The Best Online Colleges in Illinois | TheBestSchools

by TBS Staff

Updated August 22, 2022 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.

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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

  1. University of Illinois at Chicago

    Chicago, IL



    The University of Illinois at Chicago, a public university, established in 1982, operates one of the largest medical schools in the nation. The university offers over 200 degrees programs and accommodates over 25,000 students.

    Much of the University of Illinois at Chicago's online baccalaureate, master's, doctoral and certificate programs involve medicine. Bachelor's degrees available online include business and nursing. Master's degree options include patient safety leadership and public health informatics. Doctoral degree offerings include public health in leadership. Certificate programs include assistive technology and bioinformatics.

    Resources online students have access to include an online job board and an online library with librarian live chat and a scholarly article database.

  2. Loyola University Chicago

    Chicago, IL



    The Roman Catholic Society of Jesus founded Loyola University Chicago in 1870 and the university has become one of the largest Jesuit universities in America. The university instructs over 15,000 students and offers more than 185 degree programs. There is also a sister campus in Rome, Italy.

    Loyola University Chicago offers a variety of baccalaureate, master's, doctoral and certificate programs through Loyola Online. Bachelor's degrees include psychology and criminal justice. Master's degree options include infection control and business law. Doctoral degree offerings include bioethics and school psychology. Certifications include computer science and oncology nursing.

    Online students have access to a wide variety of resources, including technical support, academic advising, tutoring, job search assistance, veteran's services, disability services and an online library with librarian live chat and a scholarly article database.

  3. University of Illinois at Springfield

    Springfield, IL



    Originally established in 1969 as Sangamon State University, the university became the University of Illinois Springfield in 1995. It was originally an upper-division university, but began accepting undergraduates in 2001. Its first permanent building was the Brookens Library, which now contains over 800,000 titles.

    The university teaches over 5,000 students and offers more than 40 degree programs.

    The University of Illinois Springfield offers a healthy variety of online baccalaureate, master's and certificate programs online. Bachelor's degree options include history and management information systems. Master's degree offerings include law and teacher leadership. Certificate programs include business intelligence and multiple topics in education.

    Resources for online students include online tutoring workshops in writing, reading, math and science, live technical support and an online library with access to ebook, media and academic journal databases.

  4. Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

    Carbondale, IL



    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.

  5. Lewis University

    Romeoville, IL



    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.

  6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL



    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.

  7. Lincoln Christian University

    Lincoln, IL



    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.

  8. McKendree University

    Lebanon, IL



    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.

  9. University of St. Francis

    Joliet, IL



    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.

  10. Eastern Illinois University

    Charleston, IL



    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.

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.

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