IllinoisContinuing our series of best online college by state rankings, we have examined all online colleges in Illinois and chosen to showcase the top 20 schools, based on the methodology stated below.

In researching this Top 20 Best Online Colleges ranking, we ranked each and every school that is located in Illinois and that has a selection of online academic programs available for distance-learning students to choose from and subsequently enroll.

Each of the 99 different colleges and universities which were qualified to be ranked based on the initial criteria that we looked at — being located in Illinois and offering distance-learning students a selection of online and asynchronous academic programs — were further ranked and ordered based on two different data points. These data scores were each school’s Freshmen Retention Rate and Graduation Rate. We combined the data for these two rates into a Final Score (out of a possible 200) for each of the online colleges; using these scores we were able to place each of the individual schools into their appropriate rank in relation to the other schools within this article.

The State of Illinois is the 6th-most populous state in the United States and is the 25th-largest state regarding the total land area. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire country because it is home to many diverse cultural influences and a wildly varied geography. The State of Illinois also boasts the largest city in the Midwest: Chicago, which is known as the state’s “Cultural Capital,” whereas the state’s real capital is the City of Springfield.

The Prairie State — Illinois — gets its name from a French interpretation of the Native American word “Illiniweck,” which was the collective name for the area’s 13 Native American tribes. The Illiniweck were also known as the Illinois Confederation or simply as the Illini. Illinois can be considered by many to be a typical American state; exciting sports, good food, big celebrations, and no end to the state pride that one can find.

Despite being an excellent representation of a typical American state, this by no means encompasses the state’s excellent educational system, which is far from stereotypical. Illinois is home to many of the nation’s absolute best and most renowned colleges and universities and, because of this, we have decided to help prospective students to find a school that will be the best choice for them.

By filtering down all of the renowned Illinois-based institutes of higher learning into a ranked list, which consists of just the very best online colleges in Illinois, we hope to aid students in their decision making processes.

Methodology

Through extensive research, we have narrowed down all of the schools in the state of Illinois to just the ones that offer online academic programs specifically to distance learning students. We then ranked and ordered each of these schools based on the following ranking criteria to determine where each of these schools should rank in this Top 20. The ranking criteria we used was:

  • 50%: Freshmen Retention Rates and;
  • 50%: Graduation Rates

To rank each of the schools, we have utilized each school’s website whenever possible to get the two rates. In instances that this information was not provided or was incomplete from the school’s websites, we used the databases of both U.S. News and World Report and National Center for Education Statistics. In cases where two or more schools were tied for a spot throughout the article, we used the alphabetical ordering of their names as our designated tie-breaking criteria. We feel these ranking criteria will give prospective students the best overall picture of the efficacy that each school possesses as a provider of higher education.

We also referenced our own ranking of the top 100 best online colleges when researching this college ranking.

20: Eastern Illinois University

Eastern Illinois University

Eastern Illinois University is a public research university which is located in Charleston, Illinois. Eastern Illinois University (which is commonly referred to just as EIU) was originally established in 1895 by an act of the Illinois State Legislature as the Eastern Illinois State Normal School, which was a teacher’s college that offered a two-year degree program. The mission of the normal school was “…to train teachers for the schools of East Central Illinois.” When the school began classes in 1899, four years after its initial establishment, there were 125 students and 18 academic faculty members. Today, EIU has more than 9,000 total enrolled students and an academic faculty which consists of about 650 members. This means the school’s first student-to-faculty ratio was approximately 1:6 and the ratio is now about 1:14. Through the school’s history, it has undergone several name changes to reflect its transition from a teachers college into a multipurpose institution that was able to provide better educational services to the state. Due to these name changes, Eastern Illinois State Normal School became Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in 1921. Eastern Illinois State Teachers College then became Eastern Illinois State College in the year 1947. And, in 1957, the Illinois General Assembly changed the name of the institution yet again, this time to its present-day name of Eastern Illinois University. EIU offers to its students a wide variety of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs; many of which are available in an online and asynchronous format to better serve distance learning students. Some of the available online programs include: a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Organizational and Professional Development degree program and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program among many others. The many academic programs which span across various areas-of-study that EIU has available are all taught through the seven schools and colleges into which the University is organized. These seven schools and colleges are the College of Arts and Humanities; the College of Business and Applied Sciences; the College of Education and Professional Studies; the College of Sciences; the Sandra and Jack Pine Honors College; the Graduate School and; the School of Continuing Education.

School’s Website: https://www.eiu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 75.0%
Graduation Rate: 58.0%
Final Score: 133.0/200

19: Dominican University — Illinois

Dominican University -- Illinois

Dominican University–Illinois is a private, not-for-profit and Roman Catholic-affiliated liberal arts university which is located in River Forest, Illinois. Dominican University holds strong ties with the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, who are also more formally known as the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary of the Order of Preachers. Dominican University–Illinois was originally established in 1848 St. Clara College, which was chartered by Father Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli, O.P. (Ordo Praedicatorum) in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. The school became a college in 1901 and moved to its present-day location in River Forest, Illinois. The school’s name was changed again in 1922 to Rosary College. Trinity High School was founded as the preparatory department of the college before moving to its campus nearby in 1926. The Trinity High School is still run by the order. The school’s name was changed yet again in 1997 as a part of a strategic plan by President Donna Carroll to have the name better reflect the school’s Dominican heritage and its status as a more comprehensive university. This final name change would turn Rosary College into the present-day Dominican University. Today, Dominican University offers to its more than 4,000 total enrolled students a selection of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certifications from which to choose. These various academic programs cover varying areas-of-study, and two of those academic programs are even available in an online and fully asynchronous format. These two online programs are both taught by the same dedicated faculty members as the programs’ on-campus counterparts, ensuring every enrolled student receives a quality education. The two fully online programs are a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Human Services (BHS) degree program and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Legal Studies (BLS) degree program. These two programs are offered through the university’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies, which is one of the five academic divisions that the university is organized into (the other four are: the School of Information Studies; the Brennan School of Business; the School of Education and; the Graduate School of Social Work). Additionally, Dominican University offers many hybrid formats (blended online and face-to-face coursework) academic programs for students that are seeking to enroll in a low-residency program or a little more flexibility than what a traditional program provides.

School’s Website: http://www.dom.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 79.0%
Graduation Rate: 59.0%
Final Score: 138.0/200

18: Olivet Nazarene University

Olivet Nazarene University

Located in Bourbonnais, Illinois is a provider of numerous and comprehensive online academic programs which are taught in an entirely asynchronous format. This institution of higher learning is the Olivet Nazarene University, which is a private, not-for-profit and Christian-affiliated liberal arts university. Olivet Nazarene University was originally established in 1907 as the Miss Mary Nesbitt’s Grammar School. The school’s name has been changed multiple times over the years. Its first name change–to the Illinois Holiness University–occurred in 1909. The name was changed again to Olivet University in 1915; from Olivet University to Olivet College in 1923; in 1939, the name was changed to Olivet Nazarene College and, in 1986, the name was changed a final time to its present-day name of Olivet Nazarene University. The online academic programs that are available through Olivet Nazarene University includes: a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in Management degree program, a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree program, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program, a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Pastoral Leadership degree program, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program among many others. The university’s online programs span many different areas-of-study such as education, business, theology, and healthcare. Olivet Nazarene University is one of the largest member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities is an international association of Christian-affiliated colleges and universities that strive to accomplish their goal of advancing the broader cause of providing their students with a better Christ-centric higher education and “…to help [their] institutions to transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to the biblical truth.”

School’s Website: http://www.olivet.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 77.0%
Graduation Rate: 61.0%
Final Score: 138.0/200

17: Greenville College — Greenville, Illinois

Greenville College

A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Organizational Leadership degree program, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Health Psychology degree program, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, a degree program and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Curriculum and Instruction degree program are just a small sampling of the numerous online and asynchronous academic programs that are offered to distance learning students by Greenville College. Greenville College is a private, not-for-profit and Free Methodist Church-affiliated four-year liberal arts college which is located in Greenville, Illinois. Greenville College was originally established in 1892 by Stephen Morse. The school that Stephen Morse created was originally known as Almira College–named after his wife Almira Blanchard–and was originally operated as a women’s only college. In 1892, pastoral and lay leaders of the Central Illinois Conference of the Free Methodist Church purchased Almira College and the surrounding property to provide both men and women of the vicinity with a higher education under distinctive, core Christian influences. The institution was reincorporated as an independent organization under the name of Greenville College Corporation and was authorized to confer eligible students with undergraduate degrees upon their successful program completion. The college is home to the only museum dedicated to the works of the sculptor Richard Bock, the Richard W. Bock Sculpture Museum. Richard Bock was not only well known for his work with Frank Lloyd Wright, but he is also for recognized in his right for his intricate sculptural decorations for various architectural works and military memorials. In 1999, under the leadership of the university’s then-President Vincent James Mannoia Jr., the college became the first campus in the nation to install an entirely wireless internet network across the entire school campus. Greenville College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a United States Department of Education- and Center of Higher Education Accreditation approved regional accrediting body.

School’s Website: http://www.greenville.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 82.0%
Graduation Rate: 57.0%
Final Score: 139.0/200

16: University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago (which is commonly referred to simply as UIC) is a public research university which is located in Chicago, Illinois. The University of Illinois at Chicago was originally established in 1965. Today, the University of Illinois at Chicago offers to its more than 29,000 total enrolled students a selection of 83 Bachelor’s degrees, 93 Master’s degrees, 64 Doctoral degrees and a myriad of professional certification programs through the 15 colleges and schools into which the university is organized. These available degree programs span across numerous different areas-of-study, offered by fifteen different schools and colleges. These are the School of Pharmacy; the School of Medicine; the School of Dentistry; the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the School of Engineering; the School of Architecture, Design and the Arts; the School of Nursing; the Graduate College; the School of Social Work; the School of Business; the School of Education; the School of Public Health; the School of Urban Planning and Public Affairs; the School of Applied Health Sciences and; the Honors College. Many of the UIC programs are also offered in an online and asynchronous format, such as the university’s ever popular Master of Science in Patient Safety Leadership degree program, Bachelor of Business Administration degree program and Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program, among many others. These online degree programs are taught by the same academic faculty members as the on-campus counterparts, ensuring that each UIC student receives the same quality education regardless of whether they are a traditional on-campus or distance learner. This is due to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s commitment to providing their students with a comprehensive and solid foundation upon which they can build a rewarding career.

School’s Website: http://www.uic.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 81.0%
Graduation Rate: 60.0%
Final Score: 141.0/200

15: University of Saint Francis

University of Saint Francis

The University of Saint Francis is a private, not-for-profit and Roman Catholic-affiliated (Franciscan) liberal arts university which is located in Joliet, Illinois. The University of Saint Francis was originally established in 1920 and is named after the Patron Saint Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone). USF–as the university is commonly known as–has been one of the largest online education providers in the State of Illinois since it piloted its online business program more than 15 years ago. Today, USF offers more than 120 online courses to more than 1,500 distance learning students per semester. These distance learning students can enroll into an online academic degree program which covers one of many different areas-of-study, such as the university’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree program, their Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program and a Master of Science in Education degree program. Many of these programs allow students to customize the education that they receive through the ability to choose from numerous different program concentrations, such as the Bachelor of Science in Business Administrations available concentrations in: Entrepreneurship, Management and Leadership, Managing Human Resources, Marketing and Transportation and Logistics or the Master of Science in Education concentrations which include: English as a Second Language, Special Education, Teaching in Technology and Differentiated Instruction, among others. The University of Saint Francis’ library houses a collection of more than 110,000 written volumes, special collections, periodicals, and other assorted publications. Additionally, USF has a large natural science learning center and a computer science center which is available to students and which are both located in the university’s St. Albert Hall.

School’s Website: https://www.stfrancis.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 76.0%
Graduation Rate: 65.0%
Final Score: 141.0/200

14: Frontier Community College

Frontier Community College

Frontier Community College is a public community college which is located in Fairfield, Illinois and which was originally established in 1974 as the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges’ Continuing Education Facilities in Fairfield. Illinois Eastern Community Colleges’ Continuing Education Facilities in Fairfield would later evolve into the Frontier Community College in 1976 due to a decision by the Board of Trustees for the Continuing Education Division which wanted to create a college with the concept of a being a college “Campus Beyond Walls.” This “Campus Beyond Walls” concept has been set up to create higher education to the people of the 12 surrounding local counties that are included in the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges community college district. The district is headquartered in Olney, Illinois, with college campuses that are located in Olney, Fairfield, Robinson and Mount Carmel, Illinois. Because of this concept, early classes offered by Frontier Community College were taught in local churches, high schools, community buildings and various other similar locales. Today, Frontier Community College is one of four colleges that are member institutions of the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (IECC) district. Frontier Community College offers a variety of traditional on-campus and distance learning academic programs to its enrolled students. These educational programs are at the two-year Associate’s level and the technical certification level, but the college can offer students a selection of online four-year degrees through its affiliation with Franklin University. Franklin University is a private and not-for-profit liberal arts university which operates from its main campus in Columbus, Ohio and has satellite locations located throughout the State of Indiana. This partnership is highly beneficial to the distance learning students that are enrolled in Frontier Community College, as Franklin University is considered by many to have one of the most comprehensive and extensive online catalogs of academic programs offerings out of many of the private universities that are operating in the United States. Some of the available online and asynchronous programs that distance learning students can enroll in are: a Bachelor of Science in Allied Healthcare Management degree program, a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology degree program, a Bachelor of Science in Business Forensics degree program, a Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security degree program, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, among many others which span across numerous different areas-of-study including IT, cyber security, criminal justice, business, accounting, marketing, nursing and the social sciences. Students can also enroll into one of the two available online certification programs–Criminal Justice Leadership
certification program and Instructional Design
certification program–if they are just looking to supplement and expand their current knowledge in their chosen career path. In addition to the various Bachelor’s programs, Master’s programs and certification programs, students can also choose from a selection of Doctoral degree programs in areas such as Healthcare Administration and Business Administration.

School’s Website: http://www.iecc.cc.il.us/page.php?page=FCCH
Freshman Retention Rate: 66.0%
Graduation Rate: 76.0%
Final Score: 142.0/200

13: Elmhurst College

Elmhurst College

Elmhurst College is a private and not-for-profit comprehensive four-year liberal arts university which is located in Elmhurst, Illinois and which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC), a mainline Protestant Christian denominational group which maintains historical confessional roots in the Reformed, Congregational and Evangelical Protestant traditions. Elmhurst College was originally established in 1871 when Jennie and Thomas Bryan gave land located in Elmhurst to the German Evangelical Synod of the Northwest. This land was gifted to the German Evangelical Synod of the Northwest for the sole purpose of establishing a school to train and prepare young men for the theological seminary and to train teachers for local parochial schools. When the school first opened, it was named the Elmhurst Proseminary and the first students, who were all male, studied Latin, Greek, English, German, music, history, geography, mathematics, science and religion in classes which were all taught in German. The school’s classes would not be taught in English until 1917. In 1919, the name of the seminary school was changed to the Elmhurst Academy and Junior College, and the school’s curriculum was expanded to included courses in public speaking, physical education, economics, psychology and the history of education. The school was to renamed to its present-day name of Elmhurst College in 1924, and at that time it was transformed into a four-year college. Even though the school was now operating as a more traditional four-year college, it was still operating as a men’s only college, and the school’s doors were closed to women students at this time. It would not be until 1930 when women were allowed to enroll in an academic program at Elmhurst College, and the college would not receive accreditation until four years after this turning point in how it was operated, in 1934. Elmhurst College’s initial and current accreditation is provided by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a United States Department of Education- and Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)-approved regional accrediting body. In 1998, Elmhurst College began offering students various graduate degree programs. Today, Elmhurst offers a myriad of undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs. These programs are taught not only in a traditional, experiential on-campus format, but many of the offered academic programs are also available in an online and asynchronous format for distance learning students. The online programs are taught by the same academic faculty as the on-campus counterparts, and some of the available online programs include the college’s Master in Health Care Management and Administration degree program, their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program, their Graduate Computer Information Systems certification program and their Undergraduate Cyber Security certification program, all of which are highly popular and are just a small sampling of what all is available for distance learning students to choose from.

School’s Website: http://www.elmhurst.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 79.0%
Graduation Rate: 67.0%
Final Score: 146.0/200

12: Lewis University

Lewis University

Lewis University is a private, not-for-profit Roman Catholic-affiliated (specifically a Lasallian-affiliated) four-year liberal arts university which is located in Romeoville, Illinois. Lewis University was originally established in 1932 by the Archdiocese of Chicago and Bishop Bernard J. Scheil and was initially known as the Holy Name Technical School. The school’s present-day name was named after philanthropist Frank J. Lewis who funded the construction of many of the school’s various on-campus buildings. During the early days of the school’s history, aviation technology courses were chosen as the particular emphasis of instruction at the school. These courses would later serve as the foundation of the origin of today’s highly regarded Lewis University Department of Aviation and Transportation Studies. The school was incorporated in 1934 under the name Lewis Holy Name Technical School and, in 1935, its name was changed to the Lewis Holy Name School of Aeronautics. During World War II, normal classes were suspended as the campus was given to the United States Navy to train pilots, as was many other universities and colleges around the nation at the time. Regular school classes resumed in late 1944, less than a year before the conclusion of World War II. Soon after, the college adopted a more traditional arts and science-focused curriculum, replacing its original parochial-centric curriculum. Women students were admitted for the first time in 1949, and three years later, in 1952, the school’s name was changed to the Lewis College of Science and Technology. The school’s name was shortened to only Lewis College in 1962, and finally, it received its present-day name of Lewis University in 1973. Today, Lewis University offers to its more than 6,000 students a selection of various undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certificate-granting programs, all of which span across numerous different areas-of-study and many of which are available in an online and asynchronous format to serve the university’s many distance learning students. These academic programs are offered through the university’s five schools and colleges which it is divided into the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Business; the College of Education; the College of Nursing and Health Professions and; the School for Professional and Continuing Education. The academic staff that teaches the on-campus classes through these schools and colleges are the same faculty that teaches the university’s online program counterparts, ensuring that the university’s distance learning students obtain not only a flexible education but also a quality one.

School’s Website: http://www.lewisu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 84.0%
Graduation Rate: 66.0%
Final Score: 150.0/200

11: Illinois State University

Illinois State University

Having been originally established in 1857 as the Illinois State Normal University, today the Illinois State University is a public research university which is located in Normal, Illinois. Illinois State University is the oldest public university which is located in Illinois and is consistently recognized as one of the top ten largest producers of teachers in the United States according to the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE). AACTE is a not-for-profit group that ensures its 800 post-secondary institution-members continually strive to expand and increase the quality of their Educator Preparation programs–due to the strong emphasis that the University places on Educator Preparation-related academic programs. Classes at the Illinois State Normal University were initially held in downtown Bloomington, and the classes occupied free space in the city’s first public meeting place, Major’s Hall, which was previously the site of Lincoln’s “Lost Speech.” With the completion of Old Main in 1860, the school moved to its current campus in what was then the village of North Bloomington. The village of North Bloomington would later be renamed to Normal, Illinois in 1865, having renamed itself after the newly moved university. In 1965, the institution’s name was changed to Illinois State University at Normal. Illinois State University at Normal would go through another name change again in 1968, this time to its present-day name of Illinois State University. Today, Illinois State University–which is commonly referred to just as ISU–is organized into six schools and colleges (the College of Applied Science and Technology; the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Business; the College of Education; the College of Fine Arts and; the Mennonite College of Nursing). Through these divisions, it offers its more than 21,000 total enrolled students a selection of undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and professional certification programs. Many of these various academic programs which span across numerous different areas-of-study are also available in an online and asynchronous format, allowing for a greater amount of academic flexibility. ISU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and, additionally, 23 of the university’s programs hold programmatic accreditation from various accrediting bodies, such as the school’s Teacher Preparation programs which all hold discipline-based accreditation which is provided by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is certified by the Illinois State Board of Education.

School’s Website: https://illinoisstate.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 82.0%
Graduation Rate: 73.0%
Final Score: 155.0/200

10: Moody Bible Institute — Chicago

Moody Bible Institute

With online and fully asynchronous academic programs such as a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biblical Studies degree program, aBachelor of Science (B.S.) in Ministry Leadership, a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Biblical Exposition degree program and a specialized Biblical Studies certification program available for distance learning students, among many others, the Moody Bible Institute–Chicago has a lot to offer. Commonly referred to simply as MBI, Moody Bible Institute–Chicago is a private and not-for-profit Christian-affiliated institution of higher education for theological studies which is located in Chicago, Illinois and operates satellite locations in both Spokane, Washington and in Plymouth, Michigan. The Moody Bible Institute was originally established in 1886 by Dwight L. Moody, an American evangelist, and publisher affiliated with the Holiness Movement. Moody also founded the Moody Church in Chicago, Illinois; The Northfield School and Mount Hermon School (now known as the Northfield Mount Hermon School and commonly referred to simply as NMH) in Mount Hermon, Massachusetts; and Moody Publishers, a Christian publishing company that is focused on proclaiming the biblical gospel message through its products and publications. Before his death in 1899, Moody played a significant role in fundraising to support MBI. After Moody had died, however, the Institute struggled financially. Due to the institute’s financial problems, the then-president of the Institute, James M. Gray, invited Henry Parsons Crowell–a philanthropist and the founder of the Quaker Oats Company–to restructure the Institute financially. This restructuring would prove to be the cure from financial worries that the institute needed. Today, the Moody Bible Institute teaches and provides more than 4,000 total enrolled students everything they need to know to become fruitful and dynamic Christian leaders in their communities, capable of enacting positive and powerful changes in people’s lives through the will of God. These students, both the traditional on-campus students and the distance learning students, have access to various academic programs which are offered at the undergraduate, graduate and certification levels, allowing for a significant amount of academic flexibility.

School’s Website: https://www.moody.edu/moody-bible-institute-chicago/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86.0%
Graduation Rate: 69.0%
Final Score: 155.0/200

9: DePaul University

DePaul University

Located in Chicago, Illinois, DePaul University is a private and not-for-profit Roman Catholic (Vincentian)-affiliated four-year liberal arts university which was originally established by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) in 1898. In addition to the main campus in downtown Chicago, DePaul operates a school in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago (the Lincoln Park Campus), a campus in the Chicago Loop area (the Loop Campus) and two satellite locations near O’Hare and Naperville, both of which primarily serve part-time professional students. DePaul University is organized into ten schools and colleges through which its more than 22,000 total enrolled students can enroll in an undergraduate degree-granting program, graduate degree-granting program or professional certification program. The Lincoln Park Campus is home to four of the school and colleges: the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; Science and Health and; Education. It also houses the School of Music; the Theatre School and; the John T. Richardson Library. The Loop campus is home to the other six schools and colleges: the College of Communication, Computing and Digital Media; the School of Law and; the School of Public Service and the School for New Learning and; the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, which is part of the nationally ranked Driehaus College of Business. The Driehaus College of Business is the tenth-oldest business school in the United States. The Loop Library and the Rinn Law Library are both also located on the Loop Campus. The Loop Library contains a collection of works relating to Career Information, Faculty Publication and is home to a collection of video games and video game consoles, whereas the Rinn Law Library is home to the university’s collection of Law and Criminal Justice works. In 1998, DePaul University became the largest Catholic university by enrollment which is located in the United States. The school takes its name from the 17th-century French priest Saint Vincent de Paul (24 April 1581 ñ 27 September 1660), who was canonized in 1737 by Pope Clement XII and who is the Patron Saint of charities, spiritual help, the Vincentian Service Corps and volunteers. Since 2004, U.S. News and World Report has recognized DePaul University as one of the top schools in the nation for service learning in which community-based volunteer work is utilized as an instructional strategy. The university places a strong emphasis on recruiting and accepting first-generation students and students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Partly due to this, The Princeton Review ranked DePaul University as being the best university in the nation for student population diversity in their “Diverse Student Population” category for the 2007-2008 academic school year. DePaul University is home to an active Greek Letter life; with nine male fraternities, 16 female sororities and one co-educational organization being present and active on-campus. The school is also home to numerous other student ran clubs and organizations which span across various social, professional and philanthropic interests, ensuring that there is something for everyone at DePaul.

School’s Website: https://www.depaul.edu/Pages/default.aspx
Freshman Retention Rate: 84.0%
Graduation Rate: 73.0%
Final Score: 157.0/200

8: Bradley University

Bradley University

Bradley University is a private, not-for-profit and nonsectarian four-year liberal arts university which is located in Peoria, Illinois. Bradley University was originally established as the Bradley Polytechnic Institute in 1897 and initially operated as a four-year academy. The Bradley Polytechnic Institute was originally founded by philanthropist and wealthy Bank president Lydia Moss Bradley in loving memory of her husband Tobias Bradley and their six children, all of whom died suddenly at an early age, thus leaving Bradley, a childless widow. Lydia Moss Bradley always considered Bradley University to be her fondest project. The Bradley Polytechnic Institute would eventually evolve from a four-year academy and two-year college into a four-year college (Bradley College) in 1920 and later into a four-year university (Bradley University) in 1946. Bradley University is organized into the following colleges and schools: the College of Education and Health Sciences; the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Foster College of Business; the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts and; the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. It is through these six schools and colleges that Bradley University’s more than 5,000 total students can enroll in one of many undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification program; many of which are available in an online and asynchronous format such as the university’s Registered Nurse to Master of Science in Nursing (RN to MSN in Nursing Administration) degree program and their Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling with a Concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program, among many others. Including both on-campus programs and online programs, there are more than 100 undergraduate programs and more than 30 graduate programs that are available to students to enroll in along with numerous certificates. The University is accredited by 21 national programmatic accrediting agencies, and the university has its institutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a regional accrediting body. Students can participate in more than 240 student organizations, including one of the very active Greek Life sororities and fraternities that are on-campus. U.S. News and World Report ranked Bradley University as the fourth-best university in their Best Colleges overall ranking among Midwest Regional Universities. Bradley was ranked as the first best school of its kind that is located in the State of Illinois in the same publication. Money magazine (a publication put out by Time magazine) ranked Bradley University as the 88th best out of 736 total ranked colleges and universities for providing students with the most value and the best Return-on-Investment (ROI) in their 2015 ranking.

School’s Website: http://www.bradley.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86.0%
Graduation Rate: 74.0%
Final Score: 160.0/200

7: Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology

The Illinois Institute of Technology is home to numerous online and asynchronous programs. A small sampling of the programs that are available to the school’s distance learning students can be found the the school’s website and includes programs such as: a Bachelor of Industrial Technology and Management degree program, a Master of Biological Engineering degree program, a Master of Biomedical Imaging and Signals degree program, a Master of Very-Large Scale Integration (VLSI) and Microelectronics degree program, a Master of Science in Manufacturing Engineering degree program, a Master of Intellectual Property (IP) Management and Markets degree program and a Professional Information Technology certification program among many others. The Illinois Institute of Technology (which is commonly referred to as Illinois Tech or simply as IIT) is located in Chicago, Illinois and its historical roots can be traced back to 1890 where several 19th century engineering and professional education institutions would all eventually merge into one another to form what is now known as Illinois Tech. Through all of these various mergers, in 1940, the institute finally was established as to how it is known today due to a merger of the Armour Institute and the Lewis Institute. The Illinois Institute of Technology is organized into various academic units, these are: five colleges (which are the Armour College of Engineering; the College of Science; the Lewis College of Human Sciences; the College of Architecture and; the Chicago-Kent College of Law), an institute (the Institute of Design), two schools (which are the School of Applied Technology and the Stuart School of Business) in addition to operating numerous research centers; some of which provide academic programs independent of the other academic units. Through these academic units and research centers, more than 8,000 students can enroll in one of the institutes various on-campus and online undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs. All of these are taught by the same dedicated academic faculty members, ensuring that all of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s students receive a high-quality education, the personalized one-on-one help that they deserve and that they have as much academic flexibility and freedom as they might need or want.

School’s Website: http://web.iit.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 87.0%
Graduation Rate: 73.0%
Final Score: 160.0/200

6: Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago (which is often referred to as Loyola or simply as LUC) is a private, not-for-profit and Catholic-affiliated research university which has a main, flagship campus (the Lake Shore Campus) located along the shores of the beautiful Lake Michigan in the Rogers Park and Edgewater neighborhoods of Chicago, Illinois. In addition to its flagship campus, LUC also operates five additional satellite campuses which are located in the Chicago metropolitan area, in addition to a satellite campus which is located in Rome, Italy. Loyola has various guest programs which are offered through institutes in Beijing, People’s Republic of China and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Loyola University Chicago was originally founded in 1870 by the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits and which is a male religious congregation of the Catholic Church which originated in Spain), and–today–Loyola University is one of the largest Catholic-affiliated universities that is located in the United States. The university is a major contributor to the city of Chicago’s overall economy, with more than 13,000 total individuals being employed by the university either in an academic role or an administrative role. Today, Religious education is still one of Loyola’s core focuses, as it is home to Saint Joseph College Seminary as well as the Jesuit First Studies program. This Jesuit First Studies Program is one of three in the country–with Fordham University and Saint Louis University housing the other two. The program is administered by the Chicago Province Society of Jesus and is one part of an eleven-year formation process toward the Jesuit priesthood. Even though the offered Theological-related academic programs is what the university is best known for, it is far from being the only area-of-study that Loyola University offers to its students. The university is organized into eleven different schools and colleges, and it is through these schools and colleges that the university offers more than 16,000 total enrolled students a selection of academic programs which consists of over 80 undergraduate and 140 graduate and professional programs spanning many areas-of-study including theology, nursing, healthcare, mental healthcare, education, general studies, and law. Many of the available programs are available in an asynchronous format for distance learning students, including an online Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Criminal Justice degree program, an online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Health Care Mission Leadership degree program, an online Doctor of Bioethics degree program and an online Advanced Oncology Nursing graduate certification program. This is but a small sampling of what all Loyola University Chicago has to offer to both distance learning students and traditional on-campus students. Loyola University Chicago is currently among the Top 100 National Universities according to the 2016 U.S. News and World Report‘s college rankings. Additionally, U.S. News and World Report commonly places Loyola University among their fifty “Best Value” colleges. In 2011 USA Today ranked Loyola as the 6th-best among colleges which are the most committed to various acts of community service. Loyola’s Graduate School of Business was ranked as the first-best for Business Ethics nationwide by BusinessWeek in 2015.

School’s Website: http://www.luc.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86.0%
Graduation Rate: 74.0%
Final Score: 160.0/200

5: Augustana College, Rock Island

Augustana College

Augustana College is a private, not-for-profit liberal arts college which is located in Rock Island, Illinois and holds a current and historical affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). ECLA is a mainline Protestant denomination that is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and officially came into existence in 1988 by the merging of three different Lutheran church bodies (the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church; the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and; the Danish American Evangelical Lutheran Church). Augustana College was originally established in 1860 as the Augustana College and Theological Seminary. The Augustana College and Theological Seminary was created by the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was also known at the time as the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod. The Synod was a Lutheran church body that was one of the three churches that would merge to form the Lutheran Church in America in 1962 and which had its roots among the Swedish immigrants during the 19th-century. Augustana College and Theological Seminary was first located in Chicago, but would later move to Paxton, Illinois in 1863 and once more in 1875 to its present-day location in Rock Island, Illinois. After 1890 a swiftly-growing Swedish-American community across the nation promoted a new institutional structure; including a Swedish-language press, many new churches, several colleges and a network of ethnic organizations. The goal of this was to foster a sense of pride in Swedish heritage, history, and culture in the United States. Augustana College put itself in the lead of the movement to affirm Swedish-American identity. Early on in Augustana’s life, all of the attending students had been born in Sweden, but by 1890, the second generation of American-born students predominated. In 1947, under then-president Conrad Bergendoff, the Augustana Seminary formally separated from Augustana College and became its own independently owned and operated entity. The Seminary remained on the Rock Island campus until the early 1960’s, when the Seminary moved near the University of Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. It would then later merge with various other Lutheran seminaries (the Augustana Theological Seminary; the Grand View Seminary; the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary and; the Suomi Theological Seminary) to form the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) in 1962. The reason for this merger was the merger that occurred the same year involving the three churches that would lead to the creation of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). Today, Augustana College offers to its more than 2,500 total enrolled students a selection of various undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs and professional certification programs from which to choose from; many of which are not only available on-campus, but also online in an asynchronous format.

School’s Website: https://www.augustana.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 86.0%
Graduation Rate: 76.0%
Final Score: 162.0/200

4: Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University is an independent, private, not-for-profit and nonsectarian four-year undergraduate liberal arts university which is located in Bloomington, Illinois. Illinois Wesleyan University was originally established in 1850 as the Illinois University by a diverse group made up of 30 civic and religious leaders in total. These 30 individuals all held a shared vision, which would later prompt them to ultimately work together to fulfill their shared vision, which was to establish “…an Institution of learning of the Collegiate level.” A sponsor for the institution’s creation would eventually be needed to help cover the various costs, the university’s original founders gained financial backing from the United Methodist Church, which provided them with a gift of the money that they needed. This monetary donation from the United Methodist Church is how the name “Wesleyan” was added to the institution’s original name of Illinois University. The addition of “Wesleyan” was added to the university’s name to honor John Wesley correctly. John Wesley was an Anglican cleric and theologian who–with the help of his brother Charles Wesleyan and fellow cleric George Whitefield–would unite a group of various religious denominations of Protestant Christianity that were historically related to each other. Through this, he became the founder of what is known as the Methodist Movement, or what is known simply as Methodism. Despite currently maintaining its historical Methodist-affiliation to this day, IWU (by which Illinois Wesleyan University is commonly referred) is not influenced by the church in matters of how the university is governed. This is due to the belief that the university will be more successful as a whole and will be able to achieve and maintain a greater amount of overall efficacy as a provider of higher education if the university is independently governed by a Board of Trustees as opposed to being regulated by members of the church. Illinois Wesleyan University offers nearly 2,000 enrolled students a selection of various undergraduate degree-granting programs and professional certificate-granting programs; many of which are available in an online and a highly flexible and asynchronous format. Some highlights are Associate of Science (A.S.) in Computer Information Technology degree program, their Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Hospitality Management degree program, their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program and their highly comprehensive and career-boosting Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration (MSN and MBA) dual degree program, which allows students to obtain a reputable MSN degree along with the university’s highly popular MBA degree, giving students even more career flexibility upon successful program completion. Additionally, some of the university’s online certification programs include their Communications graduate certification program, their Criminal Justice certificate program and their Biology graduate certification program, among many others.

School’s Website: https://www.iwu.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 93.0%
Graduation Rate: 83.0%
Final Score: 176.0/200

3: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (which is commonly referred to as U of I, the University of Illinois or simply as Illinois) is a public, land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant research intensive R1 Doctoral Research University with a Highest Research Activity rating four-year university. It is located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana (which are together known as Champaign-Urbana) in the State of Illinois. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign was originally established in 1867 mostly through the efforts of Jonathan Baldwin Turner. Turner was a classical scholar, a botanist, a dedicated Christian and a political activist, and was also the leading voice of the 1850’s social movement that would eventually lead to the creation of land-grant universities. That social movement played an integral role in the pioneering of public higher education in the United States–as the Illinois Industrial University, one of 37 public land-grant institutions that were established after the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act. The act was signed by then-POTUS Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862. The signing of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act by President Lincoln granted each state in the United States a section of land located within each state on which to establish a major public state university. The goal of these schools was to accurately provide students with academic programs that covered the areas-of-study of agriculture; the mechanically- and technologically-related arts and studies; and could provide military training to the members of the different branches of the United States Armed Forces. These individual public state universities would all have to fulfill each of these requirements, all while doing so without “…excluding [the] other scientific and classical studies.” The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign’s first president (regent), John Milton Gregory (July 6, 1822 ñ October 19, 1898)–who served as the university’s president from the university’s founding in 1867 until his resignation in 1880–helped to determine the overall direction of the university by being an active advocate for the presence of a classically-based liberal arts curriculum being available for students to choose from in addition to the industrial- and agricultural-focused curriculum that was desired by the Illinois Industrial League and by many of the state’s residents and lawmakers of the time. Additionally, and possibly one of John Milton Gregory’s most significant contributions to the development of the University of Illinois, was his continual commitment and dedication to the education of women. In 1870, President Gregory cast what the deciding vote in the vote of whether or not the University of Illinois should admit women was. Gregory’s deciding vote of “Yes” led to the University of Illinois becoming the first university after the Civil War to allow women to attend. In his 1872 University Report, he wrote about the vote, stating: “…No industry is more important to human happiness and [their] well-being than that which makes the home. This industry involves principles of science as many [in number] and as profound as those which control any other human employment.” Today, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign provides its student body (which exceeds more than 40,000 in total) with a selection of various academic programs that span across a wide variety of different areas-of-study. These educational programs are available at the undergraduate, graduate and certification levels and many of the university’s many on-campus and experiential programs are additionally available in an online and asynchronous format to serve distance learning students. University rankings which were compiled by the U.S. News and World Report, The Times Higher Education and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) rank the U of I as being counted among one of the Top 50 universities anywhere in the world and as being home to one of the Top 5 schools worldwide which offers to students a selection of high-quality Engineering academic programs.

School’s Website: http://illinois.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 93.0%
Graduation Rate: 85.0%
Final Score: 178.0/200

2: Northwestern University, Evanston

Northwestern University

Northwestern University (which is commonly referred to simply as NU for simplicity sake) is a private and not-for-profit research university which is based in Evanston, Illinois, and which operates satellite campuses in Chicago, Illinois; and Doha, Qatar. NU additionally operates various academic programs and facilities in Washington, District of Columbia and San Francisco, California. Northwestern University is composed of twelve different schools and colleges, through which their more than 21,000 total enrolled students can enroll into one of the university’s various offerings. There are undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree-granting programs, and professional certification programs; many of which are available in an online and asynchronous format and all of which are taught by the same highly qualified and caring academic staff that teaches each of the online programs’ on-campus program counterparts. The staffing arrangement guarantees that each of Northwestern’s students upon successful program completion will have the same solid foundation upon which they can cultivate and nurture a new and rewarding career and, at the same time, they can grow exponentially both personally and professionally. Some of the high-quality online academic programs (all of which are offered through one of the 13 different schools and colleges that Northwestern University is academically organized into the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Communication; the Bienen School of Music; the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Medill School of Journalism; the School of Education and Social Policy; the School of Professional Studies; the Kellogg School of Management; The Graduate School; the Feinberg School of Medicine; the Kellogg School of Management; the Pritzker School of Law and; the School of Professional Studies) that distance learning students can choose from including a pleasantly varied selection of highly comprehensive graduate degree-granting programs. Some of these are: a Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) degree program, a Master of Science in Information Design and Strategy (MSIDS) degree program, a Master of Science in Predictive Analytics (MSPA) degree program, a Master of Policy in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) degree program, a Master of Arts in Sports Administration (MSA) degree program, a Museum Studies certification program and a Project Management certification program. These academic programs are just a few of the many others that are available in which students can enroll. The entire catalog of online and asynchronous programs that are offered through one or more of the academic divisions of NU collectively encompass many other areas-of-study and a variety interdisciplinary studies, which ultimately helps to ensure that there is something of interest for everyone at Northwestern University.

School’s Website: http://www.northwestern.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 97.0%
Graduation Rate: 93.0%
Final Score: 190.0/200

1: University of Chicago

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is ranked as the Best Online School in Illinois due to it having received a combined Final Score of 192.0 points out of 200 total possible points. This Final Score comes from the university’s highly enviable Freshman Retention Rate (an astounding 100.0%) and very healthy Graduation Rate (92.0%). Perhaps learning more about the university will shed some light on how they have obtained and maintained these attractive rates. The University of Chicago (which is commonly referred to as UChicago, Chicago or simply as U of C) is a private, not-for-profit and nonsectarian comprehensive research university which is located in Chicago, Illinois. The University, which was originally established and incorporated as a coeducational and secular institution in 1890 by the American Baptist Education Society using a donation that they had obtained from the individual that many consider being the “Wealthiest American of All-Time;” the oil industry business magnate and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller. The institution was built on land that was donated by Marshall Field, an entrepreneur and the founder of the Marshall Field and Company; which was a Chicago-based department store that was bought by Macy’s Inc. in 2005. The University of Chicago is organized into five academic research divisions, and seven professional schools, that serve more than 15,500 total enrolled students. The myriad of programs includes undergraduate degree-granting programs, graduate degree granting programs and many different professional certification programs, all of which span across numerous different areas-of-study and many of which are available to distance learning students in an online and fully asynchronous format. Some of these online programs includes the U of C’s ever-popular Business Analytics certificate program, their Medical Writing and Editing certificate program and their highly reputable Clinical Trials Management and Regulatory Compliance certificate program, among many others. Additionally, anyone can enroll into one of the many Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which the University of Chicago offers at no cost, such as their Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life free online course and their Sales Strategies: Mastering the Selling Process free online course and other available courses. The university’s selection of online certification programs and free stand-alone non-credit MOOCs courses are taught by the same dedicated academic faculty that teaches the university’s many on-campus programs.

School’s Website: http://www.uchicago.edu/
Freshman Retention Rate: 100.0%
Graduation Rate: 92.0%
Final Score: 192.0/200

Top 20 Best Online Colleges in Illinois