Colleges, Universities & Online Colleges in Chicago

Updated May 25, 2022 • 4 Min Read

Find a program that’s right for you.

Chicago is a destination city for students around the world. Home to one of the oldest and most successful city college networks in the country, Chicago is also host to several state universities, as well as a mosaic of private, non-profit schools from among the country's smallest to the country's largest—and everything in between. A leader in modern education, both the public and private institutions in Chicago provide a range of distance learning programs that serve as models for higher learning facilities nationwide.

Universities in Chicago

The City College of Chicago system consists of seven colleges and seven satellite campuses. Over more than a century, more than a million students have passed through the Chicago City College system. Not only is it the largest community college system in Illinois, but it is also one of the largest in the nation. The system—with campuses spread across the city—offers affordable education to students who want to move on to pursue degrees at four-year schools or move directly into the workforce. It is governed by the Illinois Community College Board and has partnerships with four-year institutions throughout the city. The campuses in the Chicago City College System are:

  • Harold Washington College
  • Harry S. Truman College
  • Kennedy-King College
  • Malcolm X College
  • Olive-Harvey College
  • Richard J. Daley College
  • Wilbur Wright College

In addition to community colleges, there are three public universities in Chicago, all of which are part of the Illinois State University system. The largest, with more than 30,000 enrollees, is the University of Illinois at Chicago. Northeastern Illinois University enrolls nearly 15,000 students, and Chicago State University has around 10,000. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Chicago is home to more than two dozen private, non-profit colleges and universities. From the Catholic Theological Union with around 500 students to destination schools such as DePaul University—which enrolls nearly 30,000—Chicago is dotted with private higher learning institutions of every size and makeup. Among Chicago's most noteworthy private institutions are:

  • Loyola University
  • The University of Chicago
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Roosevelt University
  • Robert Morris University
  • North Park University

Below is a glance at five of Chicago's top colleges and universities:

InstitutionTypeTraining/Degrees Offered
University of Illinois at ChicagoPublicMore than a dozen colleges and inter-college programs, including architecture, design & the arts, dentistry, education, engineering, medicine, pharmacy and social work.
Northeastern Illinois UniversityPublicFour colleges, including arts & sciences, business and management, education and graduate studies.
DePaul UniversityPrivate (non-profit)More than 300 undergraduate and graduate concentrations; 10 colleges and schools.
The University of ChicagoPrivate (non-profit)More than a dozen academic programs, including law school, divinity school and biological sciences.
Loyola UniversityPrivate (non-profit)Three schools: business, education and arts & sciences; 12:1 student/teacher ratio.

Online Colleges in Chicago

Spotlight University of Illinois at Chicago – Chicago, Illinois

Students of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have access to a generous selection of online options, including undergraduate and graduate degrees and numerous certificate programs. UIC has won recognition from U.S. News & World Report, which ranked it ninth nationally for online bachelor's programs and in the top 50 for online graduate engineering programs. UIC Online features 22 certificate and eight master's degree programs in subjects such as education, medicine and engineering. Many programs represent emerging fields that blend technology and applied health sciences, for example, bioinformatics, health informatics and public health geographic information systems.

Distance education reflects UIC's strengths in disciplines relating to health services. UIC is one of the nation's largest medical schools, and it also plays a large role in educating health care professionals in Illinois. Both of UIC's online baccalaureate completion programs award degrees related to health care. Students enrolling in the health information management program need an associate degree in a related field, while the undergraduate nursing program is designed for registered nurses seeking a BSN degree. UIC Online also features two doctoral programs, one in nursing and one in public health.

UIC Online is proud to offer instruction by the same faculty that teaches campus-based classes. Interaction with professors and peers can take place electronically in virtual meetings or via chat or email. Collaborative learning may involve working with other classmates as a partner or as a team. Students can log in to UIC Online 24/7 to download assignments, participate in discussions or receive faculty feedback.

The menu of web-based offerings also serves UIC students in traditional, campus-based programs. Traditional students can take advantage of more than 60 blended classes in fields such as applied health sciences, business administration, education and social work. Broad-ranging online courses from the College of Liberal Arts include academic writing, algebra, finance, statistics and foreign languages. Hybrid courses could entail some in-person participation or work in labs on UIC campuses.

College NameUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
Sub-LocationNear West Side
# of Online Programs34
SubjectsApplied Health Sciences, Education, Engineering, Nursing, Public Health
LevelsBachelor's (completion), Master's, Doctorate, Graduate Certificate

Chicago prides itself on hosting a patchwork of innovate and forward-thinking institutions of higher learning. Its city college network is conveniently spread across the city, but for those who can't attend physically, City Colleges of Chicago offers the Center for Distance Learning (CDL). CDL serves 10,000 students per year and offers 85 courses in a wide range of disciplines.

The public university system also promotes groundbreaking distance-learning options. The University of Illinois at Chicago, for example, provides one of the most highly regarded online programs in the country. Online programs are available in academic areas such as applied health sciences, business administration, education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, urban planning, public affairs, public health, social work, and external education.

Private universities and colleges also contribute to Chicago's stellar distance learning environment. DePaul University, Chicago's largest private university, allows students to take a single course or earn their entire degree online. Undergrad courses include communications, computing and digital media, new learning and science & health. There are also graduate study options, certificate programs and other options.

Top Industries, Careers and Employers

Chicago's economy is based on a thriving blend of both old and new industries. Traditional sectors—such as manufacturing, transportation and distribution—still play a major role in Chicago's workforce and economy. Emerging industries, however—such as infotech, green energy and research & development—are driving the city's future. Chicago's diverse population and saturation of quality colleges and universities ensures an educated workforce for employers who are either in the city already or that plan to move there.

Among Chicago's largest employers are:

  • Abbott Laboratories
  • Advocate Healthcare
  • Allstate
  • AT&T
  • Chase
  • Jewel-Osco
  • J.P. Morgan
  • United Continental Holdings Inc.
  • Walgreen's

The Chicago area ranks among the top five metropolitan areas in the United States in the following sectors:

Business and Financial Services

More than a million people are employed in the business and financial sectors in the greater Chicago area. Their professions include accounting, advertising, recruiting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll, legal and management services.


Positioned in the heart of America's Midwestern manufacturing belt, nearly half a million people work in Chicago's combined manufacturing industries. Although manufacturing in general has witnessed a decline, Chicago has gotten a boost from an influx of “new” manufacturers, such as producers of green building materials.


Life science and biotech entrepreneurs flock to Chicago because of its massive educational and research apparatus, its technological infrastructure and the lure of city and state financial incentives. Companies involved in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, food and agriculture, and genomics all call Chicago home.


The city's vibrant educational and research culture have culminated to make Chicago a beacon for the global tech industry. Industries such as tech consulting, Internet publishing and broadcasting, data processing and hosting, technical consulting, and research & development all flourish in Chicago.

Colleges & Universities in Chicago

Colleges & Universities in Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago31,221$9,879Public
DePaul University29,862$30,000Not For Profit (Private)
Loyola University-Chicago18,190$32,200Not For Profit (Private)
University of Chicago17,645$41,853Not For Profit (Private)
Northeastern Illinois University14,818$6,000Public
Columbia College-Chicago13,173$20,094Not For Profit (Private)
National Louis University9,773$18,855Not For Profit (Private)
Chicago State University8,981$6,648Public
Illinois Institute of Technology8,654$33,100Not For Profit (Private)
Roosevelt University8,224$25,000Not For Profit (Private)
Saint Xavier University5,805$26,280Not For Profit (Private)
Robert Morris University Illinois5,661$21,600Not For Profit (Private)
Moody Bible Institute4,136$8,480Not For Profit (Private)
North Park University3,777$20,990Not For Profit (Private)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago3,599$36,930Not For Profit (Private)
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago3,425N/ANot For Profit (Private)
Rush University2,175$25,402Not For Profit (Private)
Ellis University2,127$13,410Not For Profit (Private)
Saint Augustine College2,095$8,760Not For Profit (Private)
The John Marshall Law School1,872N/ANot For Profit (Private)
VanderCook College of Music1,236$21,900Not For Profit (Private)
East-West University1,223$15,900Not For Profit (Private)
Adler School of Professional Psychology988N/ANot For Profit (Private)
Illinois College of Optometry640N/ANot For Profit (Private)
Catholic Theological Union at Chicago541N/ANot For Profit (Private)

Community Colleges and Vocational Schools in Chicago

City Colleges of Chicago-Harry S Truman College20,587$5,207Public
City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College19,590$5,207Public
City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College16,512$5,207Public
City Colleges of Chicago-Richard J Daley College14,819$5,207Public
City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College13,065$5,207Public
City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College10,320$5,207Public
City Colleges of Chicago-Olive-Harvey College7,791$5,207Public

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

See All Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Shape your future with an online degree

Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.