2022 Top Private Colleges and Universities in Illinois

Private universities frequently top the lists of the best schools in the U.S. These institutions offer rigorous academic programs for students looking for a personalized college experience.

Private universities generally cost more than their public counterparts, but students often receive the benefits of smaller class sizes, strong alumni networks, and generous financial aid opportunities.

Unlike public universities, private institutions do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state tuition. This means students from anywhere can enroll in Illinois’s private universities without paying higher out-of-state rates.

2022 Best Private Colleges and Universities in Illinois

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

  1. #1

    University of Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    Graduation Rate

    95%

    Enrollment

    17,452

    Format

    In person

    Located in Chicago, Illinois, University of Chicago enrolls students as a private institution. The school's academic and technical programs help learners reach a variety of professional goals. During a bachelor's degree, learners take lower-division and upper-division coursework. Bachelor's programs also incorporate general education coursework. In upper-division classes, degree-seekers learn advanced concepts in their major. Enrollees receive support in the form of tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Learners at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. University of Chicago has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

  2. #2

    Chamberlain University-Illinois

    Addison, IL

    Graduation Rate

    46%

    Enrollment

    27,741

    Format

    Online

    Chamberlain University-Illinois grants degrees as a private institution from its location in Addison, Illinois. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. Students who complete an academic or technical program often enter the workforce right away. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. At the accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The institution reports that 83% of students receive aid, and 60% receive loans. Bachelor's students graduate from the school at a rate of 46%. The admission rate is 100% for hopeful students. Applicants can reach out to the admissions office to learn more about enrolling. Chamberlain University-Illinois is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

  3. #3

    Northwestern University

    Evanston, IL

    Graduation Rate

    94%

    Enrollment

    22,448

    Format

    Online, In person

    A private institution located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University offers a variety of programs. Students earn an accredited degree that prepares them for the workforce. Degree-seekers benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Many of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The institution offers both academic and technical programs. The school offers foundational courses, technical classes, and general education courses in multiple majors. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. #4

    Graham Hospital School of Nursing

    Canton, IL

    Graduation Rate

    100%

    Enrollment

    52

    Format

    In person

    A private school in Illinois, Graham Hospital School of Nursing offers professional education in many fields. Learners seeking to earn credentials faster choose from 1 certificate programs at the school. Students learn core topics and get specialized training. Enrollees in the programs complete rigorous curricula. Graduates pursue opportunities in related fields upon completing a certificate. As an accredited institution, students at the school qualify for federal financial aid. To learn more about the application process, prospective students can contact the school's admissions department. The school is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  5. #5

    Steven Papageorge Hair Academy

    Chicago, IL

    Graduation Rate

    89%

    Enrollment

    55

    Format

    In person

    Steven Papageorge Hair Academy hosts a total of 2 certificate programs, offering varied professional education to Illinois students. Students often earn a credential in weeks or months, rather than years. These credential programs attract students who want to build new skills quickly for career advancement. Students gain new skills that can apply to more specialized careers. The school has been accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences. For more information about the application process, students can reach out to Steven Papageorge Hair Academy's admissions department. Graduates seek careers in their area of expertise after completing a program.

  6. #6

    Pivot Point Academy

    Bloomingdale, IL

    Graduation Rate

    86%

    Enrollment

    79

    Format

    In person

    Home to 3 certificate programs, Pivot Point Academy operates a main campus in Illinois. Students can often complete a diploma or certificate in weeks or months. Like many diplomas and certificates, credential programs here serve students looking to enter the workforce quickly. Students gain a variety of new skills that can make them more competetive in the job market. The institution holds national accreditation from National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences. Students who have questions about the application process should contact Pivot Point Academy's admissions department. After finishing a program, graduates pursue careers in their field.

  7. #7

    G Skin & Beauty Institute

    Oakbrook, IL

    Graduation Rate

    74%

    Enrollment

    460

    Format

    In person

    G Skin & Beauty Institute hosts 5 certificate programs, making the school a top choice for professional training in Illinois. After completing the rigorous curriculum, graduates can pursue careers or enroll in other programs. Degree-seekers gain skills necessary to launch their career or pursue promotions. Learners take their lessons to the real world with experiential learning opportunities. The postsecondary institution holds accreditation, demonstrating the quality of its academic programs. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited institution, enrollees in a program at the school can receive federal financial aid. The school provides information about program requirements on its website. The institution holds accreditation from the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences.

  8. #8

    Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing

    Peoria, IL

    Graduation Rate

    Not Provided

    Enrollment

    509

    Format

    Online

    Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing, located in Peoria, Illinois, grants degrees as a private institution. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. The school offers academic and technical programs for students planning to enter the workforce or pursue further studies degree. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The graduation rate is unavailable at this time. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Prospective students can contact the admissions office for more information about applying. Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

  9. #9

    The University of Aesthetics & Cosmetology

    Downers Grove, IL

    Graduation Rate

    100%

    Enrollment

    37

    Format

    In person

    The University of Aesthetics & Cosmetology is a Illinois-based private school that hosts an assortment of professional training programs. The institution offers learners seeking an accelerated course of study 4 certificate programs. Program coursework covers core topics and specialized training. The programs deliver rigorous curricula. After completing a certificate, graduates seek opportunities in related fields. About 85% of students receive financial aid to pay for college. Students can receive federal financial aid at this accredited school. The school's admissions office is available to field any questions about the application process. The institution holds national accreditation from National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences.

  10. #10

    DeVry University-Illinois

    Chicago, IL

    Graduation Rate

    28%

    Enrollment

    18,195

    Format

    Online, In person

    Located in Illinois, DeVry University-Illinois enrolls students in 44 programs. The institution offers top-ranked programs that provide a rigorous course of study. The school maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 23-to-1. A total of 99% of students receive some form of financial aid. Degree-seekers graduate from the school at a rate of 28%. The institution understands that real-world experience helps job seekers stand out. The school reports an 96% admission rate. Some programs no longer require test scores for admission. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements.

Why Choose a Private University in Illinois?

Illinois has 96 private four-year colleges and universities and 63 public postsecondary institutions. Many students prefer private schools over their public counterparts due to their strong focus on academics, smaller class sizes, close-knit communities, and access to co-curricular opportunities.

Although private universities generally cost more than public institutions, students can qualify for financial aid and academic or need-based scholarships that bring down the cost of attending a private school. With financial aid, attending a private four-year college may come with similar or even lower costs than public schools.

Conversely, some students prefer not to attend private universities in Illinois due to their relative lack of diversity, limited majors and course offerings, and demanding schedules. Private schools typically charge higher tuition rates. For students with limited financial aid support, private schools can be expensive.

Students should examine numerous factors when choosing whether to attend a public or private school for their postsecondary studies.

Pros and Cons of Attending a Private University in Illinois

Pros

Lower class sizes make it easier to seek one-on-one attention from professors and instructors.Close-knit academic communities make it easy to connect with fellow students and make friends.Many private schools have a religious affiliation. This means that the school might better reflect a student’s own views and values.Ample financial aid and scholarships can reduce the total cost of attending a private college or university.

Cons

Private colleges typically have limited numbers of courses and majors.Smaller private schools sometimes have less diverse club and activity offerings than large public schools.A lack of diversity can make it difficult for students to expand their horizons and meet people from other backgrounds and cultures.Private institutions typically have much higher tuition rates than their public counterparts.

Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Universities in Illinois

While most Illinois private four-year colleges are nonprofit organizations, a few operate as for-profit institutions. Nonprofit schools receive funding from the federal and state government, tuition, and endowments, allocating this money to curriculum, instruction, and general operating expenses. For-profit colleges maintain a responsibility to shareholders and often spend significantly more money on marketing and recruiting.

Compared to for-profit schools, nonprofit private universities in Illinois offer lower tuition, better financial aid options , and higher-quality instruction. They also feature more selective admission processes and less flexible learning options, such as online or hybrid courses.

Illinois for-profit schools maintain less rigorous admission requirements and more flexible class scheduling. They also feature higher tuition and lower graduation rates, resulting in a poor reputation.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Private University in Illinois?

The average student attending a private university in Illinois paid $35,570 in tuition and $13,506 in room and board in 2019-20, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Students must also consider the costs of textbooks, supplies , transportation, and personal expenses.

Degrees from the best private schools in Illinois tend to come with a higher return on investment. Top-quality programs and academic opportunities lead to higher-than-average salaries for private school graduates compared to those who attend public colleges and universities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The University of Chicago is among Illinois’ most expensive private universities, while the National Louis University Chicago campus is among the least expensive. Tuition at these institutions in 2021-22 was $59,256 and$10,755, respectively.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Private Universities in Illinois

How many private universities are there in Illinois?

There are 108 private universities and colleges in Illinois. These include 96 4-year universities and 17 2-year institutions. Of these, 88 are nonprofit institutions. A majority of these schools are in the Chicagoland area, while only six are in the southern part of the state.

There are more private than public universities in Illinois: The state is home to 63 public universities.

What is the most expensive private university in Illinois?

University of Chicago claims the top spot among the most expensive private universities in Illinois.

The school features a tuition rate of nearly $60,000 per year, in addition to what students pay for textbooks, supplies, and room and board. However, the University of Chicago also maintains a reputation as one of the most prestigious and high-quality institutions of higher learning in the United States.

What is the least expensive private university in Illinois?

The National Louis University Chicago campus is among the least expensive private universities in Illinois. The school charged a tuition rate of about $10,700 for the 2021-22 academic year. Students can also save money on on-campus fees by completing some of their coursework online.

On the other hand, the university has a much lower undergraduate graduation rate than other private universities in the state. The school’s undergraduate competition rate was just 39% in the 2020-21 school year. Comparatively, Northwestern University’s graduation rate is 94%.

Is a private university right for me?

Students who enjoy a more close-knit community, smaller class sizes, and a more personalized academic experience may find what they need at one of the private universities in Illinois.

However, these schools usually feature higher tuition than public schools, making them an expensive option for students who do not receive significant scholarships, grants, or other financial support. Some students may not like the relative lack of diversity in many private institutions.

Can I get more scholarship money at a private university?

Many private colleges in Illinois maintain large endowments and scholarship funds to help students cover the costs of tuition, room and board, and other expenses as they pursue their degrees. These funds come from alumni contributions , tuition funds, private donations, and various other sources. As a result, private universities in Illinois tend to offer many more scholarship opportunities to students compared to public schools.

According to NCES , students at nonprofit private schools received an average of $24,080 in grants and scholarships during the 2018-19 school year. In comparison, students at public universities received an average of $8,310.