Best Private Colleges in Illinois 2022

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.

Best Private Colleges in Illinois 2022

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

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, 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 bachelor’s 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. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

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How do we determine Illinois's best private 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.

This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 41 private universities in Illinois. To be included in the list below of the best private universities in Illinois, schools must be fully accredited, private, non-profit institution, and must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

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Best Private Colleges in Illinois

  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

    REQUEST INFO
  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

    $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

  4. #4

    Loyola University Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    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:

    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    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

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    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

  7. #7

    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. #8

    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

  9. #9

    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

  10. #10

    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

  11. #11

    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

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    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

  13. #13

    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

  14. #14

    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

  15. #15

    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

  16. #16

    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

  17. #17

    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

  18. 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
    • Literature
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #19

    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

  20. #20

    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

  21. #21

    National Louis University

    Chicago , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    22%

    Student body

    6K

    What is National Louis University known for?

    National Louis University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    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

  23. #23

    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

  24. #24

    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

  25. #25

    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

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Illinois’s Best Private Colleges in Your Area 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. Knox College
  6. Trinity International University
  7. DePaul University
  8. Principia College
  9. Loyola University Chicago
  10. Monmouth College
  11. Illinois Wesleyan University
  12. Lake Forest College
  13. Illinois College
  14. Bradley University
  15. Dominican University
  16. North Central College
  17. Augustana College
  18. Elmhurst University
  19. Olivet Nazarene University
  20. Millikin University
  21. Benedictine University
  22. Trinity Christian College
  23. Quincy University
  24. Saint Xavier University
  25. Lewis University