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Studying a Postgraduate Program in Illinois

What do you know about Illinois? You have probably heard of the windy city, Chicago, or you may have seen pictures of the great sweeping vistas of the Prairie State but if you look a little closer you will find that the home state of Ernest Hemingway has a huge amount to offer. If you are trying to decide on a postgraduate degree then Illinois may just be the perfect location for you to expand your horizons, further your education, and experience the culture and lifestyle of one of the hidden gems of the United States. As well as bordering Lake Michigan to the northeast, Illinois is surrounded by Wisconsin, Indiana to the east, Kentucky to the southeast, Missouri to the west, and Iowa to the northwest.

With a population of almost 13 million, Illinois is the fifth most populous state in the US. It is located in the heartland of America and boasts a substantial agriculture industry as well as large amounts of natural resources such as coal and timber. Its capital is Springfield but this is by no means the largest city. Chicago takes that honour with over 2.6 million inhabitants, with Springfield sixth on the list of Illinois' biggest cities with over 100,000 inhabitants.


Where can you study a postgrad program in Illinois?

Illinois has a range of well-regarded universities to offer those seeking an education at undergraduate or postgraduate level. Here is a summary of some of your options:

University of Illinois: The 149-year-old University of Illinois, based in the charming town of Champaign is an esteemed institution offering a variety of courses. It also has branches in Chicago and Springfield and is one of the larger colleges with an enrollment range of 45,000 students in a coeducational setting. It also offers online and distance learning opportunities for postgraduate students.

University of Chicago: For those who seek the metropolitan lifestyle of the big city the University of Chicago is a fine university located in the bustling hub that is Chicago. Smaller than the University of Illinois, with an enrollment range of between 15,000 and 19,999 students, the University of Chicago nonetheless offers an extremely high level of academic instruction for both domestic and international students.

Northwestern University: With an admission rate range of 10-20%, Northwestern University is one of the most selective universities in the state. Based on students' past academic records and entrance examination results, this institution has a low acceptance rate and high academic standards.

Best of the rest: Illinois has a range of universities for prospective students and honourable mentions go to DePaul University in Chicago and Loyola University, also in Chicago. Both institutions have a history of educational excellence and consistently maintain high academic standards.

What can you study in Illinois?

Choosing a job is never easy but whatever area you are looking to specialise in, whether it is at masters or PhD level, Illinois will more than likely be able to cater to your needs. There is a cornucopia of options including the renowned Executive Development Program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the MSc in computer information systems at Bradley University. The variety of available options persists to PHD level and possible doctorates include a PHD in disability studies at the University of Illinois. There is also a huge range of postgraduate courses available across the academic spectrum from the humanities through to business and legal studies. Whatever educational avenue you choose to walk down, Illinois will be able to offer you a postgraduate course that suits your needs.

Tuition fees & living costs in Illinois

The tuition fees for postgraduate study in Illinois will vary between universities and courses – and also whether you are a domestic or international student. For example, a Master or Social Work will cost you $13,266 for residents of the USA and $28,664 for non-residents. A Masters of law (LLM) will cost you considerably more, around $49,500 for tuition fees for both residents and non-residents of the United States, regardless of whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. Both of these courses are offered at the University of Illinois.

As we all know studying for a postgraduate degree can be expensive – but it is a great investment in your future. On top of your tuition fees you will also need to fund your living costs. The cost of living will vary across the state but in comparison to the rest of America, Illinois can be a more affordable option. For example, Chicago is 25% cheaper to live in than New York City but 11% more expensive than Toronto. The monthly rent for a 45 square metre furnished studio in a normal area of Chicago will cost you around $1,000 and a monthly ticket for public transport will cost around $100. Chicago is one of the more expensive areas in the state so your living costs will be cheaper in other parts of Illinois. At the University of Illinois room and board will cost you around $14,000 for the year, so if combined with fees and other expenses the total cost for an LLM at the University of Illinois will come to just over $70,000.

Applications & admissions for Illinois

If you are applying to a postgrad program in Illinois as an international student you will have to fulfill a number of requirements, depending on your country of origin and the institution you are applying to. Proof of academic credentials will be a must for every university, and in some cases you will have to prove you have completed any compulsory military service your country requires. You should check with the institution you are applying to for comprehensive information on enrollment.

Interesting Illinois alumni

Third level education in Illinois has produced some of the greatest minds the world has seen, people who have gone on to excel in their respective areas and achieve the highest accolades in their fields. James B Reston, who received the Pulitzer Prize twice for National Reporting, was a graduate of the University of Illinois and is among ten other Pulitzer Prize winners from the same institution. Co-founder and former CEO of software giant Oracle Corporation Larry Ellison is another famous graduate of the Illinois education system and is ranked as the third wealthiest person in America and the fifth wealthiest person in the world with an estimated fortune of over $56 billion.

Student case study

Christine Herman is an example of the kind of professional that postgraduate programs in Illinois can produce. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 2012 with a PhD in Chemistry and then went back to complete an MA in Journalism in 2014. She then went on to find a position as a multimedia producer at Illinois Public Media and works on a statewide talk show entitled "The 21st". She says that studying a graduate program in the University of Illinois gave her the skill of "being fearless in approaching a topic that I may know absolutely nothing about and taking steps to figure out what I need to know." She attests that completing her postgraduate degrees gave her transferable and marketable skills, which have stood to her in her subsequent professional career.

What can you do in Illinois when you’re not studying?

If you choose to study in Illinois you will be able to experience the exciting and varied lifestyle the state has to offer. From the Art Institute of Chicago to Wrigley Field, home of the baseball team the Chicago cubs, there is a lot on offer. History buffs will be interested in the Abraham Lincoln museum in Springfield and nature lovers will find a host of beautiful parks to enjoy. Whatever you’re into, Illinois could be the perfect place for you.

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