Online Colleges 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 Education 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 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, http://cew.georgetown.edu/jobs2018/
Illinois and U.S. Share Similar Need for Skilled Workers, Illinois Department of Employment Security, November 2012, http://www.ides.illinois.gov/Custom/Library/publications/ILMR/HWOL2.pdf
Summer 2012 Enrollment Report, Ilinois Virtual Campus, http://www.ivc.uillinois.edu/report/
Northern Illinois University, http://niu.edu/niuonline/
Northwestern University, http://www.scs.northwestern.edu/main/online-programs.php
University of Illinois, http://www.online.uillinois.edu/
View Online College Courses in Illinois Below
This list also contains online colleges that accept students from Illinois.
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