Best Colleges in Illinois 2023

Best Colleges in Illinois 2023

Here are the best colleges and universities in Illinois. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you.

Colleges and Universities in Illinois

Prospective students searching for colleges in Illinois have plenty of excellent schools to choose from. Illinois offers over 130 higher education institutes throughout the state. Thanks to an expansive public university system and several top private institutions, students can select from an extremely wide array of brick-and-mortar and online colleges in Illinois.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois at Chicago, the state’s two largest public universities in Illinois. Students can access a full spectrum of undergraduate and graduate degrees for in-state tuition rates of $13,000 to $15,000 respectively. Both public universities also offer a full selection of online degree programs.

It’s also worth noting that Illinois residents who pursue online degrees at public colleges in Illinois will qualify for in-state tuition rates. Out of state students will generally pay more whether pursuing on-campus or online degrees.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

More than half of the colleges in Illinois are actually private schools. Among these private colleges and universities, the most notable are DePaul University, Northwestern University, and Loyola University Chicago. Tuition from these three private schools can be costly, ranging from $44,000 to $55,000. However, each of these private schools boasts a high graduation rate and excellent professors.

Illinois is also home to many small private schools, including Benedictine University and National Louis University.

Popular disciplines in Illinois include disciplines like criminal justice, social work, nursing, education, religious studies, communications, and medicine. Both traditional and online students have a wide range of options in each of these subject areas.

Degree completion programs are also widely available for lapsed students who have already accumulated some college credits. This is an especially popular online degree option among working professionals in Illinois.

Additionally, Illinois offers several loan forgiveness-based financial aid programs for qualifying students pursuing careers as teachers, public defenders or prosecutors, or nurses.

From the skyscrapers in Chicago to the vast prairie lands in the north, Illinois is a place where city meets country. Students can grab a Chicago-style hotdog on the way to a Cubs game, explore the ancient sandstone cliffs in the Shawnee National Forest, or admire an exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, all while attending one of The Prairie State’s universities or colleges.

The higher education institutes in Illinois have also produced many prominent alumni, including Stephen Colbert, Phillip Glass, and Kurt Vonnegut. Students hoping to walk the same streets as these well-known individuals can check out some of the state’s top programs and universities.


What are Illinois’s Colleges & Universities?

Illinois’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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We’ve identified 53 colleges and universities in Illinois that meet our criteria. This list of the top 25 colleges in Illinois below focuses on schools that offer bachelor’s degrees. The ranking features fully accredited public and private colleges and universities in Illinois.

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Best Colleges in Illinois 2022

  1. #1

    University of Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1535/34

  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1490/34

  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/25

    University of Illinois Chicago’s Online Degrees

    BS in Health Information Management
    • Required Credits: 123
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/28

    Loyola University Chicago’s Online Degrees

    BA in Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Information Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Web Technologies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Paralegal Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Applied Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Strategic Digital Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. #7

    DePaul University

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    19K

    DePaul University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Decision Analytics
    • Required Credits: 192
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Computing
    • Required Credits: 192
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Applied Behavioral Sciences
    • Required Credits: 192
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: None Reported
    BA in Leadership Studies
    • Required Credits: 192
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. #13

    Roosevelt University

    Chicago , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/22

    Roosevelt University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 147
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Health Science Administration
    • Required Credits: 131-135
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Bachelor'S In Psychology
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/21

    Western Illinois University’s Online Degrees

    BB in Accountancy
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Economics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BB in Economics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Fire Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Anthropology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Interpersonal Communication And Processes
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Organizational Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  8. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/23

    University of Illinois Springfield’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 53-55
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Sports Management
    • Required Credits: 53-55
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Human Resource Management
    • Required Credits: 53-55
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication
    • Required Credits: 32
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Management
    • Required Credits: 53-55
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Marketing
    • Required Credits: 53-55
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  9. #20

    Eastern Illinois University

    Charleston , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

    Eastern Illinois University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Organizational Development
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Communication In Organizations
    • Required Credits: 46
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 35
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Communication
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Promotion
    Degree Concentrations
    • Emergency Management And Disaster Preparedness
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  10. Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/22

    Benedictine University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Digital Marketing
    • Human Resources Management
    • Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in General Professional Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  11. #24

    McKendree University

    Lebanon , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1074/23

    McKendree University’s Online Degrees

    BBA in Accounting
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Entrepreneurship
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Human Resource Management
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Management
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Sport Management
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Supply Chain Management And Logistics
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Information Systems
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BBA in Cyber Defense
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology/Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. #25

    Aurora University

    Aurora , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/21

    What is Aurora University known for?

    Aurora University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    Aurora University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Cybersecurity
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in General Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSW in Social Work
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
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Illinois’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utilized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. University of Chicago
  2. Northwestern University
  3. Illinois Institute of Technology
  4. Wheaton College
  5. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  6. University of Illinois Chicago
  7. Knox College
  8. University of Illinois Springfield
  9. Trinity International University
  10. DePaul University
  11. Principia College
  12. Loyola University Chicago
  13. Monmouth College
  14. Illinois Wesleyan University
  15. Lake Forest College
  16. Illinois State University
  17. Illinois College
  18. Bradley University
  19. Dominican University
  20. Eastern Illinois University
  21. North Central College
  22. Augustana College
  23. Elmhurst University
  24. Olivet Nazarene University
  25. Millikin University