Business Schools in Illinois

Many people think that the best business schools are found on the east coast or the west coast, with not much between the two, in “flyover country.” They are quite mistaken! Illinois, in the heart of the American Midwest, is home to many excellent institutions granting business degrees. Would it surprise you to learn that two of its colleges are consistently ranked in the top 10 in the country for their MBA programs? Read on to learn more.

All schools shown on our list below are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and/or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). The schools on our list are all either public or non-profit and also regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). We only include accredited schools on our list because these are the ones that have been evaluated and certified by prominent, external institutions. Accreditation ensures that programs have clear goals and proven outcomes and that the institution adheres to national and international standards. Accredited schools also provide opportunities for interacting with real-world businesses, providing a broader educational experience.

To compile our list of the best business schools in Illinois, we started with National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) data. The NCES reports that there are 60 public and non-profit schools in the state granting undergraduate and graduate degrees in business.1 Of these, exactly half offer undergraduate business programs that are accredited by the AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE while 24 have accredited graduate business programs. The other six programs listed by NCES are not accredited, so we have excluded them from our list.

Below you will find key information to help you choose the right school for you, based on a variety of important criteria, such as tuition, financial aid, entrance exam scores, acceptance rates, and more. The three sections that follow cover undergraduate programs, graduate schools, and job prospects for business school graduates in Illinois.

Undergraduate Business Schools in Illinois

Illinois offers a balance of both affordable and expensive schools. The average tuition cost of around $25,800 is offset by an average financial aid of around $13,900. As with many states, the average cost is skewed higher by a few top-end schools that charge more than average. Our undergraduate school list also shows an interesting “dividing line” between 13 schools with average tuition of around $15,000 or less and 17 over $25,000, essentially breaking the list into two affordability groups. The most expensive schools in the state are Harper College ($58,420), the Booth School at the University of Chicago ($56,034), and the Kellogg School at Northwestern University ($52,678). The latter two both offer financial aid ranging up into the $35,000 range, but interestingly, Harper’s financial aid maxes out below $5,000.

We have gathered acceptance rate information for all but two of the 30 bachelor’s programs for business degrees in Illinois, and they are mostly in the moderate range. The average acceptance rate is 60%, and 25 of the 28 have rates of at least 40%. Unsurprisingly, the lowest acceptance rates are at the University of Chicago (8%) and Northwestern University (11%), but the third school under 40% is Robert Morris University Illinois, at 23%.

Graduation rates for undergraduate programs in Illinois are moderate, with the 27 schools for which we have figures averaging out at 59%. As is often the case, the higher-end schools with the lowest acceptance rates also have the highest graduation rates: 94.2% at the University of Chicago and 93.5% at Northwestern. Illinois State University provides the best combination of acceptance rate (89%) and graduation rate (72%) on our list.

Examine the table below for the most important data about undergraduate business schools, including annual in-state tuition costs, average aid per student, acceptance rates, median SAT and ACT scores of accepted students, and graduation rates. Click any column header to sort the table based on its contents.

SchoolCityTuitionAidMedian SATMedian ACTAccept. RateGrad. Rate
Bradley UniversityPeoria$32,120$15,205960-124022-2869.8%74.5%
Chicago State UniversityChicago$10,252$7,140860-128016-2057.9%13.7%
DePaul UniversityChicago$37,626$20,81469.7%72.5%
Dominican UniversityRiver Forest$31,570$18,357910-120020-2563.7%61.8%
Eastern Illinois UniversityCharleston$11,580$7,53918-2446.9%57.3%
Governors State UniversityUniversity Park$10,516$6,01617-2141.3%
Harper CollegePalatine$58,420$4,459
Illinois Institute of TechnologyChicago$45,214$28,2791130-136026-3157.1%71.4%
Illinois State UniversityNormal$14,061$8,28821-2688.9%72.2%
Joliet Junior CollegeJoliet$10,508$4,459
Lewis UniversityRomeoville$30,050$13,573980-121021-2659.2%61.1%
Loyola University ChicagoChicago$42,032$17,6981030-126024-2972.6%74.9%
McKendree UniversityLebanon$28,740$16,293855-111020-2468.2%51.9%
Millikin UniversityDecatur$31,824$18,996910-108019-2663.8%60.0%
Northeastern Illinois UniversityChicago$10,138$5,597820-93016-2071.0%23.9%
Northern Illinois UniversityDekalb$14,204$8,273900-112019-2551.8%46.5%
Northwestern UniversityEvanston$50,855$35,1991400-156032-3410.7%93.5%
Robert Morris University IllinoisChicago$25,800$15,65023.1%69.8%
Rockford UniversityRockford$29,180$13,524950-121019-2454.4%49.3%
Roosevelt UniversityChicago$28,119$13,033905-114519-2473.3%40.3%
Saint Xavier UniversityChicago$32,250$18,919865-103519-2475.2%51.0%
Southern Illinois University-CarbondaleCarbondale$13,481$9,791880-113019-2576.7%43.6%
Southern Illinois University-EdwardsvilleEdwardsville$11,008$5,665898-106320-2689.3%47.0%
Trinity Christian CollegePalos Heights$27,675$12,611866-121820-2770.0%57.7%
University of ChicagoChicago$53,649$34,6741450-160032-357.9%94.2%
University of Illinois at ChicagoChicago$13,664$12,547990-123521-2773.6%57.8%
University of Illinois at SpringfieldSpringfield$11,413$8,767886-114620-2665.3%49.8%
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaign$15,058$12,5371285-148026-3260.1%85.3%
University of St FrancisJoliet$30,840$16,357910-111020-2649.2%62.9%
Western Illinois UniversityMacomb$12,655$7,66018-2359.5%53.1%

Graduate Business Schools in Illinois

Illinois offers many accredited graduate-level business programs for those looking to supplement their education after either undergraduate study or some time in the workforce. Using program data sourced from the AACSB, ACBSP, and IACBE, we found the average cost of tuition with fees for Illinois to be around $41,000; this is skewed upward by the three most expensive schools, without which the average drops to $34,400. Of the 24 schools on our list, 11 are under $30,000. Illinois boasts two perennial top 10 MBA programs, at the Booth School at the University of Chicago and Northwestern’s Kellogg School. Northwestern is the most expensive school at roughly $95,000, but the University of Chicago comes in at a much more reasonable $69,000, making it a relative bargain given its ranking. Governors State University has the least expensive MBA program at just over $12,000.

Our data includes average admission GMAT scores for 17 of the 24 graduate business schools in Illinois. The average is a fairly high 557, ranging from 400 to 732. All of the schools except Booth and Kellogg have average admittance scores below 660, and all but one are below 590 (the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has an average of 656). The 16 schools for which we have data on faculty degrees range from 62% to 97% of full-time faculty with doctoral degrees, with the highest at the University of Illinois at Springfield and lowest at Western Illinois University.

Students who go back to school for graduate study after obtaining work experience often prefer to keep working while studying at their own pace. There are several excellent online MBA programs in Illinois that can fit that bill. One program that has received a great deal of attention is the “iMBA” program offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which is highly regarded by students and can include a massive open online course (MOOC) component. Programs are also offered by DePaul University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and several others. Most online programs offer the same basic curricula and courses as their offline equivalents.

The table below shows graduate business school tuition costs, average accepted applicant GMAT scores, the percentage of faculty with a doctoral degree, and student-to-faculty ratios. Click any column header to sort the table based on its contents.

SchoolCityTuitionAvg. GMATFaculty
with Doct.
Degree
Student/
Faculty
Bradley UniversityPeoria$27,39054278%1.17
DePaul UniversityChicago$72,00055386%5.37
Dominican UniversityRiver Forest$51,30052581%2.64
Eastern Illinois UniversityCharleston$13,26347878%1.19
Governors State UniversityUniversity Park$12,20786%1.82
Illinois State UniversityNormal$25,52755484%3.27
Lewis UniversityRomeoville$43,200
Lindenwood University – BellevilleBelleville$24,000
Loyola University ChicagoChicago$81,39254081%5.47
Millikin UniversityDecatur$33,280
Northeastern Illinois UniversityChicago$16,0872.2
Northern Illinois UniversityDeKalb$26,80953875%4.28
Northwestern UniversityEvanston$95,156732
Roosevelt UniversitySchaumburg$48,254
Southern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondale$22,33358397%5.26
Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleEdwardsville$20,14653674%
St. Xavier UniversityChicago$39,96040089%
University of ChicagoChicago$69,200726
University of Illinois at ChicagoChicago$47,54456884%5.74
University of Illinois at SpringfieldSpringfield$34,77247897%11.46
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaign$53,65665685%5.27
University of Illinois Institute of TechnologyChicago$86,64556792%6.84
University of St. FrancisJoliet$28,728
Western Illinois UniversityMacomb$13,65449962%1.44

Job Outlook for Business Graduates in Illinois

Nationwide, business graduates have a bright future. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 2016 to 2026 total growth of at least 5% in 32 out of 37 business and management occupations.6 Market analysts and marketing specialists are expected to see the most growth, at 22.8% over ten years, with financial managers coming in second at 18.7%.6

Illinois’s overall unemployment rate has been dropping steadily since a recent peak of 11.3% in 2010; it now stands below 5% as of early 2018. Just over 550,000 people were employed in the business and management sector in Illinois in 2016.6 General and operations managers made up the largest subgroup by far, with 121,040 employed, more than double the next largest category.6 Business and operations specialists (54,880) and accountants and auditors (51,350) were almost tied for second place, while all other categories were in the 35,000 range or below.6

BLS data shows an average annual wage in 2016 across all occupations in Illinois of $53,234, ranking the state 19th out of 51 in the US (including the District of Columbia).6 For the business and management occupations shown below, the weighted average annual salary was around $98,800, or close to double the overall state average.6 Chief executives in the Land of Lincoln have by far the highest average salaries of business-related occupations, at around $190,000, with all other occupations below $135,000. Credit counselors were the lowest-paying subcategory at $48,380.6

Occupation TitleBLS.gov
Code
2017
Total
Employment
Illinois
Mean
Hourly
Wage
Illinois
Mean
Annual
Wage
Illinois
National
Growth
2016-26
Accountants and Auditors13-201151,350$37$76,95010.0%
Administrative Services Managers11-301114,450$42$86,77010.1%
Advertising and Promotions Managers11-20113,670$44$92,5405.8%
Agents and Managers of Performers and Athletes13-10110,170$32$66,9504.9%
Architectural and Engineering Managers11-90419,430$63$131,5505.5%
Budget Analysts13-20311,400$36$75,4606.5%
Business Operations Specialists13-119954,880$32$67,2608.8%
Chief Executives11-101117,440$92$190,7508.0%
Compensation and Benefits Managers11-31111,000$58$120,3805.0%
Compensation and Job Analysis Specialists13-11412,650$32$67,5708.5%
Compliance Officers13-10418,200$34$71,3508.2%
Information Systems Managers11-302115,740$65$134,76011.9%
Construction Managers11-90218,770$49$102,52011.4%
Cost Estimators13-10516,750$33$69,56010.6%
Credit Analysts13-20412,930$33$68,0008.4%
Credit Counselors13-20711,460$23$48,38013.9%
Financial Analysts13-205113,840$46$96,35010.8%
Financial Examiners13-20612,030$48$100,3009.8%
Financial Managers11-303135,170$61$127,7100.187
Operations Managers11-1021121,040$57$118,4509.1%
Human Resources Managers11-31219,020$52$108,4508.9%
Human Resources Specialists13-107121,030$29$60,8107.1%
Insurance Underwriters13-20535,390$36$75,810-5.2%
Labor Relations Specialists13-10754,860$29$60,800-7.8%
Loan Officers13-207213,380$36$74,18011.5%
Logisticians13-10816,450$33$68,7306.9%
Management Analysts13-111134,280$43$89,77012.0%
Market Analysts and Marketing Specialists13-116122,050$30$62,92022.8%
Marketing Managers11-202114,030$59$122,03010.0%
Meeting and Event Planners13-11214,220$25$52,18010.2%
Public Relations Managers11-20313,830$54$112,72010.4%
Purchasing Managers11-30614,210$53$109,9805.6%
Sales Managers11-202224,150$61$127,6507.4%
Tax Examiners and Revenue Agents13-20811,490$35$72,680-0.6%
Training and Development Managers11-31312,210$46$94,99010.3%
Training and Development Specialists13-11519,730$28$59,10011.5%


References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/
2. AACSB, Best Business Schools: https://bestbizschools.aacsb.edu/
3. ACBSP, Business Schools: https://www.acbsp.org/
4. IACBE, Business Schools: http://iacbe.org/
5. Higher Learning Commission: https://www.hlcommission.org/
6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Illinois: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_li.htm
7. Illinois State Board of Education: https://www.isbe.net/
8. US News & World Report: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools