Graduate Schools in Illinois | IL Graduate Programs

Rolling hills, farmlands, the Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, and Chicago – with its skyscrapers and towers – comprise the rural and urban diversity of Illinois.

This charming and exciting backdrop – which also includes cozy hamlets, smaller cities, and some of finest universities in the U.S. – could be an inspiring place for to pursue a graduate degree.

Popular Graduate Degree Programs in Illinois

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
PhysicsSouthern Illinois University – EdwardsvilleMPEd
Business Administration (MBA)Quincy UniversityMBA
M.S. in Computer & Information SciencesKnowledge Systems InstituteMS
Master of Arts in EducationUniversity of Northwestern-St. PaulMAEd
Master of Science in Early Childhood EducationErikson InstituteMS
Movement Pattern Analysis Consultant CertificateColumbia College ChicagoN/A
Master of Health InformaticsWake Forest UniversityMS
Ed.D in Organizational Leadership: Special Education (Qualitative Research)Grand Canyon UniversityN/A
M.S. AccountingWestern Governors UniversityMAcc
Master of Science in Applied Behavior AnalysisPurdue GlobalN/A
Doctor of Nursing PracticeThe Catholic University of AmericaDNP
Doctor of Public AdministrationNational UniversityDPA

Why Go to Grad School in Illinois

Sitting in the center of the Midwest, Illinois offers an intoxicating mix of urban and chill university towns, where grad students can study a variety of topics – from finance and technology to English and law. Chicago serves as its main gateway, and as an internationally connected city, it provides incoming students from around the world easy access to the state’s universities.

While Chicago attracts with its big city allure, other communities – Aurora, Rockford, Champagne-Urbana, and Springfield – offer more relaxed settings and easy proximity to the state’s historical attractions and its many hiking trails, state parks, lakes and rivers, national forests, and architectural landmarks.

Did you know?

Illinois is home to the world’s only river that flows backward – the Chicago River.

Living and Learning in Illinois

As the Midwest’s most populous state, Illinois positively vibrates with a warm, friendly vibe, from its small town charm to the buzzing activity in the cities. It’s largely a flat state but variation in elevation does exist. It’s climate changes slightly from north to south – the north with hot humid summers and cold dry winters, the south with more moderate temperatures.

The best way to get around Illinois is by car; Chicago, however, does have an elevated train, a subway system, and a suburban rail system. Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses also provide service in the state.

Getting Outside

Illinois offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, from hiking and fishing to biking and golfing. The state has more than 60 state parks as well as a number of recreational and wildlife areas.

Destinations to visit include Cahokia Mounds, Lewis and Clark Trail, Starved Rock State Park, and Shawnee National Forest.


Illinois is jammed with spectator sports, and has some of the best in the states. In professional sports, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Blackhawks are always competitive in football, basketball, and hockey, respectively.

College teams are also in abundance and have a quite strong fan base. With that comes plenty of opportunities for participant sports.

Things to Eat in Illinois

You’ll discover many signature dishes throughout the state, especially in Chicago, where deep-dish pizza and hot dogs hold sway. But Chicagoans do not live alone by those staples, and you can eat at celebrity chef restaurants, classy diners, and eclectic ethnic eateries.

Outside of the urban centers, hearty fare include BBQ and burgers among other unique eats like the Horseshoe Sandwich – a mouthwatering open-faced sandwich of toast, hamburger, French fries, and cheese sauce, with regional variations.

City Living

These five Illinois cities showcase the state’s exciting urban amenities, natural and historic attractions, and multiple options for university graduate programs:

  • Aurora
  • Champaign-Urbana
  • Chicago
  • Rockford
  • Springfield


As the third largest city in the United States, Chicago combines big-city energy with Midwestern friendliness. “The Windy City” buzzes with world-class museums – the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, and the Art Institute of Chicago, to name a few – some of the world’s most innovative architecture, a palate-pleasing food scene (deep dish pizza is essential), and a rockin’ music scene – it is, after all, the home of the blues. At its core, the city is comprised of many unique neighborhoods, all of which showcase its cultural diversity.

The bustling Loop downtown, affluent Lincoln Park, the artsy scene of Wicker Park, and the academic vibe of Hyde Park. During the summer, its Lake Michigan beaches and lakefront buzz with activities and festivals. Prospective graduate students will find much to study here at the city’s many learning institutions, and subsequently many post-graduate opportunities.


Just 35 miles west of Chicago along the Fox River, Aurora is sometimes viewed in the shadow of its big city neighborhood but this second largest city of Illinois as a lot to discover. Aurora offers an interesting collection of museums and historical attractions, a Saturday morning farmer’s market, and a plethora of summer music festivals.

The city also has an impressive selection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and a thriving downtown cultural scene. Its proximity to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport gives it easy access to destinations around the world.


Sitting midway between Chicago and the charming 19th-century hamlet of Galena, Rockford sits in the north center of the state, 85 miles west of Chicago. It’s known for its many parks, cultural venues, and historic architecture. Its park district features a world-class golf course and many museums; its location on Rock River provides myriad outdoor recreational activities. The city also has several theatre companies, a symphony orchestra and a dance company.


Illinois shining capital city and the home of former President Abraham Lincoln, Springfield is located in the center of the state, surrounded as it is by rural, pastoral beauty. Naturally, its storied charm centers around Lincoln, so many attractions and monuments exist to the president.

The city also is home to Lake Springfield, which teems with activities in the warmer months. Other highlights include a thriving literary scene, a vibrant performing arts community, and myriad festivals.


Located in the north-central part of the state and home to the prestigious University of Illinois, the liberal-minded community of Champaign-Urbana sits amid gentle corn and soybean fields. It’s more than just a “college town”, as it home to a vibrant arts and intellectual community as well as a growing technology scene.

The community also has many museums, cultural happenings, and parks – the Champaign and Urban parks districts have many hiking trails, biking trails, Crystal Lake, and other recreational opportunities.

The Ice Cream Sundae originated in Evanston, the community bordering the northeast side of Chicago.

Major Illinois Industries

Graduate students can pursue post-graduate opportunities in a variety of industries in Illinois. Aurora, Rockford, and Chicago are the largest three cities and its opportunity highlights include business, law, education, medicine, technology, and finance. Chicago expands that palette to include opportunities in fine arts, publishing, and religious studies.

Springfield, the capital, offers opportunities in law, education, and medical. Illinois is home to more than 60 Fortune 1000 companies.

Explore Graduate Schools in Illinois

Prospective graduate student can find a variety of schools in Illinois You may find one that suits not only your area of study but also one that has an environment that fits your lifestyle. The following are a few highlights:

Popular Graduate Programs in Illinois

With its diversity of locations – from small cities to its big city gateway of Chicago – Illinois offers an array of graduate school opportunities. Here are some of the top options to study at the graduate level.


For those looking to work in Finance, the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from Loyola University in Chicago focuses on specialization opportunities in Corporate Finance or Risk Management. Both full-time and part-time courses are available. Similarly, a Master of Science in Finance at DePaul University in Chicago aims to teach students to create sophisticated solutions to financial problems, develop strategic financial objectives, successfully compete in global marketplace, and more.

A Master of Business Administration in Finance at American InterContinental University take an in-depth look at risk factors and the laws guiding financial reform. A Finance graduate degree at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign exposes students to an elite faculty with seven chairs or named professorships and subsequently seeks to prepare students for the challenges of modern financial markets.


At the Elmhurst College, a Masters of Education in Teacher Leadership is designed for experienced teachers from pre-kindergarten to the high school level in early childhood, elementary, secondary, special education and K-12 specialty areas. The program focuses on a central theme: teaching as a catalyst for change.

The graduate program of School Technology at Loyola University teaches students to integrate technology, explore ethical issues pertaining to the use of technology in schools ,and learn how to plan for implementation of technology programs within an educational setting. The Urban Teacher Education Program at the University of Chicago prepares urban public school teachers to expand their content knowledge, pedagogy, and dispositions. The Global Studies in Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is structured around six themes: curriculum; educational policy; learning and classroom management; technology; identity and culture; and organizational change.


The Masters of Science in Criminal Justice at Lewis University creates engaging coursework that focuses on organizational and management theory, the development of practical skills relating to the administration of criminal justice agencies, and the ability to apply theory and research to address and resolve practical problems. At Northern Illinois University, the Masters of Law program seeks to prepare students for both today’s and tomorrow’s global legal environment through a curriculum that focuses on a broad theoretical basis, but provides intensive development of analytical and communicative skills.

The Master of Science in Public Safety Administration at Lewis University helps students develop a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals involved in emergency management and response, environmental protection, and public safety. Colorado Technical University in Schaumburg is one of the few universities in the United States to offer a Master of Science degree in Homeland Security. The program provides students with the analytical and communication tools to allow them to become decision makers in one or more areas of the field.

Fine Art

Graduate arts programs can prepare students to turn their passion into a professional career. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago offers an MFA in Studio program where interdisciplinary work is strongly encouraged, and students have access to the breadth and richness of the School’s graduate-level studio areas. The program focuses on experimentation and exploration, both in and out of the studio.

At Northwestern University, graduate students can pursue degrees in music performance, composition, conducting, music education, music technology, music theory, and more. DePaul University’s New Media Studies program comprises five core courses in the history and theory of media and technology, graphic design, and relationships among text and image. The Photography MFA program at Columbia College emphasizes aesthetic and conceptual development alongside innovative photographic technique. Students become immersed in a curriculum grounded in art history and theory, and develop a sophisticated body of work.

Find a Graduate School in Illinois

Illinois offers myriad schools and settings for you to pursue a graduate degree. So check it out! Set your filters such as degree level, program format and subject with the help of the menu bar. Choose from among graduate programs in Illinois based on your preferences. Then just apply with the on-page form. You’re ready to go!

  • Wake Forest University

  • Grand Canyon University

  • Western Governors University

  • Purdue Global

  • The Catholic University of America

  • National University

  • Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville

  • Quincy University

  • Knowledge Systems Institute

  • University of Northwestern-St. Paul

  • Erikson Institute

  • Columbia College Chicago

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