Illinois’s Best Community Colleges of 2021

The best community colleges provide an effective springboard into higher education, offering students high-quality two-year degree programs in a wide range of disciplines. The top-rated community colleges in Illinois offer a broad selection of associate’s degrees, affordable tuition rates, and strong partnerships with public four-year schools so that students can easily transfer their credits into accredited bachelor’s degree programs.

Illinois’s Best Community Colleges of 2021

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 Chicago and Illinois State University, the state’s two largest public universities, however, is lower, falling 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.

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How do we determine Illinois's best community colleges?

The best colleges pound for pound!

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call Concentrated Influence. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

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.

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

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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There are 47 community colleges in Illinois. The following list shows the best community colleges in the state.

Best Community Colleges in Illinois

  1. Kennedy–King College
    #1

    Kennedy–King College

    #3678 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Student body

    2K

    Chicago, IL

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    What is Kennedy–King College known for?

    Kennedy–King College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Richland Community College
    #2

    Richland Community College

    #7699 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Student body

    2K

    Decatur, IL

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    What is Richland Community College known for?

    Richland Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
  3. Lewis and Clark Community College
    #3

    Lewis and Clark Community College

    #5308 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Student body

    3K

    Godfrey, IL

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    What is Lewis and Clark Community College known for?

    Lewis and Clark Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Olive–Harvey College
    #4

    Olive–Harvey College

    #8672 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Student body

    2K

    Chicago, IL

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    What is Olive–Harvey College known for?

    Olive–Harvey College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Black Hawk College
    #5

    Black Hawk College

    #3827 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Student body

    3K

    Moline, IL

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    What is Black Hawk College known for?

    Black Hawk College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Lincoln Land Community College
    #6

    Lincoln Land Community College

    #6154 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Student body

    4K

    Springfield, IL

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    What is Lincoln Land Community College known for?

    Lincoln Land Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. College of DuPage
    #7

    College of DuPage

    #2381 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Student body

    16K

    Glen Ellyn, IL

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    What is College of DuPage known for?

    College of DuPage's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Social Work
  8. Shawnee Community College
    #8

    Shawnee Community College

    #9518 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Student body

    1K

    Ullin, IL

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    What is Shawnee Community College known for?

    Shawnee Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
  9. Harper College
    #9

    Harper College

    #5470 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Student body

    9K

    Palatine, IL

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    What is Harper College known for?

    Harper College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Lake Land College
    #12

    Lake Land College

    #6238 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Student body

    6K

    Mattoon, IL

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    What is Lake Land College known for?

    Lake Land College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
  11. Joliet Junior College
    #13

    Joliet Junior College

    #3144 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Student body

    9K

    Joliet, IL

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    What is Joliet Junior College known for?

    Joliet Junior College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Richard J. Daley College
    #15

    Richard J. Daley College

    #6156 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Student body

    5K

    Chicago, IL

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    What is Richard J. Daley College known for?

    Richard J. Daley College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Frontier Community College
    #16

    Frontier Community College

    #12516 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Student body

    <1K

    Fairfield, IL

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    What is Frontier Community College known for?

    Frontier Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. Southeastern Illinois College
    #17

    Southeastern Illinois College

    #7847 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Student body

    <1K

    Harrisburg, IL

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    What is Southeastern Illinois College known for?

    Southeastern Illinois College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Illinois Central College
    #18

    Illinois Central College

    #5985 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Student body

    5K

    East Peoria, IL

    View profile

    What is Illinois Central College known for?

    Illinois Central College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Prairie State College
    #19

    Prairie State College

    #5580 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Student body

    3K

    Chicago Heights, IL

    View profile

    What is Prairie State College known for?

    Prairie State College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. Rock Valley College
    #20

    Rock Valley College

    #7648 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Student body

    5K

    Rockford, IL

    View profile

    What is Rock Valley College known for?

    Rock Valley College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. Illinois Valley Community College
    #21

    Illinois Valley Community College

    #10325 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Student body

    2K

    Oglesby, IL

    View profile

    What is Illinois Valley Community College known for?

    Illinois Valley Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. Kankakee Community College
    #22

    Kankakee Community College

    #9496 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Student body

    2K

    Kankakee, IL

    View profile

    What is Kankakee Community College known for?

    Kankakee Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
  20. Heartland Community College
    #23

    Heartland Community College

    #7471 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Student body

    3K

    Normal, IL

    View profile

    What is Heartland Community College known for?

    Heartland Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Engineering
  21. Parkland College
    #24

    Parkland College

    #5274 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Student body

    5K

    Champaign, IL

    View profile

    What is Parkland College known for?

    Parkland College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. Moraine Valley Community College
    #25

    Moraine Valley Community College

    #6685 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Student body

    9K

    Palos Hills, IL

    View profile

    What is Moraine Valley Community College known for?

    Moraine Valley Community College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology

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