Info on Online Colleges & Programs in Illinois (IL)

Below you'll find a listing of online colleges accepting students in the state of Illinois. If you'd like to drill down by city, use the rail to the right.  Below our school listing, you'll find detailed information about various programs and individual colleges located in Illinois, as well as information about some of the advantages of going to school online in Illinois.

List of Online Colleges in Illinois Below

This list also contains online colleges that accept students from Illinois.

Matching School Ads

Western Illinois University - 2013 Online Programs

Western Illinois University already offers a wide range of degree programs that can be completed entirely online, including a B.A. in General Studies, B.S. Nursing Completion program, M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology, and M.S. in Elementary Education. In 2013, the school announced a whole new wave of graduate courses that can be taken in a 100 percent online format. The new courses, which are available to non-degree or degree-seeking individuals alike, opened their virtual doors to students in the fall of 2013. The courses include Evidence-Based Practice Diagnosis in Speech-Language Pathology, Law Enforcement in the 21st Century, Reading Informational Text: Applying the Common Core State Standards, Weight Management, and Healthy Cooking.

Western Illinois University has also been praised for its relatively low-cost online degrees by online education website, According to a press release, the school was ranked fourth out of 48 schools offering online education in the state based on the following criteria: quality and cost.

University of Illinois - 2013 Online Programs

In the fall of 2013, the University of Illinois joined the ranks of other top universities offering free online courses through online education provider Coursera. The new online courses, which will be offered as massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were designed to be entirely free and open to students around the world. As a world leader in research, teaching and public engagement, the University of Illinois chose to offer Coursera courses that offer applicable solutions to the world's problems. In 2013, courses offered through Coursera included Heterogeneous Parallel Programming, Subsistence Marketplaces, Introduction to Sustainability, Intermediate Organic Chemistry, Microeconomics Principles, Planet Earth, and the Emergence of Life, among others.

The University of Illinois also increased online offerings for its own degree programs as well, leading to high marks and accolades from organizations within the online education community. For instance, the University of Illinois at Springfield online Computer Science and Management Information Systems graduate degree programs rank highly in the first-ever survey of national online programs by U.S. News & World Report. also ranked the University of Illinois at Springfield online master's degree in computer science as a "best buy," based on factors such as affordability, accreditation and value.

Employment Opportunities in Illinois

The U.S. economic landscape is changing—and Illinois is no exception. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce projects there will be about two million job vacancies in Illinois between 2008 and 2018. That's good news for the state, but only if it can provide a qualified workforce. Although experts predict some opportunities for those who have only earned a high school diploma, the vast majority of these job openings—about 1.3 million—will require at least an associate degree.

A study by the Illinois Department of Employment Security supports these findings. According to the agency, many of the 25 most in-demand occupations in Illinois (as of September 2012) require an associate degree or higher. In order to fill positions like these, the number of Illinois residents who complete college degree programs must increase.

The advent of online learning may prove to be a valuable ally in the state’s quest for higher college attainment. Many public and private postsecondary institutions in the state now offer online degree programs, including high-profile schools like the University of Illinois, Northern Illinois University and Northwestern University. Whether one’s attending college for the first time or pursuing an advanced degree, online colleges in Illinois provide students with more options and flexibility for attaining higher education.

Advantages of Online Colleges for Students in Illinois

For many Illinois students, online learning can be a cost-effective and convenient way to prepare for the state's new economy. Although online schools had a less-than-stellar reputation when they were in their infancy, they have increasingly gained respect over the years. Today, thanks to advancements in technology and instruction, online colleges available to students from California to Florida offer several distinct advantages over traditional brick-and-mortar programs.

Typically, online courses do not require students to attend lectures at a specific time every week. This means students with career or family obligations can pursue a degree any time their schedule allows. Additionally, by attending courses in the comfort of their own homes, students may save time and money by avoiding a daily commute. This factor is especially beneficial to those located far from local campuses, as well as professionals who travel frequently for work.

Online learning may also introduce students to emerging trends in telecommunication, such as video chat and mobile computing. For example, a student pursuing an MBA online might be asked to create and present a marketing plan using Web conferencing and multimedia presentation software. This experience can help prepare graduates for today’s workplace, where virtual communication is commonplace and transactions occur on a global scale.

Trends in Online Higher Education: Public and Private Online Schools in Illinois

Many public and private colleges throughout Illinois now feature online learning options. The University of Illinois, for example, has exponentially increased its number of online programs over the years. In 1996, the school had only one online degree available to students—now, there are over 100. Programs offered by the university today include bachelor's degrees in history, business administration, computer science, mathematics, and nursing, as well as master's degrees in computer science, education, engineering, legal studies, and management information systems.

Similarly, Northern Illinois University offers online bachelor's degrees in nursing, health and human services, and liberal arts. For those interested in earning an advanced degree online, the school features master's degrees in public health, industrial management and technology, and education, as well as a doctoral degree program in physical therapy. Northwestern University also offers a number of graduate degrees online, including master's degrees in information systems, communications, public policy and administration, and marketing.

According to the Illinois Virtual Campus (IVC), Illinois colleges and universities reported over 715,000 online course enrollments during the 2011-2012 academic year. IVC, a virtual catalog of distance education offered by schools in state, serves as a valuable resource for Illinois residents considering online learning. Through the site, students can browse online courses and degree programs from a variety of participating postsecondary institutions.

National online colleges provide yet another option for those interested in pursuing an online education. Some, such as DeVry University, University of Phoenix and Everest University, even have physical campuses located throughout Illinois. In addition to a broad range of fully-online degrees, these schools may offer blended learning options, which combine on-campus instruction with the added flexibility of online courses.

Entry Requirements and Application Process for Illinois Online Colleges

Illinois students interested in pursuing an online degree must first meet certain entry requirements, which differ from one institution to the next. For more information about a specific school or program, prospective students should consult an admissions counselor. Many nationally-accredited online colleges have advisors available to answer questions online via email or instant messaging. To find out more about online learning options, or the application process, see the list of schools below.


“Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018,” Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, Jeff Strohl, June 15, 2010,

Illinois and U.S. Share Similar Need for Skilled Workers, Illinois Department of Employment Security, November 2012,

Summer 2012 Enrollment Report, Ilinois Virtual Campus,

Northern Illinois University,

Northwestern University,

University of Illinois,

Western Illinois University, New Fall 2013 Online Graduate Courses,

"WIU Listed Among Illinois Affordable Colleges for Online Learning,", Nov. 18, 2013,

University of Illinois at Springfield, Department of Computer Science,

University of Illinois at Springfield, Department of Management Information Systems,