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University of Illinois System Online


Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois system comprises three campuses that serve more than 78,000 students combined. Each campus enjoys its own unique history. The Urbana-Champaign location is the original and most prestigious campus in the system. Chicago’s campus evolved from a series of medical and research schools and became part of the University of Illinois system in its current form in 1982. Springfield, the newest addition, was established in 1969. In addition to the three physical campuses, the university offers a web-based initiative called the University of Illinois Online, or U of I Online. Established in 1997, the U of I Online coordinates and supports the online offerings of the three university campuses. The U of I Online does not admit students or deliver online courses, rather it supports faculty teaching online classes, consolidates the online offerings for students, and markets the online capabilities of the University of Illinois system.

University of Illinois System Online Accreditation Details

Because U of I Online is not an online college in the typical sense, those who choose a program from its offerings will actually be receiving a degree from the campus associated with the degree. The online initiative services the three physical campuses by hosting those schools’ individual online programs. As such, accreditation is tied in with the university system overall. All three campuses of the University of Illinois system have been accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Illinois System Online Application Requirements

Students who choose to enroll in an online program within the University of Illinois system will register with the campus that offers their program of study. For example, those seeking a master’s degree in engineering will register for the online program via the Chicago campus. Each school hosts its own application and admission requirements for both undergraduates and graduate-level students. In general, the following application requirements apply:

  • At Urbana-Champaign, undergraduate applicants must fill out the comprehensive application form and send in a $50 payment. They also need to submit ACT or SAT scores. Graduate applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and a GPA of at least 3.0 cumulative over the last two years of their bachelor’s program. The fee for graduates is $70.
  • First-year applicants at Chicago’s campus need to complete the Common Application available online, send in official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores, and submit the $50 application fee. Those seeking a master’s degree will submit an online application with a $60 fee.
  • Springfield requires first-time undergraduate applicants to complete an application, pay the $50 fee, and submit appropriate documents such as official test scores, transcripts and a personal statement. The same standards apply for graduate students, but the application fee increases to $60.

For more detailed information on how to apply to specific programs, students should visit the appropriate campus website and follow the instructions. Additional requirements for specific online programs may also be applicable. Students should keep in mind that the Urbana-Champaign campus only offers one online degree program at the undergraduate level.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition and fees vary by campus within the University of Illinois system. U of I Online redirects students to each campus’s individual fees page because the online school does not register or enroll students directly. Undergraduate students in Illinois are guaranteed a fixed rate for tuition as outlined by the Undergraduate Guaranteed Tuition Program or UGTP, which is a state law. However, tuition can vary across campuses, and students who complete their degrees beyond the expected four-year time frame will have their tuition rates adjusted. General tuition and fee information for the University of Illinois system is as follows:

  • The Urbana-Champaign campus charges $12,036 per academic year at the undergraduate level for residents of Illinois. Non-residents pay $27,196. At the graduate level, resident students will pay $12,060 per year while non-residents will pay $26,058. Students should note that these fees represent the base rates for general programs. Specific programs such as business or engineering require alternate fees.
  • At the Chicago campus, undergraduate students enrolled in an online program will pay $500 per credit hour. The graduate fee for students at the Chicago campus is $793 per credit hour at the base rate. Engineering students pay $606 per online credit hour.
  • The University of Illinois at Springfield charges resident online undergraduates about $359 per credit hour in tuition plus additional amounts per hour for “mandatory fees and assessments.” Online graduate students will pay about $353 per credit hour plus the additional fees. Online students are also guaranteed a four-year fixed rate for tuition.

Various types of financial aid are available at the three campuses of the University of Illinois system whether students are attending at a physical location or online. Students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA to find out their eligibility for financial assistance. Each campus administers its own Financial Aid office to help students pay for college. Different cost-assistance programs may be available at each location, but in general, students may apply for federal, state, private or institutional student loans; grants and scholarships; veteran programs; employment-based opportunities and work-study programs; and tuition waivers, fellowships or assistanceships.

Online Degree(s) Available

In total, the three campuses of the University of Illinois system offer 15 bachelor’s degree programs and 42 graduate-level programs online. Of the undergraduate degrees, Springfield offers 11, Chicago offers three and Urbana-Champaign offers just one. At the graduate level, Urbana-Champaign awards 22 online degrees, Springfield awards 12 and Chicago awards eight.

Students seeking an online bachelor’s program have a wide array of majors to consider, including:

  • English
  • Management Information Systems
  • The RN to BSN Degree Completion Program
  • Mathematical Sciences

For graduate students, the University of Illinois system provides opportunities in an assortment of fields. Graduate students hoping to pursue a career in engineering will appreciate the four engineering programs available.

  • The Urbana-Champaign campus offers graduate programs in Aerospace, Civil and Environmental, and Mechanical Engineering
  • The Chicago campus provides a generalized Engineering master’s program.

Each engineering degree program requires between 32 and 36 credit hours. None of the graduate engineering programs require a thesis or research option and can be completed entirely online. Students will access the same lectures and reference materials as those studying on campus. According to the University of Illinois system online website, students enrolled in the civil and environmental engineering program at Urbana-Champaign gain access to “one of the nation’s top civil engineering departments” without having to attend physical classes.

The University of Illinois Online System is a great resource for those interested in attending an online program through one of the three University of Illinois campuses, but it is important to remember that you will need to be familiar with the admissions and program details of the specific campus programs you are interested in attending.