofit Management 
  • Psychology
  • Recreation and Sport Management
  • Writing and Rhetoric

DePaul University also features a vast range of online master’s degrees. Some of the most popular among these include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Business Information Technology 
  • Computer Science 
  • Cybersecurity 
  • Data Science 
  • Early Childhood Education 
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Game Programming 
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Network Engineering and Security
  • Nonprofit Management 
  • Public Service Management 
  • Software Engineering
  • Sport, Fitness and Recreation Leadership
  • Taxation 

Depaul is one of the best online Illinois colleges in terms of financial assistance. For example, the school awards over $57 million in scholarships yearly. And 98 percent of incoming first-year students receive some type of scholarship. However, there are scholarships available for transfer students, adult learners, and both undergraduate and graduate students.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $42,840

See Also: Largest Nonprofit Online Universities

17. Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago is a large private catholic college with a rich history. The college was established in 1870 by a group of Jesuits. Over time, the college has grown to serve close to 17,000 students a year. Loyola is known for its strong commitment to the environment and sustainability. For example, the school features over 55,000 square feet of “green roofs” on its campuses. And it has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2025.

Loyola University Chicago features a broad range of online programs. These include bachelor’s completion programs and master’s online degrees. The school even offers online doctoral degrees. Plus, students can choose from an abundance of online certificate programs. Some of the bachelor’s completion programs at this top online Illinois college include:

  • RN-to-BSN
  • Applied Psychology
  • Information Technology
  • Management
  • Strategic Digital Communication

LUC also offers many fully online master’s degree programs. In fact, there are over 30 to choose from. Some of the most popular online programs include:

  • Information Technology
  • Pastoral Studies 
  • Christian Spirituality
  • Bioethics and Health Policy
  • Health Care Mission Leadership
  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health 
  • Instructional Design
  • Public Service Leadership
  • Supply Chain Management
  • School of Education 
  • Language, Culture, and Curriculum

Finally, there are 11 online doctoral programs at Loyola. Most of these are hybrid, so they may involve on-campus residencies. Some of the doctoral online programs include Bioethics, School Psychology, Healthcare Mission Leadership, and more.

On-campus students and non-degree-seeking students can also enroll in single online courses. All online courses are taught by Loyala’s renowned faculty. And they are expertly delivered through the school’s online learning management platform. The school features a wealth of support and services to meet the needs of online learners. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $49,498

18. Illinois Institute of Technology

 Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology is the only tech-focused university in Chicago. Founded in 1890, this private nonprofit college features a vibrant and collaborative community. The school serves close to 7,000 students a year from diverse backgrounds. It offers on-campus and online programs across eight areas of study:

  • Engineering
  • Science
  • Architecture
  • Business
  • Design
  • Human Sciences
  • Applied Technology
  • Law

There is one online bachelor’s degree program at Illinois Tech. It’s a 127-credit program offered through the Coursera Learning Platform. Other Illinois Tech programs are available on Coursera, too. Some of the master’s online degrees use the platform. There are certificates and standalone online courses available. The master’s degree programs at Illinois Tech include:

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Applied Mathematics 
  • Artificial Intelligence 
  • Business Administration 
  • Computer Science 
  • Cyber Forensics and Security
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Science 
  • Industrial Technology and Operations 
  • Information Technology and Management 
  • Information Technology 
  • Materials Chemistry 

Illinois Tech offers a range of resources to on-campus and online students. These include financial assistance, free tutoring, career coaching, and more. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $50,640

See Also: Free College Courses

19. Northwestern University

Northwestern University

Northwestern University is a private nonprofit research university in Evanston, Illinois. It was the first chartered university in the state. It is home to approximately 23,000 students. Northwestern is a prestigious college known for academic excellence. The school boasts cutting-edge research in areas like neuroscience, biotechnology, and more.

Admissions is competitive, and the school has only a seven percent acceptance rate. Nevertheless, Northwestern does offer several of its graduate degree programs online. These are taught by the same esteemed faculty members who teach on campus. They feature the same academic rigor. Options at include:

  • Counseling 
  • Data Science 
  • Executive Management for Design and Construction 
  • Global Health 
  • Health Analytics 
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Services and Outcomes Research
  • Information Design and Strategy 
  • Information Systems
  • Integrated Marketing Communications 
  • Law 
  • Learning and Organizational Change 
  • Liberal Studies 
  • Literature 
  • Marriage and Family Therapy 
  • Prose and Poetry 
  • Prosthetics-Orthotics 
  • Public Policy and Administration 
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Sports Administration 

Do you want to attend a leading research institution in the Midwest? Northeastern is one of the best Illinois colleges to do so. Financial aid, scholarships, grants, and other awards are available at this online school.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 

Tuition: $63,468

20. University of Chicago

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is one of the top private research universities in the nation. Founded in 1890, the school has produced over 90 Nobel Prize winners. More than a dozen graduates have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The school is known for its deep commitment to rigorous academics. It’s competitive. And only five percent of applicants are accepted to UChicago. 

The school serves over 18,000 students and has an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1. It features 53 majors across five collegiate divisions. However, the school features only one online degree. It’s a hybrid Master of Science in Threat and Response Management. Students meet in person one weekend each month. The program features three concentrations:

  • National Security
  • Environmental Security
  • Cyber Risk Management

UChicago does, however, feature several other online and hybrid programs. These include non-credit certificates, bootcamps, and open enrollment online courses. These are offered through the School of Professional Education. A few of the options include:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Data Science for Leaders
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Big Data in Marketing
  • Building and Managing Resilient Teams
  • Circular Economy and Sustainable Business
  • Clinical Trials Management and Regulatory Compliance
  • Conscious Leadership and Team Management
  • Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strategy
  • Editing
  • Fintech
  • Global Clinical Research: The Process from Start to Finish
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Leading Teams through Organizational Change
  • Machine Learning for Cybersecurity
  • Marketing Analytics for Leaders

These are just a few of the many standalone options available through this online school. These programs can help students advance in their current roles or embark on a new career. 

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Tuition: $64,260

Related: 50 Best Online Bachelor Degree Programs at Nonprofit Colleges and the Best Online Graduate Schools

Why Choose an Online College in Illinois?

Best Online Colleges in Illinois

Illinois is home to some of the top universities in the country. But choosing whether or not to pursue your degree online can be daunting. The decision to pursue higher education is always significant. And with so many options available, where do you even start? Is online learning the right choice for you? Let’s look at some benefits of online degree programs.

Flexible Scheduling

The best online colleges in Illinois offer unparalleled flexibility and convenience. You just can’t get that with on-campus degree programs. And let’s be honest – who doesn’t want more control over their schedule?

Many students are trying to balance a job, family duties, and other obligations. This can make academic success difficult. But the thought of flexible scheduling can be a relief. Online colleges in Illinois are increasingly offering this flexibility—let’s take a look at how they do it.

Adapting Education to Your Lifestyle

You can say goodbye to traditional classroom hours with an online program. Illinois’ online schools provide courses that students can access anytime and anywhere. This not only allows for diverse schedules but also fosters personalized learning experiences.

Beyond scheduled classes, some institutions offer asynchronous coursework. This means there’s no live participation required. You can complete assignments when they best fit within your schedule. 

The Balancing Act: Work and Study

Gone are the days when you needed to worry about conflicting work hours interfering with school time. With flexible online programs, balance becomes more attainable at Illinois online colleges.

A Pace That Works For You

In addition to accommodating various schedules, many online schools emphasize self-paced learning. This is particularly appealing for those returning after long breaks from academia. But it’s also ideal for single parents, working professionals, and other busy people. The opportunity to earn your degree in the slow lane can allow you to actually enjoy the process.

So, we’ve chatted about the flexibility of online colleges in Illinois. Now, let’s dive into another big perk – saving money. 

Unlocking Cost Savings 

Are you considering earning your degree online and wondering about the potential for cost savings? Let’s investigate how this could revolutionize your educational experience.

Say Hello to Lower Tuition Fees

You might ask, “How does studying from my living room save me money?” Well, let’s start with tuition fees. Online degrees are sometimes less expensive than traditional on-campus programs. That’s because they sidestep many of the overhead costs associated with brick-and-mortar institutions.

Additionally, many colleges offer in-state rates to online students. So, you don’t need to be an Illinois resident to take advantage of lowered tuition. Other online schools provide special rates specifically for remote learners. 

Dodge Extra Expenses

If you’ve ever commuted to school or work, you know those travel expenses add up quickly. But guess what disappears when your commute becomes walking from the kitchen to your home office?

Your spending on gas and transportation drops drastically – maybe even down to zero. And it doesn’t stop there; think about food costs too. Preparing meals at home is usually much cheaper than dining out near campus or buying meal plans.

Bank On Future Financial Gains

The benefits of online colleges in Illinois aren’t just immediate. They extend beyond graduation day as well.

A college degree under your belt typically translates into higher earnings over time. Employers value educated employees. After all, it signals commitment and specialized skills within their field. This means better job opportunities and improved salary prospects. With a degree from one of Illinois’ best online colleges, you’ll be armed with what you need to succeed in the job market.

Variety of Online Programs

What kind of options are there for an online college degree in Illinois? Well, there are literally thousands of online programs from the associate to doctoral levels. Are you looking to study something particular? Chances are, you can find it at one of the best online colleges in Illinois.

As you’ll see in our ranking of online colleges in Illinois, there are a multitude of online programs to choose from. Many can be customized with specializations. And you can typically speak with an advisor about tailoring a program just right for your needs. The best online degrees in Illinois are the ones that fit your learning style, personality, and goals. 

Experienced Faculty

Online colleges in Illinois are renowned for their quality education. Most of them owe a significant part of their success to their experienced faculty. What constitutes an ‘experienced’ faculty member?

The Importance of Subject Matter Expertise

You wouldn’t want someone who has never worked on a car before fixing yours, right? The same logic applies when choosing a college. You want instructors who are professionals with substantial knowledge and practical experience.

Online colleges in Illinois stand out for their world-class faculty. These professors and instructors are experts in their fields. This ensures that you’re not just receiving textbook information. It allows you to gain knowledge from those who have actually applied what they teach to real-world situations. 

Additionally, having experience with digital education matters. The instructors at these online schools in Illinois have become adept at remote teaching methods. They’ve learned to manage digital classroom dynamics. They are also skilled at creating engaging online learning experiences. Because of this, they make e-learning as rewarding as traditional classroom education. 

Top-Notch Support Services

Have you ever wondered what makes online schools in Illinois so student-friendly? One of the secrets lies in their extensive support services and resources. It’s a world where students are prioritized. Let’s look at some of the most common student resources. 

Navigating Academics with Ease

The journey to academic success can sometimes feel like a maze. That’s where academic advising steps in. These experienced folks help students choose the right online courses to meet their degree requirements. Essentially, they act as a guide, assisting students from enrollment to graduation. 

Beyond Classrooms: Career Counseling

Moving beyond academics, career counseling becomes crucial for mapping out your future prospects. Most of the colleges on this list provide extensive career counseling services. These can include everything from conducting mock interviews to helping with resume writing. But they also offer networking opportunities. And they often have partnerships with companies that can help graduates move into the workforce quickly.

Digging Deeper Into Research With Library Resources

In higher education, reliable research resources play a pivotal role. And guess what? Students have access to extensive digital library resources. So whether it’s late-night study sessions or last-minute paper revisions, all essential materials are just a click away. Plus, most of these digital libraries provide research help. This can really come in handy for more advanced online programs.

Tutoring Services: An Extra Helping Hand

The cherry on top? Many online schools in Illinois offer free online tutoring services, too. For those who need extra help mastering course content, tutors become lifesavers.

Networking Opportunities 

When you think about it, the world of online colleges in Illinois is like a busy global networking hub. Students get to connect with peers from all over the globe. How do they do it? They do it through a variety of software programs, apps, and learning management platforms. These all come together to create the virtual classroom. 

In the virtual classroom, there are live discussions where everyone gets to chime in. Students can collaborate and chat with their peers and instructors. Everyone can bring their own perspective into the mix. 

Apart from live chats, there are also discussion boards. These allow time-delayed communication. So participants can mull over their responses before posting them. Discussion boards foster deep dialogues on course materials. And they allow students to share insights into issues within their fields. They can spark international collaborations aimed at solving those issues as well. 

With online programs, these tech tools are where professional connections take root. And these relationships can lead to career opportunities and friendships long into the future. 

Where Can I Find More Information About the Best Online Colleges in Illinois?

Best Online Colleges in Illinois

Are you looking for more information on online colleges in Illinois? Check out the Board of Higher Education. The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) features an excellent searchable database. Prospective students who know what they want to study can search by program. The tool will then give them a list of colleges and universities that offer such online programs in their area of study.

IBHE also has other helpful information for prospective students. For example, it features a College2Career tool. This tool is excellent for career exploration. And it can also help in choosing the right college. IBHE also offers information about transfer credits, advanced placement, college readiness, and more.

Are Online Illinois Colleges Accredited?

Yes. Each school on this list is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). This is the accrediting body for schools in the Midwest region. HLC accredits both on-campus and online colleges in Illinois. Accreditation validates the standards of a college or school from many angles. 

The HLC examines each school’s mission, finances, academics, and other factors. Accreditation tells you that a school offers a high-quality educational experience. It also ensures that your credits will transfer if you switch colleges. Finally, only students who attend an accredited college are eligible for Federal financial aid. Prospective students should be sure the college they plan to attend is accredited.

How Do I Pay For My Online Education at College in Illinois?

Whether you attend school online or on-campus, there are ways to help pay for school. You can still apply for the same types of financial aid as any other student. There are even scholarships specifically for online students

Also, many of the best online schools in Illinois offer institutional scholarships. So be sure to check with the financial aid department of each school you apply to. Prospective students will also want to fill out the FAFSA right away to find out what they qualify for. If you’re an incoming freshman, your school counselor can help you with these tasks as well. 

Additionally, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) can help students find funding opportunities. The website features a comprehensive list of grants, scholarships, and other resources. The site is designed for Illinois residents. However, it’s still relevant for online students attending online schools in Illinois. 

This concludes our ranking of the best online schools in Illinois.

NPCO staff, 2023