Earning a master’s degree can be a pathway to professional advancement, a route to an eventual doctoral degree, and/or a means to changing careers. Online programs offer many options for earning a master’s degree without the potential difficulties associated with commuting to classes or relocating in order to be near a college campus. For residents of Illinois who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree online, there are in-state schools that offer online master’s programs in accounting, business administration, computer science, counseling, education, finance, pubic health, public administration, social work, and many other fields. There are also accredited public and non-profit private colleges and universities in other states that accept applicants from Illinois to online master’s programs in a broad range of fields. This page provides an overview of public and private schools in Illinois offering online master’s programs in many of the state’s most commonly pursued fields for graduate studies , as well as details on a selection of out-of-state schools that offer online master’s programs in these fields.
The state of Illinois supports several systems for publicly funded institutions of higher education, including the University of Illinois System, which features three universities: the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the University of Illinois at Chicago; and the University of Illinois at Springfield. All three schools offer online degree programs, including online master’s programs, which are catalogued on the University of Illinois System website.
In addition, there are eight other state-funded schools in various parts of Illinois that offer campus-based and online bachelor’s and graduate degree programs, the largest of which are Illinois State University in the twin-city area of Normal/Bloomington, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and Southern Illinois University with campuses in Carbondale and Edwardsville. The table below lists Illinois public universities with graduate programs by enrollment size, from largest to smallest. The table also includes the location of the school’s main campus and whether or not the school offers online degree programs.
|School||Location||Online Degree Programs|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Urbana and Champaign||Yes|
|University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)||Chicago||Yes|
|Illinois State University (ISU)||Normal||Yes|
|Northern Illinois University (NIU)||DeKalb||Yes|
|Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIU)||Carbondale||Yes|
|Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE)||Edwardsville||Yes|
|Western Illinois University (WIU)||Macomb||Yes|
|Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU)||Chicago||Yes|
|Eastern Illinois University (EIU)||Charlestown||Yes|
|Governors State University||University Park||Yes|
|University of Illinois at Springfield||Springfield||Yes|
|Chicago State University||Chicago||Yes|
Residents of Illinois who are interested in enrolling in an online master’s program may also want to explore programs offered by non-profit private colleges and universities located in Chicago and other areas of the state. Most of the larger private universities in Illinois offer online degree programs, and many of these schools have online master’s programs in one or more fields. The table below lists the ten largest private, non-profit colleges and universities in Illinois along with their location and whether or not they offer online degree programs.
|School||Location||Online Degree Programs|
|Loyola University Chicago||Chicago||Yes|
|The University of Chicago||Chicago||No|
|Columbia College Chicago||Chicago||No|
|Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech)||Chicago||Yes|
While there are many options for earning an online master’s degree from schools located in Illinois, there are also numerous colleges and universities in neighboring and regional states that accept applicants from Illinois to online master’s programs, including schools in Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, and Missouri. Purdue University, a public research university in the Indiana city of West Lafayette, is one of the schools in a state bordering Illinois that is active in offering online degree programs. Purdue University Online offers online Master of Science (MS) programs in Communication, Computer Science, Economics, Education, and Engineering, and an online Master of Public Health (MPH) program.
The University of Wisconsin System (UW System), which encompasses large research universities in Madison and Milwaukee, and eleven comprehensive universities located throughout the state, is also active in offering online master’s programs. There are UW schools in Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Parkside, Platteville, Stevens Point, Stout, Superior, and Whitewater offering online master’s programs in fields such as business administration, criminal justice, data science, educational leadership, and nursing. Residents of Illinois who are interested in exploring the online programs offered by UW schools can log onto to the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s eCampus.
There are also several private, non-profit schools in the Illinois region that offer online master’s programs in a variety of fields. The University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, KS, has online master’s programs in nursing and business administration. Missouri’s Maryville University, which is located in St. Louis, offers online master’s programs in business administration, healthcare administration, nursing, and computer science, as well as online MS in Cybersecurity and Data Analytics programs. And St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, which is located in Winona, offers a range of online master’s programs in fields such as accounting, cybersecurity, educational leadership, health and human services administration, human resource management, business administration, public administration, and special education.
Through an analysis of data collected by the US Department of Education for its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), OnlineEducation.com has identified the 15 most common fields of study in which schools in Illinois confer master’s degrees. IPEDS data on the number of graduates from master’s programs in Illinois uses a classification system that does not align precisely with specific master’s programs. However, the data provides a representative overview of some of the most common areas for master’s-level study, many of which are in fields in which schools in Illinois and other states offer online programs. These fields are:
Illinois residents who are interested in these fields can explore corresponding online master’s programs in the sections below. Each section provides information on in-state and regional out-of-state options for earning a master’s degree online in a particular field of study.
There are several state schools in Illinois that offer online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois has an iMBA program that is 100% online and that allows students to choose from three concentrations: Digital Marketing; Entrepreneurship and Strategic Innovation; and Global Challenges in Business.
The College of Business at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIU) offers an online MBA program which utilizes a cohort model where students progress through most of the program as a group. The SIU program features two concentrations: Agribusiness Economics and Analytics for Managers.
Western Illinois University (WIU), Eastern Illinois University (EIU), and Governors State University are three of the other public universities in Illinois that offer online MBA programs. Online students in the WIU program, which is designed to be completed in two years, can choose from a general management concentration or a concentration in supply chain management. EIU’s online MBA program is a two year program that has three concentrations: Applied Management; Global Information Systems (GIS); and Accountancy. Students in the EIU program may opt to earn a concurrent MS in Cybersecurity degree. Governors State University offers an online MBA program that allows students to customize a specialization through elective coursework or choose from designated specializations in four areas: Business Analytics; Finance; Leadership; and Supply Chain Management.
Lewis University, Benedictine University, Aurora University, and Concordia University-Chicago (CUC) are among the accredited, non-profit private schools in Illinois that offer online MBA programs. Lewis University’s online MBA program features five eight-week terms per year, during which students typically take one or two courses in order to graduate in two years. Students in the Lewis program can choose from concentrations in: Accountancy; Finance; Healthcare Informatics; Healthcare Management; Human Resource Management; Information Security; Information Technology Management; International Business; Marketing; Social Media Marketing; Operations Management; and Project Management. Benedictine’s online MBA program can be completed in 18 months of full-time enrollment and features seven specializations: Entrepreneurship and Managing Innovation; Accounting; Financial Management; Marketing; International Business; Healthcare Administration; and Internet Marketing.
Through AU Online, Aurora University offers an online MBA program that full-time students can graduate from in one year. CUC also offers an online MBA program that can be completed in one year of full-time enrollment or two years of part-time enrollment. Students in the CUC program can choose from ten specializations, including Sports Management, School Business Management, and Not-for-Profit Management. The CUC program allows for dual specializations, which means students can graduate with training in two business administration specializations.
Illinois residents may also want to explore online MBA programs offered regional universities in neighboring states. The University of Saint Mary in Kansas offers an online MBA program that can be completed in one year by full-time students. The program has six areas of concentration: Leadership and Organizational Health; Finance; General Management; Healthcare Management; Human Resource Management; and Marketing and Advertising Management. Maryville University in Missouri also has an online MBA program that can be completed in one year by full-time students. It features nine concentrations: Accounting; Cybersecurity; Financial Services; General Management; Health Administration; Human Resource Management; Information Technology; Marketing; and Project Management. And St. Mary’s University of Minnesota offers an 18-month online MBA program with a general business administration curriculum and three concentrations: Data Analytics; Social Media Management and Marketing; and Sustainability and Environmental Management.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the Illinois schools that offer online master’s in computer science programs. The Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science at the University of Illinois has an online Master of Computer Science (MCS) program that students can complete in one to five years, depending on how many classes are taken per term. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne offers an online MS in Information Management program that features four curricular options: Data Science and Analytics; IT Security; Information Systems Architecture and Design; and Knowledge Management and Information Consulting. And the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois-Springfield offers an online MS in Computer Science (MSCS) program and an online MS in Management Information Systems program.
DePaul University and Lewis University are two of the private universities in Illinois that offer online MSCS programs. The DePaul online MSCS program allows students the choice of completing a master’s thesis, a research project, or an internship as part of its curriculum. Lewis University’s online MSCS program features concentrations in Cybersecurity, Intelligent Systems, and Software Engineering. Students in the program may choose to complete a master’s thesis or a capstone project. And Loyola University Chicago offers an online MS in Information Technology program with four specializations: Enterprise Information Management; Technology Management; Information Assurance; and Enterprise Networking.
There are many out-of-state schools that offer online master’s programs in computer science and information technology, including Purdue University Online, which has two programs that may interest residents of Illinois: an online MSCS for working professionals with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and an online MS in Information Technology Business Analysis that accepts applicants who have a background in computer programming, IT systems, or a related technical field.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne offers a Master of Social Work (MSW) Advanced Standing program with a macro practice specialization that can be completed online by students who hold a bachelor’s in social work (BSW) degree from an undergraduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Applicants who do not hold a BSW degree are eligible to apply to the school’s hybrid format macro practice MSW program, which requires students to attend several weekend sessions per semester at the university’s Urbana-Champagne campus or at the Illini Center in Chicago. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne also offers an Advanced Clinical MSW program in a hybrid format with three specializations: Mental Health; Health Care; and Children, Youth, and Family Services.
Loyola University Chicago offers an online MSW programs with a one-year Advanced Standing track for students who hold a BSW degree and a two-year track for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work. The Loyola program has several curricular options, including a macro practice Leadership and Development track, and a clinical track with four specializations: Health; Children and Families; School Social Work; and Mental Health.
Illinois residents who want to explore online MSW programs offered by out-of-state schools may want to consider several programs offered by schools in nearby states. Indiana University’s School of Social Work in Indianapolis offers an online MSW program with flexible enrollment, which allots students up to five years to graduate. The Indiana University program, which includes training in clinical social work and macro practice, has an Advanced Standing track for graduates from BSW programs that can be completed in five semesters, and a traditional track that can be completed in six semesters. The School of Social Work at the University of Iowa offers a three-year, part-time online MSW program that requires students to attend four-day sessions each summer at the school’s Iowa City campus.
Note: While online MSW program offer all or most of their coursework online, these programs have field education requirements that students must complete in person at an approved site. Those who are considering an online MSW program offered by a school in a state other than Illinois should inquire about field education sites prior to submitting an application. Applicants to out-of-state programs should also be aware that licensure requirements for clinical social workers vary by state. Applicants to clinical MSW programs who intend to seek licensure should examine Illinois requirements carefully in order to ensure that an online MSW program offered by an out-of-state school meets those requirements.
The University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana offers an online MS in Accountancy (MSA) through its Gies College of Business. The program is designed to provide academic preparation for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and it can be completed in as few as four semesters or 18 months of full-time enrollment, although students may take six semesters or the equivalent of 24 months to earn their degree. DePaul University also offers an online MSA program that can be completed in 18 months of full-time, year-round enrollment, although students have the option of enrolling part-time, which increases the time to graduation. In addition, DePaul offers an MS in Taxation program for accountants who want advanced training in tax statutes and regulation.
St. Mary’s University of Minnesota is one of the out-of-state schools in the Illinois region that offers an online MSA program. The St. Mary’s accounting program provides coursework designed to prepare students to sit for the CPA exam and can be completed in 20 months by students who enroll full-time. Maryville University in Missouri offers an online master’s in accounting program that can be completed in as few as ten months by students who hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Students who majored in a field other than accounting and who do not have professional experience in accounting can complete a bridge program offered by Maryville to prepare for the advanced coursework, which typically extends the time to completion by one or two semesters.
Note: Eligibility requirements to sit for the CPA licensure exam vary by state and typically include a certain number of hours of professional accounting experience in addition to academic training. Residents of Illinois who are interested in becoming CPAs should examine state licensure requirements prior to submitting an application to a program offered by an out-of-state school.
There are a number of schools in Illinois that offer online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs with various specializations and formats. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) offers an online MSN in Healthcare and Nursing Administration program and a Nurse Educator MSN program. Both programs can be completed in seven semesters or just over two years of year-round enrollment by graduates from Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs who hold an active and unencumbered Registered Nurse (RN) license.
Northern Illinois University (NIU) offers an online MSN program with a Nursing Education specialization and a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialization. The NIU program is designed for part-time enrollment and allows RNs to take up to six years to complete the program. And Illinois State University (ISU) offers a fully online MSN in Nursing Systems Administration program and a partially online MSN program with an FNP specialization.
There are several private universities in Illinois that offer online MSN programs, including DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago, Lewis University, and Benedictine University. The DePaul program features a specialization in Nursing Education and is designed to accommodate RNs who hold a BSN degree as well as RNs who hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Loyola Online offers three types of online MSN programs: an MSN in Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist with an Oncology Specialty; an MSN in Health Systems Management; and an MSN in Population-Based Infection Control and Environmental Safety (PICES) Advanced Practice Nursing. Lewis University offers two MSN specializations online: Nursing Education and Healthcare Systems Leadership. And the Benedictine online MSN program has two concentrations: Nurse Educator and Nurse Executive Leader.
There are many options for earning an MSN degree online through schools located in other states, including the University of St. Mary in Kansas, Maryville University in Missouri, and two University of Wisconsin (UW) system schools, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay. The University of St. Mary offers RNs the option of earning an MSN degree online in two areas of specialization: Nurse Educator and Nurse Administrator. Through Maryville University, RNs can earn an online MSN in five Nurse Practitioner (NP) specializations: FNP; Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP (AGACNP); Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP (AGPCNP); Pediatric NP (PNP); and Psychiatric Mental Health NP (PMHNP). UW-Green Bay offers an online MSN in Leadership and Management in Health Systems program, and UW-Oshkosh has an online MSN program with Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) and Nurse Educator specializations.
Note: There are several factors that RNs in Illinois should consider prior to submitting an application to an online MSN program offered by an out-of-state school. Most online MSN programs require a certain number of clinical hours, which must be completed in person at a site approved by the program. Applicants to out-of-state programs should contact a program representative to determine potential sites for clinical work. It is also important to note that licensing requirements for nurses, including NPs and other types of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), vary by state. Applicants to out-of-state MSN programs should examine Illinois licensure requirements carefully to determine whether or not a program meets those requirements.
Teachers and educators in Illinois have a wide range of options for advancing their training and career options by earning an online master’s in education. For example, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers several types of online Master of Education (MEd) degree programs, including an MEd in Learning Design & Leadership; an MEd in Learning Design & Leadership with a concentration in Bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESOL) Education; and an MEd in Education Policy, Organization, & Leadership. The university also offers an online MS in Teaching Biology.
The University of Illinois at Springfield offers an online Master of Arts (MA) in Education program designed for educators who are aiming to move into leadership positions. Illinois State University offers a MS in Teaching & Learning that can be completed fully or partially online. Northern Illinois University (NIU) offers an online MS in Education with a specialization in Educational Technology program. Western Illinois University (WIU) has an online MS in Elementary Education with specializations in Elementary Curriculum and Literacy Education. Eastern Illinois University offers an online MS in Education with a specialization in Curriculum & Instruction (preK-12). And Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) offers an MS in Education program with a specialization in Instructional Technology.
Some of the other options for earning an online master’s in education degree from a school in Illinois include programs offered by Concordia University Chicago (CUC), Aurora University, and DePaul University. CUC’s College of Education offers two types of teaching degree programs online: an MA in Educational Administration, and an MA in Teacher Leadership. Through AU Online, Aurora University offers a MA in Mathematics Education. And DePaul’s College of Education offers an online MEd program with a number of concentrations, including: General (K-12); Higher Education; Physical Education; Teacher Leader; and Principal License.
Teachers in Illinois may also want to explore the options for earning a master’s degree online from a school in a nearby state. Purdue University Online offers an online MS in Curriculum & Instruction with specializations in English Language Learning; Gifted, Creative, and Talented Students; Mathematics Education; and Educational Technology. St. Mary’s University of Minnesota has an online MA in Educational Leadership program and an online MA in Special Education program. And the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point offers an online MS in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education.
Note: Many online master’s in teaching and education programs are designed for students who already have a state-issued teaching credential. Illinois residents who intend to apply for certification after completing an online master’s program should examine state requirements prior to submitting an application to an online program, especially if the program is located in another state, as certification and licensure requirements vary by state. Applicants to out-of-state programs should also be aware that some online programs require students to complete a certain number of in-person classroom hours at a school approved by the program.
Northwestern University is one of the schools in Illinois that offers an online master’s in counseling program. Northwestern’s online MA in Counseling program features an optional specialization in Child and Adolescent Counseling, as well as a track for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a track that includes a bridge program of prerequisite courses for students who did not major in psychology. The program includes a 200-hour practicum, a 600-hour clinical internship, and two on-campus immersion sessions held in Chicago.
Bradley University and Adler University are two of the other schools in Illinois that have online master’s in counseling programs. Bradley offers two types of online counseling degrees at the master’s level: an online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and an online MA in Professional School Counseling. The Adler program is an online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.
Illinois residents may want to explore the options for earning an online master’s in counseling through programs offered by schools located in other states. The University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) offers an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling that is designed to prepare students for the National Certified Rehabilitation Counselor exam. Applicants are required to have two years of relevant work experience as a condition for admission to the UW-Stout program. The University of Kentucky offers an online master’s in clinical rehabilitation counseling that can be completed in as few as 16 months by students who enroll full-time. And the University of the Cumberlands, which is also located in Kentucky, offers an MA in Professional Counseling that includes tracks in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and in Addiction Counseling.
Note: Online master’s in counseling programs offer all of most of their coursework online, but students are required to complete clinical hours in person at a site approved by the program. Illinois residents who are considering an out-of-state program should check with the program to ensure a convenient site for clinical training is available. In addition, licensure requirements for counselors vary by state. Prior to submitting an application to an out-of-state online master’s in counseling program, Illinois residents should examine state licensure requirements to ensure the program meets those requirements.
The Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) is currently one of the only schools in the state that offers a master’s in finance that is fully online. The program offered by the Stuart School of Business is an MS in Finance that includes core coursework in financial modeling, financial statement analysis, and portfolio management, as well as elective courses that allow students to specialize in corporate finance, entrepreneurial finance, investment management, and other areas of finance.
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-Whitewater) offers a fully online MS in Finance program that accepts applicants from Illinois. The UW-Whitewater program is designed to be completed in two years and features a curriculum that aligns with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute’s Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) guidelines for professional training in finance.
There are several schools in Illinois that offer online Master of Public Health (MPH) programs, including the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Northern Illinois University (NIU), Loyola University Chicago, and Benedictine University. The UIC online MPH program features concentrations in Community Health Services, Health Informatics, and Health Policy and Administration. NIU’s online MPH program has a Health Promotion specialization designed to prepare students to take the Certified Health Education Specialist exam, and a Health Services Management specialization. Loyola has an MPH program with a fully online Health Policy & Management concentration and an Epidemiology concentration that includes some in-person evening courses. And Benedictine offers an online MPH program that allows students to earn four certifications in conjunction with their degree. The certifications are in Health Policy & Management, Emergency Preparedness, Health Education & Promotion, and Epidemiology. Each certification requires students to complete four to six courses in addition to the core curriculum.
Indiana’s Purdue University is one of the regional out-of-state schools that offers an online MPH program. The Purdue University Online program consists of 14 courses that can be completed in two years and a 320-hour practicum that takes place at a site approved by the program. Students in the Purdue program have the option of taking general elective coursework or completing a designated specialization in Family and Community Health. The Medical College of Wisconsin also offers an online MPH program that accepts candidates from Illinois. The program includes a capstone project and a related field placement that requires students to complete internship hours in-person at a public health agency approved by the program.
The University of Illinois-Springfield, DePaul University, Northwestern University, and Lewis University are four in-state options for earning a master’s degree in public administration online. In addition to its online MPH program, the University of Illinois-Springfield has an online joint degree program that allows students to earn an MPA and a Master of Public Health degree concurrently. DePaul’s MPA program features four specializations: Emergency Management; Public Management; Metropolitan and Urban Affairs; and International Public Management. Northwestern offers an online Master’s in Public Policy and Administration program that is largely equivalent to an MPA program and that features five specializations: Public Administration; Public Policy; Global Policy; Global Health; and Data Analytics for Public Policy. And Lewis University offers an MS in Public Safety Administration that is similar to an MPA program with a specialization in public safety.
There are a number of schools in other states that offer online MPA programs, including the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The Oshkosh program has a General Public Administration track, as well as tracks in Health Agency Administration, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, and Fire and Emergency Administration and Management. And the University of Indiana at Bloomington offers an online MPA program that includes an internship component, although the internship can be waived for students who have prior professional experience in public administration.