Brendt Christensen received the lifetime term after a jury was unable to achieve a unanimous verdict on whether or not he must be given the death penalty.
Christensen, 30, kidnapped Zhang Yingying on campus in June 2017 before beating her to death with a baseball bat and decapitating her.
Her remains have never been found.
Ms. Zhang’s mother and father and fiancé had attended the five-week trial in Peoria, south-west of Chicago.
The proceedings have been adopted carefully in China, which sent consular officers to Thursday’s hearing. There was an outpouring of anger on Chinese social media that Christensen didn’t receive the death penalty.
Handing down the sentence of life in prison without the potential for release, US District Judge James Shadid stated Christensen’s actions have been “an inexplicable act of violence.”
He stated the Zhang family would possibly never learn where their daughter’s remains are.
“No matter self-centred opinion you’ve of yourself, when you’ve taken out of here today by America marshals, to attend for that lonely, isolated and cold deathbed that follows your pure life in jail, perhaps, simply maybe, the moment will strike you to select up paper and pen and write ‘I am sorry’ to Mr. and Mrs. Zhang,” he mentioned, based on the Chicago Tribune.
Christensen didn’t communicate throughout the hearing.