Illinois’s Best Private Colleges and Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Illinois.

Illinois’s Best Private Colleges and Universities 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.


What are Illinois’s Colleges & Universities?

Illinois’s Best Overall

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 44 private universities in Illinois; 34 of which meet our criteria. The list below of the 25 best private universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a private, non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%.

How do we determine Illinois's best private colleges and universities?

Methodology

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.

25 Best Private Colleges & Universities in Illinois

  1. #1

    University of Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    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:

    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Law
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    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
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. 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
    • Mathematics
    • Law
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #5

    Knox College

    Galesburg , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    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
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/22

    What is Trinity International University known for?

    Trinity International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Biology
    REQUEST INFO
  6. #7

    DePaul University

    Chicago , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    19K

    What is DePaul University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Law
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #8

    Principia College

    Elsah , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1114/24

    What is Principia College known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/27

    What is Loyola University Chicago known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Business
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #10

    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:

    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • History
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    REQUEST INFO
  10. #11

    Illinois Wesleyan University

    Bloomington , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    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:

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Anthropology
    REQUEST INFO
  11. #12

    Lake Forest College

    Lake Forest , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    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:

    • Business
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #13

    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:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    REQUEST INFO
  13. #14

    Bradley University

    Peoria , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    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:

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Biology
    REQUEST INFO
  14. #15

    Dominican University

    River Forest , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    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:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Law
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    REQUEST INFO
  15. #16

    North Central College

    Naperville , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    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:

    • Business
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    REQUEST INFO
  16. #17

    Augustana College

    Rock Island , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Augustana College known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO
  17. #18

    Elmhurst University

    Elmhurst , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/23

    What is Elmhurst University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • History
    REQUEST INFO
  18. #19

    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
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. #20

    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:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    REQUEST INFO
  20. Tuition + fees

    $32K

    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:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    REQUEST INFO
  21. #22

    Trinity Christian College

    Palos Heights , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/23

    What is Trinity Christian College known for?

    Trinity Christian College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    REQUEST INFO
  22. #23

    Quincy University

    Quincy , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/22

    What is Quincy University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  23. 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:

    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    REQUEST INFO
  24. #25

    Lewis University

    Romeoville , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    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:

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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