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

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.

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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.


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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. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. #11

    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
  5. #12

    Governors State University

    University Park , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    16%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    940/19

    Governors State University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Business And Applied Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Rn To Bsn Nursing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/21

    Saint Xavier University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Business
    • Required Credits: 45
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Applied Communication
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Rn To Bsn Nursing
    • Required Credits: 34
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. #15

    Illinois Wesleyan University

    Bloomington , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    45%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/26

  8. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    21%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    910/18

  9. #17

    Eureka College

    Eureka , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/19

  10. #18

    Millikin University

    Decatur , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/23

    Millikin University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  11. #19

    Illinois College

    Jacksonville , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    1K

    Illinois College’s Online Degrees

    BA in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 42
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Agribusiness Management
    • Required Credits: 42
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Human Resources Management
    • Required Credits: 46
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Management
    • Required Credits: 42-44
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. #20

    Rockford University

    Rockford , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1000/19

    Rockford University’s Online Degrees

    BSMS in Bachelor Of Science In Management Studies
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSAS in Bachelors Of Science In Accounting Studies
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  13. #21

    Lewis University

    Romeoville , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/24

    Lewis University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Organizational Leadership
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Professional Sales
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Computer Science
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminal Justice
    Degree Concentrations
    • Criminal Justice
    • Security Studies
    • Required Credits: 128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  14. #22

    Olivet Nazarene University

    Bourbonnais , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/22

    Olivet Nazarene University’s Online Degrees

    BSB in Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSL in Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Multidisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  15. #23

    Monmouth College

    Monmouth , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

  16. #24

    North Park University

    Chicago , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1031/22

    North Park University’s Online Degrees

    BA in Digital Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Nonprofit Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Organizational Management And Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  17. #25

    Dominican University

    River Forest , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/21

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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 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. 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

Check out our directory of liberal arts colleges throughout the U.S. for a look at the top liberal arts schools in every state.