Getting State Approval - IL

Illinois is a great place to open a private business and vocational school or university with its diverse range of communities and opportunities for growth. Before launching your school though, you need to make sure it complies with the state’s regulations.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of obtaining state approval for opening a private school in Illinois.

Understanding the Requirements and Guidelines for State Approval

The Illinois Board of Higher Education provides a detailed set of criteria for both institutional and programmatic approvals.

Criteria for Approval (Institutional):

  1. Mission and Objectives. The educational mission of the institution should be clear, with a focus on providing quality education to its students.
  2. Academic Control. The institution must have complete control over its academic program, with the ability to properly develop and manage courses and programs of study. 
  3. Faculty and Staff. The institution must have sufficient faculty and staff to support its academic program, with appropriate qualifications and credentials.
  4. Support Services. The institution must have adequate support services in place to ensure the successful operation of its educational program, including student services, library resources, technology & infrastructure.
  5. Financial Stability. The institution must demonstrate financial stability and a commitment to long-term sustainability. This can include evidence of an appropriate level of reserves and/or sufficient income from tuition and other sources.
  6. Statewise Needs and Priorities. The institution's educational program must reflect the current needs and priorities of the state, with a focus on preparing students for success in their chosen field.

Criteria for Approval (Programmatic):

  1. Curriculum Content & Quality. All courses within the program should be designed to meet specific learning objectives and have an appropriate level of quality.
  2. Program Information. The institution should offer a sufficient number of courses to meet the educational needs of its students, including both classroom-based and online instruction.
  3. Teaching Staff. The program should have competent faculty with appropriate qualifications and experience in teaching the subject matter.
  4. Accreditation and Licensure. If applicable, the program should be accredited by a recognized accreditation body and/or have the appropriate licensure requirement in place.

Here are the steps you need to follow when seeking approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education:

  1. Submit a completed Notice of Intent (NOA)
  2. Complete and submit an application to the Board
  3. Apply for approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE)

Step 1: Submit a Completed Notice of Intent (NoA) to The Board

A Notice of Intent (NoA) form must be completed and submitted to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

This form should include information such as:

  • Degree and program name
  • Location
  • Description of the program
  • Demographics of intended students
  • Estimated enrollment
  • Contact person

The Board will publicly post the NoA at least 30 days before taking action on the application.

Step 2: Complete and Submit an Application to The Board

Once the NoA has been publicly posted, you must submit a complete application for approval to the Board. This should include all the necessary information to demonstrate compliance with the criteria outlined in the first section of this guide. The institution must also inform the Board if the proposed unit is considered a reasonable and moderate extension rather than a new unit.

Upon determining that the Criteria for Approval are met, the Board will approve the establishment of the new unit of instruction, research or public service and will inform the appropriate board of control.

Step 3: Apply for Approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE)

Once the Notice of Intent and application have been reviewed by the Board and approved, you must submit an official application for approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

This application should include information such as:

  • The institution's mission statement
  • A description of the proposed program and its intended outcomes
  • Evidence that the criteria for approval have been met
  • Financial and budget reports demonstrating the institution’s ability to sustain the proposed program with sufficient income from tuition and other sources
  • A description of the teaching staff, their qualifications and experience
  • Evidence that appropriate accreditation or licensure requirements are in place

Here's a list of expected costs a college/university may incur during the application process:


  • A population of fewer than 100 students: $1,000
  • 100 to 399 students: $2,000
  • 400 to 700 students: $4,000
  • More than 700 students: $5,000

Approval Timelines:

  • The Board should approve applications within 6-9 months of submission.

For a complete list of all fees and timelines, please refer to this PDF file.

If approved by both the Board and IBHE, the institution is granted formal authority to establish the new unit of instruction, research or public service. The institution must comply with all regulations and statutes established by both the Board and IBHE to remain approved.

Closing Words

By following the steps outlined in this guide and remaining mindful of all fees and timelines, you can ensure that your application is approved in a timely manner. Make sure you have all the necessary documentation and information ready before submitting your application to increase your chances of success.

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