The Illinois Board of Education was created in 1961 to oversee Illinois’ fast growing system of colleges and universities. Today, Illinois is home to several nationally recognized and highly ranked post-secondary institutions, including nine public universities, 97 private colleges and universities, and 35 independent for-profit institutions. U.S. News & World Report has included several of Illinois’ public and private universities, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Loyola University Chicago, in its annual rankings of “Best National Universities.” In fall 2012, it ranked Illinois State University as one of the top 100 public universities in the nation. The Illinois Community College Board coordinates the state’s 49 community colleges, including Joliet Junior College, the nation’s first public junior college, and administers the Public Community College Act.
The Illinois Virtual Campus provides and maintains a comprehensive, searchable database of distance learning options and online courses and degree programs offered by Illinois colleges and universities. As the Illinois higher education system continues to evolve, many colleges and universities throughout the state are expanding their distance learning and online degree programs.
The University of Illinois (UI) System enrolls approximately 70,000 students annually, and its U of I Online website provides information about online courses and degrees available from UI’s Chicago, Urbana-Champaign, and Springfield campuses. In 2012, UI partnered with Coursera to present seven free online courses to students worldwide. Like all of the courses offered through Coursera, the courses do not count as college credit toward a degree. Several of Illinois’ private universities, including Loyola University Chicago, Judson University, the University of Saint Francis, also offer online courses and degree programs.
Illinois has a diverse economy broken down into many viable industries statewide, but the Chicago metro area is worldwide financial and cultural center, and should offer the best options for employment and career transition. Home to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Chicago Stock Exchange, Chicago has a thriving financial services industry. To prepare for the best jobs in banking and finance, investments, and insurance, you may want to complete online bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in one of the traditional business subjects, such as management, finance, marketing, economics, and accounting. However, due to the globalization of various Chicago corporations, you may wish to pursue online degrees in international business to gain more of a global business perspective.
In the southern portion of Illinois are rich farmlands that produce great quantities of corn, soybeans, swine, and more. In fact, about 80% of Illinois consists of farms, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. To launch a successful career in Illinois’ agriculture industry, you may want to pursue an online degree in agribusiness, agricultural science, crop sciences, or food science. Colleges and universities that offer online degree programs in Illinois include the following: