Overview of Illinois Colleges & Schools

Illinois is a medium sized state in the heart of the continental United States and home to one the U.S.’s largest cities, Chicago. The state offers a balance of economic interests, from agricultural ventures to technology and research to manufacturing. Illinois is also home to a large number of public and private institutions of higher learning, spread throughout the state, but with a high concentration in the greater Chicago area.

From the public schools available to students, about half belong to one of two university systems. The Southern Illinois University System operates two schools and three satellite school specializing in Medicine, Dental Medicine and Nursing. OF the two main schools, the University of Southern Illinois is the second oldest public university in the state. The University of Illinois System of schools has 3 campuses and enrolls approximately 70,000 students per year.

Schools in the Southern Illinois University System School:

Schools in the University of Illinois System:

The state of Illinois also operates several schools that run independently of any state established system. These schools offer a variety of curriculums as well as diverse educational methods, some offering liberal arts education while others focus on research. Some of the larger of these schools includes:

The state of Illinois is also host to a large number of private colleges. These colleges provide diverse educational offerings for students wishing to continue their education in Illinois. Some of the schools are renowned for their overall education while others are renowned for their excellence in a particular field. Some provide a religious foundation for their educational offerings. Some of the better known private schools in Illinois include:

Additionally, the State of Illinois operates a large number of community colleges serving various districts throughout the state. These institutions offer students vocational educations as well credits for transfer into a four year institution. Along with the community college system is the large number of privately operated vocational and technical schools that offer diplomas and certificates for completion of programs designed to impart the skills and education necessary to successfully work in the chosen field.

The most populous city in Illinois is Chicago, followed by Aurora and Rockford.  While the most populous county in Illinois is Cook County with DuPage County and Lake County close in population to one another.  If you are interested in visiting the state of Illinois, consider visiting their state page or the state chapter of the Chamber of Commerce.

College Degree Breakdown for the State of Illinois

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, NCES, O*NET Online

Doctoral or professional degree148,9102.5
Master's degree90,5801.5
Bachelor's degree1,372,52023.2
Associate's degree136,0902.3
Postsecondary nondegree award333,1005.6
Some college, no degree143,7802.4
High school diploma or equivalent2,108,48035.7
No formal educational credential1,570,37026.6

Public Universities & Colleges

Image of Public College Campus

There are twelve public 4-year state universities and colleges in Illinois. These four-year institutions predominantly offer bachelor's or higher level programs and some may even include research facilities. See a state-wide list of the state universities and colleges in Illinois.

Private Universities & Colleges

Image of Private College Campus

In Illinois there are fifty-eight accredited private four-year colleges. Similar to public schools, private colleges and universities offer bachelor's or higher level programs and research opportunities, although they usually have smaller classes and higher tuition. Compare admission requirements and tuition details for private colleges in Illinois.

Community Colleges

Community College in Illinois

Community colleges are public institutions that offer low cost, high quality education for residents throughout the state. These schools offer 2-year programs that grant associate degrees or offer training courses in specialized trades. Illinois" Community colleges also are the number one transfer-out programs available for four-year colleges and universities. Learn more and compare community colleges in Illinois.

Liberal Arts Colleges

Liberal Arts Colleges

Illinois has eight accredited liberal arts colleges. These schools primarily focus on undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences through comprehensive and flexible curriculums. Compare all the liberal arts colleges in Illinois.

Bible & Christian Colleges

Christian Colleges

Bible and Christian colleges generally provide specialized undergraduate education with a focus on religious or biblical study. There are approximately forty-two such colleges in Illinois located throughout the state. See a full list of Christian colleges in Illinois along with program and tuition information.

Browse Schools by Career in Illinois

Follow the links below to get information on accredited schools in our database that offer programs or degrees.

Medicine & Healthcare

Law & Criminal Justice