University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
#45 Overall Influence#162 Desirability Rank

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Public research university in Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, United States

By James Barham, PhD

The University of Illinois began life as the Illinois Industrial University, located in the city of Urbana. Although the original intention of lawmakers and the preference of many state residents was for the new school to concentrate on vocational training, the university’s first president, John Milton Gregory, wisely insisted on offering a full spectrum of liberal arts and science courses.

With time, the university grew considerably, causing the original campus to spread across the dividing line between Urbana and its sister city of Champaign, to the west. That is why the flagship campus of the University of Illinois System is now officially known as the “University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign” to distinguish it from two other satellite campuses—one in Chicago and the other in the state capital of Springfield—that were incorporated into the System in 1913 and 1995, respectively.

Illinois has long been particularly known for its emphasis on the natural sciences and engineering, notably information and computer engineering. This can be seen in the fact that a number of semi-independent scientific research institutes have grown up on or near the main campus, including the Illinois Applied Research Institute, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and the National Center for Superconducting Applications.

The latter center’s location here is explained by the fact that it was a trio of Illinois physicists—John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and John Schrieffer—whose collaboration on what is now known as “BCS theory” in their honor, provided the first deep theoretical understanding of the phenomenon of superconductivity.

Practical applications of all of this cutting-edge research at Illinois are not neglected, either. The university also houses the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, as well as a Research Park, which gives space to more than 120 private companies employing some 2100 students and full-time researchers. Both of these centers help to make the University of Illinois a technology hub, as much for startups as for established corporations’ R & D operations.

Illinois has some 30 Nobel Prize–winners to its credit, including:


  • John Bardeen
  • Leon Cooper
  • John Schrieffer
  • Anthony Leggett
  • Brian Josephson


  • Martin Karplus
  • Elias Corey
  • Rudolph Marcus

Physiology or Medicine

  • Salvador Luria
  • Robert Holley
  • Rosalyn Yalow
  • Phillip Sharp


  • Franco Modigliani
  • Leonid Hurwicz

Other noteworthy Illinois-connected people include:

  • Novelist, Richard Powers
  • Film critic, Roger Ebert
  • Composer, George Crumb
  • Animal behaviorist and autism spokesperson, Temple Grandin
  • Playboy founder and publisher, Hugh Hefner
  • Former General Motors CEO, Jack Welch
  • Software engineer and entrepreneur, Marc Andreessen
  • Oracle founder, Larry Ellison
  • YouTube co-founders, Steve Chen & Jawed Karim


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


601 E John Street, Champaign IL 61820-5711

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

33 per 100k

Violent Crime

7 per 100k

What is University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#19 World Rank #15 USA Rank
#31 World Rank #15 USA Rank
#54 World Rank #17 USA Rank
#26 World Rank #20 USA Rank
Computer Science
#60 World Rank #22 USA Rank
#39 World Rank #25 USA Rank
#27 World Rank #25 USA Rank
#32 World Rank #26 USA Rank
#88 World Rank #30 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#40 World Rank #34 USA Rank
Social Work
#73 World Rank #35 USA Rank
#82 World Rank #44 USA Rank
#70 World Rank #45 USA Rank
#87 World Rank #45 USA Rank
#96 World Rank #51 USA Rank
#97 World Rank #57 USA Rank
#92 World Rank #64 USA Rank
Political Science
#189 World Rank #78 USA Rank
#201 World Rank #78 USA Rank
#146 World Rank #79 USA Rank
#154 World Rank #85 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#40 World Rank #33 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#313 World Rank #197 USA Rank

Influential People

Who are University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign's Most influential alumni?

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Engineering, Computer Science, and Communications. University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign’s most academically influential people include Roger Ebert, Marc Andreessen, and Jack Welch.

Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert

American film critic, author, journalist, and TV presenter

view profile
Marc Andreessen
Marc Andreessen

American entrepreneur, investor, and software engineer

view profile
Jack Welch
Jack Welch

American executive: General Electric CEO

view profile
Hamilton Smith
Hamilton Smith

American biologist

view profile
Robert W. Holley
Robert W. Holley

American biochemist

view profile
Jack Kilby
Jack Kilby

American electrical engineer

view profile
Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers

American writer, editor, and publisher

view profile
Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison

American internet entrepreneur and businessman

view profile
Eugene Odum
Eugene Odum

Mathematician, ecologist, natural philosopher, and systems ecologist

view profile
Phillip Sharp
Phillip Sharp

American biologist

view profile
Hugh Hefner
Hugh Hefner

American businessman and magazine publisher

view profile
James Tobin
James Tobin

American economist

view profile