Guide to Finding the Best Ilinois Schools with Online Degrees
Universities and colleges in Illinois are committed to transforming online education. In 2010, the state adopted the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success, a 10-year plan to make higher education more accessible and affordable. As part of this effort, schools are investing in quality online programs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 10 percent of students in Illinois, or roughly 90,000 people, were enrolled in fully online programs in 2012 alone. If you’re considering earning an online degree in Illinois, this page can help you navigate the growing online college landscape in Illinois, with advice on everything from paying for school to using transfer credits.
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:
Must be a not-for-profit institution
Must be regionally or nationally accredited
Must offer at least one online program1
Must be located in a state (schools in US territories and Washington DC were not considered)
Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.
Some of our nursing program rankings used exam pass rates from NCLEX
How to Read Our Rankings Tool:
A dash indicates IPEDS data was not available
Annual in-state tuition is displayed unless stated otherwise
1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
Colleges in Illinois are well-known for a variety of characteristics, from the University of Illinois Medical School location in the heart of Chicago’s medical district to DePaul University’s highly-competitive theater school. But understanding what makes each Illinois college and university unique may not get you any closer to choosing the best school for your degree goals. To start narrowing your search, it’s important to pinpoint the schools who provide the best mix of important, baseline factors: quality online curriculum and a solid reputation for online student support. We’ve highlighted the online colleges in Illinois we believe are providing the best educational experience for their students.
How can I find which online colleges offer the degree I’m looking for in Illinois?
Most major colleges and universities in Illinois offer online education for various undergraduate and master’s degrees as well as doctoral programs. For example, the University of Illinois at Springfield offers more than 20 online advanced degrees, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a collaborative learning approach in its partnership with MOOC-magnate Coursera. Check for a directory of online programs on each school’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Which online schools in Illinois will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?
Our database allows you to customize your prospective program based on courses or your life experiences. Whether you’re transferring credits from another institution or anticipate having to do so, there’s an online school in Illinois prepared to accommodate your situation.
Distill our rankings by those institutions that accept credit for experience or those that take transfer credits from other colleges. DePaul University, for example, offers four bachelor’s programs designed for transfer students with credit hours.
How Much More Do College Grads in Illinois Make?
According to the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success, nearly half of all Illinois jobs require an education beyond a high school diploma. Moreover, Georgetown University found that high school-educated people earn, on average, $1 million less than college graduates in lifetime wages. In Illinois, there are clear gaps in earnings between occupations that require a college education and those that require a high school diploma or less. Take a look at how much more a job with the following degree requirements pays, on average.
Mean Annual Salary for All Occupations in Illinois, by Degree Level:
Looking at the data in the chart above, you can see that on average, employees working in positions that require a bachelor’s degree in Illinois make nearly $31,000 more than those whose jobs require no college education.
The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Illinois
According to the Illinois Board of Education, Illinois has more than 270 accredited colleges and universities. Earning a degree from an accredited institution tells potential employers and other colleges your program has been recognized for its high-quality education. Accreditation also means your degree is constantly being improved to fit workplace and real-world demands. Also, keep this in mind: many employers will only offer reimbursement options if the online university is accredited.
In short, ensuring the institution you’ve selected is accredited means you’ll have access to an education that has passed the rigorous evaluation of regionally and nationally recognized accrediting bodies approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Regionally, online colleges in Illinois are all accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Paying for Online College in Illinois: Tuition & Financial Aid
Online colleges and universities in Illinois each charge students a little differently. Generally, tuition rates in the state of Illinois are higher than the national average.
In-State Tuition, Public Colleges & Universities:$13,387
Tuition Discount Programs: One option to reduce tuition costs is to identify the online colleges in Illinois that qualify for the Midwest Student Exchange Program. This tuition discount partnership allows out-of-state students from Exchange Program states to receive a reduced tuition rate if attending a school based in a participating state. These states include Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
What are Illinois’ requirements to qualify for in-state university tuition?
Every school has different requirements that dictate how much to charge for tuition. Some charging residents less for online credits than non-residents, others may charge online students the same rate, no matter what state they are from. But the difference between resident and out-of-state tuition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, for example, can be almost $60,000 over a four-year period, which could make changing residency to the state of Illinois could be appealing.
Are online credits more affordable in Illinois than other places?
Online tuition rates and rules are different at nearly every online college in Illinois. The best way to understand if credits are more affordable here or elsewhere is to look at costs side by side. Take a look at the following tuition rates, comparing online programs in Illinois with other institutions nearby; see which undergraduate programs are the least/most costly for online students for 2018-2019.
How can I get help paying for online college in Illinois?
Every online college and university in the state of Illinois offers some form of financial aid including federal assistance, scholarships and grants. But beyond federal and instituional aid, and nationally competitive scholarships, there are state-specific scholarship resources available for online students. Here are a few examples:
Carle Auxilary Scholarship – Designated for aspiring healthcare professionals who are residents of one of the 21 participating Illinois counties. Awards are given based on academic achievements, financial need, life and work experience, references and more.
Golden Apple Scholars – This award is open to high school seniors as well as first- and second-year college students pursuing a degree in teacher education. The financial award isn’t the only desireable feature of this scholarship—winners also receive summer access to institute classes where they may gain their teaching experience.
Herman J. Neal Accounting Scholarship – Awarded by the Illinois CPA Society, the Neal Scholarship is given to a college junior, senior or graduate-leel student in Illinois. This scholarship is one of many from the group.
In early 2018, the Illinois Community College Board released its five-year strategic plan for adult education, intended to create more educational and career opportunities for adult learners in the state. Whether you’re changing careers or wanting to learn new skills to grow within your existing job, adult education programs can provide the necessary stepping stones to feel confident and prepared to go out and earn a college education.
During the 2016–17 academic year, Illinois saw more than 64,000 adult learners participate in meaningful skill building programs, with participants ranging from age 19 to over 60.