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In Illinois, students can find 11 national universities, more than 20 accredited four-year public and private universities, dozens of small liberal arts colleges, and 49 public community colleges. The Illinois Board of Higher Education oversees public education in the state, where it makes recommendations to state leaders concerning education spending and policies. In 2008, the board approved four goals to pursue over the next decade. These goals are to increase educational attainment to match the best-performing states and world countries; ensure college affordability for students, families, and taxpayers; increase the production of high-quality postsecondary credentials to meet the demands of the economy and an increasingly global society; and to better integrate Illinois' educational, research, and innovation assets to meet the economic needs of the state and its regions.
Online learning is one facet of Illinois's higher education systems that may help the state realize many of its goals, as it provides a flexible, accessible alternative to traditional higher education, especially for working adults and those in rural areas. Many of the state's public and private schools and universities already offer distance education options, including the University of Illinois System. Illinois is also home to one of the few states that offer free online college courses through the innovative online learning initiative Coursera.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public institution founded in 1867. It is the state's flagship university of the three-campus University of Illinois System, enrolling more than 40,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in 17 colleges and more than 80 research centers and labs. The university is considered a Public Ivy, meaning it offers an Ivy League-caliber education, but at a fraction of the price. No surprise, it's ranked among the top national universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report (No. 45), which also ranks the university among the top public schools in the country. Through U of I Online, students can take online courses and degree programs from Urbana-Champaign, as well as the university system's Chicago and Springfield campuses. Bachelor's degree, master's degrees, certificates, and continuing education programs are offered through distance learning. Additionally, Urbana-Champaign offers more than 120 online college courses through Coursera, a partnership with nearly 20 universities worldwide to offer free courses online for anyone to take.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is one of three campuses in the University of Illinois system. It is a major research institution located in the heart of Chicago. More than 27,000 students are enrolled throughout its 15 colleges, which includes the nation's largest medical school. It is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top national and public schools in the country, noted for its graduate programs in education, engineering, and medicine, as well as its online bachelor's, education, engineering, and nursing programs. Through U of I Online, Chicago students can take online college degree programs and courses through any three of the University of Illinois campuses, not just Chicago. Programs are available at the bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels in continuing education.
DePaul University was founded in 1898 in Chicago. It is the largest Catholic university in the nation and the largest private institution in Chicago, serving more than 25,000 students. At DePaul, the faculty priority is teaching, and more than 98% of classes are taught by faculty members, as opposed to teaching assistants. The school offers more than 275 graduate and undergraduate programs. Its academics rank it among the top national universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report, which also ranked the school's graduation programs in law and business among the top in the nation. Many of DePaul's degree programs are available online through its distance learning program. These include a customizable Bachelor of Arts degree through its School for New Learning; graduate degrees in business, computing and digital media, education, and public service; and a professional certificate program.