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.
portrait of Nalea Ko
Nalea Ko
Read Full Bio


Nalea J. Ko has worked as a journalist in Hawaii, Los Angeles, and New York covering news and entertainment. She currently writes about tech, with a focus on coding. Nalea received her MFA degree in fiction from Brooklyn College and bachelor's in jou...
Updated on August 24, 2023
Edited by
portrait of Kelly Thomas
Kelly Thomas
Read Full Bio


Kelly Thomas is an editor with BestColleges and specializes in alternative education. She covers topics like coding bootcamps and the tech industry, as well as skilled trades and certifications. She holds a BA in political science from the University...
Learn more about our editorial process 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.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.

  • UChicago, DePaul, and Northwestern are some of the most popular schools in Illinois.
  • Northwestern boasts a student body of 23,409, 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: 18,832

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: 23,409

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: 21,670

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.

Featured Online Programs

4. Loyola University Chicago

  • Avg. Annual Net Price: $37,511
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Total Student Enrollment: 17,498

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: 3,749

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 2,367 $24,472 69% 6,640
Aurora University 6,165 $17,410 86% 3,101
Benedictine University 3,378 $24,746 80% 2,908
Bradley University 5,588 $25,312 76% 10,109
Columbia College Chicago 6,736 $25,262 96% 7,218
Concordia University Chicago 6,086 $18,817 88% 5,620
DePaul University 21,670 $31,872 69% 3,845
Dominican University 3,066 $18,476 81% 3,845
East-West University 487 $16,223 N/A N/A
Elmhurst University 3,518 $24,018 71% 3,762
Eureka College 476 $20,931 87% 877
Greenville University 1,047 $21,848 80% 1,007
Illinois College 1,097 $18,914 75% 3,522
Illinois Institute of Technology 6,486 $26,789 66% 6,521
Illinois Wesleyan University 1,653 $30,610 45% 4,543
Judson University 1,173 $18,266 62% 984
Knox College 1,156 $25,476 70% 3,061
Lake Forest College 1,690 $25,126 64% 4,358
Lewis University 6,183 $18,312 71% 4,311
Loyola University Chicago 17,498 $29,371 77% 37,824
McKendree University 1,958 $25,492 78% 1,765
Millikin University 1,906 $20,055 75% 3,049
Monmouth College 755 $17,935 66% 2,526
Moody Bible Institute 2,606 $21,399 98% 298
National Louis University 7,315 $14,665 97% 1,518
North Central College 2,728 $26,207 68% 4,551
North Park University 2,749 $20,260 67% 4,053
Northwestern University 23,409 $29,999 7% 47,636
Olivet Nazarene University 3,462 $20,431 61% 5,881
Quincy University 1,188 $16,423 60% 1,480
Rockford University 1,231 $23,305 67% 1,692
Roosevelt University 4,127 $23,964 92% 3,541
Saint Xavier University 3,749 $13,419 85% 7,780
School of the Art Institute of Chicago 3,559 $50,214 81% 5,835
St. John's College Department of Nursing 108 N/A N/A N/A
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago 1,297 N/A <1% 20
Trinity Christian College 985 $14,700 76% 1,048
University of Chicago 18,832 $33,727 6% 37,974
University of St. Francis 3,426 $16,949 68% 1,574
Wheaton College 3,047 $28,319 86% 1,993
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.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.