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Chicago Colleges with Associate Degree Programs

There are over 30 colleges and universities within Chicago. Read about the schools with most program variety, highest graduation rates, lowest student-faculty ratios and lowest costs to find the school for you.

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Most Program Variety

Students who know they want to earn associate degrees but are uncertain about their career goals might look for schools that offer various programs. The three Chicago colleges featured below offer the most variety of associate degree programs in the region.

1 - Triton College

Located around 14 miles from the 'Windy City' in River Grove, Triton College is a public school that prepares students to start their careers or transfer to 4-year colleges. In addition to associate degrees, Triton offers certificate, continuing education and adult education programs. Triton also has the Scholars Program for students planning to transfer to 4-year colleges; students can complete the first 2 years while at home. Students can choose from more than 70 associate degree programs.

In 2011-2012, more than 1,000 associate degrees were awarded, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The most popular areas of study were biology and physical science, general studies, criminal justice/law enforcement administration, registered nursing and automobile/automotive mechanics technology/technician.

2 - City Colleges of Chicago - Kennedy-King College

Kennedy-King College is one of seven colleges to make up the City Colleges of Chicago - one of the biggest community college systems in the nation. Kennedy-King College offers career certificate programs, associate degree transfer programs and continuing education classes. In the 2011-2012 school year, Kennedy-King College awarded more than 400 associate degrees. The NCES reported the most popular associate degree programs that year were liberal arts and sciences/liberal studies, general studies, culinary arts/chef training and dental hygiene/hygienist.

2 - City Colleges of Chicago - Wilbur Wright College

Wilbur Wright College, also part of the City Colleges of Chicago, is a 2-year college that has around 45 academic programs. The college serves almost 13,000 students annually and offers certificate and associate degree programs. In 2011-2012, around 735 associate degrees were awarded, according to the NCES. The most popular areas of study were liberal arts and sciences/liberal studies, biological and physical sciences, general studies and registered nursing. Wilbur Wright College also has the Humboldt Park Vocational Education Center, which serves as an educational and job training center for the West Town and Humboldt Park communities of Chicago.

Lowest Net Price

The cost of attending college is often important to students when choosing a college. NCES determines the net cost of attending college by subtracting the amount of government or financial aid a student receives from the cost of attending the college. The 3 colleges listed below have the lowest net cost in the Chicago area.

1 - Morton College

With a net price of $3,492 for 2010-2011, Morton College in Cicero offers the most affordable option for earning an associate degree in the Chicago area. For 2012-2013, in-district students paid tuition and fees of $3,188, while in-state students paid $7,284 and out-of-state students paid $9,332, according to the NCES. The NCES also reported that 64% of students in 2010-2011 received some sort of financial aid, with $2,800 as the average amount received. Around 7 percent were recipients of federal student loans and received an average loan amount of $5,506. Morton College awarded more than 400 associate degrees in 2010-2011.

2 - Triton College

The second most affordable college in the Chicago area, Triton College charged an estimated yearly amount of $3,302 for in-district students, $8,042 for in-state students and $9,994 for out-of-state students for the 2012-2013 school year. The NCES calculated Triton's net price to be $4,024 for 2010-2011. In the same year, around 30% of its students received grant or scholarship aid, with $3,872 the average award amount, as reported by the NCES. About 3 percent of the students received federal student loans, with the average loan amount of $4,509.

3 - City Colleges of Chicago - Wilbur Wright College

Wilbur Wright College has the third lowest net cost in the Chicago area at $4,092 for the 2010-2011 academic year. Tuition rates for students starting in 2012-2013 were $3,070 for in-district, $5,961 for in-state and $7,498 for out-of-state students. A 2010-2011 NCES report stated that 35% of the students received an average financial aid amount of $3,718.

Highest Graduation Rate

The graduation rates for students are often used to determine the success of a school. The NCES bases its graduation rates on students who begin their studies in a specific year and complete their studies in 150% of the 'normal time' it takes for that program. The following three Chicago schools have the highest graduation rates, ranging from 25%-75%.

1 - Zarem/Golde ORT Technical Institute

Located in Skokie, Zarem/Golde ORT Technical Institute is a small college with a population of less than 700 students. In 2010-2011, the school awarded around 370 certificate or associate degrees. The NCES reported the graduation rate for full-time students who began their studies in 2008-2009 and finished within 150% of the normal time to be 74%; the transfer-out rate was 10%. That year's graduation rate was slightly lower than the 86% for students who began their studies in 2007-2008. Of the students who began their studies in 2010, 75% returned in 2011. A large majority of the students studied general English language and literature that year.

2 - Robert Morris University

Located in Chicago, Robert Morris University (RMU) is a 4-year university with the second highest graduation rate in Chicago. Additionally, RMU's graduation rate ranks among the top 5 among private, not-for-profit universities in Illinois, according to 2010 data from The Chronicle of Higher Education. According to the NCES, the university had a graduation rate of 44% for students who began their studies in 2005. RMU's retention rate for 2010-2011 was 45% for full-time students. U.S. News & World Report named RMU one of the most diverse universities in the Midwest, according to 2011-2012 data. The student population of RMU consists of students from 25 nations.

3 - East-West University

With a 25% overall graduation rate, East-West University in Chicago has the third highest graduation rate in the Chicago area. For 2010-2011, the retention rate was 29% for full-time students. East-West University is a small university that offers certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees. The university has a diverse staff and faculty and is Illinois' only majority-minority 4-year college. For 2011-2012, East-West University awarded 19 undergraduate certificates, 39 associate degrees and 96 bachelor's degrees.

Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

Each of the Chicago-area schools mentioned below has small classes, which may be favorable to students seeking a more personalized learning experience. These schools, each of which has less than 5,000 students enrolled, have no more than 19 students for each faculty member.

1 - MacCormac College

MacCormac College, located in downtown Chicago, is a small private college that serves slightly less than 200 students. The college offers a student-faculty ratio of 11:1 and class sizes that range from 7-15 students. The NCES reported that there were 22 part-time and 4 full-time instructors as of 2011. MacCormac College offers associate degree programs in the fields of criminal justice, medical office technology, business administration and paralegal studies. The school also offers a certificate program in broadcast captioning.

2 - Zarem/Golde ORT Technical Institute

Zarem/Golde ORT Technical Institute offers a student-faculty ratio of 14:1 - the second lowest in the Chicago area of schools in this group. Most of the instructional faculty at this school are employed part-time, and many are multilingual. The college's goal is to provide hands-on technical training that prepares students to be competitive in the job market.

3 - Robert Morris University

Third in lowest student-faculty quotient is Robert Morris University, which has a ratio of 19:1. RMU offers associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs. As of 2011, the university had 126 full-time and 161 part-time faculty members. According to 2011 information from the U.S. News & World Report, 54.9% of RMU's classes have fewer than 20 students.

Chicago Area Schools at a Glance

School Name Location School Type Degrees Offered Area Ranking
City Colleges of Chicago-Kennedy-King College Chicago, IL 2-year, public Less than 1-year, 1- to-2-year certificates; associate degrees 2nd Most Program Variety (tied)
City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College Chicago, IL 2-year, public Less than 1-year, 1- to-2-year certificates; associate degrees 2nd Most Program Variety (tied),
3rd Lowest Net Price
East-West University Chicago, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit Less than 1-year certificates; associate and bachelor's degrees 3rd Highest Graduation Rate
MacCormac College Chicago, IL 2-year, private not-for-profit 1-year but less than 2-year certificates; associate degrees Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
Morton College Cicero, IL (9 miles from Chicago) 2-year, public Less than 1-year, 1- to-2-year certificates; associate degrees Lowest Net Price
Robert Morris University Illinois Chicago, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit Associate, bachelor's and master's degrees 2nd Highest Graduation Rate,
3rd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
Triton College River Grove, IL (15 miles from Chicago) 2-year, public Less than 1-year, 1- to-2-year certificates; associate degrees Most Program Variety,
2nd Lowest Net Price
Zarem/Golde ORT Technical Institute Skokie, IL (15 miles from Chicago) 2-year, private not-for-profit Less than 1-year certificates; associate degrees Highest Graduation Rate,
2nd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
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      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
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    • Pennsylvania campus Philadelphia
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Business
    • Communications and Journalism
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    • Physical Sciences
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