Business Schools in Illinois


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MBA@American, the online MBA from American University is designed for domestic and global business professionals who want to start or advance their career.

You’ll find around 125 schools in Illinois with business programs. With this many schools, programs vary widely and include everything from associate’s and BBA options to MBAs and even doctoral degree programs in high-demand areas like accounting and finance, human resource management and even entrepreneurship.

Marketing Degree Programs in Illinois

State of Illinois’s Marketing Industry

Illinois is battling. The state has lagged behind the national economy since 2000 and is not expected to make up that gap anytime soon. A huge state debt burden, poor long-term population trends and rising business costs aren’t helping, either. Moody’s Analytics is predicting job growth to be the worst in the country until 2018.

The marketing industry may not need to worry. Thirty-two Fortune 500s – including Walgreen, Boeing, State Farm Insurance, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods, Sears Holdings, Allstate, McDonald’s and Abbott Labs – call the Prairie State home. 240 IL names appeared in Inc.’s Top 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies in 2012.

Illinois also happens to have Chicago, a COLOSSAL business, transportation and financial center. The Windy City’s gross metropolitan product in 2011 was $523 billion, according to The Atlantic online – that’s on a par with Switzerland. City residents earn some of the highest per-capita incomes in the world.

Job Prospects for Illinois Marketing Graduates

Prospects for Illinois marketing graduates appear OK, with 2010-2020 state growth projections falling just below national averages, according to the Illinois Department of Employee Security. Openings for market research analysts are forecast to rise by 31.6% (763 jobs per year), PR specialists by 15.6% (301 jobs per year) and marketing managers by 9.4% (367 jobs per year).

A lot of these jobs are going to be in the city. In 2011, Chicago had the third-highest employment level of marketing managers in metropolitan areas (only surpassed by New York City and Los Angeles). The city’s key finance, manufacturing, biotech, infotech and health care sectors generate much of that demand.

But if you’re interested in big PR and marketing firms, you won’t be disappointed. Chicago plays host to Groupon, MediaVest, Edelman and Leo Burnett. Up-and-comers on the Inc. 5000 list in 2012 included Rise Interactive, Dean Media Group and L2T Media.

Expert Advice: Jason Ferrara

Below we interview Mr. Jason Ferrara, President of The Business Marketing Association of Chicago (BMA Chicago). In this interview, Mr. Ferrara discusses the importance of new tools and technologies, why marketers should stay curious, and how BMA Chicago can benefit students and recent graduates.

Illinois Schools for Marketing

There are 44 accredited marketing schools in Illinois – no surprise when you consider the state’s economic power. The two undisputed titans are:

1. University of Chicago (UC) (

Ranked #4 in “Best Business Schools” by U.S. News & World Report in 2013, UC’s Booth School of Business has developed a wide variety of MBAs and a doctorate with a concentration in marketing (though Booth does not offer a bachelor’s degree in marketing).

Booth has an outstanding reputation. The school is part of the M7, a group that’s known as the Ivy League of U.S. business schools (other members include Columbia, Harvard, MIT Sloan and Kellogg). Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked its full-time MBA program #1 in 2012.

2. Northwestern University (

Undergraduates who are interested in a business career or further study at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management can pursue a certificate program. Graduates have the option of a full-time or part-time MBA and a doctorate in marketing.

Like Booth, Kellogg’s list of accolades is lengthy. In 2012, Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked its full-time MBA program #5 in the country. It tied with Booth in U.S. News & World Report’s list of 2013 “Best Business Schools.

Professional Marketing Organizations in Illinois

New to the Inland Empire? You won’t be lacking for the company of marketers. In return for annual dues, many of these Illinois marketing chapters and clubs organize networking events and continuing education opportunities.

Business Degree Programs in Illinois

Illinois is a national leader when it comes to business, consistently ranking among the top states in the nation in terms of Gross State Product (GSP). With a GSP of $742 billion in 2015 alone and as home to the Chicago Stock Exchange, the state plays host to some of the biggest names in business and finance.

According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), in 2015 alone the state was home to 102,121 professionals working in varied roles within the business and finance sectors as financial analysts, brokers, investment advisors, financial officers, HR managers, accountants, marketing directors, executive-level business leaders and much more. Many of the top corporations with operations and corporate offices in the state are household names throughout America – Boeing, Walgreens, Caterpillar, Deere, and Allstate insurance to name a few.

In addition to iconic companies, business school graduates with a bachelor’s degree or specialized MBA can also find career opportunities with the state’s smaller businesses. In fact, approximately half of the state’s total private workforce is employed with smaller companies, according to the federal Small Business Administration (SBA).

In fact, Illinois is famous for fostering small start-ups that go on to become multinational behemoths. The farm tool inventor John Deere literally started out as a one-man operation in Grand Detour, selling the first-ever commercially successful steel plow to a local farmer and then filling two more orders for his neighbors. The corporation is now the premiere manufacturer of agricultural equipment worldwide.

As a student of one of Illinois’s highly respected business schools, you’ll have the opportunity to tailor your education to your career goals and contribute to the state’s thriving business and finance sectors.

Pursuing your Career Goals in Illinois

Having an understanding of Illinois’ largest economic sectors can give you a good idea of where to focus your education (the following statistics provided by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), 2015):

  • Private industry GSP and private non-farm employment – $700.35 billion with a workforce of 7.67 million
  • Government GSP and employment – $76.5 billion ($60 billion state/local, $16.5 billion federal) GSP with a workforce of 80,035 federal, and 753,594 state/local employees
  • Manufacturing – $99.5 billion GSP, workforce of 603,153
  • Finance and insurance – $78.7 billion GSP, workforce of 478,142
  • Wholesale trade – $59.3 billion GSP, workforce of 330,739
  • Health care and social assistance – $53.3 billion GSP, workforce of 878,990
  • Retail trade – $39.9 billion GSP, workforce of 728,886

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Illinois in the top-five nationally when compared with other states in terms of career opportunities (, 2014)

Chief Executives – Illinois has the highest concentration and the second-highest total number, of these professionals from in the nation. Pursuing this career path often requires at least an MBA and years of business experience.

Human Resources Managers – Illinois has the third-highest number of HRM professionals in the nation. Several schools in Illinois offer bachelor’s degree programs in HR management, as well as in business with a concentration in HRM.

Sales Managers – Illinois is home to the third-highest number of sales managers in the nation. Pursuing this career path can require experience as well as a bachelor’s degree in sales or marketing.

Financial Managers – Illinois is home to the third-highest number of financial managers in the nation. Joining the ranks of this profession can necessitate a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field.

General and Operations Managers – Illinois is home to the fourth-highest number of operations managers in the nation. Working in a variety of industries, earning a bachelor’s degree in business can serve you well in this field.

Administrative Services Managers – Illinois is home to the fourth-highest number of administrative service managers in the nation. Several Illinois colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in HR and other administrative services.

Marketing Managers – Illinois is home to the fourth-highest number of marketing managers in the nation. A bachelor’s degree in marketing will provide you with the essential skills you need to begin a career in this field.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is one of the world’s top business schools. Consistently ranked in the top five by numerous publications, Kellogg has a history of attracting “the best and brightest” students and faculty from around the world. The school offers a traditional two-year MBA program that starts in September and runs through six academic quarters. The one-year MBA is an option if you have a focused career goal and significant professional experience, and are ready for 12 months of intense study. Dual degree options are also available, providing the opportunity to earn a Master of Engineering Management or a Juris Doctor in conjunction with an MBA. The school cautions that the one-year and dual degree programs require “exceptional quantitative skills.

University of Illinois Springfield

The MBA Program at the University of Illinois Springfield focuses on analysis, problem-solving and leadership. The curriculum involves on-campus classes, internship opportunities and an optional trip to China. After you complete the 24 hours of core courses, you’ll focus your remaining 24 hours on your areas on concentration, such as entrepreneurship, human resource management, business process management and IT project management. The program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

University of St. Francis

The MBA programs at the University of St. Francis use an experiential learning approach that involves case studies, directed discussions and team projects to tackle real-world business challenges. All programs cover globalization, analytical thinking, the value chain of business, leadership and decision-making. You can earn your degree on campus or online at your own pace, and can complete the program in as little as 18 months. The 36 to 42 hours needed to graduate are evenly divided between core courses, courses in your competency area and courses in your concentration in subjects such as health administration, logistics and training and development.

University of Chicago

The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago offers a full-time MBA, an evening MBA and a weekend MBA at its Chicago campuses. Each follows essentially the same program, taught by the same faculty. The full-time program takes 21 months to complete and is taught at the main campus in Chicago. The Evening MBA and Weekend MBA programs are taught at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, and allow students to continue working full time while pursuing their degree. In addition, the school’s Executive MBA is the top-ranked program in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. This 21-month program encourages global interaction and admits 90 students in each of three locations – Chicago, London and Singapore – allowing students to develop a valuable international network.

University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

The College of Business at the University of Illinois is a top 25-ranked school that gives you a running start in your professional life. Your education is just part of the value of your student experience: you’ll have access to the world’s largest alumni group, as well as to an aggressive recruitment program to help you build a successful career. In addition, students run one of the largest university-based consulting organizations in the world. The Global Consulting Program truly defines experiential learning, allowing students to take what they learn in the classroom and travel to client locations around the globe to tackle real business challenges. In addition to the full-time MBA program, the school offers a Professional MBA program for part-time students and an Executive MBA for seasoned, leadership-track executives, both taught at the Chicago campus.