graduate program in Illinois, USA, graduate, postgraduate, study, abroad, program

Study in Illinois, United States

State overview

The Midwestern state of Illinois is famous for being ‘Lincoln’s Land’ – Abraham Lincoln was a legislator here before becoming the USA’s 16th president – as well as for the 1920s gangster Al Capone. These days, however, you’re more likely to find a hub of museums and other cultural attractions, set just south of North America’s Great Lakes.

The most famous city in Illinois is Chicago – nicknamed ‘the Windy City’, and the third most populous in the country. Chicago is one of North America’s most diverse, vibrant and busiest cities, and is a cultural hub. It is one of the locations that proves most popular with those visiting the USA for either a holiday or an extended period, and is also a well respected centre for higher education. Is there a better place to look when considering a postgraduate course abroad? 

Education profile

The options for higher education in Illinois are vast, with public and private institutions, small liberal arts colleges, community colleges and world leading universities all offering comprehensive programs of study.

Some of the most highly respected universities in the world are found in the state, mostly in Chicago. They include:

These universities are not just well respected in the USA, but also across the world.

Chicago has been a world leader in education for many years, and also boasts a number of most specific institutions, such as those focusing on Christian teaching or Psychology.

Academic masters at these institutions are generally designed to lead the way into doctorate/PhD study, and last between one and three years, depending on the subject.

Doctoral degrees (also called PhDs) are the most advanced level of higher education, and usually take between four and eight years to complete, which includes the time it takes to write and present a dissertation. 

Immigration and visas

Before travelling to the USA to study in Illinois, you will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa.

The most common kind of student visa is the F-1 visa, which entitles the holder to study at any US accredited college or university.
To apply for a student visa for a graduate program in Illinois ado, you will need to fill out an application form (found on the US Embassy website) and send appropriate documentation, such as evidence of financial standing and proof of university acceptance and academic qualifications, as well as possibly attending a visa interview at the US Embassy in your home country.

Life in Illinois

There are numerous opportunities to live your life outdoors in Illinois – from eagle watching to mountain biking to wandering by the lakes and State Parks, it is unlikely that you will ever want to stay indoors.

In the metropolitan hub of Chicago, you will find a large concentration of art galleries and museums – some of which are the most respected in the world. The downtown area is the cultural and financial hub of the city, whilst elsewhere you will find ‘villages’ with cuisine as diverse as Mexican, Greek, Puerto Rican, Italian, Chinese and Polish – the diversity of the city is one of its most interesting features.  There is also a well established theatrical scene, with numerous off-Broadway productions throughout the year.

In terms of transport, Chicago is one of the central points in the USA – O’Hare International Airport is the second busiest in the world, and offers numerous international flights per day. Travelling around Illinois itself is best done by road, as many Interstates link it to other areas of the country, whilst in Chicago there are various local bus and rail services.

Working in Illinois

Illinois has a thriving economy, with various different areas that you can get involved in if you decide to stay in the state after the completion of your postgraduate course. Chicago alone is one of the largest economies in the USA, coming in only behind New York and Los Angeles, as well as being one of richest cities in the country – so the value of working in this region is clear.

Finance, food manufacture, engineering, are some of the top industries in Chicago, whilst in Illinois as a whole has opportunities in agricultural research, law, logistics, medicine and the energy sector.

Added to this is the fact that Illinois is home to 66 Fortune 100 companies, and it becomes obvious why so many students choose to live and work in Illinois after finishing their graduate programs.


Most of those coming to study postgraduate courses in Illinois stay in university accommodation, which allows you to meet fellow students and settle into campus life. Many halls of residence include gym facilities and recreational areas.

In order to sustain their independence, however, students may choose to live in private accommodation. This means you will rent from a landlord and will probably be responsible for paying for utilities such as water and electricity. Your chosen university should be able to advise you on how to rent a private flat. 

Weather and climate

Most of Illinois has hot summers and cold winters, although temperatures and amount of rainfall varies hugely due to the size of the state. There are more thunderstorms on average than the rest of the USA, and Illinois also sits in Tornado Alley.

What to do next

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