Students and colleges worldwide experienced unexpected changes in the dynamics of education in 2020. Traditional classroom learning was unachievable, and students and colleges alike had to adjust to the new system. Many institutions went madly to move classes online and encourage students to be active despite the changes. Currently, the coronavirus rules are not so heavy, making it possible for students to return to the classroom setting. If you are looking for a college to enroll in, you are in luck. This article discusses the top 10 colleges in Illinois, the cost of tuition, SAT and GPA requirements, ranking, and majors.

2024’s Best Colleges in Illinois

  1. Northwestern University
  2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  3. University of Chicago
  4. University of Illinois at Springfield
  5. Illinois Institute of Technology
  6. University of St Francis
  7. Wheaton College
  8. University of Illinois at Chicago
  9. Illinois Wesleyan University
  10. Lewis University

Northwestern University

Northwestern University Evanston
Northwestern University Evanston

Northwestern University was founded in 1851 as a private non-profit research university that has now grown to accommodate over 21000+ undergraduate and graduate students.

Northwestern University has a 9% acceptance rate, making it a competitive university to get into. It has a graduation rate of 94%, and the average graduate salary is $69,000 annually, according to 2018 statistics.

It ranks 2nd in best universities in Illinois. It ranks 9th in National Universities and 15th in Best Value Schools. Additionally, Northwestern University ranks 13th in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs and 30th in Most Innovative Schools.

Northwestern University requires students to have a minimum SAT score of 1480 or an ACT score of 99. Students also have to maintain a GPA of 4.09. 

Students have to pay tuition costs of $56,691, and there is no difference between the tuition cost for in-state and out-of-state students. Domestic and International students can get financial aid if they meet the eligibility criteria. 

Here is a list of some of its majors and minors:

  • African American Studies 
  • Cognitive Science 
  • Computer Science 
  • Dance 
  • Earth and Planetary Science 
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies 
  • Human Communication Sciences
  • Jewish Studies 
  • Legal Studies 
  • Material Science and Engineering
  • Physics and Astronomy 
  • Religious Studies 
  • Sociology 
  • Theatre 

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Champaign IL 1
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was chartered in 1867 as a public university in Illinois. It currently has over 47,000 students, and its alumni have won 29 Pulitzer Prizes. Students can participate in numerous programs to learn communication, networking, and other skills through internships to prepare them for the work environment. 

UIUC has an acceptance rate of 59% and a graduation rate of 85%. Graduates have an average salary of $61,500 annually, more than the national average of $50,000. 

UIUC ranks 15th in Top Public Schools and 47th in National Universities. It also ranks 35th in Most Innovative Schools and the 3rd best college in Illinois. Additionally, it ranks 35th in Most Innovative Schools and 144th in Best Value Schools. 

UIUC requires students to have a 3.83 GPA and SAT scores between 1210 to 1470 or ACT scores between 26 to 32.  

In-state students have to pay tuition of $16,862, while out-of-state students pay $34,312 annually. UIUC can receive financial aid through need-based scholarships, grant awards, or merit-based aid. 

UIUC offers majors in some of these areas:

  • Acting 
  • Animal Sciences 
  • Bioengineering 
  • Comparative and World Literature 
  • Dietetics 
  • Environmental Economics & Policy 
  • Food Science & Human Nutrition 
  • Global Studies 
  • Human Development and Family Studies 
  • Industrial Design 
  • Journalism 
  • Landscape Architecture 
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology 
  • Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences 
  • Organizational and Community Leadership 
  • Public Policy & Law
  • Recreation, Sport and Tourism 
  • Special Education 
  • Technical Systems Management 
  • Urban Studies and Planning 

University of Chicago

University of Chicago Chicago IL
University of Chicago, IL

The University of Chicago (UChicago) was founded in 1890 as a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. It is a non-profit university with 15,000+ students who gain the necessary skills to thrive in the 21st-century job market. UChicago has a robust and inclusive culture with students from diverse backgrounds with different perspectives whose innovations improve the university and the community. 

UChicago students pay $57,642, and there is no difference between tuition for in-state and out-of-state students. Additionally, UChicago has comprehensive plans to increase the number of people who go to college by offering need-based financial aid in the form of grants. 

It ranks 1st among colleges in Illinois, ranking for GPAs. Prospective students have higher chances of getting into UChicago with a GPA of 4.48 with SAT score of 1570 or an ACT score of 33. 

UChicago ranks 6th in National Universities, 19th in Best Value Schools, and 35th in Most Innovative Schools. It ranks 2nd among the top 10 universities in Illinois, making it one of the best schools in the state. 

Here are some majors:

  • Anthropology 
  • Art History 
  • Biological Chemistry 
  • Cinema and Media Studies 
  • Comparative Human Studies 
  • English Language and Literature 
  • Fundamentals: Issues and Texts 
  • Geophysical Sciences 
  • Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities 
  • Law, Letters, and Society 
  • Political Science 
  • Sociology 
  • Tutorial Studies 

The University of Illinois at Springfield

The University of Illinois at Springfield IL
The University of Illinois at Springfield, IL

The University of Illinois at Springfield is a public, coeducational university that was founded in 1969. It offers offline and offline programs to its 4,146 undergraduate and graduate students. Students receive a top-quality education from some of the best professors in the country with an excellent teacher-scholar relationship. It is home to the Emiquon Field Station, where scientists from Nature Conservancy work with UIS students to document one of the most significant wetland restorations globally. 

In 2020, UIS came 1st in Illinois college rankings. It also ranked 4th in the Midwest within the same year. 

In-state students pay tuition of $11,921 while out-of-state students pay tuition of $21,536 annually. About 70% of UIS students receive scholarships, student employment, grants, and loans.

UIS doesn’t require SAT, but students have an average SAT score between 1000 to 1220 or an ACT score between 19 to 26. Students have an average GPA of 3.59. UIS has a 77% acceptance rate and a 66% graduation rate. After graduation, alumni have an average salary of $44,600. 

Here is a list of some majors:

  • Accountancy 
  • Biology 
  • Business Administration/Finance 
  • Communication 
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice 
  • Economics 
  • Global Studies 
  • Legal Studies 
  • Liberal Studies 
  • Management Information Systems 
  • Medical Laboratory Science 
  • Philosophy 
  • Public Administration 
  • Social work 
  • Sport Management 
  • Teacher Education 
  • Visual Arts 

Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago IL 1
Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL

Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL (IIT) is a private university founded in 1940 by merging Armour Institute and Lewis Institute. It has four campuses; Mies campus, Conviser law center, Moffett campus, and Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice campus. IIT is an action-oriented university that uses a hands-on approach to groom students into tech leaders. The IPRO program lets students practice in mock real-life project teams, while the Elevate program connects IIT tech students exclusively to research projects, internships, etc. 

IIT comes 4th in school rankings in Illinois and 39th in Best Value Schools. Additionally, ITT ranks 124th in National Universities and 79th in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs. 

IIT has a 60% acceptance rate and a 71% graduation rate. Students have an average composite SAT score of 1340 or an average ACT score of 29. 

IIT alumni have an average salary of $69,100, which is higher than the national average, $50,000. 

Here is a list of some majors:

  • Aerospace Engineering/Material Science and Engineering 
  • Applied Cybersecurity and Information 
  • Bioanalytical Chemistry 
  • Bioinformatics
  • Civil Engineering 
  • Digital Humanities 
  • Environmental Chemistry 
  • Food Science and Nutrition 
  • Global Studies 
  • Humanities 
  • Industrial Technology and Management 
  • Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics 
  • Psychological Science 
  • Social and Economic Development Policy 
  • Statistics 

University of St Francis

University of St Francis Joliet IL 1 1
University of St Francis Joliet, IL

University of St Francis Joliet, IL (USF) is a Catholic school founded in 1920. Its educational system is integrated with respect, compassion, service, and integrity, reflecting in the students’ lives. It is one of the good universities in Illinois, with close-knit alumni willing to assist current students in getting better opportunities. 

Full-time USF students pay annual tuition of $35,000. However, USF offers $16.7 million in aid to its students. Additionally, 100% of new students get financial assistance, and 98% of undergraduate students receive financial aid in some form.

USF ranks 227th in National Universities and 103rd in Top Performers in Social Mobility. 

USF students have to get a minimum SAT score of 1220 or an ACT score of 25. Students need to have an average GPA of 3.5. 

USF has a 46% acceptance rate and a 74% graduation rate. Graduates have an average annual salary of $53,100. 

Some majors include:

  • Adventure-Based Recreation Therapy 
  • Biochemistry 
  • Communication & Media Arts 
  • Digital Audio Recording Arts 
  • English 
  • Finance 
  • Health Care Management 
  • Information Technology and Network Support 
  • Liberal Studies 
  • Medical Laboratory Science
  • Nursing 
  • Psychology 
  • Radiation 
  • Substance Abuse Counseling 
  • Theology 
  • Visual Arts Education 
  • Web Application Development 

Wheaton College

Wheaton College Wheaton IL 2
Wheaton College, IL

Wheaton College is a Christian liberal arts college that was established in 1853. Its focus is to do all things “For Christ and His Kingdom” through liberal arts and other programs. Wheaton College aims to develop students who will be active in the work of Christ and extend his love to others through practical work in society. It offers students multiple opportunities to build networks, engage in practicals, and have internships at good organizations. 

It ranks 61st in the list of National Liberal Arts Colleges and 38th in Best Undergraduate Teaching. It also ranks 65th in Best Value Schools and 68th in First-Year Experiences. 

Enrolled students have an average SAT score between 1220 to 1440 or ACT scores between 26 to 32. They have an average GPA of 3.7. 

Wheaton College has an acceptance rate of 85% and a graduation rate of 91%. Alumni have an average annual salary of $48,800. 88% of freshmen receive financial aid in the form of student loans, scholarships, and grants. 

Some Wheaton College Majors include:

  • Applied Health Science 
  • Biblical and Theological Studies 
  • Business and Economics 
  • Computer Science 
  • Christian Formation and Ministry
  • Environmental Science 
  • German 
  • History 
  • International Relations 
  • Mathematics 
  • Music 
  • Physics 
  • Sociology 
  • Urban Studies 

The University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago IL 1
The University of Illinois at Chicago, IL

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a public institution core score established in 1982 as a merger between the Chicago Circle campus and Medical Center campus. UIC is a boiling pot of students from diverse cultures who have equal opportunities to learn and thrive on and off-campus. 

Prospective students need to have a composite SAT score of at least 1120 or a minimum ACT score of 18. The average first-year student has an average GPA of 3.29 over 4.0.

Enrolled in-state students have to pay $13,874, while out-of-state students pay $27,566 for tuition annually. 

UIC ranks 285 in QS World University Rankings and 112th in National Universities. It ranks 52nd in Public Schools and 10th in Top Performers on Social Mobility. 

It ranks 4th in Illinois college rankings, making it one of the good universities in Illinois. 

UIC has a 73% acceptance rate and a 58% graduation rate. Alumni have an average graduate salary of $54,300 annually. 

Here is a list of some UIC majors:

  • Accounting 
  • Biomedical Engineering 
  • Computer Science and Design 
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Finance 
  • Gender and Women’s Studies 
  • Health Information Management 
  • Information and Decision Sciences 
  • Kinesiology 
  • Marketing 
  • Nursing 
  • Public Policy 
  • Rehabilitation Sciences 
  • Urban Education 

Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University Bloomington IL
Illinois Wesleyan University Bloomington, IL

Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) is a private institution that was founded in 1854. It is a liberal arts college with 1629 enrolled students. The small number of students let lecturers use a personalized approach in educating them. They understand individual student’s fears and work with them on the best ways to achieve excellent grades. Enrolled students can choose from more than 160 organizations. 

IWU is 1st in Illinois colleges ranking for placements and ranks as the 18th best college in the state. It ranks 80th in National Liberal Arts and 74th in Best Value Schools. It is also the 97th in Top Performers in Social Mobility in the US. 

In-state and out-of-state students pay the same amount as tuition. They have to pay tuition of $50,028 annually. 

The composite SAT score at IWU is 1310 or ACT score of 27. Enrolled students have an average GPA of 3.74. IWU has a 61% acceptance rate and a graduation rate of 81%. 

Some majors include:

  • Accounting 
  • Art
  • Biochemistry
  • Business 
  • Chemistry 
  • Computer Science 
  • Educational Studies 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Finance 
  • Health Promotion & Fitness Management 
  • History
  • Marketing 
  • Music Education 
  • Neuroscience 
  • Philosophy 
  • Political Science 
  • Theatre Arts 
  • Theatre Arts Design & Technology 
  • Women and Gender Studies 

Lewis University

Lewis University Romeoville IL
Lewis University Romeoville, IL

Lewis University is a Catholic university that was established in 1932. It is a coeducational institution with 6500 students who are learners of all age groups. Enrolled students are trained in light of its mission values: knowledge, wisdom, fidelity, justice, and association. Lewis University has an acceptance rate of 64% and a graduation rate of 61%.

The tuition and fees at Lewis University depend on the number of hours a student takes if it’s an online program and if the student is from Albuquerque. However, the average cost of tuition and fees for undergraduate students is $33,430. The average graduate tuition is $15,014 for the 2021/2022 academic year. Lewis University offers three times more financial aid than public universities, as 98% receive financial aid.

Enrolled students have an average GPA of 3.48. The University recently adopted a test-optional policy, but it is profitable to submit SAT or ACT scores if you took them. 

It ranks 17th in Illinois college rankings and is 9th in the top 10 nursing school rankings in Illinois. It ranks 8th for Best Online Bachelor in Computer Science Programs. Lewis University also ranks 4th in Best Master’s in Artificial Intelligence online. 

Here are some majors:

  • Accounting
  • Biomedical Science 
  • Chiropractic 
  • Digital Marketing 
  • Early Childhood Special Education 
  • Forensic Criminal Investigation 
  • General Studio Art 
  • History 
  • International Relations 
  • Liberal Arts 
  • Music Business 
  • Nursing 
  • Organizational Communication 
  • Public Policy 
  • Radio/Tv Broadcasting 
  • Sport Management 
  • Theology 
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems 

Why Study in Illinois?

Illinois is home to some of the best colleges in the US that offer world-class online and traditional programs at affordable prices. These schools integrate the STEAM approach that encourages students to be critical thinkers and use different methods to solve problems. Most schools in Illinois offer students financial aid in some form to help them further their education and reduce the rate of unemployment. Additionally, Illinois is a culturally diverse state that is welcoming to all and sundry.


Colleges in the Midwestern state of Illinois let students work and build valuable friendships as a student and as an alumnus. Graduates get employment and internship opportunities because employers know their values because of the colleges they attended. Furthermore, the average salary for Illinois graduates is higher than the national average, making it possible for those with school fee loans to pay them off. Overall, students can enroll in best value schools that make their effort worthwhile. 


Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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