NWQ Guide to Colleges 2018

 It’s never an easy choice when seeking the perfect college — there are plenty of things to consider. Here are some of the top institutions available here in our region.


Northern Illinois University Graduate School

(Private/Four-Year) Main Campus: 1425 W. Lincoln Hwy. • DeKalb • cob.niu.edu
Hoffman Estates Campus: 5555 Trillium Blvd. • Hoffman Estates • cob.niu.edu
Naperville Campus: 1120 E. Diehl Road • Naperville • cob.niu.edu
Chicago Campus: 105 W. Madison St. • Chicago • cob.niu.edu

The graduate school program at Northern Illinois University offers more than 80 graduate degree programs and 50 specializations. In addition to master’s and doctoral degrees at its seven colleges, NIU offers graduate certificates in more than 65 courses of study.

The school’s robust offering of graduate programs enables students to earn their degrees either in-person or online.

There are five Master of Business Administration options that can be earned in-person: executive, 12-month, evening, global and international. Other in-person degrees include a Master of Public Administration, Master of Accounting Science, Master of Science in industrial and systems engineering, and a Doctor of Education: Adult and Higher Education – Adult Continuing Education.

NIU Online graduate programs allow students to further their education and understanding of their field while being flexible enough to help students balance their personal obligations.

No matter where they live, students pay the same cost per credit hour as an Illinois resident.

Online degrees include a Master of Science in digital marketing, data analytics, industrial management and engineering management. Other degrees include a Master of Public Health, Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Doctor of Education: Adult and Higher Education – Community College Leadership.

The online program provides access to an assortment of services, including the library and its collections, disability and technology resources, career development programs and the University Writing Center, which offers online sessions designed to help students develop their writing skills.

Regional educational sites in Hoffman Estates, Naperville and Rockford provide convenient access to NIU programs. Additionally, NIU Naperville and NIU Hoffman Estates allow working professionals to balance a job and graduate school through its part-time MBA programs.

Designed for maximum flexibility, the evening format allows busy adults to obtain a ranked and accredited MBA that’s self-paced to their personal schedules. The program is offered for spring, summer and fall semesters. Classes are held one night a week, Monday through Thursday, and students can take one, two or three courses per semester.

The Fast-Trak MBA, offered on NIU’s main campus in DeKalb, is designed for students who want to continue their education directly out of their undergraduate program. The Fast-Trak is a full-time, daytime program that allows students to complete their MBA in just 12 months. Students may earn a second degree in Master of International Business through study abroad experiences in the fall and spring semesters.

NIU’s One-Year MBA, offered at NIU Hoffman Estates, is designed for the working professional with a minimum of three years’ experience and an undergraduate business degree. The 12-month program begins in January, with classes offered two nights a week. It provides enhanced learning through the broad professional class make-up, the cohort experience and a rigorous curriculum delivered on an accelerated timetable.

The College of Business introduced the Chicago MBA in Fall 2016, offered in Chicago’s Loop. Similar to the One-Year MBA, the Chicago MBA is a 12-month program designed for working professionals with an undergraduate business degree.

For those in senior-level management, NIU’s Executive MBA program at NIU Hoffman Estates provides a curriculum that’s specifically designed to build on a base of managerial experience. Key elements include a balanced mix of professional peers – all students have 10 to 15 years’ work experience – and a broad representation of industries.

MBA faculty are selected from the nationally recognized College of Business for their teaching ability, consulting experience and commitment to educating professionals. Many hold doctorates in their field of expertise. The faculty’s knowledge of business management principles and current business practices combine to create a stimulating and challenging classroom experience.

Rockford University, Rockford
Rockford University, Rockford

Rockford University

(Private/Four-Year) 5050 E. State St. • Rockford • rockford.edu

Rockford University has provided the region with exceptional access to higher education for more than 171 years. Founded in 1847, it’s the only private liberal arts residential institution in the Rock River Valley, and the only university in the Rockford area to offer campus-based accredited masters and adult accelerated degree completion programs.

The University is also home to the Puri School of Business and features the Bloomberg Business Lab. The lab, which opened in January, is the only one of its kind in the Rockford area. Eleven state-of-the-art terminals provide students and professors access to the lab, where they can further develop industry-leading skills for careers in finance, economics, accounting and business.

With more than 80 majors, minors and concentrations, degrees and programs are grounded in the liberal arts learning tradition and complemented by professional and practical experience. The University works with and supports several local organizations with internships, special projects, research and meaningful partnerships such as the Education Pathways program with Rockford Public School District 205. Students pursuing a career in education who qualify for the program can attend Rockford University, graduate from both the undergraduate and graduate programs and return to the district as teachers.

Faculty members, most holding the highest degrees in their disciplines, show a commitment to the individual through their expertise and personalized attention. The student-to-faculty ratio is 11 to 1, which further supports an environment where students can discover, explore and excel in academic interests.

The Princeton Review named Rockford University a “College with a Conscience” and Rockford University is one of just 11 colleges in Illinois – and 290 in the country – with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. The university is also consistently ranked by U.S. News & World report as a Best Midwest Regional University.

Rockford University offers students many other opportunities to gain knowledge and experience. Along with study abroad opportunities, there is a diverse, international presence on campus. Students from across the world can study and share more about their cultures. More than 30 intercultural events are sponsored on campus each year.

As part of NCAA Division III, the Rockford Regents compete in 14 varsity sports for both men and women. Many social and academic clubs and organizations are also offered, along with intramural sports. Each year, the Forum Series presents a variety of thought-provoking speakers, events and performances that are open for the public to attend.

Rockford University alumni have proven themselves as exemplary leaders and shapers of their communities. Among its graduates are chiefs of police, captains of industry, champions of justice, Teachers of the Year, doctors who tested the first artificial heart valve in humans, scientists who invented fiber optics and LEDs, the current president of a national television network and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jane Addams.

The legacy of Rockford University can be found in nearly two centuries of graduates and more than 16,000 current alumni, taking lessons learned here out into the world.


Northern Illinois University

(Public/Four-Year) 1425 W. Lincoln Hwy. • DeKalb • niu.edu

At Northern Illinois University (NIU), students are offered the best of both worlds. They have the resources and breadth of a large university with the culture, mindset and accessibility of a smaller college. NIU takes a student-centered approach that provides students with the resources, tools and guidance they need to build an educational experience that is rewarding, transformative and often as unique as the individual learner. Through internships, mentorships, research and artistry opportunities, study abroad, more than 200 student organizations and more, the faculty and staff work hard to provide students with life-changing opportunities.

Additionally, 240,000 alumni worldwide (more than half of whom live in the Chicagoland area), help drive the success of NIU students. Through job shadowing, internships, mentorships and careers, NIU alumni take an active role in facilitating real-world, engaging experiences that help ensure that students succeed.

The main campus in DeKalb – 65 miles west of Chicago and 45 miles southeast of Rockford – offers more than 100 options in undergraduate, graduate- and doctoral-level programs within seven colleges (Business, Education, Engineering and Engineering Technology, Health and Human Sciences, Law, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts). NIU also offers programming at regional centers in Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, where working professionals can access programs at convenient times and locations.

Students can take advantage of a new program known as NIU PLUS (short for Progressive Learning in Undergraduate Studies). NIU PLUS allows students to customize their learning experience in three areas: general education requirements, hands-on learning experiences outside the classroom, and the student’s on- or off-campus job.

Within NIU PLUS, Academics PLUS allows students to blaze their own trail by customizing general education courses according to personal interests, career aspirations or major areas of study. Secondly, Engage PLUS ensures that students are recognized for their experiential-learning activities that take place outside the classroom. Working with faculty or staff mentors, or career supervisors, students can create a structured experience unique to their goals and interests. Finally, Jobs PLUS is designed to help students build a bridge between their college job and post-graduation career. Jobs PLUS regularly hosts professional development events open to all NIU students.

An NIU education is nationally recognized in quality, nationally ranked in value and aimed at providing students with personal, career and life success. When you become a Huskie, you have the opportunity to build your own life while you’re here – and create the foundation for achieving career success when you graduate.


UIC College of Nursing-Rockford Campus

(Public University Graduate Program) UIC Health Sciences Campus, 1601 Parkview Ave., Rockford, (815) 395-5648, nursing.uic.edu

The UIC College of Nursing in Rockford and its campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Quad Cities, Springfield and Urbana have long been providing the highest-quality education for APRNs throughout Illinois.

The program offers 12 advanced practice specialty areas for the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree in a hybrid format consisting of online, on-site and blended courses. Students graduate with an exceptional mix of clinical, organizational, financial and leadership skills – prepared not only to improve outcomes for their own patients, but also to contribute to the transformation of health care in both urban and rural communities.

As a UIC student, clinical rotations are arranged for you. Students are assigned highly qualified preceptors at desirable clinical sites, selected by knowledgeable program directors. By partnering with skilled preceptors in a variety of health care settings, each student is provided with the best mentorship experiences while learning the necessary clinical practice skills. These rotations, paired with high-quality simulation scenarios also included in the curriculum, combine to give students a broad range of advanced, hands-on patient-management experiences.

The Advanced Generalist Master of Science (AGMS) program provides professional nurses with the clinical leadership skills essential for integrating evidence-based practice and care coordination to improve outcomes in a fiscally responsible manner. The advanced generalist acts as the care coordinator for a group of clients while providing direct care in complex cases. Not limited to the acute care settings, advanced generalists evaluate client outcomes, assess client risks, and promote client and family advocacy.

Sharing a campus with the University of Illinois at Chicago colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Rockford has its interprofessional advantages, from the state-of-the-art Standardized Patient Center, to the full-service Crawford Library of the Health Sciences, from sharing a home base with the National Center for Rural Health Professions, to enjoying the stellar reputation UIC students have among the region’s health care industry.

As a regional campus of the UIC – College of Nursing, UIC experts are dedicated to providing exemplary international and nationally recognized graduate nursing education for the Rockford area. Students in all three professional programs have opportunities to work together on clinical research projects. The nursing faculty maintains active practices, working in the profession for which they are simultaneously educating students. Located on a tree-lined street with the Rock River near the doorstep, the Rockford Campus offers a beautiful, small-town setting in which to earn a nationally ranked graduate degree.


Rasmussen College – Rockford

(Private/Two-Year, Four-Year & Graduate) Aurora/Naperville, Mokena/Tinley Park, Romeoville/Joliet, Rockford • rasmussen.edu

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college with 22 campuses across the Midwest and Florida, including four campuses in Illinois: Rockford, Romeoville/Joliet, Mokena/Tinley Park and Aurora/Naperville. More than 14,000 students are enrolled in total.

Founded in 1900, with the Rockford campus opening in 2006, Rasmussen strives to: provide education for growing careers; impact lives both inside and outside the classroom; and remain dedicated to the growth and development of its students, employees and the communities it serves.

Rasmussen College offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, associate degrees, certificates and diplomas in more than 50 programs, including business, justice studies, technology, design, education, nursing and health sciences. It’s committed to helping students gain the practical and relevant skills they need for career success, as well as providing flexible and affordable learning options. One example is Flex Choice, a learning option that allows students to take self-paced, competency-based courses alongside their faculty-led courses. Rasmussen College also provides a classroom experience that includes employer-based internship/externship opportunities, hands-on learning delivered through industry-experienced faculty with real-world insight, and new, technologically advanced learning platforms.

Rasmussen College is committed to providing strong support services that go above and beyond traditional offerings. This includes one-on-one support with a student advisor, free tutoring, and access to hundreds of thousands of free digital resources, such as e-textbooks, scholarly articles and videos. Once students are ready to graduate, the college works closely to connect them with local employers that are hiring. A career services department is available to all students.

As it prepares students for professional success, Rasmussen College instills in them the knowledge and skills they need to better their lives and have a profound influence in their communities. This is what defines Rasmussen College as a Public Benefit Corporation. The College focuses on connecting its students to local employers and expanding community initiatives through business partnerships, workforce insights and service opportunities for its employees.


Upper Iowa University – Rockford

(Private/Four-Year) 1161 Tebala Blvd. • Rockford • uiu.edu

Upper Iowa University – Blackhawk

(Private/Four-Year) 6004 S. County Road G • Janesville • uiu.edu

Since 1857, Upper Iowa University has been preparing students to succeed – in the classroom and throughout the world. A rich history, coupled with a student-centered mission, has created a springboard for Upper Iowa University to become a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through multiple flexible delivery systems, including online and self-paced studies.

The Upper Iowa University Center in Rockford opened in 2008 and is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. The 13,000-square-foot building includes eight classrooms and a cutting-edge computer lab. Courses, held primarily in the evening, are offered during six 8-week terms and are taught by instructors who bring practical work experience to the classroom.

In 1994, Upper Iowa University opened the Blackhawk Center at Blackhawk Technical College, Janesville. Courses, held primarily in the evening, are offered during six 8-week terms.Adjunct faculty draw on their practical experiences in the field. All BTC student transfers receive a 10-percent grant on their UIU tuition and, if they have a completed associate degree and a GPA of 3.0, they get a 20-percent tuition scholarship.

The Upper Iowa University’s Center for Distance Education offers online courses for associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as post-graduate certificates. Its online undergraduate bachelor’s program has been ranked among the best in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report, which also ranked its online MBA program among the top 100 for 2015. Rockford will offer the MBA face-to-face in the fall of 2019.

In addition to its MBA program being recognized as a Best Value by GetEducated.com, Upper Iowa University has been named a Top Military-Friendly School by Military Advanced Education.

Upper Iowa University works with students to keep their college education affordable. Students are encouraged to contact its financial aid department, where counselors will assist them in looking for any possible means of financial assistance.

Upper Iowa University offers 40 majors in all modalities; for a complete listing, visit uiu.edu. Some majors include:
Business Administration
Criminal Justice
Health Services Administration
Human Resources Management
Human Services

Whether at its traditional campus in Fayette, Iowa, or one of its 25 educational centers in the U.S., students will find professional faculty and staff who care about their success and work hard to provide the education they desire.


Rock Valley College

(Public/Two-Year) 3301 N. Mulford Road • Rockford • rockvalleycollege.edu

“No matter your destination, your journey begins here.”

That is much more than a catchy tagline to the faculty and staff at Rock Valley College. They truly believe in the outcomes behind those words.

As this community’s college, it’s RVC’s mission to connect all citizens with opportunities that lead to success. For some that means earning an associate’s degree and transferring to a four-year college or university. For others, it means earning the credentials, skills and training needed to enter a career pathway right away.

RVC’s dedicated faculty members have master’s degrees, doctorates and real-life experience, and students will access that knowledge through hands-on instruction in small classrooms. The average class size at RVC is 23 students. That means students will learn in an environment that will help them become more engaged with classmates and instructors.

The cost of attending RVC is just $115 per credit hour, significantly less than what the cost would be at most private colleges or state universities. In fact, one year at Rock Valley College will cost a student approximately $3,800, compared to $12,000 at a public four-year school, $15,000 at a private for-profit institution, or nearly $30,000 for one year at a private four-year university. There are also many financial aid opportunities to help students pay for college. More than 60 percent of RVC students receive some financial assistance, and the RVC Foundation awarded over $250,000 in scholarships last year alone.

Rock Valley College is flexible to its students’ needs and can accommodate busy schedules with a variety of daytime, evening and weekend classes. The college’s beautiful main campus is located on the northeast side of Rockford, the Stenstrom Center for Career Education is located in south Rockford, and RVC Downtown is located in the Rockford Register Star building in the heart of downtown Rockford. Many classes are also available online.

With programs like Aviation Maintenance Technology and NIU Engineering at RVC, the college is poised to help lead a transformation in workforce development in the region. Additionally, RVC’s state-of-the-art 110,000 square foot Health Sciences Center has united all of the college’s allied health programs under one roof, allowing for future program expansion and the establishment of new initiatives in health care education.

At Rock Valley College, staff and faculty are there for students every step of the way. Students will be prepared for the initial challenges of college through Getting Started sessions, and required student development courses that assist with academic and career planning. Skilled advisors will work closely with students to establish educational goals and develop a path for success. And if students need help with coursework, they can get the free peer tutoring they need to be a success.

The journey begins at Rock Valley College. The destination is up to you.