The Best Online Colleges in Illinois

The Best Online Colleges in Illinois

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Recent changes have transformed education for the better in Illinois.

As part of the state’s 2010 Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success, colleges and universities began significantly increasing their efforts to create quality online programs. As a result, there are several excellent online colleges in Illinois. In particular, Illinois colleges and universities offer dozens of online programs in business and business–related concentrations, including McKendree University’s master’s degree in sports management and DePaul University’s master’s in business information technology. Chicago also offers many opportunities for internships and other career–related field work.

While tuition can be relatively high, many of the state’s higher education institutions offer generous financial aid in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships. Enrolling in one of the many online schools in Illinois is a good choice for students who seek a more flexible education, as most online programs allow students to complete coursework at their own pace. If you’re living in the state and are looking to head back to school, now is the right time to pursue an online degree in Illinois.

Top 10 Online Colleges in Illinois 2020

#1 University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL
#2 Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL
#3 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
#4 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Carbondale, IL
#5 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
#6 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#7 Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL
#8 McKendree University Lebanon, IL
#9 University of St. Francis Joliet, IL
#10 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL

The Best Online Colleges in Illinois

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Southern Illinois University - Carbondale 

Carbondale, IL Apply Now

About this school

Southern Illinois University Carbondale, a public research university, founded in 1869, provides roughly 300 degree programs.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale provides online bachelor's degrees, online master's degrees and online certificates. Bachelor's degrees include radiology and industrial technology. Master's degree offerings include architecture and medical dosimetry. Certificate programs include journalism and information system security.

Online student resources include online training for veterans, an online writing lab, career services, an online law library and online standard library with access to scholarly articles, ebooks and more.

Graduation Rate

Lewis University 

Romeoville, IL Apply Now

About this school

Lewis University is a Catholic University with a Lasallian heritage, established in 1932. The university originally offered instruction in aviation and the government relied on its expertise to train navy pilots during World War II. Lewis University offers over 100 degree programs, enrolls over 6,500 students and has 5 academic colleges on campus.

Lewis University offers a variety of online baccalaureate, master and doctoral degree programs. Online bachelor's degrees available include business and computer science. Online master's degrees include aviation and criminal justice. Online doctoral degree offerings include nursing.

Resources online students have access to include an extensive online library with access to several databases, including academic journals, government documents, streaming video, ebooks, photographs and much more.

Graduation Rate

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL Apply Now

About this school

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign originally opened its doors in 1867 as the Illinois Industrial University, a name it kept until 1885. The university is one of a select few land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant universities in the country. The school is also one of the founding members of the Big Ten Conference and it is the second-oldest public university in all of Illinois. The university has over 40,000 students in attendance, 17 academic colleges and 150 programs of study.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers online baccalaureate and master's degrees. Online bachelor's degree options include environmental sustainability and online master's degree offerings include agriculture, tourism, engineering and translation.

Resources for online students include online test proctoring in select online courses, online disability services and an online library with librarian live chat and scholarly article database.

Graduation Rate

Lincoln Christian University 

Lincoln, IL Apply Now

About this school

One of the best online colleges in Illinois, Lincoln Christian offers seven distance learning programs. Students may earn an associate degree in the Bible; a bachelor's in business administration, psychology, or Christian ministry; or a master's in intercultural studies, bible and theology, or organizational leadership. Each program is grounded in Christian doctrine, and courses commonly address topics such as scripture interpretation. Lincoln Christian offers flexible online learning with no in-person requirements, and coursework is delivered asynchronously.

Some of Lincoln Christian's other programs, such as its divinity master's, allow students to complete up to two thirds of coursework online. Students in these programs earn their remaining credits through intensive week-long sessions on campus.

Graduation Rate

McKendree University 

Lebanon, IL Apply Now

About this school

McKendree's central campus is in Lebanon, just east of St. Louis. The private liberal arts school is the oldest college in Illinois and the oldest Methodist-affiliated college in the U.S. The college has catered to working students since the 1970s. It offers 17 online degrees from the associate to the doctoral levels. McKendree is one of the largest online schools in Illinois in terms of its programmatic diversity. Programs include nursing, business, psychology, criminal justice, computer information systems, and education.

McKendree delivers coursework asynchronously and never requires students to visit campus. The school distinguishes itself with small online classes, enforcing a 20-student enrollment cap for each course.

Graduation Rate

University of St. Francis 

Joliet, IL Apply Now

About this school

The Joliet-based University of St. Francis is not only one of the most notable online colleges in Illinois, but also one of the most noteworthy online colleges nationwide. The college currently enrolls more distance learners than on-campus degree seekers, including 2,219 off-campus graduate students. The college's online offerings include seven degree completion programs. Business programs include transportation and logistics management, marketing, entrepreneurship, management and leadership, and managing human resources. St. Francis also offers nursing and health care leadership programs.

Because St. Francis offers online degree completion programs, the school caters to transfer students. Applicants must already possess an associate degree. The college also targets working online learners, delivering coursework asynchronously and requiring no on-campus components.

Graduation Rate

Eastern Illinois University 

Charleston, IL Apply Now

About this school

EIU is among the most affordable online schools in Illinois, permitting distance learners to pay in-state tuition for most programs. This Charleston-based state university began as a teacher's college but has since expanded its offerings. EIU now offers more than 20 undergraduate and graduate degrees online. Programs include a master's in aging studies, a music education master's, a certificate in teaching writing, a cybersecurity master's, and a master's in health promotion and leadership.

Mindful of the familial and professional obligations of working students, EIU delivers online coursework asynchronously and does not require any on-campus study.

Graduation Rate

Illinois Institute of Technology 

Chicago, IL Apply Now

About this school

IIT is a private university in metropolitan Chicago whose roots date back to 19th-century engineering schools. Today, IIT is one of the strongest online colleges in Illinois. The school offers more than 21 online programs, most of which award master's degrees. Graduate programs include food process engineering, electricity markets, intellectual property management and markets, and telecommunication and software engineering.

IIT delivers online coursework asynchronously through Blackboard, steering clear of in-person and on-campus requirements. The school's ProctorU service allows distance learners to take exams in their own communities without traveling campus. Online learners also receive a wide array of student services.

Graduation Rate

DePaul University 

Chicago, IL Apply Now

About this school

Based in the Lincoln Park and Loop neighborhoods of metropolitan Chicago, DePaul is the nation's largest Catholic university in terms of enrollment. Although the school has a stellar location, students never need to visit campus while earning an online degree from DePaul. The school offers more than 50 online programs including IT project management, nursing, taxation, accountancy, and health informatics. Given the breadth of its programs, DePaul is one of the largest online colleges in Illinois.

Most of DePaul's online programs deliver coursework asynchronously. Though DePaul is a large school, the university maintains small class sizes for distance learners.

Graduation Rate

Aurora University 

Aurora, IL Apply Now

About this school

Aurora University, a private liberal arts college based in Aurora, maintains satellite campuses in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, and Woodstock. The university also serves students far beyond its city limits through online degrees, including five bachelor's programs and five master's programs. Aurora offers degrees in business, criminal justice, social work, general studies, nursing, homeland security, mathematics education, and public administration. Unlike some other online schools in Illinois, Aurora offers many accelerated online programs which allow students to graduate more quickly.

Staying true to its roots as a small liberal arts university, Aurora maintains small online classes that allow students to receive individualized attention from faculty members. The university emphasizes convenience for working students, delivering coursework asynchronously.

Graduation Rate

National Louis University 

Chicago, IL Apply Now

About this school

National Louis University, established in 1886, is renowned for its top-notch education programs. The university helped establish many educational organizations we take for granted today, including the National Parent Teacher Association. One of the university's biggest causes was the establishment of kindergarten and early childhood education. The university teaches more than 4,700 students and has additional campuses in Florida and Poland.

Despite its emphasis on education, National Louis University offers degrees in other fields. Bachelor's degree options include communications and criminal justice, while master's degree offerings include health services alongside its signature early childhood administration.

Student resources available online include an online job board, tutoring in writing, math, science, research and test preparation, 24/7 technical support and an online library with librarian live chat and a variety of book and article databases.

Graduation Rate

Roosevelt University 

Chicago, IL Apply Now

About this school

Named for the former president and first lady, Roosevelt operates physical campuses in Chicago and Schaumberg. The university offers a focused slate of online programs, including seven master's degrees and one post-baccalaureate paralegal program. Master's programs include hospitality and tourism management, conflict and mediation, performing arts administration, and second language special education.

Roosevelt knows that many of its students are busy professionals. The school has no in-person requirements and provides asynchronous, synchronous, and hybrid coursework delivery options based on students' scheduling needs. Students also receive support through Blackboard.

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Benedictine University 

Lisle, IL Apply Now

About this school

A group of Benedictine monks established Benedictine University in 1887 as St. Procopius College. It previously had a high school on the campus, but it separated from the university in 1957 as Benet Academy. The university offers over 70 degree programs. A third of its roughly 4,000 students are minorities.

Benedictine University offers several baccalaureate, master's, doctoral and certificate programs online. Online bachelor's degrees include management and organizational leadership. Online master's degree options include business and public health. Online doctoral degree offerings include education, while available online certificates include disaster management and internet marketing.

Resources open to online students include 24/7 technical support, career services, academic advising and an online library with librarian live chat and article, ebook, video and academic journal databases.

Graduation Rate

Olivet Nazarene University 

Bourbonnais, IL Apply Now

About this school

Based in Bourbonnais, a small village in eastern central Illinois, Olivet Nazarene is a small Christian liberal arts university that caters to distance learners far beyond Illinois through its distance learning programs. The university offers 15 online programs, which include bachelor's, master's, and endorsement offerings. Most of the college's online offerings focus on business, education, and health sciences. Programs include pastoral leadership, English as a second language, and family nursing.

Olivet Nazarene distinguishes itself from other online schools in Illinois with its accelerated cohort model. Students may earn their degrees within two years by completing additional coursework and following the same course sequence as their peers. This leads to increased accountability.

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North Park University 

Chicago, IL Apply Now

About this school

North Park University shares its campus with the only Evangelical Covenant seminary in the United States. Swedish immigrants seeking their own brand of higher education founded the university in 1891, hoping it would help their community grow. What made the campus's location especially attractive was the close proximity to local Swedish-American communities and the Swedish Covenant Hospital. Today, the university has more than 3,000 students in attendance and offers a variety of majors.

North Park University offers a handful of baccalaureate degrees in various aspects of management.

Resources for online students include an online library with access to a variety of reference, ebook, article, video, audio and image databases.

Graduation Rate

Greenville University 

Greenville, IL Apply Now

About this school

Greenville University, a Methodist university, has a long history stemming from Almira College, a Baptist women's college established in 1855. It later changed from Baptist to Methodist when leadership changed hands in 1892. Like other Christian universities, Greenville University requires its students to adhere to a code of conduct which includes, among other things, abstaining from drug and alcohol abuse, dishonesty, gambling and general immorality. Students are also required to fulfill 36 "chapel credits" every semester, which include Bible studies and attending church.

Greenville University offers a variety of online baccalaureate and master's degrees online. Online bachelor's degrees include criminal justice and organizational leadership, while online master's degree offerings include management and special education.

Online students have access to several resources, including online tutoring, academic coaching, an online job board and an online library with librarian live chat and scholarly article database.

Graduation Rate

Quincy University 

Quincy, IL Apply Now

About this school

A private Catholic and Franciscan-affiliated university, Quincy is one of the smallest online colleges in Illinois, though the university has expanded in recent years. Distance learning has grown at Quincy during this expansion, and the university offers three online programs including bachelor's degrees in business administration and human services and a master's in business administration. Though Quincy maintains a beautiful campus in its eponymous city, distance learners can complete these programs without visiting campus.

Quincy delivers all online program asynchronously with working students in mind. The university is also amenable to students who have previously studied elsewhere, as many of its online learners are degree completion or transfer students. Quincy does not distinguish between in-state and out-of-state students for tuition purposes.

Graduation Rate

Western Illinois University 

Macomb, IL Apply Now

About this school

Based in Macomb, WIU is a public university established at the turn of the 19th century. Today, the school serves students far beyond the Illinois border through its 14 online undergraduate and graduate programs. Distance degrees include fire protection services, anthropology, accountancy, law enforcement and justice administration, and special education. The college also offers a nursing degree completion program.

WIU delivers all online coursework asynchronously, and most programs do not require students to visit campus. Incoming students who hit certain standardized test and GPA benchmarks can earn automatic scholarships.

Graduation Rate

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville 

Edwardsville, IL Apply Now

About this school

SIUE operates out of Edwardsville, within 30 minutes of St. Louis. Though SIUE is smaller than its parent institution in Carbondale, the college is among the stronger online schools in Illinois, offering online programs that include two bachelor's degrees, six master's degrees, and one doctorate. Distance degrees include nursing, criminal justice, education, and healthcare administration.

Striving for flexibility, SIUE typically delivers online coursework asynchronously. Students may also opt for blended learning options in most programs. SIUE supports distance students by offering counseling, tutoring, technology support, and online library access.

Graduation Rate

Judson University 

Elgin, IL Apply Now

About this school

Based in Elgin, Judson is a small evangelical Christian school with a liberal arts focus. As such, Judson is one of the smaller online schools in Illinois. The university offers seven entirely online programs. Bachelor's degrees include applied psychology, organizational leadership, human services, and business administration. Master's programs include business administration, military leadership, and organizational leadership. The college also offers various individual courses online.

Due to its religious roots, Judson approaches coursework from a Christian perspective. The college aims for flexibility, delivering most online coursework asynchronously. The school is also transfer-friendly, and students may enroll within 10 business days of applying.

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Trinity International University-Illinois 

Deerfield, IL Apply Now

About this school

A small evangelical Christian university based in Deerfield, TIU operates a seminary, a law school, and undergraduate and graduate schools throughout the U.S. The university also maintains one of the smallest and most focused online colleges in Illinois. It offers bachelor's degrees in Christian ministries, business, psychology, and criminal justice. Each program requires students to complete 124 credits, which usually requires four years.

TIU delivers all distance coursework asynchronously, and its four online degrees do not include on-campus requirements. TIU does not distinguish between out-of-state and in-state students, charging all distance learners the same per-credit tuition. The school also offers significant military discounts.

Graduation Rate

Saint Xavier University 

Chicago, IL Apply Now

About this school

Chicago-based SXU is a Catholic and Sisters of Mercy-affiliated four-year university with deep roots in the Windy City. SXU was originally a women's college. The school's first campus burned down in the Chicago Fire, so it has developed through many iterations. SXU has continued to evolve and is now one of the most focused online schools in Illinois. Its distance programs include an educational technology integration certificate, an ESL certificate, and an RN to BSN. Each program operates within the framework of the Catholic liberal arts tradition.

SXU caters primarily to working students, delivering online coursework asynchronously. This private university does not distinguish between out-of-state and in-state students for tuition purposes.

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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Colleges

Online Colleges in Illinois Ranking Guidelines

We selected the online schools in Illinois based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, and faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.