Best Colleges in Illinois 2022

Best Colleges in Illinois 2022

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

Illinois offers over 130 higher education institutes throughout the state. More than half of those schools are private, including the well-known DePaul University, Northwestern University, and Loyola University Chicago. While tuition at these three private schools can be costly, ranging from $44,000 to $55,000, graduation rates are high. Tuition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois at Chicago, the state’s two largest public universities, falls in the range of $13,000 to $15,000.

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While some of these universities have large student populations, Illinois is also home to many small schools, including Benedictine University and National Louis University. Students choosing to study at one at an Illinois college can pursue degrees in areas like criminal justice, social work, nursing, education, religious studies, communications, and medicine. Additionally, Illinois offers several loan forgiveness program 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, Hugh Hefner, 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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How do we determine Illinois's best colleges and universities?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence in their fields of study.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

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

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1535/34

    What is University of Chicago known for?

    University of Chicago’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Philosophy
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Northwestern University

    Evanston , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1495/34

    What is Northwestern University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Law
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    What is University of Illinois Chicago known for?

    University of Illinois Chicago’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1295/29

    What is Illinois Institute of Technology known for?

    Illinois Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Law
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #7

    DePaul University

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    19K

    What is DePaul University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Law
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/22

    What is Northern Illinois University known for?

    Northern Illinois University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Anthropology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #10

    Bradley University

    Peoria , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    What is Bradley University known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #11

    Illinois State University

    Normal , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    What is Illinois State University known for?

    Illinois State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Earth Sciences
    • Anthropology
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/24

    What is Southern Illinois University Carbondale known for?

    Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #13

    Roosevelt University

    Chicago , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/24

    What is Roosevelt University known for?

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

    • Economics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #14

    Columbia College Chicago

    Chicago , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    6K

    What is Columbia College Chicago known for?

    Columbia College Chicago’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #15

    Knox College

    Galesburg , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1220/27

    What is Knox College known for?

    Knox College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #16

    Lake Forest College

    Lake Forest , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Lake Forest College known for?

    Lake Forest College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    What is Southern Illinois University Edwardsville known for?

    Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Anthropology
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #18

    Western Illinois University

    Macomb , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    What is Western Illinois University known for?

    Western Illinois University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Earth Sciences
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #19

    University of Illinois Springfield

    Springfield , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1107/22

    What is University of Illinois Springfield known for?

    University of Illinois Springfield’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Law
    • Sociology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #20

    Eastern Illinois University

    Charleston , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    What is Eastern Illinois University known for?

    Eastern Illinois University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Business
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #21

    Benedictine University

    Lisle , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1076/22

    What is Benedictine University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #22

    Chicago State University

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    16%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    951/17

    What is Chicago State University known for?

    Chicago State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #23

    North Central College

    Naperville , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    What is North Central College known for?

    North Central College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • History
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #24

    McKendree University

    Lebanon , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1063/23

    What is McKendree University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #25

    Aurora University

    Aurora , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1047/20

    What is Aurora University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

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Illinois’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

Resources for College-Bound Students

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 utiulized 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