Best Small Colleges in Illinois 2022

Best Small Colleges in Illinois 2022

Small colleges in Illinois are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical or on the liberal arts, small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.

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

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The following list of the best small colleges and universities in Illinois is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though a handful also offer graduate programs). We’ve identified 34 small colleges in Illinois. The list below of the 25 best small colleges in Illinois. To be included schools must fully accredited, and must have student body populations below 5,000 students.

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Best Small Colleges in Illinois 2022

  1. 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

  2. #2

    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

  3. #3

    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

  4. #4

    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

  5. 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

  6. #6

    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

  7. #7

    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

  8. #8

    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

  9. #9

    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

  10. #10

    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

  11. #11

    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

  12. #12

    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

  13. 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

  14. #14

    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

  15. #15

    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

  16. #16

    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

  17. #17

    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

  18. #18

    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

  19. #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
    • Psychology
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #20

    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

  21. #21

    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

  22. #22

    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

  23. #23

    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:

    • Anthropology
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. #25

    Trinity Christian College

    Palos Heights , IL

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    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:

    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

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Illinois’s Best Small College 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. Trinity International University
  5. Principia College
  6. Monmouth College
  7. Illinois Wesleyan University
  8. Lake Forest College
  9. Illinois College
  10. Dominican University
  11. North Central College
  12. Augustana College
  13. Elmhurst University
  14. Olivet Nazarene University
  15. Millikin University
  16. Benedictine University
  17. Trinity Christian College
  18. Quincy University
  19. Governors State University
  20. Saint Xavier University
  21. McKendree University
  22. North Park University
  23. Eureka College
  24. Robert Morris University Illinois
  25. University of St. Francis