Private Colleges in Illinois: Complete List of Schools

Illinois has top-ranked private colleges, including UChicago and Northwestern. Learn more about the best private colleges in Illinois and what they cost.
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Updated on October 13, 2023
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  • UChicago, DePaul, and Northwestern are some of the most popular schools in Illinois.
  • Northwestern boasts a student body of 23,161, the largest school by enrollment in Illinois.
  • There are many scholarships to help Illinois students pay for private college.

In Illinois, you don't have to attend a public college to get state financial aid. Grants such as the Monetary Award Program, which received a $100 million increase in 2023, help students with demonstrated financial need afford a private or public college.

State grants and scholarships can help you pay for private college in Illinois.

Here, we highlight some popular private colleges in Illinois and provide a full list of schools. We also go over the cost of college in Illinois and the highest-paying jobs in the state.

5 Popular Private Colleges in Illinois

Below are some popular private colleges in Illinois to consider applying to. We chose these schools based on a variety of factors, including number of applicants, academic prestige, and overall reputation.

1. University of Chicago

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $36,991
  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 18,339

Founded in 1890, UChicago is one of the most selective colleges in Illinois, not to mention the country. About 38,000 people applied to UChicago in fall 2022, and only 5% were admitted.

This medium-sized university offers 53 majors and 47 minors. UChicago boasts a 217-acre campus in Chicago's Hyde Park and global campuses in Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong, London, and Paris. Attending UChicago means joining a global alumni association of about 193,885.

2. Northwestern University

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $22,095
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 23,161

Since 1851, Northwestern has been one of the most exclusive private colleges in Illinois. Every year, Northwestern accepts just 7% of the 50,000 or so applications it receives.

Northwestern has 12 colleges and schools, and campuses in Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar. In addition to bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, the university offers dual-degree options and bachelor's/master's programs in 70 subjects.

3. DePaul University

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $32,151
  • Acceptance Rate: 70%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 20,917

Founded in 1898, DePaul houses 10 colleges and schools and offers more than 170 graduate programs and 130 undergraduate majors. There are campuses in Chicago and Lincoln Park, Illinois.

With a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, DePaul has small classrooms, with courses taught mostly by professors instead of teaching assistants.

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4. Loyola University Chicago

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $37,511
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 16,899

Established in 1870, Loyola has a higher-than-average acceptance rate, admitting 79% of people who apply. This private university boasts 13 schools and colleges that offer more than 80 undergraduate majors, 80 minors, and 140 graduate programs. You can study online and choose from more than 100 online courses.

On-campus learning is available at Loyola's six campuses, including the John Felice Rome Center in Italy. Additionally, the school offers study abroad programs in more than 50 countries.

5. Saint Xavier University

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $11,302
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 3,523

A Catholic institution, SXU opened in 1846 in the Mount Greenwood area of Illinois. Today, the private college accepts around 84% of applicants.

SXU's College of Arts and Sciences, Graham School of Management, and School of Nursing Health Sciences offer 61 undergraduate programs and 25 graduate programs.

List of Private Colleges in Illinois

We've created a complete list of four-year nonprofit private colleges in Illinois. You can use the table below to compare data on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants.

All data below comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). We did not include schools with fewer than 500 undergraduates.

All Private Colleges in Illinois
School Total Student Enrollment Avg. Annual Net Price Acceptance Rate Number of Applicants
Augustana College 2,349 $24,660 61% 6,965
Aurora University 5,918 $19,350 82% 2,922
Benedictine University 3,123 $25,658 93% 2,746
Bradley University 5,552 $24,053 75% 11,352
Columbia College Chicago 6,646 $28,387 95% 7,701
Concordia University-Chicago 5,354 $18,832 93% 4,296
DePaul University 20,917 $32,151 70% 31,785
Dominican University 3,196 $18,162 90% 5,117
East-West University 529 $19,792 100% N/A
Elmhurst University 3,731 $24,108 76% 5,731
Eureka College 559 $19,443 87% 934
Greenville University 1,088 $20,718 94% 1,275
Illinois College 1,029 $16,296 77% 3,243
Illinois Institute of Technology 6,943 $28,702 61% 7,243
Illinois Wesleyan University 1,527 $30,096 42% 4,408
Judson University 973 $19,268 58% 1,153
Knox College 1,058 $26,882 73% 2,987
Lake Forest College 1,753 $27,839 60% 4,665
Lewis University 6,513 $19,184 74% 4,746
Loyola University Chicago 16,899 $37,511 79% 40,909
McKendree University 1,960 $22,431 68% 2,332
Millikin University 1,807 $10,492 75% 2,902
Monmouth College 767 $20,237 91% 1,818
Moody Bible Institute 2,410 $21,368 94% 324
National Louis University 7,525 $14,769 92% 3,181
North Central College 2,695 $25,285 61% 5,099
North Park University 2,660 $19,029 68% 5,039
Northwestern University 23,161 $22,095 7% 51,261
Olivet Nazarene University 3,255 $20,059 58% 6,196
Quincy University 1,307 $11,985 62% 1,760
Rockford University 1,181 $25,047 55% 2,779
Roosevelt University 3,725 $22,117 88% 2,997
Saint Xavier University 3,523 $11,302 84% 7,833
School of the Art Institute of Chicago 3,532 $53,923 79% 6,075
Trinity Christian College 908 $18,822 71% 706
University of Chicago 18,339 $36,991 5% 37,522
University of St. Francis 3,297 $18,560 58% 2,198
Wheaton College 2,885 $29,961 88% 1,893
Source: NCES

Scholarships for Illinois Students

Private colleges in Illinois, on average, cost more than public institutions.

According to 2020-2021 NCES data, a public in-state university in Illinois costs $14,579 in tuition and fees per year, whereas a private university costs $35,894.

Grants, loans, and scholarships can help you afford a private college in Illinois. Here are some scholarships you can apply for today.

George M. Pullman Educational Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: February

Amount: $10,000 per year for four years

The George M. Pullman Educational Foundation Scholarship began in 1950 and has since helped about 12,000 students. You can apply for this scholarship if you're a high school senior and a Cook County resident. You must also be admitted for fall enrollment in a bachelor's program. Eligible applicants must be high-achieving students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need.

Hope Chicago Scholarship

Deadline: Varies

Amount: Full tuition and required fees

The Hope Chicago Scholarship offers gap-closing financial support to college students and parents. Eligible students receive awards that cover full tuition, room and board, and fees for four years. Any high school graduate of participating high schools in Illinois can apply, regardless of their GPA or test scores. You can apply if you have been admitted to a two- or four-year college.

Wentcher Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: Varies

Amount: Up to $10,000 for four years

The Wentcher Foundation offers scholarships to Chicago high school students with strong academic records and demonstrated financial need. To date, the Wentcher Foundation has awarded more than 900 scholarships. The foundation offers not only scholarship money but also academic and social support throughout your college career.

Highest-Paying Jobs in Illinois

Many of the highest-earning jobs in Illinois are in the medical industry. Dermatologists make the most money in Illinois, with an average salary of $360,560 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nurse anesthetists also earn a high average annual salary of $238,440.

As the following table shows, you can find lucrative careers in a variety of Illinois industries, not just healthcare.

Highest-Paying Jobs in Illinois
Job Annual Mean Salary (May 2022)
Dermatologists $360,560
Chief Executives $268,560
Nurse Anesthetists $238,440
Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers $221,580
Computer and Information Systems Managers $162,640
Lawyers $158,030
Financial Managers $155,070
Sales Managers $151,100
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions About Private Colleges in Illinois

How many private colleges are in Illinois?

In total, there are 184 two- and four-year private colleges in Illinois, according to NCES. Illinois has both private nonprofit and for-profit institutions that award degrees, vocational diplomas, and certificates.

Some of the most popular private colleges in Illinois include the University of Chicago, which receives around 38,000 applications annually, and Northwestern, which receives about 50,000 applications every year.

What is the most expensive private college in Chicago?

The most expensive private college in Illinois is the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which costs an average net price of $53,923 a year. Loyola University Chicago charges the second-highest tuition rate, with students paying an average net price of $37,511 every year.

What is the hardest private college to get into in Illinois?

The University of Chicago is the hardest college to get into in the state, with an acceptance rate of 5% in fall 2022, according to NCES. This means of the 37,522 applications the school received in 2022, only around 1,876 people received acceptance letters. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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