Cybersecurity Programs in Illinois


Updated May 16, 2023

A cybersecurity degree can help you get the skills you need to launch a new IT career. Explore some of the best schools for earning a cybersecurity degree in Illinois. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The Prairie State might offer the right place to earn a cybersecurity degree. Though it may not have a massive tech presence compared to other states, Illinois can still provide excellent learning and career opportunities for cybersecurity students.

The state's more than 150 higher learning institutions offer cybersecurity programs at various degree levels. Earning a cybersecurity degree can be an excellent career move — this in-demand field offers higher-than-average salaries. Available cybersecurity careers in Illinois include penetration tester, information security analyst, and incident responder.

Discover what to expect from the best cybersecurity schools in Illinois with this in-depth guide.

Illinois at a Glance

  • Average Wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations: $93,580
  • % of Workforce in Tech: 5.3%
  • Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $56 billion
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 152

Sources: Cyberstates™, NCES, OEWS

Why Get a Cybersecurity Degree in Illinois?

Earning a cybersecurity degree in Illinois can provide many benefits. Although the tech industry is smaller here than in other states, many Illinois colleges and universities offer cybersecurity programs.

If you plan to stay in the state after graduation, getting your degree in Illinois can help launch your job search. Use connections you make in school to land internships, find out about job openings, and get local letters of recommendation.

Finding a job here after graduation may also result in a higher salary than in other states. CompTIA's State of the Tech Workforce guide reports that median tech wages in Illinois are 105% higher than median national wages.

Education Statistics for Illinois

Illinois is home to 95 four-year colleges and 57 two-year colleges. In the state, 59.8% of students enrolled in distance education in 2021.

Illinois vs. National Education Statistics
Higher Education Statistics Illinois Data National Data
Four-Year Colleges 95 2,679
Two-Year Colleges 57 1,303
Students Enrolled in Distance Education 59.8% 72.8%

Sources: NCES

Accreditation for Illinois Schools

Accreditation is a voluntary process for schools to demonstrate they meet quality standards and prepare students for their chosen fields. Independent accrediting agencies evaluate institutions to ensure they meet accreditation standards relating to academic program quality, student services, faculty, and financial stability.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversees accrediting bodies. When choosing an online school in Illinois, look for institutions with accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, the independent agency that primarily accredits universities in the region.

Attending an accredited school can increase your likelihood of receiving a strong, well-rounded education. It also makes it easier to receive financial aid, apply for graduate programs, and qualify for professional certifications.

Some of the best cybersecurity degrees in Illinois may also hold separate programmatic accreditation, a specialized type of accreditation that evaluates departments and programs within schools. ABET's Computing Accreditation Commission provides accreditation to cybersecurity bachelor's programs.

Considerations for Studying Cybersecurity in Illinois

Prospective enrollees have many factors to consider when researching schools. Key considerations for finding the right program include your desired degree level, cost, and program focus. Some students place a premium on finding a diverse cybersecurity school.

School location can also play a crucial role when deciding where to earn your degree. Even if you plan to attend an online program, location may matter for potential campus visits. Weigh the pros and cons of online, in-person, and hybrid programs to identify your ideal learning method.

Explore rankings for top cybersecurity programs around the country:

Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Concentrations and Similar Degrees

Students can often choose from various concentrations and/or similar cybersecurity-related degrees. The following examples may be especially advantageous for their applicability to career opportunities in Illinois.

Information Technology

Information technology (IT) programs can prepare graduates for various tech jobs. A typical curriculum covers computer networks, business fundamentals, and web development.

Computer Forensics

A computer forensics degree incorporates cybersecurity, computer science, and criminal justice. Graduates may be able to apply for jobs like information security analyst, computer systems analyst, and incident responder.

Information Assurance

An information assurance program can prepare students for cybersecurity and IT careers protecting organizations' physical and digital data. Coursework explores data governance, risk management, and cyberforensics. Potential careers for graduates include information security analyst, computer network architect, and computer and information research scientist.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Paying for Your Cybersecurity Degree

Attending college costs more in Illinois than the national average, regardless of school type. Fortunately, students who can pay in-state tuition and attend public institutions can typically find the most affordable options.

Financing options to help pay for a cybersecurity degree in Illinois include scholarships, fellowships, and grants. Many learners also take out student loans to help pay for their education.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Tuition costs vary significantly based on in-state or out-of-state rates and public vs. private status. Public universities offer a lower, subsidized in-state rate for Illinois residents. Non-residents usually pay higher out-of-state tuition rates.

Illinois no longer participates in the Midwest Student Exchange Program, a multi-state tuition reciprocity plan. However, individual schools in the state may offer tuition breaks for out-of-state students. For example, Illinois State University provides in-state tuition to Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin residents.

Illinois' Cost of Living

Cost of living varies by state and can affect your education budget. Illinois' 94.3 cost of living index score means that it is 5.7% cheaper to live here than in the average U.S. state, according to World Population Review.

Careers in Illinois for Cybersecurity Graduates

Illinois boasts the fifth-highest GDP in the U.S. and a very diverse economy that relies on industries like advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, and food processing.

The tech industry accounts for a $56 billion economic impact in Illinois, representing 6.2% of the overall economy, according to CompTIA's State of the Tech Workforce. Its findings demonstrate that the leading tech sectors in Illinois include IT services and custom software services, telecommunications and internet services, and tech manufacturing.

CompTIA found that the most popular tech jobs in the state include software, cybersecurity and systems engineers, and network engineers, along with support specialists and data scientists.

The following section explores several cybersecurity careers in Illinois.

Select Cybersecurity Careers in Illinois

Incident Responder

An incident responder typically needs a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or a related field. These professionals monitor systems, create security plans, and provide training to help organizations avoid cyberattacks.

  • Average Salary (April 2023): $84,020
  • Job Outlook in Illinois (2018-28): +25.3% (information security analysts)

Penetration Tester

A penetration tester, or pen tester, usually needs at least a bachelor's or master's degree in cybersecurity or a related field. Pen testers find weaknesses in computer networks and systems. They simulate cyberattacks to find ways that real hackers can access data.

  • Average Salary (April 2023): $90,770
  • Job Outlook in Illinois (2018-28): +25.3% (information security analysts)

Security Engineer

Security engineers typically need bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity or software engineering. Typical job duties include securing private information, preventing and investigating breaches, and analyzing risks.

  • Average Salary (April 2023): $98,080
  • Job Outlook in Illinois (2018-28): +25.3% (information security analysts)

Keep reading to learn more about tech and cybersecurity careers in Illinois.

Illinois Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Computer Hardware Engineers, Computer Network Architects, and Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
Year State National
Computer Hardware Engineers
2020 Employment 850 66,200
2030 Projected Employment 790 67,300
Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030 -7.1% +1.7%
Computer Network Architects
2018 Employment 6,070 165,200
2030 Projected Employment 6,040 174,200
Projected Job Growth, 2018-2028 -0.5% +5.4%
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
2020 Employment 64,670 1,847,900
2030 Projected Employment 76,310 2,257,400
Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030 18% +22%

Source: Projections Central

Salaries for Cybersecurity and Related Careers, May 2021
Career Illinois Employment Illinois Annual Mean Wage National Median Annual Wage
Computer and Information Systems Managers 19,650 $152,820 $159,010
Computer Hardware Engineers 550 $112,160 $128,170
Computer Network Architects 7,330 $124,940 $120,520
Computer Network Support Specialists 13,250 $71,140 $62,760
Computer Programmers 3,610 $91,060 $93,000
Computer Systems Analysts 25,470 $95,170 $99,270
Information Security Analysts 4,510 $112,830 $102,600
Network and Computer Systems Administrators 9,170 $91,930 $80,600
Software Developers 50,060 $109,970 $109,020
Web Developers 3,060 $88,880 $78,300

Source: BLS OEWS

Researching salary data can help prospective professionals find their ideal careers in cybersecurity in Illinois. Web developers and information security analysts, for example, earn higher salaries in Illinois than the national average. Others, like computer programmers and computer hardware engineers, make less than the national average.

It also makes sense to pay attention to the prevalence of specific cybersecurity and tech roles in Illinois. Although the national outlook for computer network architects looks promising, the BLS projects an employment decline for these professionals in the state from 2018-2028.

Cybersecurity Employers in Illinois

Keeper Security: Keeper Security, an enterprise password management firm based in Chicago, Illinois, made Cybercrime Magazine's list of the hottest 150 cybersecurity companies to watch in 2020. The global company serves customers in more than 120 countries. Keeper Security hires for roles like systems support engineer, data engineer, and senior software engineer.

Veradigm: Based in Chicago, Veradigm provides integrated data systems and services to the healthcare industry. Their products cover clinical data registries, pharmacy analytics, and practice management solutions.

Zebra Technologies: Headquartered in Lincolnshire, Illinois, Zebra Technologies employs more than 8,800 people worldwide. The company focuses on enterprise mobile computing, barcode printing, and data capture.

Professional Cybersecurity Organizations in Illinois

Learn about professional groups and events dedicated to cybersecurity in Illinois below.

ISSA Chicago

The Chicago chapter of the Information Systems Security Association brings together information security professionals across Illinois. This nonprofit membership group organizes peer networking events, professional development and continuing education training, and employment opportunities. The group works with local colleges to help students find internships and mentors.


Chicago's annual hacking conference invites people interested in information security for a casual and social experience. The top-secret event only reveals its location to speakers and attendees shortly before it starts.

EvolveSec Meetup Community

This self-proclaimed "third-largest cybersecurity Meetup group in the world" organizes hands-on workshops and panel discussions for cybersecurity students and professionals in Chicago and its surrounding area.

Cybersecurity Degree Programs in Illinois

Frequently Asked Questions About Cybersecurity in Illinois

Can I get a cybersecurity degree in Illinois?

Yes — many universities offer cybersecurity degrees in Illinois. Some options include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, and Purdue University Global.

Are the best cybersecurity schools in Illinois expensive?

The price for the best cybersecurity schools in Illinois varies by institution. Most universities offer financing options like scholarships, grants, student loans, and fellowships to help pay for your degree.

Do Illinois schools offer online cybersecurity degrees?

Yes — you can find an online cybersecurity degree in Illinois. For example, Purdue University Global offers an online bachelor of science in cybersecurity.

Will I be able to find a cybersecurity job in Illinois?

Earning a degree does not guarantee you a job, but there are many cybersecurity roles in Illinois open to qualified cybersecurity professionals. Popular cybersecurity jobs in the state include information security analyst, penetration tester, and incident responder.

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