#1 Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private, nonprofit institution. The university is currently offering more than 20 online master's degree programs in subjects such as counseling, data science, marketing, law, and public policy. Northwestern students access their online courses through the Canvas learning platform.
Northwestern is a highly competitive university, accepting only 7% of applicants. The school also has a 97% graduation rate, and 95% of students are full time. Online learners are eligible for fellowships provided by the school as well as government financial aid, and they have access to tutoring and counseling services.
#2 Concordia University - Chicago
Concordia University is a private, nonprofit institution affiliated with the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod). Through Concordia's Chicago campus, students can earn one of more than 40 online bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees. Among the offerings are five accelerated bachelor's degree completion programs that allow students to graduate in as little as 16 months. Online students access their online course materials and participate in learning activities through the Blackboard learning platform.
This school has an acceptance rate of 93% and a graduation rate of 48%, and 85% of enrollees are full-time students. Concordia provides academic advising, tutoring services, and counseling for online students.
#3 Chicago School of Professional Psychology Online
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a highly specialized, private, nonprofit institution of higher education. Among the school's online offerings are six bachelor's degrees, 23 master's degrees, and nine doctorates. Degrees are available in general and clinical psychology, as well as forensic psychology, behavioral analysis, organizational leadership, and criminology. Students access their course materials and participate in group learning activities through the Canvas learning platform.
The school is extremely competitive and accepts only 7% of applicants. In addition to government-provided financial aid, the Chicago School provides seven scholarship programs with awards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
#4 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign
The University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign, a public institution, offers just three online bachelor's degrees in social work, environmental sustainability, and early childhood education. However, the school also provides a diverse array of approximately 50 online master's degrees. Some of the possible areas of graduate study include food science, computer science, journalism, and social work. The Urbana - Champaign campus delivers its online courses through the Canvas learning management system.
The university has a 45% acceptance rate and an 85% graduation rate. Nearly all enrollees are full-time students. Online students have access to academic advising, library resources, and counseling, and some may be interested in the school's study abroad program.
#5 Illinois State University
The public Illinois State University features 14 online master's programs in subjects such as special education, marketing analytics, and computer science. Online learners at Illinois State view readings and lectures, submit homework assignments, and participate in their online courses through the Canvas learning platform.
Distance education students are eligible for school-sponsored financial aid programs in addition to government funding. They may also take advantage of career services and tech support. The school has an 86% acceptance rate and a 67% graduation rate, and nearly all enrollees — 93% — are full-time students.
#6 University of St. Francis
The University of St. Francis is located in Joliet, Illinois, and has offered online degrees for the past two decades. According to the school's internal data, it hosts almost 4,000 students and maintains an average class size of around 14 students. In terms of distance learning at St. Francis, the school boasts 120 online courses for students to choose from, and it serves 1,500 distance learners who register each semester.
The online classes and traditional, in-person courses are indistinguishable in terms of content and assignments, as each learning format is held to the same rigorous standards and involves regularly checking in with instructors and peers. Some examples of online majors include business administration, healthcare management, and nursing at the bachelor's level.
#7 DePaul University
DePaul University is a Roman Catholic institution offering a wide range of online bachelor’s degree programs. Students can choose from majors such as accountancy, marketing, nonprofit management, and recreation and sport management. Transfer students can enroll in online bachelor’s degree completion programs as well, such as applied behavioral sciences, decision analytics, leadership studies, and psychology. DePaul helps its distance learners with career preparation by offering access to virtual career fairs, resume help, and interview training. Students can also access the library and bookstore online. DePaul believes in taking care of the mental health needs of all its students by providing access to its 24/7 mental health support line.
#8 Moody Bible Institute
The Moody Bible Institute is an interdenominational, faith-based college that pioneered distance learning at higher education institutions. It offers unique online bachelor’s degree programs — such as Jewish studies, ministry to women, applied linguistics, music and worship, and teaching English as a second language (TESOL). These online programs can help students prepare for careers in the secular and non-secular job market or meet the requirements to enroll in graduate degree programs. Moody provides remote student services, including career resources, access to the library, tech support, and academic advising.
#9 Northern Illinois University
At Northern Illinois University (NIU), a public institution, students can opt for one of nearly 30 online undergraduate and graduate degrees. Examples include bachelor's degrees in health management, political science, and management, as well as master's degrees in instructional technology, data analytics, and public health. NIU's online learners use the Blackboard learning management system to access course materials and interact with classmates and instructors.
NIU has a 71% acceptance rate and a 54% graduation rate, and 84% of enrollees study full time. Online students have access to academic advising, tutoring, and library services.
#10 National Louis University
National Louis University (NLU), which is a private, nonprofit university, provides online courses for students pursuing all levels of degrees. These online courses are delivered through the Brightspace learning management system via the NLU Online Campus. Students can opt for programs in one of four fields of study: (1) business, (2) communications, (3) computer science, and (4) education. Although the website does not explicitly state that the school has fully online degree programs, the National Center for Education Statistics says that 39% of undergraduates and 48% of graduate students are enrolled exclusively in distance education at NLU.
Online learners are eligible for the school's many scholarship programs, as well as government financial aid. They can also take advantage of counseling, tutoring, and library services. NLU has a 92% acceptance rate and a 32% graduation rate. About three-quarters of enrollees study full time.
#11 Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago is a private, nonprofit institution affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The school features a broad selection of online degrees through Loyola Online, including eight bachelor's degrees, 31 master's degrees, and nine doctorates. Areas of study encompass many disciplines, such as business management, technology, education, and psychology. Loyola students use the Sakai learning platform for their online courses.
The school accepts 79% of applicants and graduates 71% of its students. Of all enrollees, 95% study full time.
#12 Bradley University
The private, nonprofit Bradley University offers a limited number of online master's degrees, doctorates, and postgraduate certificates. All of these online programs center around nursing, counseling, and education. Bradley online students access their course materials, participate in group learning activities, and submit homework through the Canvas learning platform.
Bradley University — where almost all enrollees are full-time students — has an acceptance rate of 75% and a graduation rate of 76%.
#13 North Park University - Chicago
North Park University is a private, nonprofit institution affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church of America. At this school, students can opt for one of ten online degrees. Possibilities include bachelor's degrees in digital marketing, counseling psychology, and supply chain management, as well as four types of MBAs. Distance education students use the Canvas learning management system to view readings and lectures, submit assignments, and engage in class discussions with peers and instructors.
Online learners are eligible for ten school-sponsored scholarship programs, as well as government-provided aid. They also have access to library services and tech support. The school accepts 68% of applicants, and 55% of students earn their degree. Almost all students are enrolled full time.
#14 Benedictine University
The private, nonprofit Benedictine University is associated with the Roman Catholic Church. The school offers just one online bachelor's degree — an RN-to-BSN bridge program — but it offers eight online graduate degrees. Several of these are dual master's programs, such as a business administration/public health degree and a business administration/nursing degree. At this school, students access their online course materials and participate in learning activities through the Brightspace platform.
Benedictine has a 93% acceptance rate and a 53% graduation rate, and 84% of enrollees are full-time students. Online learners are eligible for several school-funded scholarships, and they can take advantage of academic advising and tutoring services. Some distance students may be interested in the school's study abroad program.
#15 Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University (WIU) is an affordable, military-friendly institution offering convenience and nineteen online bachelor’s degree programs in various majors. Distance learners can major in fields such as emergency management, fire protection services (with a fire administration option), geographic information science, nursing, and political science. Online student support services include tutoring via Zoom, academic advising, mental health counseling, library resources, and WIU's bookstore.
#16 Aurora University
Aurora University’s flexible online undergraduate degree programs suit students’ busy lives. Online bachelor’s degree programs are designed for students with relevant life experience and previous college coursework. They can choose from majors such as business administration, healthcare administration, social work, psychology, and criminal justice. Aurora supports distance learning by providing student support services — such as a librarian online chat, research help via Zoom, writing help, and tutoring. At the Aurora University Bookstore, students can purchase school supplies, textbooks, college gear, and other academic materials online.
#17 Olivet Nazarene University
Olivet Nazarene University is a private, nonprofit institution affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. The school offers 15 online degrees, primarily master's degrees but also bachelor's degrees and doctorates. Areas of study include business, education, and nursing. At Olivet, students access their online courses and interact with their classmates and instructors through the Canvas learning platform.
In addition to government financial aid, online learners are eligible for one of more than a dozen school-sponsored scholarship programs. The school accepts 58% of applicants, and 67% of students graduate. Nearly all students — 95% — are enrolled full time.
#18 Lewis University
Lewis University, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, is a private, nonprofit institution offering nearly 20 online degrees at all levels. Of special interest are the school's accelerated bachelor's degrees in business, criminal justice, computer science, healthcare management, and nursing. At Lewis, online learners use the Blackboard learning management system to view readings and lectures, submit homework assignments, and engage in group learning activities.
Lewis University sponsors more than ten scholarships of up to $19,500 in addition to providing access to government financial aid. The school has a 74% acceptance rate and a 62% graduation rate, and 83% of enrollees study full time. Distance learners may use the school's career services and tech support system.
#19 Eastern Illinois University
Eastern Illinois University (EIU) is a public institution that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees online. With a 72% acceptance rate and a 58% graduation rate, EIU emphasizes community, integrity, and cooperation. For example, the on-campus community devotes more than 10,000 hours to service. Online, 98% of EIU’s courses are taught by professors, not teaching assistants, so students get a professional, well-rounded online education. The online bachelor’s degree programs — which cover fields such as psychology, business, and healthcare — require about 120 credit hours and take four years to complete.
At EIU, students use Brightspace to access their coursework, which is 100% online and asynchronous. Online students have access to the reading center, university library, and tutoring services. EIU is committed to diversity and inclusion.
#20 DeVry University
DeVry University makes attending classes from anywhere possible by offering online bachelor’s degrees in the fields of technology, business, accounting, healthcare, and liberal arts. Majors in these online degree programs include communications (with a business communications specialization), healthcare administration (with a healthcare management specialization), accounting, 14 specialization options in business, and 13 specializations in technology. Online courses are accelerated and start every eight weeks so students can finish faster than traditional programs. Distance learners can access DeVry’s virtual employer events, library services, the university bookstore, and online student groups.
#21 University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a large, public research university with a 79% acceptance rate and a 68% graduation rate. UIC offers several online degree programs, including four online master’s degrees, in business, finance, human resources management, and management, which require 42 credit hours and can be completed in 14 months. It also offers an online RN-to-BSN program that requires 30 credit hours and can be completed in one year. UIC is committed to public education and believes in the importance of social justice and civic engagement.
At UIC, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is 100% online. Small class sizes, discussions with other students, and experienced faculty provide a comprehensive, thorough education for online courses. Online students have access to the writing center, university library, and career services.
#22 Saint Xavier University
Saint Xavier University (SXU) is a private, Roman Catholic institution that seeks to combine their faith with acceptance and understanding. SXU was Chicago’s 1st Catholic university and 1st Mercy institution of higher learning in the world. Offering online degree programs at all levels, SXU’s programs cover fields such as business administration, nursing, and education. The school's online bachelor’s degree programs take about 21 months to complete and require 120 credit hours. SXU believes that the fundamental questions of human concern, respectful dialogue about diverse experiences, and the search for truth and justice must be examined as part of the full search for truth.
At SXU, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is 100% online. Courses may also be taken in a hybrid format, for students who want to complete some coursework in-person. Online students have access to the learning/writing centers, the university library, career services, and technical advisors. SXU has an 85% acceptance rate and a 60% graduation rate.
#23 Governors State University
Governors State University (GSU) is a rural, public institution with a 52% acceptance rate and a 61% graduation rate. GSU offers online degree programs at all levels, including a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies and a bachelor of arts in business and applied science. The online bachelor’s degree programs can be completed in four years and require 120 credit hours. GSU has a commitment to mentoring, innovative research, and ecological stewardships. It believes in the importance of sustainability and environmental health.
At GSU, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is 100% online and asynchronous. GSU knows that most of its students are also working, so they do their best to accommodate busy schedules and diverse needs. Online students have access to academic tutoring, counseling services, the university library, and the writing center.
#24 Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale (SIU) is the flagship campus for SIU, a public research institution with a 95% acceptance rate and a 55% graduation rate. SIU offers online degree programs at all levels in fields such as criminal justice, accounting, history, and journalism. Its online bachelor’s degree programs, like the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, require 120 credit hours and take about four years to complete. SIU has a long tradition of inclusive excellence, research innovation, and commitment to student success.
At SIU, students use Brightspace to access their coursework, which is entirely online and asynchronous. SIU prides itself on being a strong, diverse, student-centered research-intensive university, and that includes its online degree programs. Online students have access to research assistance, the university library, the writing lab, and career development services.
#25 Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville (SIUE) is a public institution with a 98% acceptance rate and a 55% graduation rate. SIUE mostly offers online graduate degree programs, along with a few bachelor’s completion programs. The online bachelor’s programs, such as the public relations and psychology programs, require 36 credit hours and can be completed in two years, if a student already has an associate’s degree. Once a student is accepted into an online degree program, they will develop a personalized course plan with an academic advisor.
At SIUE, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is entirely online and asynchronous. Students may also use Zoom to attend tutoring services, office hours, and academic advising. Online students also have access to the university library, among other resources. SIUE was created in 1957 to education the underserved Madison-St. Clair Counties, and they continue their commitment to affordable, accessible education.
#26 University of Illinois at Springfield
The University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) is a public institution with a 79% acceptance rate and a 56% graduation rate. UIS believes that active learning, meaningful research, and impactful civic engagement lead to student success and lasting cultural impact. The university offers online degree programs at all levels, including bachelor’s degree programs in computer science, English, and teacher education. The online bachelor’s degree programs require 120 credit hours and take about four years to complete. UIS keeps class sizes small — between 15-40 students for online courses.
At UIS, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is 100% online and mostly asynchronous. Some courses may require students to attend live lectures or meetings via Zoom. Coursework includes multimedia videos, audio, images, and graphs, quizzes and tests, discussion forums, and web conferences. UIS emphasizes group work and research.
#27 Roosevelt University
Roosevelt University (RU) is a private, Hispanic-Serving Institution that emphasizes diversity, tolerance, and academic rigor. At RU, students are self-motivated, disciplined, and manage their workload successfully. RU offers online degree programs at all levels, including bachelor’s degrees in psychology, paralegal studies, criminal justice, and more. The online bachelor’s degree programs require 120 credit hours and can typically be completed in four years. RU has an acceptance rate of 92% and a graduation rate of 49%.
At RU, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is entirely online and asynchronous. Typically students spend 6-9 hours a week on their online coursework, which includes discussion boards, group activities, quizzes, and reading. Online students have access to tutoring services, the university library, and academic advising.
#28 McKendree University
McKendree University (MU) is a private, United Methodist University with an acceptance rate of 78% and a graduation rate of 57%. MU offers online degree programs at all levels, in fields such as psychology, sports administration, and computer information systems. Online bachelor’s degree programs require 120 credit hours and take about four years to complete.
At MU, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is 100% online and asynchronous. Online students have access to the university library, tutoring services, and academic advising. MU’s online coursework includes group projects, discussion forums, quizzes, and readings.
#29 Rush University
Rush University (RushU) is a small, private institution with a 79% graduation rate. RushU offers several online graduate degree programs, covering several health services specialties. The university has five core values: (1) innovation, (2) collaboration, (3) accountability, (4) respect, and (5) excellence. In addition to the entirely online programs, RushU also offers many of its courses online, for students who are working during their degree program, or who want to complete most of their degree online.
At RushU, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is entirely online and asynchronous. They also use Zoom, Microsoft Office 365, and Webex. Online students have access to tutoring services, academic advising, the university library, and counseling services.
#30 Chamberlain University
Chamberlain University (CU) is a private institution that offers online degree programs at all levels. With an acceptance rate of 93% and a graduation rate of 75%, CU’s online degree programs include fields such as nursing, informatics, social work, and more. Online students will use a virtual simulation resource called i-Human Patients that allows them to practice speaking with patients, perform health assessments, complete patient records, and more. CU does its best to provide personalized care to its students and set them up for success.
At CU, students use a Personalized Learning Platform created by CU. Coursework is 100% online, but students may be required to complete in-person clinical hours. Most courses are asynchronous, but some courses require a weekly check-in. At CU, students have access to the university library, tutoring services, and academic advising.
Higher Education in Illinois
Illinois is a populous state that contains one of the largest U.S. cities, so it naturally has many higher education options. These include everything from community colleges in Illinois to top-ranked colleges and universities with graduate programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), you can choose from 60 public and 95 private institutions with postsecondary degree programs.
Online Colleges in Illinois
Illinois features colleges that offer flexible online degrees at all levels. Online students sign in to a learning management system to complete coursework. Most programs have asynchronous classes without arranged meeting times. Instead, students watch recorded lectures, interact in discussion forums, and read assignments at their convenience.
We rank the best online colleges in Illinois based on their bachelor's degree programs. But you can find distance learning programs from certificates to doctorates. The table below covers some of the differences among these credentials.
Popular Online Degree Programs in Illinois
There are tens of thousands of bachelor's degrees conferred in Illinois every year. Online learners study a variety of subjects, but the majors below are among the most popular in the state.
Cost of Online Colleges in Illinois
In Illinois, both two-year and four-year colleges tend to cost more than the national average. The table below can help you compare the U.S. average to the Illinois average for several kinds of schools.
Keep in mind that the NCES draws its cost data from a college's total offerings, whether online or on campus. Online tuition and fees are often but not always more affordable than in-person costs.
Financial Aid for Students in Illinois
Your first stop on the financial aid journey is completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will help you determine which federal programs you're eligible for. These might include government scholarships, grants, work-study funds, or student loans.
The Illinois Department of Education also requires students to fill out a FAFSA before the state will consider them for financial aid. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) even offers in-person FAFSA completion workshops with aid experts. ISAC is also the agency that administers the state's academic grants and scholarships. These funds might be awarded based on need, merit, personal background, or field of study.
See our Guide to Financial Aid for Online Students to learn more about types of aid and how to apply.
Job Outlook for Illinois College Graduates
As in many states, some of the industries with the highest employment in Illinois don't necessarily require a college education. But education pays in general: Each degree you earn tends to raise your wages and lower your chances of unemployment.
According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), the state's top-employing industries are educational and health services and trade, transportation, and utilities, which together accounted for about 1.5 million jobs in 2020. Many of these roles require a college degree, but many do not.
Another top career category is professional and business services, which the state expects to be the largest industry by 2026. Most jobs in this group call for at least some higher education. Common Illinois business-related careers include positions in sales, management, financial operations, and healthcare support.
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes
Agents and business managers help promote entertainers and negotiate deals on their behalf. They might find a degree in business, management, or marketing useful in this work.
Nurse practitioners are advanced-practice registered nurses who provide specialized patient care and lead teams of nurses. This career is among the fastest growing occupations nationwide, but becoming a nurse practitioner requires a master's or doctorate.
Statisticians collect and analyze numerical data in a range of industries and for a variety of purposes. They often study statistics, mathematics, or data science in college.
Logisticians aim to keep their employers' supply chains moving smoothly. They might study supply chain management or business with a supply chain management concentration.
FAQs About Online Colleges in Illinois
How Many Colleges Are in Illinois?
Illinois has 155 colleges on its soil, though only 79 of these offer bachelor's degrees. These are about evenly split between Chicago, smaller cities, and more rural areas.
Can You Do Online School in Illinois?
Are Illinois Online Colleges Accredited?
Illinois has many accredited colleges that offer online degrees. These include all the schools we list on our site. But you may come across institutions that aren't accredited, so be sure to check each college using the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
How Much is Illinois College Tuition?
Costs vary by college, but the NCES lists the average undergraduate tuition and fees in Illinois for the 2020-2021 year. In-state costs at public schools average $14,579, whereas the out-of-state price is $28,660. Illinois' private colleges cost an average of $35,894 per year.
Looking to cut costs once you enroll? Read our How to Save Money in College guide.
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