Best Colleges in Illinois for Computer Science and IT

Illinois Computer Training Schools

According to CompTIA, a leading technology industry association, employment in Illinois's technology industry increased by more than 4,000 jobs in 2017 and contributed $48.7 billion to the state's economy. These figures are exciting, especially for adults who hope to pursue computer science degree programs in Illinois. Since Illinois ranks 5th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in net tech employment, graduates of IT schools in Illinois are likely to land jobs in their fields of study.

Illinois's Technology Education Initiatives

The Prairie State has implemented several initiatives to support IT programs in Illinois and grow interest in technology in the state. Some of the most noteworthy ones include:

  • Preparing for the future: The goal of Future Ready Illinois is to help administrators, teachers, librarians, and technology integrators understand how to use technology to transform learning, identify areas of need, and develop specific plans of action to address them.
  • Inspiring IT educators: Every year, IT educators throughout the state come together to attend the Illinois Education & Technology Conference. The goal of this multi-day conference is to help educators harness the power of technology and prepare students to be ready for the future.
  • Promoting STEM education: i-STEM partners with computer sciences schools in Illinois as well as a number of organizations to facilitate STEM education outreach, improve STEM teacher training, foster undergraduate and graduate STEM education reform, and advocate for STEM education.
  • Nurturing high schoolers' interest in STEM: The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy is a college preparatory school that enrolls students in grades 10 through 12 who hope to complete IT degree programs in Illinois. The state provides tuition and boarding expenses for students, who receive opportunities to perform research and further develop their interest in STEM.
  • Attracting, growing, and retaining talent: Formed by the Illinois Technology Association, TechForward is a nonprofit organization that aims to raise funding from tech businesses to support programs that train students in STEM. It offers scholarships to students pursuing computer science programs in Illinois and raises interest and awareness in STEM careers by bringing corporations, nonprofits, and students together.

Best Computer Science and IT Colleges in Illinois

Illinois is an academic powerhouse of a state, home to plenty of big-name universities and a long list of smaller colleges — all that offer computer science-related programs. How do you know which one might be a great fit for your needs? You can start by looking into these ten schools we think do the best job of serving tech-focused students.

Methodology
Ranking School Name In-State Avg. Undergrad Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Retention Rate Number of Tech-Related Programs
1 DePaul University $39,369 98% 86% 10
2 Illinois Institute of Technology $45,747 100% 86% 6
3 Illinois State University $10,310 86% 79% 5
4 Lewis University $32,300 99% 82% 4
5 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign $14,223 62% 93% 3
6 University of Chicago $55,425 61% 99% 3
7 Northwestern University $54,120 66% 97% 3
8 Wheaton College $36,420 84% 92% 1
9 Bradley University $33,360 100% 82% 2
10 Elmhurst College $36,755 100% 78% 3
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Spotlight on Computer Sciences Schools in Illinois

While there are a number of computer science schools in Illinois, the ones with the most unique offerings include:

  • Illinois College: Students who enroll in their computer science program have the opportunity to join the Illinois College Computer Club or ICCC. Through the ICCC, they can participate in programming contests and take field trips to research facilities and companies who hire IT graduates.
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: The school's degree option, known as CS + X, allows students to incorporate computer science with technical or professional education in the arts or sciences. A few examples of CS + X programs include Computer Science + Advertising, Computer Science + Music, and Computer Science + Chemistry.
  • Lewis University: Students at this school can earn a master's degree in computer science with only one additional year of study after they complete their bachelor's degree program. Specialization options include cybersecurity operations, software engineering, game and simulation programming, data science, digital forensics, networking, and computational theory.

IT Salaries and Career Outlook in Illinois

According to 2017 data from the career platform Zippia, web developers, software developers in applications and systems software, and computer systems analysts are considered some of the fastest-growing jobs in Illinois.

Several examples of large companies who hire employees in these types of tech jobs include Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform; Grubhub, a food delivery service; Uber, a ride-sharing provider; Morningstar, an investment management company; and Groupon, an e-commerce marketplace.

CareerAnnual Mean Wage
Computer Network Architects$123,100
Computer Network Support Specialists$64,070
Computer Programmers$94,010
Computer Systems Analysts$91,340
Database Administrators and Architects$97,880
Information Security Analysts$102,780
Network and Computer Systems Administrators$86,810
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers$103,760
Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers$78,700
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Computer Science Scholarships for Illinois Students

A few computer science related scholarships to students who wish to enroll in IT degree programs in Illinois including:

  • MillerCoors Chicagoland Scholarship: This award is for full-time junior and senior college students who are of Hispanic descent and pursuing a degree in business, computer science, biochemistry, or engineering at a Chicago university. Requirements include a minimum GPA of 3.0 and two letters of recommendation.
  • JASC-Nielsen STEM Scholarship: Japanese American high school seniors as well as college freshmen, sophomores, and juniors may apply for this award if they hope to or are pursuing a STEM major. To apply, students need to submit official high school and college transcripts, a summary of extracurricular activities, and a one page essay of how the Japanese American Service Committee is relevant to their life.

Illinois Professional Organizations and Resources

By joining an IT or computer science association in Illinois, students in computer science schools and working tech professionals can connect with others in the industry and stay-up-to-date on technological trends. Here's a brief overview of what's available in the state.

Professional Organizations

  • Illinois Technology Association: The goal of ITA is to elevate the local tech community and make Illinois the place for tech companies to thrive. This organization offers educational, networking, and recruiting opportunities for technology professionals.
  • Association of Information Technology Professionals: The Chicago chapter of CompTIA AITP holds a variety of education and networking opportunities for its members, including dinner meetings, special interest groups, and award events. IT professionals and technology executive are encouraged to join.
  • Illinois Educational Technology Leaders: IETL is the premier professional association for school technology leaders, policy makers, and decision makers from the public and private sectors of Illinois. It provides mentorship and professional development to school district leaders in the state.

Additional Resources

  • Women in CU Tech Industry Lunch Forum: This informal networking event is for women in the Champaign-Urbana area who work at technology companies or in technology positions.
  • TechForward: This philanthropic group, connected to ITA, brings together individuals, corporations and other foundations to make strategic investments in organizations that are dedicated to expanding STEM education in Illinois. Its mission is to grow and retain technology talent in Illinois.

Article Sources
Methodology

To be included in the rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria:

  • Be an accredited U.S. institution
  • Offer either 2 or 4-year degree programs
  • Be active in the 2016-17 school year
  • Offer a degree in a technology-related subject
  • Have awarded at least one degree in that subject in 2015-16
  • Have reported data for all ranking variables listed below

Ranking variables:

  • Related subjects, based on the number of relevant programs that are offered at any level
  • Flexibility, based on number of relevant programs that are offered at any level via distance education
  • Average in-state undergraduate tuition
  • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  • Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
  • Graduation rate
  • Retention rate

Methodology Sources:

  1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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Article Sources

Sources

  • Chicago's Top 100 Tech Companies, Built in Chicago, Accessed December 2018, https://www.builtinchicago.org/2017/10/24/chicago-top-100-tech-companies-2017
  • CompTIA AITP Chicago Chapter, CompTIA, Accessed December 2018, https://www.aitp.org/chapters/chicago/
  • Computer Science, Illinois College, Accessed December 2018, https://www.ic.edu/computer-science
  • Computer Science, Lewis University, Accessed December 2018, https://www.lewisu.edu/academics/comsci/
  • CS + X Degree Programs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Accessed December 2018, https://cs.illinois.edu/academics/undergraduate/degree-program-options/cs-x-degree-programs
  • Future Ready Illinois, Technology Center of Illinois, Accessed December 2018, https://ltcillinois.org/digital/futureready/
  • i-STEM, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Accessed December 2018, http://www.istem.illinois.edu/about/aboutus.html
  • Illinois Education & Technology Conference, Accessed December 2018, https://www.il-edtech.org/
  • Illinois Educational Technology Leaders, Accessed December 2018, https://cosn.org/illinois
  • Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Accessed December 2018, https://www3.imsa.edu
  • Illinois Technology Association, Accessed December 2018, https://www.illinoistech.org/
  • Illinois Technology Industry Added More Than 4,000 Jobs in 2017, CompTIA, Accessed December 2018, https://www.comptia.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/2018/03/27/illinois-technology-industry-added-more-than-4-000-jobs-in-2017-tech-contributes-nearly-$49-billion-in-economic-impact-to-state
  • Scholarships, JASC, Accessed December 2018, http://www.jasc-chicago.org/community-services/for-everyone/scholarships/
  • Scholarships Database, Schools.com, Accessed December 2018, https://www.schools.com/scholarships-database
  • TechForward, Accessed December 2018, https://www.illinoistechforward.org/
  • Technology & Manufacturing Association, Accessed December 2018, http://www.tmaillinois.org/#
  • The Fastest Growing Jobs in Illinois in 2017, Zippia, Accessed December 2018, https://www.zippia.com/advice/fastest-growing-jobs-in-illinois/
  • Women in Tech, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Accessed December 2018, http://www.researchpark.illinois.edu/events/cu-women-in-tech
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