Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois 2022

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois 2022

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in Illinois offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

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.


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A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 36 liberal arts colleges in Illinois. To be ranked among the 25 best liberal arts colleges in Illinois, schools must fully accredited institutions.

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois 2022

  1. #1

    Wheaton College

    Wheaton , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1330/29

    What is Wheaton College known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Business
    • Education
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    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

  3. #3

    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

  4. #4

    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

  5. #5

    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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. #8

    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

  9. #9

    Chicago State University

    Chicago , IL

    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

  10. #10

    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

  11. #11

    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

  12. #12

    Governors State University

    University Park , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    24%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    935/19

    What is Governors State University known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Saint Xavier University

    Chicago , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    What is Saint Xavier University known for?

    Saint Xavier University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Augustana College

    Rock Island , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Augustana College known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    Illinois Wesleyan University

    Bloomington , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1220/26

    What is Illinois Wesleyan University known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • History
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    23%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/18

    What is Northeastern Illinois University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #17

    Eureka College

    Eureka , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/20

    What is Eureka College known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #18

    Millikin University

    Decatur , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/23

    What is Millikin University known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #19

    Illinois College

    Jacksonville , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Illinois College known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #20

    Rockford University

    Rockford , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    What is Rockford University known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    Lewis University

    Romeoville , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/24

    What is Lewis University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    Olivet Nazarene University

    Bourbonnais , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/22

    What is Olivet Nazarene University known for?

    Olivet Nazarene University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #23

    Monmouth College

    Monmouth , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/22

    What is Monmouth College known for?

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

    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • History
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    North Park University

    Chicago , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    44%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/22

    What is North Park University known for?

    North Park University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Social Work
    • Communications
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. #25

    Dominican University

    River Forest , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    What is Dominican University known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • History
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

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Illinois’s Best Liberal Arts 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 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. Wheaton College
  2. Knox College
  3. University of Illinois Springfield
  4. Principia College
  5. Monmouth College
  6. Illinois Wesleyan University
  7. Lake Forest College
  8. Illinois College
  9. Bradley University
  10. Dominican University
  11. Eastern Illinois University
  12. North Central College
  13. Augustana College
  14. Elmhurst University
  15. Olivet Nazarene University
  16. Millikin University
  17. Western Illinois University
  18. Trinity Christian College
  19. Quincy University
  20. Governors State University
  21. Saint Xavier University
  22. Lewis University
  23. McKendree University
  24. North Park University
  25. Eureka College