Earning an online MBA in Illinois opens many doors for graduates interested in leadership positions within the state's various growing industries. Boasting 34 Fortune 500 companies and the nation's fifth largest GDP, Illinois offers MBA graduates many promising career opportunities. Distance education, an increasingly popular choice for higher education in Illinois and across the U.S., allows Illinois residents to pursue MBAs and advance their careers without having to relocate or relinquish their current job.
The information provided here guides you in choosing an accredited online MBA program in Illinois. You can also gain insight regarding the best careers, salaries, employers, and industries for Illinois MBA graduates.
Careers and Salaries for MBA Graduates in Illinois
Illinois' diverse industries give the state's MBA graduates several potential career options. The three largest employers in Illinois are the University of Illinois, Shire, and Allstate Insurance Company, each located in or near the city of Chicago.
Students may consider careers as operations research analysts, software developers, management analysts, financial planners, or marketing research analysts, as data indicates these are some of the fastest-growing occupations in Illinois. Online MBA programs teach core business concepts and develop the critical thinking, analytical, and leadership skills students need to excel in these positions. Students must understand Illinois' job market trends to ensure that they select an in-demand career and earn a pertinent degree.
Illinois is still recovering from the Great Recession, which caused stagnant wages and job loss. The rising cost of living and increasing crime rates may further impact Illinois' population and workforce. However, job growth should increase modestly in the coming years by about 0.9%. Some experts say incoming tech companies, along with a resurgence of manufacturing in the suburbs of Chicago, may create more profitable jobs and attract new residents.
Online MBA Programs for You
Grow your career, leadership, and business acumen with an accredited online MBA program.
|Company||Headquarters City||Main Industry||Number of Employees|
|Adjutant General||Springfield||National Security||13,000|
|State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company||Bloomington||Insurance||13,000|
Source: Career One Stop
An online MBA may benefit graduates seeking jobs in any of the top industries in Illinois, since all types of organizations must function efficiently and operate strategically to remain competitive. Students should research available positions at the top employers to determine their requirements and preferences.
Careers for MBA Grads in Illinois
Hospital administrators create goals, implement plans, and oversee operations at hospital facilities. Hospital administrators also monitor budgeting and staff, often performing human resource functions including hiring, training, payroll, and disciplinary action. Hospital administrator positions require considerable healthcare experience as well as a degree.
Earning an MBA with a healthcare concentration gets you on your way toward lucrative medical and health services leadership positions, which garnered a mean annual salary of $121,900 for Illinois residents as of May 2018. Illinois online MBA coursework on financial management and communications can prepare aspiring hospital administrators for hospital budgeting and liaison duties. Students specializing in healthcare information management may anticipate many opportunities for this in-demand career in Illinois.
MBA coursework in corporate finance and accounting serves financial managers well as they create, monitor, and report on company and departmental budgets. These managers may also employ knowledge gained in MBA leadership and communications courses to enhance their roles in hiring, training, and performance evaluations of finance employees.
Virtually every organization employs a financial manager, including leading Illinois employers such as University of Illinois. Companies in growing Illinois industries such as agribusiness or transportation also rely on financial management for their success. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Illinois employed over 40,000 financial managers as of May 2018 at a mean salary of $144,680.
Operations managers oversee company divisions involved in production, such as manufacturing or purchasing departments. These managers ensure that operations remain safe and on budget while still producing high quality products that meet customer expectations. Operations manager positions generally require an MBA and relevant work experience.
Pursuing an MBA in operations management, which usually includes courses on budget management, strategic planning, and process improvement, offers ideal preparation for this career. According to the BLS, the 122,790 operations managers working in Illinois as of May 2018 earned a mean salary of $125,990, which ranks quite a bit higher than operations manager salaries in surrounding states.
Marketing Research Analyst
Projected to grow 22% by 2026, Illinois marketing research analyst positions attract students with aptitude in data gathering and analysis. Working with a variety of teams, market research analysts use surveys, assessments, and many other research methods to gather data.
After analyzing relevant market data, these professionals create reports and recommendations based on this data. Illinois' cutting-edge energy, manufacturing, and biotechnology businesses rely heavily on marketing research analysts, who earned a $61,670 mean annual salary as of May 2018. An Illinois MBA in marketing, including coursework on business research methods and marketing management, contributes to a solid foundation in marketing research knowledge.
Employed by insurance companies and tasked with risk assessment, compliance monitoring, and insurance premium analysis, insurance underwriters analyze data and make recommendations regarding policy applications and other decisions. Many insurance companies also expect underwriters to identify potential customers who fit the companies' risk profiles.
Although insurance underwriting does not necessarily require a master's degree, an Illinois MBA with a concentration in risk management may offer aspiring insurance underwriters in the state a considerable advantage. According to the BLS, Illinois employed 5,780 (19%) of the nation's 110,400 insurance underwriters as of May 2018, and they earned a mean salary of $75,690 annually.
MBA Concentrations for Illinois Students
As you plan your career, selecting an MBA program that encourages concentration on a specific industry or skillset can give you a head start. While a general MBA provides core coursework in leadership, communication, and other business fundamentals, an MBA concentration allows you to also acquire specific knowledge and skills necessary for success in one of Illinois' thriving industries, such as energy, life sciences and biotechnics, advanced manufacturing, or transportation distribution and logistics.
Consult this MBA specializations guide for help choosing from relevant concentrations such as environmental management, healthcare management, international business, or supply chain management.
Illinois' Online MBA Programs
The list of schools below introduces you to the best online MBA programs in Illinois, helping you to quickly assess key program features such as available concentrations and accreditation status.
As you research schools offering online MBA programs in Illinois, make sure to confirm that the schools offer a high-quality education by verifying that they hold proper accreditation. Credits and degrees from accredited institutions garner more respect and increase the likelihood of successful transfer credits. The best online MBA programs in Illinois boast institutional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission and/or other regional accrediting agencies approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Meanwhile, many high quality Illinois online MBA programs also hold programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the International Accreditation Council for Business Education, or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Consult this MBA accreditation guide to better understand the significance of MBA accreditation standards.
American InterContinental University
With over 80% of its 10,000 students enrolled in distance learning programs, American InterContinental University boasts one of the best online MBA programs in Illinois. AIU's fully online MBA has received programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Concentrations within the MBA include accounting, human resource management, project management, and healthcare. This 48-credit degree may be completed in less than one year, and AIU's personalized learning platform allows students to pace their online coursework, retake exams to improve grades, skip over material already learned, and receive real-time support when needed.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students may transfer up to 12 credits in graduate courses completed with a B or higher from other accredited institutions. The university offers a 20% graduate tuition discount to active military personnel including members of the National Guard and Reserves.
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Aurora University has an enrollment of approximately 5,600 students, including distance learners. This Illinois online MBA requires 36 credits delivered through its Moodle platform. Students complete 21 credits in core courses in marketing, management, accounting, finance, and applied business research, and 15 credits in electives. Full-time learners may complete the degree within 12 months, through eight-week course modules offered throughout the year.
Admission to the MBA program requires a minimum 3.0 GPA from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants with less than a 3.0 GPA may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Students do not need an undergraduate business major to apply, and the GMAT is not required. The program accepts up to six graduate credits in transfer from another accredited institution. AU participates in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements initiative, which allows students in 35 participating states to enroll in its online programs.
Founded in 1897, Benedictine University offers 56 undergraduate majors and 18 master's and doctoral degrees. As one of the fully asynchronous online MBA programs in Illinois, Benedictine's degree programs allow students to work at their own pace. Students have the option of choosing a three-course concentration in one of these areas: entrepreneurship and managing innovation, accounting, financial management, marketing, international business, healthcare administration, and internet marketing.
The MBA consists of 16 courses, delivered in six sessions through two available formats. Students in the traditional track take one course each session, finishing the degree in two years. In the accelerated track, learners complete two courses each term, allowing them to earn a degree in one year. The MBA includes a capstone experience but no written thesis. Applicants must have earned a 2.75 GPA from an accredited four-year institution. Those who majored in business may be eligible to waive the GMAT requirement and up to four of the required foundation courses.
River Forest, IL
Concordia University, Chicago offers associate, undergraduate, master's, and doctoral level degrees online and at its River Forest, Illinois campus. This private not-for-profit institution holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learner Commission. CUC's 39-credit graduate degree in business has been recognized as one of the best online MBA programs in Illinois. Students complete the fully online MBA by taking two eight-week courses in each of two sessions per semester, for six continuous semesters. The versatile program covers a broad range of themes through 10 specializations and seven concentrations.
A distinctive program feature, the Business e-Portfolio, gathers signature projects from each course that students assemble into an electronic portfolio to share with current or prospective employees, demonstrating their accomplishments and mastery of skills. Applicants to the MBA must have an overall 2.85 GPA for full admission. Students with a GPA between 2.25 and 2.84 may be considered for probationary admission.
River Forest, IL
Established in 1901 as a women's Catholic college, Dominican University has grown into a comprehensive coed institution offering 50 undergraduate and 25 graduate programs. Holding Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation, this online MBA program can be completed online or in a hybrid format in just 18 months. The program requires 40-46 credits, depending on acceptable undergraduate coursework and work experience. Some applicants may be eligible for GMAT and course waivers. Students may transfer up to six hours of coursework with a grade of B or higher earned in a graduate program at a regionally accredited institution.
Dominican's MBA program offers dual master's degrees with its School of Social Work, School of Library and Information Science, and Dietician program. It also administers a joint MBA/JD with the Chicago-based John Marshall Law School. Online MBA students may take advantage of career planning and advising through the School of Business Executives in Residence program.
Eastern Illinois University
Eastern Illinois University's online MBA, introduced in 2016, features asynchronous course delivery providing students with the flexibility to access lectures, readings, and assignments at their convenience, without having to attend live on-campus sessions. EIU's business degree has been awarded programmatic accreditation from the AACSB. Online MBA courses carry 3 credits each, offered in six summer or eight fall or spring sessions, one course per term. Depending on GPA and evidence of professional experience, entrance to the program requires GMAT or GRE scores. Applicants must also submit two letters of recommendation and a personal statement.
EIU's distinctive curriculum features a bookended structure, differing from most other online MBA programs in Illinois. The MBA 5000 Strategic Management course, taken in the first semester, provides an introduction to subject areas covered in the degree. MBA 5900 Management Simulation, a capstone course taken in the last semester, requires students to integrate their knowledge and training into a series of business applications.
Governors State University
University Park, IL
Founded in 1969, Governors State University is a comprehensive public university located 40 miles south of Chicago, Illinois. With an enrollment of over 5,500, GSU offers over 130 online courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. The 36-credit MBA, accredited by AACSB, can be completed in 18 months, with classes taught completely online or in a hybrid environment. In addition to the concentration in General Management, GSU offers one of the only online MBA programs in Illinois with a concentration in Supply Chain Management.
Entrance to the program requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, resume, and submission of GMAT or GRE scores. Test scores and core foundation courses may be waived in some cases, depending on undergraduate background and GPA. GSU also waives the graduate application fee for veterans and service members. All distance learning students pay in-state tuition.
A private coed institution located in southern Illinois, Greenville College became Greenville University in 2017. Its graduate business program has been lauded as one of the best online MBA programs in Illinois. Students may complete the 40-credit MBA degree totally online without any required on-campus attendance. Students progress toward the degree at their own pace in 8-week classes. Most students complete the online degree in two years.
Applicants for admission to the MBA must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, with at least a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. The GMAT may be waived for students with two years of work experience or 12 credits of business-related undergraduate coursework with a minimum B grade. A distinguishing feature of the program requires students to demonstrate active involvement in a voluntary or paid position that serves as the foundation for a capstone project.
Founded in 1913 and established as Judson University in 2007, this private institution offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs online and at its Elgin, Illinois location. It has established one of the few online MBA programs in Illinois delivered in a cohort format, where students in groups of 15 move through the program together, one class at a time, benefitting from mutual support and peer interaction. The 36-credit MBA may be completed in 18 months. Judson also offers MBA students the opportunity to pursue a dual degree by adding a master's in organizational leadership for a total of 60 hours.
Applicants to the MBA program must provide evidence of two years of work experience, and submit transcripts indicating completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year institution with a 3.0 GPA. They also must include two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal essay.
Lake Forest Graduate School of Management
Known for its practical education model and "business leaders" faculty, the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management has operated as an independent, nonprofit institution of higher education since 1946. One of the online MBA programs in Illinois that participates in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement initiative, LFGSM provides its distance education courses and programs to member institutions in other states. LFGSM's fully online MBA program can be completed in as little as 18 months, with an average completion time of three years. The curriculum includes 12 core courses and a capstone course. Students may also complete two optional courses to achieve a specialization in Global Business.
Alumni of LFGSM interested in earning a graduate degree receive a 25% tuition discount on courses taken toward the new degree. Applicants to the program who do not receive tuition assistance from their employers may be eligible for a Tuition Assistance Grant.
Lewis University delivers degrees at the associate, undergraduate, master's, and doctoral level to over 6,500 students. Lewis offers its 36-credit MBA through fully online and blended formats in five 8-week sessions per year. Students who enter the MBA program without an undergraduate business major may have to complete up to 21 credits in foundation courses, though students may be waived from some foundation courses depending on their previous undergraduate coursework. Apart from the foundations, the MBA requires 24 hours in core courses, nine credits in any of 12 concentrations, and three credits in electives. The GMAT is not required for admission.
Lewis is one of the only MBA programs in Illinois that offers dual degrees, giving students the opportunity to combine an MBA with either a master's of science in nursing or a master's of science in information security. These joint MBAs allow students to complete two master's degree programs in significantly less time than taking the two degrees separately.
McKendree University offers students the choice of two degree tracks: a general MBA degree and an MBA in human resource management. The completely online 36-credit degree consists of 12 courses presented in eight modules over an eight-week timeframe. The MBA program may be completed in one year.
Admissions requirements include an undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher from a regionally accredited school. Students who apply to the program without a business major must complete a set of foundation courses in accounting, economics, marketing, management, and statistics. All applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. McKendree does not require the GMAT or GRE and accepts up to 12 transfer credits for courses taken at another graduate institution. Out-of-state and in-state students pay the same tuition rate.
National Louis University
National Louis University, a private, nonprofit institution, offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs to over 8,000 students in seven locations in Illinois and Florida, and online. Its 39-credit MBA program offers concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Management in addition to the general MBA. Students may choose between two different delivery formats: the fully online option provides the greatest flexibility and convenience, and the blended format enables learners to complete the MBA through a combination of online courses and occasional classroom attendance. Illinois-based students in the blended MBA meet face-to-face every other week each term.
Students must take 21 credits in core courses including Managerial Economics, Macroeconomics, Managerial Accounting, Financial Markets, Financial Management, Strategic Marketing, and Technology and Leadership. Applicants to the MBA program must have an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA and submit two letters of recommendations and a personal statement outlining their professional goals.
Chicago-based North Park University delivers undergraduate and graduate degrees to over 3,000 students. North Park offers a fully online degree requiring 36 credits consisting of 13 core courses and five electives. Core courses include Organizational Behavior and Ethics, Marketing Analysis and Consumer Behavior, Financial Decision Making, Multi-Sector Convergence and Social Responsibility, and Strategy for Competitive Advantage. Students also have the option to choose from 16 certificates in business and nonprofit areas.
North Park also offers rolling admission to the MBA program, with coursework beginning three times per year. Applicants who have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited postsecondary school with a 3.0 GPA or better do not need to submit GMAT or GRE scores. Students with undergraduate GPAs lower than 3.0 may qualify for provisional acceptance. All applications must include two letters of recommendation and a personal essay.
Northeastern Illinois University
Northeastern Illinois University serves over 12,000 commuter and online students in more than 70 undergraduate and graduate programs. With 18 years of experience in distance learning, NEIU offers one of the AACSB-accredited online MBA programs in Illinois.
Students can enroll in the MBA program full or part time through online, hybrid, or traditional classroom settings. The 33-credit online option features the same class offerings as the other formats, including 24 credits in core courses such as information systems and technology, managerial accounting, corporate finance, marketing management, applied business research, and business strategy and policy, along with nine credits of electives.v
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher and a GMAT score of at least 450 or an equivalent GRE score. Two letters of recommendation, a statement of career goals and objectives, and a resume must accompany applications.
Olivet Nazarene University
From its original campus location in Bourbonnais, Illinois, Olivet Nazarene University has grown into a comprehensive private institution offering more than 30 programs online and in over 100 different locations throughout the Midwest. It delivers a fully online 36-credit accelerated MBA that students can complete in 18 months by taking two eight-week classes each session. Students may also opt for a 24-month program requiring only one class per term. The online degree consists of 12 courses, with concentrations in leadership, healthcare, corporate communications and media strategy, nonprofit management, and intercultural competence. Students select one elective, satisfied through either a research project or a Global Business Experience. This global immersion focus makes ONU one of the only online MBA programs in Illinois to feature an international travel option.
Admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Students do not need an undergraduate major in business to apply to the program.
This small, Catholic-sponsored university, based in southwestern Illinois on the banks of the Mississippi River, offers a fully online MBA. This 30-credit accelerated degree may be completed in one year through 10 courses offered in 10-week sessions. Students may study at their own pace, completing a total of six core courses and four electives, but all classes must be completed within five years.
Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, two letters of recommendation, and an autobiographical statement describing work experience and career goals. Students with a 3.0 or higher GPA in undergraduate courses do not need to submit GMAT or GRE scores. Quincy's MBA program accepts no more than three courses transferred from other graduate programs. As one of the online MBA programs in Illinois approved by the American Institute of Public Accountants, the program offers interested students the opportunity to fulfill the 150-credit requirement for the CPA exam.
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale offers an AACSB-accredited master's degree program. This rigorous fully online degree uses a specially designed cohort platform where students move through a 16-course program as a group, taking each eight-week course at a time sequentially. Students take two courses in the fall and spring semesters and one course in the summer. In addition to these courses, students take one managerial skill class each semester. Students take these managerial skill courses in eight modules, delivered every two weeks throughout the fall and spring semesters, and in one module each week during the summer session.
The program offers a 42-credit general MBA or a 43-credit MBA with a specialization in Agribusiness Economics. Students can expect the same course content offered in the on-campus MBA, taught by many of the same faculty.
University of Illinois at Springfield
The University of Illinois, Springfield offers 21 master's degrees including a 36-credit MBA. This program requires completion of eight core courses delivered in a blended format and four electives offered fully online. The on-campus component for the blended courses requires course attendance some evenings at the UIS campus. While the program does not require a written thesis, students must pass a culminating business strategy class with a grade of B or better to graduate. As one of the online MBA programs in Illinois with AACSB accreditation, the UIS Master's in Business Administration degree program offers a rigorous curriculum focusing on globalization and technological advances in the marketplace.
Admission requirements include a GMAT of 400 or higher, three letters of reference, a resume, a personal statement, and a GPA of at least 2.5 in undergraduate coursework. Students without business prerequisites from their undergraduate coursework may apply for provisional acceptance.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The flagship of the state's public institutions, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana serves over 47,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. The University of Illinois online MBA features a distinctive design of fully online and cohort-delivered components. The completely online component, delivered through the Coursera platform, consists of asynchronous courses with no on-campus requirements. The second component, delivered through the Illinois Compass 2G platform, provides live sessions and group assignments. For each eight-week Illinois course, students compete two four-week courses on the Coursera platform. Students must complete both components for a total of 72 credits to earn a degree. The MBA offers several specializations, including strategic leadership and management, value chain management, managerial economics and business analysis, global challenges in business, and digital marketing.
Entrance requirements consist of a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited program, a personal essay, three references, and three years of professional experience. GMAT or GRE scores, while not required, are strongly recommended.
University of St. Francis
The University of St. Francis, with its main campus located in Joliet, Illinois, has offered online learning since 1998. Its Masters of Business Administration, recognized as one of the best online MBA programs in Illinois, can be completed in 12 to 18 months. Applicants to the online program must have completed a bachelor's degree with a 2.75 GPA from an accredited regional university. One letter of recommendation, a resume and a personal statement should accompany the application. Entrance to the MBA program also requires two years of full-time employment in a management position or appropriate Peregrine Inbound Exam score.
The 36-credit online MBA requires 12 hours in core courses, 12 in competency areas, and 12 in a selected concentration. Students can select a concentration in accounting, business analytics, finance, healthcare administration, human resource management, logistics, management, and training and development.
Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University boasts an enrollment of over 10,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degree programs. One of the online MBA programs in Illinois delivered in both a fully asynchronous and a hybrid format, WIU's degree can be completed in two years or less. The 100% online program, delivered through WIU's Desire2Learn (D2L) course management system, requires no face-to-face sessions and takes approximately two years to complete. The hybrid option, blending online classes with on-campus meetings, can be finished within one calendar year. Hybrid courses run for eight weeks in length, and require two half-hour campus meetings every two weeks, on a weeknight or a Saturday morning. Available concentrations include accounting, management, supply chain management, and information systems.
Qualifying students with the appropriate undergraduate background in business-related courses can waive up to 21 hours of foundational core courses to complete all requirements in just 33-credit hours.
How to Choose a Quality MBA Program
Online MBA Programs in Surrounding States