Graduate Schools in Chicago: PhD & Masters Programs

Chicago is a city of fantastic stories, so for anyone at the onset of a new chapter (graduate school) this bustling metropolis is the place to start. Once you get to know the history of Chicago, and how people faced challenges, you too could be motivated to live and study at one of the many universities in Chicago. Start here to learn all about going to grad school in Chicago.

Popular Graduate Degree Programs in Chicago

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Business Management for Engineers (BME)University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignN/A
Music EducationVanderCook College Of MusicMMEd
M.S. in Computer & Information SciencesKnowledge Systems InstituteMS
Master of Social WorkErikson InstituteMSW
EducationBarat CollegeMEd
M.A. Counseling PsychologyThe Chicago School of Professional PsychologyMA
Master of Health InformaticsWake Forest UniversityMS
Graduate Specialization – Healthcare AdministrationColorado State University GlobalN/A
Certificate: Industrial and Organizational PsychologyCalifornia Southern University, a member of the American InterContinental University SystemN/A
M.A. in Higher Education Student AffairsGrand Canyon UniversityMA
Endorsement Prep. Program in ELL (PreK-12)Western Governors UniversityN/A
MSN in Complex Healthcare Systems AdministrationThe Catholic University of AmericaMSN

written by Rana Waxman

Experience the Innovative Spirit of Chicago

Earn your graduate degree in a city known for its spirit of innovation and ability to solve problems. Incorporated in 1837, Chicago’s location on the shores of Lake Michigan made it a prime place for trade. Because of this, Chicago grew pretty fast, so in the 1850’s the city saw a building boom. Unfortunately, most of the construction was wood, and burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Chicago rebuilt quickly and celebrated its comeback. It held the World’s Fair in 1893, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World. The layout and splendor of the building facades gave rise to the name “White City” and put Chicago on the map for its architecture. In 1900, Chicago successfully completed a massive and highly innovative engineering project. It reversed the flow of the Chicago River so that it emptied into the Mississippi River instead of Lake Michigan.
FUN FACT Every year, the Chicago River is dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Even through the Great Depression, Chicago pulled through with ingenuity and many “firsts.” Chicago is the birthplace of the refrigerated rail car (Swift), mail-order retailing (Sears and Montgomery Ward), the car radio (Motorola), the TV remote control (Zenith) and the Ferris Wheel. These are several of the great backdrop stories that make graduate students want to pursue Masters and PhD in Engineering degrees in Chicago. To this end, both Northwestern University and the University of Chicago are highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report 2018 as engineering graduate schools in Chicago.
Or, pursue a Master of Science in Engineering Technology at Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Purdue, a partner school, boasts alumni such as Neil Armstrong. It offers the opportunity to focus on cybersecurity and industrial espionage related to manufacturing.
DID YOU KNOW? The first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, ushering in the Atomic Age, took place at the University of Chicago in 1942 according to

Live and Learn in Chicago

Graduate schools in Chicago situate you in what is affectionately called The Windy City, the City of Big Shoulders, the Second City, The City That Works, & and ChiTown. There are over 200 neighborhoods in Chicago. Major sections of the city include the central business district, called The Loop, and the North, the South, and West Sides. The North is where you could see high rises and lakefront while the South Side encompasses about 60% of the city’s land. Just as an FYI, the University of Chicago is located on the South Side. In the late 1920s, sociologists at the University of Chicago subdivided the city into 77 distinct communities. These then became more informally defined neighborhoods. Each of which has its own character – think food, festivals, farmers markets, music and more.

How to Get Around in Chicago

Chicago has a walkable downtown and many walkable neighborhoods connected by public transportation like the elevated ‘L’ trains and Metra Rail systems. One of the things to do is get to the Chicago Riverwalk to eat, drink and play. It is a 1.25-mile pedestrian stretch and has six distinct coves – sort of an adult playground. While trains are a major player, there is also a great bicycle sharing system called Divvy. It operates in the city of Chicago, but is operated by Motivate in two adjacent suburbs. There are over 19 miles of lakefront bicycle paths too. In fact, the Lakefront trail is a great, eco-friendly way to see Chicago. Run, walk, bike or rollerblade with the blue waters of Lake Michigan to one side and lush, green parks to the other. In your down time, you could also stroll through Millennium Park, shop the Magnificent Mile, or set sail on the Great Lakes at Navy Pier.

Explore the Four Seasons in Chicago

The City of Chicago reports that over 40 million people visit Chicago annually. So it makes sense that they have something for every season. If you kick off your graduate study in Chicago in Fall, that’s football season for the Chicago Bears. Temperatures tend to be in the 40’s, which means you may need a coat as you head to class or catch one of the many festivals (Jazz, Fringe, Windy City Wine). Winter is cold and snowy. Bundle up and head out with skates to the iconic rink at Millennium Park, or get to a Chicago Blackhawks hockey game. There are also plenty of great cafes where you could get your hot chocolate on. Chicago is home to the Bulls, so Spring is about March Madness. The weather is mild, but you may need an umbrella. Summers are warm to humid which pairs well with baseball and beaches. There are two baseball teams – the Chicago Cubs play in Wrigley Field on the North Side, and the Chicago White Sox play on Guaranteed Rate Field on the South Side. Of course, you’ll also find about 15 miles of beaches.

Chicago for Foodies

The cuisine in Chicago reflects the city’s ethnic and working-class roots, and the jury is still out on whether its nationally renowned deep-dish pizza beats out Chicago-style thin crust. Then there is the Chicago-style hot dog. Pile toppings like pickle relish, yellow mustard, pickled sport peppers, tomato, dill pickle, celery salt onto a poppy seed bun. Also try a classic Italian beef sandwich, kielbasa, and some sticky Garrett Popcorn. You can also eat your way through Chinatown, Greektown, Pilsen and other foodie neighborhoods. Or drink your way through. At least six Chicago neighborhoods have craft beer trails. Check out the trendier microbreweries or go to a historic pub.

Music, Comedy and Nightlife in Chicago

As a multicultural city, music lives big in Chicago. No matter what your musical tastes – house music, mainstream pop, indie rock, hip hop, punk, blues or jazz – you’ll find it live in Chicago any night of the week. That said, you could start a Chicago Blues and Jazz bucket list. Prefer improv? Chicago’s theater community generated modern improvisational theater (think – The Second City). There are also more than 200 theaters where you could take in everything from Broadway world premieres to edgy original productions.

Take in Chicago’s Art and Architecture

Beyond theatre, Chicago prides itself on its beautiful architecture. There are many cool art and architecture events and some of them are free. Also, just a walk through the city is an adventure, with all the public sculptures. Among the places you will want to take a selfie is Cloud Gate. It is a huge, mirrored bean-shaped sculpture that is not to be missed. (Check it out in the photo above.) The Chicago Cultural Center is the first free municipal cultural center in the U.S. and home to the world’s largest stained-glass Tiffany dome.

Get Down to Business in Chicago

Chicago is home to 11 Fortune 500 companies, while the rest of the metropolitan area hosts an additional 21 Fortune 500 companies, per the city’s website. As an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation, Chicago could be full of opportunity for graduate students. In fact, recent Census data indicates that since 2000, the number of people age 25 and over whose highest degree was a master’s has doubled to 21 million. The number of doctoral degree holders has more than doubled to 4.5 million. Now, about 13.1% of U.S. adults have an advanced degree, up from 8.6% in 2000. You may therefore want to consider graduate schools in Chicago for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. The Goodwin College of Business at Benedictine University, a partner school offers seven graduate-level programs in business along with numerous joint degree programs such as MBA/Juris Doctor.

The Crime Scene: Chicago Then and Now

On the topic of law, crime and justice, Chicago does have a high crime rate in some areas along with a history of organized crime that is woven into its pages. That said, graduate schools in Chicago have some offerings in terms of helping the community. Study for a Master of Social Work at Loyola or Erikson Institute. Or, pursue a Master of Science in Criminal Justice or Master of Science in Computer Science with a focus on cyber security at Lewis University. These are some of the partner universities in Chicago that have graduate programs in these (and other) broad disciplines.

Sponsored Graduate Schools & Programs in Chicago

Since the 1850s, Chicago has been a world center of higher education and research with several universities that are in or near the city proper. The Windy City also has a high proportion of post-baccalaureate institutions, graduate schools, seminaries, and theological schools. Below is a cheat-sheet of several partner universities in Chicago. Each school may offer you multiple formats such as online or part-time as well as a unique menu of graduate programs, faculty, and resources. Find graduate programs from our partner schools in Chicago to align with your interests and goals, and experience the city from an insider’s point of view.

PsyD Programs in Chicago

You may choose to study psychology or mental health counseling at the Masters, Education Specialist, Certificate or Doctoral (PhD or PsyD) levels. One example is a PsyD in Clinical Psychology. Candidates could tap into immersive field experiences in local agencies, community-based organizations as they network with other psychology and behavioral science professionals. At the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, a partner school, there is a 5-year full-time APA-accredited program. Students could major in child and adolescent psychology, neuropsychology, forensic psychology and other areas.

MSN Programs in Chicago

Chicago is home to several healthcare headquarters such as the American Medical Association (AMA), American Osteopathic Association, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Blue Cross and Blue Shield. This really sets a stage for graduate programs in nursing, public health, epidemiology, osteopathy and of course, medicine. If you are already a registered nurse in Chicago, for instance, you might want to consider an online MSN – Master of Science in Nursing. Saint Xavier University, a partner school offers an MSN in three areas of emphasis: (1) clinical leadership, (2) executive leadership, (3) nurse educator. These nationally recognized, CCNE-accredited online MSN programs could enable you to study evidence-based practices with new technologies as you study to develop new strategies to bring into patient care.

MBA and Masters in Finance Programs in Chicago

Either an MBA or Master of Science in Finance could be a great investment in this major financial center. Can’t decide? Loyola, a partner school offers students with the opportunity to combine an MBA with a Master of Science in Finance (MSF). This may provide the breadth and depth of knowledge often required of finance professionals. Students who complete a dual degree will earn an MBA with an emphasis in finance and an MSF degree.

Choose a Graduate School in Chicago

There is really no end to the things to see, do, learn and research in ChiTown. Use the degree finder on this page to help you get matched with schools. Set filters such as degree level, program format and subject with the help of the menu bar. Choose from among graduate programs in Chicago based on your preferences. Then just apply with the on-page form. You’re in the game!
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

  • Wake Forest University

  • Colorado State University Global

  • California Southern University, a member of the American InterContinental University System

  • Grand Canyon University

  • Western Governors University

  • The Catholic University of America

  • Meadville/Lombard Theological School

  • Chicago State University

  • Chicago Theological Seminary, The

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • School of The Art Institute Of Chicago

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