With a large number of churches, Christian companies, and faith-based learning institutions, Illinois offers a rich environment for Christians. A study by the Pew Research Center found that approximately 71% of all Illinoisans consider themselves Christian, with Catholics accounting for 28% of that figure. Evangelical Protestants and mainline Protestants are the next largest groups. Illinois residents identifying as Christian attend religious services and ensure that God is part of their lives; the same Pew study found that 34% of residents attend a service at least once a week, while an additional 33% attend once or twice a month to a few times per year.
71% of all Illinoisans consider themselves Christian, with Catholics accounting for 28% of that figure. Evangelical Protestants and mainline Protestants are the next largest groups Pew Research Center
Due to the state's religious landscape, Illinois is home to 31 Christian universities, seminaries, and Bible colleges, 27 of which provide online courses. In addition to standard Christian schools, the state houses an impressive number of theological seminaries for students planning to enter the ministry upon graduation. Because Christian institutions allow learners to grow in their faith while also building skills and knowledge, they are often highly beneficial to religious students.
Online Christian colleges allow degree seekers to take part in a rigorous, biblically-based curriculum from the comfort of their home. Online courses usually offer the same curriculum as on-campus classes, taught by the same faculty members. Diplomas and transcripts do not distinguish between courses completed online and on-campus.
Common online resources include virtual counseling and spiritual support, forums and online meet-ups, and worship live streams.
Many Christian universities in Illinois ensure that online learners have access to the same services as their brick-and-mortar peers. Common online resources include virtual counseling and spiritual support, forums and online meet-ups, and worship live streams. Several schools also offer online tutoring, library assistance, and career services.
Flexibility also plays a critical role. Many online students juggle personal and professional responsibilities while enrolled in school. Many online Christian colleges in Illinois provide asynchronous courses for students who cannot login at specific times. Individuals concerned about cost also favor online programs since they are typically more affordable. Distance learners often receive tuition discounts or a reduced rate. Online students also avoid costs associated with on-campus courses, including accommodations, travel expenses, activity fees, and meal plans.
Choosing the right college requires a lot of thought and planning. Prospective students must consider factors such as cost, location, program options, and school values. Smaller schools typically offer a lower student-to-faculty ratio, more opportunities to truly get to know peers and professors, and a tight-knit community of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Larger schools usually offer more resources, research opportunities, internships, and business partnerships.
Students should also consider school values. Many Christian colleges in Illinois set their own guidelines for student behavior. Bible schools often require students to attend chapel multiple times per week, avoid visiting doom rooms belonging to students of the opposite sex, and abstain from the use of nicotine, alcohol, and drugs. Before enrolling at a particular school, students should also check out the college's location. Does the campus and immediate neighborhood feel safe? Are there nearby amenities such as grocery stores?
For learners considering online Christian universities in Illinois, it’s also important to research resources for distance learners. While many schools offer support services comparable to those on brick-and-mortar locations, other schools have more limited online resources. Prospective students should check with the admissions department to learn more about the ways in which the school integrates distance learners into the faith community. Many online schools offer faith-based chat rooms, worship live streams, and Christian discussion boards.
Lastly, Christian students must consider degree offerings. Regardless of how well the school caters to your biblical viewpoints, if it doesn’t offer a degree suited to your career interests, it’s probably not a good fit. Students should pick one of the many Christian colleges in Illinois that serves both their faith and their career.
Seminary Schools vs. Bible Schools
There are several Bible schools and seminary schools in Illinois. While Bible schools and seminaries share many similarities, they differ considerably in program options, structure, and other factors. Bible schools feature a number of faith-based degree paths, including missions and intercultural studies, discipleship, and biblical studies. Many of these schools also provide a small number of secular degrees – such as social work, communications, or finance - for individuals seeking jobs outside of ministry.
Seminary schools focus on graduate-level education for students entering ministry. Individuals attending a seminary in Illinois usually plan to work in a faith-based setting, be it a church, missions team, or Christian company. Some of the majors available include pastoral counseling, chaplaincy, and theology.
Accreditation for Christian Colleges
Regardless of whether they enroll at a Christian college or secular school, all students should attend an accredited institution. Accreditation ensures that schools meet certain academic and professional standards. Accrediting agencies fall into three categories: regional, national, and specialized. Regional accreditation is the most well-regarded of the three, since it requires the most rigorous standards. Regionally accredited schools go through a multi-year process to receive approval.
Regional accreditation is the most well-regarded of the three, since it requires the most rigorous standards. Regionally accredited schools go through a multi-year process to receive approval.
Career, technical, and for-profit schools typically receive national accreditation. While national accreditation is still recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, it is still less rigorous than regional accreditation. Some students attending nationally accredited schools have trouble receiving financial aid, transferring schools, earning certifications, and finding jobs.
Specialized accreditation focuses on individual programs such as nursing, teaching, or accounting. This form of accreditation ensures coursework adequately prepares graduates for jobs in a particular field upon graduation. Usually, professional associations and industry organizations grant specialized accreditation. For example, the American Psychological Association accredits psychology programs. Christian colleges in Illinois may also receive faith-based accreditation. Examples include the Association for Biblical Higher Education, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Students should visit the U.S. Department of Education’s database to see if their school is accredited.
In a February 2018 economic forecast prepared for the State of Illinois, researchers found that Illinois has been slow to fully recover from the effects of the recession, but has still made gains. August 2017 marked the first month that no metropolitan area of the state was in recession, while employment numbers continue to rise. As of March 2018, unemployment in Illinois sat at 4.6%, as compared to the national unemployment average of 4.1%.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees in Illinois earn an average hourly mean wage of $25.20 and an annual mean wage of $52,410. Illinois workers enjoy income levels that are higher than the national average. This is even more true for graduates of Christian colleges in Illinois, who stand to command higher salaries due to their degrees. While jobs in construction, the public sector, and leisure/hospitality are still stagnating, positions for individuals in manufacturing, auto and auto parts, technology, fabricated metal, and industrial equipment all show signs of growth.
Many graduates of Christian universities in Illinois use their degree to serve the community. The following table highlights some of the many community and social service jobs in the state.
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||3,340||$17.96||$37,360|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||410||$25.44||$52,910|
|Mental Health Counselors||5,150||$20.86||$43,380|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||12,150||$28.27||$58,790|
|Healthcare Social Workers||5,050||$26.48||$55,070|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||12,780||$16.01||$33,300|
|Directors, Religious Activities and Education||1,210||$21.07||$43,820|
|Religious Workers, all other||620||$15.31||$31,850|
Seminaries, bible schools, and Christian colleges in Illinois tend to be more expensive than their public counterparts. Fortunately, many scholarships are available to help offset costs. Aside from the awards highlighted below, students should do their own research to find suitable funding.
Italian Catholic Federation Scholarship $2,500
Beta Sigma Pi Christian Leadership Scholarship $1,500
Lincoln Christian University Scholarships $6,000
Greenville University Scholarships $18,000
Baptist Foundation of Illinois Seminary Scholarship $2,625
Scholarships for Illinois Residents
Golden Apple Scholarship $5,000
Illinois Achievement Scholarship $10,000
Back2School Illinois $2,500
Champion Scholars Scholarship $5,000
Crystal Charitable Fund $4,000
Find a Church in Your Community
After enrolling in college, many Christian learners look for a perfect place to worship and build community. Databases like Church Finder and USA Churches make it easier for students to find a place of worship while they’re in college. Users can search by denomination and distance from their school.
Christian networking sites connect Christian students with employers that share their values and beliefs. Networking sites provide spiritual and professional resources, as well as job boards.
- The Christian Business Network The CBN operates chapters throughout the United States, including Illinois. The network equips, empowers, and connects Christian business leaders.
- Christian Business Fellowship The CBF is a group of active Christian entrepreneurs and employees. Membership benefits include regular meetings and mentoring opportunities.
- C12 Group Chicago C12 is the nation’s largest network of Christian CEOs, business owners, and executives. The group discusses how to integrate biblical values into business practice.
Find Christian Ministries
Because Christian colleges are more expensive than their secular counterparts, many learners simply can’t afford to attend them. The good news is that many Christian ministry programs are also located on non-Christian universities in Illinois. The following list highlights some of the best-known Christian student clubs and organizations.
- Campus Crusade for Christ Also known as Cru, this campus-based program offers opportunities to grow in faith while making friends with those sharing similar beliefs.
- Chi Alpha Located on hundreds of college campuses throughout the United States, Chi Alpha helps Christian learners follow the Bible and surround themselves with others who do the same.
- International Fellowship of Evangelical Students IFES supports evangelical Christian students looking for a place to worship, pray, and commune with others. The group offers publications, prayer groups, alternative spring breaks, and mission trips.
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes The FCA encourages hundreds of thousands of students each year to grow both in their faith and in their athletic potential. The FCA operates more than 11,000 groups throughout the country.
- Catholic Campus Ministry Association The CCMA provides campus ministries at hundreds of colleges. The ministry’s app helps students find their closest chapter and stay up-to-date on weekly events and happenings.
- Lutheran Student Movement U.S.A. Founded to help Lutheran students continue building their faith while in college, LSM-USA provides an annual national gathering, local chapters, and alternative spring break opportunities.
- Reformed University Fellowship The RUF hosts large worship services, small Bible studies, and one-on-one spiritual guidance sessions.
- UKirk UKirk is currently active in 36 states plus Washington D.C. UKirk supports campus ministers by providing resources, hosting weekly meetings, and connecting like-minded individuals.
- Baptist Collegiate Ministry Life In addition to hosting local and national events, BCM Life offers on campus and church-based ministry, collegiate church planting, discipleship, and international student ministries.
Public Universities in Illinois with Christian Ministries
- The University of Chicago: UChicago is home to Campus Crusade for Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and dozens of other Christian student groups.
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: The Fellowship of Christian Athletes maintains an active and engaged huddle for both college and high school students.
- Northwestern University: NU is home to a large and ever-growing chapter of the Reformed University Fellowship. Offerings include a large weekly group meeting, small groups, Bible studies, socials, and opportunities to volunteer.