We’ve reviewed five popular Illinois real estate schools and are ready to share what we’ve learned. There’s no better time than right now to get started, especially in Chicago—the country’s third largest city by population and one of the country’s hottest real estate markets.
We understand that you’re ready to dive into a new career in real estate, but before you do, you’ll need to complete a 90-hour prelicensing course. Take a look at our recommendations for the best online real estate education providers that will help you successfully launch your next career chapter.
5 Best Illinois Real Estate Schools for 2022
|Our Top Picks|
|Best Overall: |
|Best for Livestream Classes: |
Real Estate Express
|Best Exam Prep: |
|Best for a Budget: |
The CE Shop
|Best Live Instruction: |
Inland School of Real Estate
(Illinois prelicensing package prices as of December 2021)
Illinois Real Estate Schools – Helpful Info
To become a real estate broker in Illinois, you must first take a 90-hour prelicensing course before you sit for the exam. There are several important pieces of information that you need to know before choosing from the many Illinois real estate schools that offer this course.
The first is that in Illinois, the real estate agents who hold a supervisory role are called managing brokers, and beginning agents are brokers. This may be confusing since most states use the word broker to refer to someone who has received additional training and passed a second state licensing exam.
Once you complete 90 hours of study, pass the state’s broker exam, obtain your license, and get hired by a managing broker, you can begin your career. Here are the types of course packages offered by Illinois real estate schools:
The first step to becoming a real estate broker in Illinois is to enroll in 75 hours of prelicensing courses that are required by the state. If you need more guidance on the process of getting licensed in Illinois, check out our guide How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois for more details.
The State of Illinois requires aspiring brokers to complete an additional 15-hour interactive prelicensing course that’s focused on state-specific content. This course can be taken either in person or through a live webinar. Kaplan and Inland School of Real Estate both offer this required course. See each school’s packages and pricing for more details.
Exam Prep Courses
The broker test includes both national and state-specific questions. Some of the packages listed include exam prep materials in the same package with your Illinois real estate prelicensing course.
Within two years of obtaining your initial license, you’ll need to take 45 hours of post-licensing courses. Some of the packages we mention also include those courses.
We know that finding schools that can fulfill these needs may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry. We’ll help you choose the right Illinois real estate school (or combination of schools) that’ll help you get licensed and succeed in your new career. Let’s take a deep dive.
Best Overall Illinois Real Estate School: Kaplan
Kaplan has been in the test and exam prep business since 1938, so they know a thing or two about preparing people for exams and new careers. Even though this is a national company, Kaplan has found a way to offer the 15 hours of state-specific interactive courses required by Illinois, and even offer it as a standalone product. That’s why they’re our top pick among Illinois real estate schools. They offer one-stop shopping.
We also like Kaplan’s Career Launcher Program. This online, interactive class connects you with professionals in the real estate industry who’ll offer business advice on launching and growing your business. You’ll also have one-on-one sessions with career counselors so that you can ask questions about your unique situation.
Kaplan offers seven different packages for prelicensing courses in Illinois. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll only discuss the online course packages. If you’d prefer to do a portion of your learning by reading a textbook, know that a Home Study course is offered through Kaplan.
|Kaplan Pros||Kaplan Cons|
Best-in-class live and live online courses
Interface is a little dated
Great post-test professional development tools
Difficult to take classes on a mobile device
Excellent textbook and class materials
Live and live online classes are pretty pricy
Here are the three online packages that Kaplan offers. To fulfill all your prelicensing requirements, you’ll need to enroll in two of these courses.
- Illinois 75-Hour Broker Licensing With Master Exam Prep Online Package $489: This package includes many resources to help you prepare for the Illinois broker exam. Besides the 75 hours of prelicensing class hours, you’ll also receive an online bank of practice questions from both the national and state portions of the exam. You’ll also receive access to a live interactive study session.
- Career Launcher Online Package $689: Kaplan’s Career Launcher Package includes everything in the previous package, as well as resources that’ll help you prepare for your career. Kaplan’s Real Estate Accelerator is an eight-hour intensive course. You’ll also receive eight weeks of professional coaching. You’ll learn strategies that will help you grow your business from people who have already achieved success.
- Illinois 15-Hour Broker Licensing Live Interactive Course $189: Regardless of which of the previous two courses you choose, you’ll also need to enroll in this course with Kaplan to complete your prelicensing course requirements. This interactive course isn’t included in either of the two previous packages.
(Illinois prelicensing & interactive package prices as of December 2021)
BEST FEATURE: There are several things we like about Kaplan’s courses. Still, our favorite feature is that they are the only national real estate education company that offers the 15-hour interactive course that’s required by the state.
Kaplan also offers exam prep materials with both of the packages we mentioned, and you can enroll in your post-licensing courses with Kaplan as well.
ROOM TO IMPROVE: Kaplan’s prelicensing packages are expensive. Their most basic package is $489, which is quite a bit more than the entry-level package offered by other companies on our list. Check out The CE Shop or Real Estate Express for more affordable options.
BOTTOM LINE: Since Kaplan offers the 15-hour interactive course and post-licensing courses, it makes Kaplan your one-stop shop for all your Illinois real estate education. Even if you choose Real Estate Express or The CE Shop for your 75 hours of prelicensing courses, you may still turn to Kaplan for the 15-hour interactive course. Since Kaplan has been educating Americans for decades, we bet you won’t be disappointed in the course material.
Best Illinois Real Estate School for Livestream Classes:
Real Estate Express
Real Estate Express Offers:
Real Estate Express’ programs are affordable and highly rated, and they’ve created successful online real estate education programs for dozens of states, so they’re good at what they do.
You’ll be required to learn a lot of complicated material when becoming a real estate broker in Illinois. Real Estate Express presents this detailed information in a clear, concise format. The essential material is often repeated, so you’ve ample opportunities to learn it.
Real Estate Express Pros
Real Estate Express Cons
Real Estate Express Pricing
Real Estate Express offers four 75-hour, self-paced online course packages for prelicensing in Illinois. They also offer a livestream course option. We’ve listed each package at the regular price, but they often go on sale. Please note that Real Estate Express does not offer the 15-hour interactive course required by the state.
- The Basics $329: This entry-level package is for a “disciplined self-starter who has some real estate experience.” This package is far from “basic” as it also includes three real estate e-books and state-approved instructor support through email and phone.
- Exam Preparation $429: This package includes everything in the previous package as well as exam prep material. Their exam prep material includes 10 progress exams, five practice final exams (including three that focus on state-specific questions), and flashcards. Real Estate Express’ Pass or Don’t Pay Guarantee promises that you’ll be refunded the $55 exam fee if you don’t pass it the first time you take it.
- Exam Preparation Plus $499: For $70 more, you’ll receive everything in the previous two packages and have 40 hours per month of live access to state-approved instructors. You’ll also receive 45 hours of post-licensing courses that you’re required to take to renew your license the first time.
- Ultimate Learning Package $593: This top-tier package includes everything in the previous one, as well as a printed textbook. You’ll also receive a one-year membership with McKissock, a professional development company.
- Livestream Package $593: This package includes scheduled classes during the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or mornings only. It includes the “pass or don’t pay” guarantee and a printed copy of the textbook.
(Illinois prelicensing package prices as of December 2021)
BEST FEATURE: It takes a highly skilled team of people to develop an online course that is attractive, informative, and interactive. While some local real estate companies may offer at-your-own-pace online instruction, they can’t compete with the professional quality of courses that Real Estate Express provides.
ROOM TO IMPROVE: Real Estate Express specializes in online, at-your-own-pace education. This means that they don’t offer the 15 hours of interactive courses required by the state. If you choose Real Estate Express to take your 75 hours of classes, you’ll need to enroll in either Kaplan or Inland Real Estate School to take the additional required hours.
BOTTOM LINE: Real Estate Express offers an easy-to-use, self-paced online format. If you want a seamless learning experience for the bulk of your prelicense course and don’t mind going elsewhere for the 15-hour interactive course, you won’t be disappointed with Real Estate Express.
Best Illinois Real Estate School for Exam Prep: Mbition
Mbition doesn’t offer any prelicensing courses for Illinois, but we’d like to mention them since they provide spot-on exam prep materials. If you’re nervous about taking the Illinois broker exam, we encourage you to purchase a program through Mbition to help you study.
Mbition offers two online, self-paced exam prep packages for Illinois. Both include the PSI National Exam Prep materials. Mbition’s exam prep materials mimic the actual exam that you’ll take. A countdown timer will appear on the screen, which will help you practice your pacing.
The most exciting aspect of Mbition’s National Exam Prep material is that they analyze the questions you miss on the practice test and will provide you with a list of topics that require extra review before you take the real exam.
|Mbition Pros||Mbition Cons|
Best-in-class test preparation
Relatively small continuing education options
Highly customizable packages
Classes not recommended for completing on your phone
Adaptive learning technology to help you focus on the areas where you struggle the most
Not available in as many states as other major platforms
Mbition Exam Prep Pricing
Mbition offers two exam prep packages for Illinois. Both include the National Exam Prep materials.
- National Real Estate Exam Prep-PSI $59: This affordable program will make the time you spend studying much more efficient because it offers tailor-made study materials. You’ll also get practice with the format of the exam. When you finish the practice test, you’ll receive a report detailing areas that need additional study.
- National Master Exam Prep Package – Illinois $129: This package includes the PSI Exam Prep, but it also has other test-taking resources that you might find helpful. You’ll receive an exam prep toolkit that includes flashcards, topic reviews, and additional study tips. You’ll also receive MathMaster, a program that’ll assist you with the math concepts you’ll be required to know for the exam.
Click our link to Mbition to save.
BEST FEATURE: While some Illinois real estate schools offer exam prep packages that include access to hundreds (or thousands) of practice questions, Mbition will narrow down the topics that need extra attention after you take only one practice test. Their adaptive learning technology will make your study time more efficient!
ROOM TO IMPROVE: While Mbition offers great exam prep material, that’s all they can help you with at this point in your career. If you want an Illinois real estate school that includes exam prep materials along with prelicensing courses and career advice, consider choosing a package with Kaplan.
BOTTOM LINE: After you complete your prelicensing classes and see how much material you need to study, you’ll realize how important it is to have quality exam prep materials. Visit Mbition’s website to learn more about their packages.
Best Illinois Real Estate School for Students on a Budget: The CE Shop
The CE Shop Offers:
While The CE Shop initially offered only continuing education (CE) courses, they now offer classes that help you start your career as well. They include flashcards, a real estate glossary, and a study schedule. Even the entry-level package includes access to a live, instructional webinar by an industry expert who’ll answer your questions about complicated material.
Amazingly, The CE Shop can offer all of these resources at reasonable prices. They’re highly rated, and each package includes resources on getting hired by a managing broker. Let’s learn about the packages.
Try The CE Shop’s FREE 5-DAY TRIAL!
The CE Shop Pros
The CE Shop Cons
The CE Shop Pricing
The CE Shop has four prelicensing packages for Illinois. Like Real Estate Express, the company doesn’t offer the 15-hour interactive course that Illinois requires.
- Courses Only $325: You’ll love The CE Shop’s interactive content. It will keep you interested in the material through the entirety of the course.
- Standard Package $385: You’ll receive the course and exam prep materials with the Standard Package. You’ll also receive a Pass Guarantee that’ll refund you the $55 fee you spent on the licensing exam if you have to retake it.
- Value Package $425: You’ll receive everything in the previous course plus a Business Building Course when purchasing the Value Package. The Business Building Course is designed for new agents, and it’ll give you tips on organizing an office and launching a career.
- Premium Package $585: As we mentioned, The CE Shop got its start offering continuing education courses. Their Illinois Premium Package includes everything from the previous package as well as all the post-licensing courses you’ll need to renew your license for the first time.
BEST FEATURE: Starting a real estate business is more than just getting a license and finding a brokerage. In order to be successful, you also need to know what it takes to get a real estate operation off the ground. We love the affordable options provided by The CE Shop, and included in those options are courses like “Building Your Sphere” and “Is Commercial Real Estate Right for You?”
There’s always a concern that, when it comes to online real estate schools, you get what you pay for in terms of quality and content. But The CE Shop exceeds expectations by including this premium content in the Value and Premium packages.
ROOM TO IMPROVE: Even though The CE Shop offers affordable, high-quality courses, you have to be self-disciplined to get through the sometimes dry material on your own. If you’d rather your classes were scheduled each week, consider enrolling in the Inland Real Estate School’s live, online class.
BOTTOM LINE: You’ll have such a good experience with The CE Shop that you’ll probably return to them repeatedly throughout your career for affordable continuing education courses. Visit their website to learn more details about their programs.
Best Illinois Real Estate School for Live, Online Instruction: Inland Real Estate School
Inland Real Estate School Offers:
Inland Real Estate School has been perfecting their real estate courses for over 40 years. Within that time, they’ve helped more than 10,000 students get licensed. If those statistics aren’t impressive enough, they made our list because they offer something no other company in our buyer’s guide does: all 90 hours of prelicensing courses in a live, online format.
Some of you may worry about getting through an online course that teaches less-than-exciting material. If you learn best in an interactive classroom, enroll in Inland Real Estate School’s live, streaming prelicensing classes.
Inland School of Real Estate Pros
Inland School of Real Estate Cons
Inland Real Estate School Pricing
Inland Real Estate School broke the 90 hours of prelicensing courses into two separate classes. You’ll need to enroll in both to fulfill your prelicensing education requirements.
- Classroom 75-Hour Prelicense $473.50: Inland Real Estate School offers its 75-hour course Monday through Friday for three weeks. Students can choose between morning or evening classes. You can attend the classes in person or through a livestream service.
- Classroom 15-Hour Interactive $169: The 15-hour course can be scheduled in either morning or evening sessions for one week.
(Illinois prelicensing package prices as of December 2021)
BEST FEATURE: We love that the instructors at Inland Real Estate School have decades of real estate experience. We also love that their courses are highly rated. They made this list because they provide a service for those of us who need a living, breathing person to teach complicated material.
Even if you attend the live course from the comfort of your own home, you’ll still have access to the teacher. You’ll be able to learn from other students’ questions and ask for clarification when you need it as well.
ROOM TO IMPROVE: Inland Real Estate School offers in-person or group studying sessions and materials, but they’re expensive. For budget-friendly, quality exam prep materials, take a look at the packages Mbition has to offer.
BOTTOM LINE: Inland Real Estate School has trained thousands of real estate agents. You’ll learn a lot about the unique world of Chicagoland real estate when you take your prelicensing courses with them.
Illinois Real Estate Schools – FAQs
Got questions? We’ve got answers! Below you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Illinois real estate schools. If you have more questions, please drop them in the comments section of this article. We’d love to hear from you!
Can I get my Illinois real estate license online?
You can complete the majority of the requirements needed to get your real estate license in Illinois online.
Your prelicensing course can be done online, either self-paced or through livestream classes. Your state-required interactive classes can be completed online. But you will need to find a managing broker to hire you, and you’ll need to take the broker license exam in person.
To learn more about the licensing process, see our checklist below, and for an in-depth look, read How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois in 4 Easy Steps.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois
✔ Complete a 75-hour prelicensing course
✔ Complete a 15-hour interactive course
✔ Pass the Illinois real estate broker exam
✔ Find a managing broker to hire you
✔ Complete the licensing process
How much does it cost to get my real estate license in Illinois?
It costs between $550 and $1,000 to get your real estate license in Illinois. To help you better understand your investment, here is how the cost is generally broken down for prospective brokers in Illinois.
- Prelicensing Course ($300-$600)
- Exam Prep Materials ($60-$129)
- Illinois Broker Exam Fee ($58)
- Broker License Application Fee ($125)
How long does it take to become a real estate broker in Illinois?
With a good work ethic, it can take you as little as three months to become a real estate broker in Illinois. Most people tend to take about six months to a year to complete their studies, depending on their schedule.
How long it takes you to become a real estate broker depends on how much time you need to confidently pass your prelicense course and your license exam. Some livestream classes run full time during the week and finish in as little as two weeks. So, you have flexibility to set your own timeline to complete the courses and exam.
Are self-paced or livestream classes better when choosing an online real estate school?
This depends solely on your learning style and your motivation. Both livestream and self-paced course options cover the same material, so theoretically you have the same odds of success in either course option.
Consider asking yourself the following questions to narrow down the best option for you:
- Can I make a study schedule and stick to it?
- Do I prefer the accountability of a scheduled class?
- Am I likely to become distracted and push back my self-paced schedule?
- Do I have commitments that need a flexible learning schedule?
- Do I prefer interacting with others while I learn?
More Career Resources From The Close
You’ve learned a lot about the licensing process and the best Illinois real estate schools in this article. You can dig deeper in How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois. We’d love to be a part of your journey toward finding the right real estate school and becoming a real estate broker in Illinois.
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