14 Best Small Colleges in Illinois | Expert List

14 Best Small Colleges in Illinois | Expert List

Are you looking for a list of the best small colleges in Illinois? Do you want to know what makes small colleges in the state different from the rest?

Are you looking to enroll in a small college in Illinois, and you have no idea which one is the best and what factors should help you make a choice?

Look no further!

In this comprehensive guide, we’re unveiling the gems of Illinois, exploring the unique features, academic excellence, and vibrant communities that set these small colleges apart.

Whether you’re drawn to the cultural vibrancy of Chicago or the serene campuses in Lebanon and Elmhurst, we’ve got the insights to help you navigate your way to the perfect small college experience in the Land of Lincoln.

We understand that these schools, even though they all have their uniqueness, may not be perfect for you. If that becomes the case, we encourage you to consider other locations by checking out other small schools and exploring our archive of the best small colleges in other states of the US.

Are there small schools in Illinois?

Yes, Illinois is home to a variety of small colleges, each offering a unique educational experience, from liberal arts institutions to specialized programs in urban settings.

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What should I look out for when choosing from the list of small colleges in Illinois?

Many people go to small colleges for different reasons. Whatever the reason may be for you, before making a choice, you should x-ray your preferred schools across the following factors:

  • Evaluate the variety and quality of the programs offered. Is it standard? Is that what you want?
  • Consider the atmosphere, social scene, and community values.
  • Assess tuition, fees, and available financial aid options.
  • Smaller classes allow for more personalized attention.
  • Think about the impact of the geographic setting on your overall experience.

Is going to a small college worth it?

Going to a small college can be worth it for those seeking a close-knit community, personalized attention from faculty, and a more intimate learning environment.

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It often fosters strong relationships, a sense of belonging, and opportunities for active participation, but the decision ultimately depends on individual preferences and goals.

What are the best small colleges in Illinois?

Without further ado, we lead you to the top colleges with small class sizes and student populations in Illinois. Our job here at Ziiky is to make school searching easy and seamless for you.

Now here are the top 10 small colleges in Illinois:

1. Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Phone: +1 312-567-3000
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 2,889 (2020–21)
  • Address: 10 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60616

The Illinois Institute of Technology is a private research university in Chicago, tracing its history to 1890. At IIT, innovation meets excellence in technology education.

With a focus on STEM disciplines, this Chicago-based institute offers cutting-edge programs, state-of-the-art facilities, and a dynamic urban environment, making it an ideal choice for students passionate about engineering, science, and technology.


2. North Park University, Chicago

  • Phone: +1 773-244-6200
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 1,834 (2020–21)
  • Address: 3225 W Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60625

If you are not just looking for a small college but one with Christian values, North Park University should be on your list of considerations. North Park University in Chicago combines urban vibrancy with a commitment to Christian values.

With diverse academic programs, a close-knit community, and a central location, North Park offers students an enriching educational experience rooted in faith and community engagement.


3. Wheaton College, Wheaton

  • Phone: +1 630-752-5000
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 2,301 (2020–21)
  • Address: 501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187

Wheaton College is a private Evangelical Christian liberal arts college in Wheaton that offers an affordable, top-tier education that prepares students to make an impact for Christ.

While the college is renowned for its rigorous academics, it is also known for its commitment to a holistic Christian education.

With a beautiful campus, a strong sense of community, and a liberal arts foundation, Wheaton College provides students with a transformative and faith-centered learning experience.


4. Augustana College, Rock Island

  • Phone: +1 309-794-7000
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 2,317 (2020–21)
  • Address: 639 38th St, Rock Island, IL 61201

Augustana College in Rock Island stands out for its liberal arts education and picturesque campus along the Mississippi River.

The college is a private Lutheran college ranked by U.S. News as the best national liberal arts college in the state.

An exceptional reason to enroll at Augustana is that the school has a focus on fostering critical thinking and global awareness. Augustana offers students a close community, personalized attention from faculty, and opportunities for hands-on research and internships.


5. University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield

  • Phone: +1 217-206-6600
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 2,441 (2020–21)
  • Address: One University Plaza, Springfield, IL 62703

The University of Illinois at Springfield is one of the most recognizable and prestigious colleges in the nation, offering on-campus or online programs.

At UIS in Springfield, students experience the best of both worlds—small campus charm with the resources of a public university.

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With a commitment to experiential learning, UIS provides students with a supportive environment, diverse academic programs, and a strong emphasis on community service and leadership.


6. Lake Forest College, Lake Forest

  • Phone: 847-234-3100
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 1,700 (2020–21)
  • Address: 555 North Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, Illinois 60045

Lake Forest College, nestled in Lake Forest, emphasizes personalized education and a commitment to global engagement.

With small class sizes, a beautiful lakeside campus, and a focus on interdisciplinary learning, Lake Forest College provides students with a well-rounded education and a close community of scholars.

Lake Forest College offers students a world-class education and the skills they need for success after college.


7. Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington

  • Phone: (309) 556-1000
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 1,600 (2020–21)
  • Address: 1312 Park Street, Bloomington, IL 61701

Illinois Wesleyan is a nationally recognized and exclusively undergraduate private liberal arts university in Bloomington, Illinois. Wesleyan University offers a unique blend of academic excellence and a strong sense of community.

With a liberal arts foundation, a vibrant campus life, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion, Illinois Wesleyan prepares students for success in a dynamic and interconnected world.

Wesleyan believes that, with its broad areas of study and renowned pre-professional programs, students will be prepared to adapt to an ever-changing world.


8. Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights

  • Phone: +1 708-597-3000
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 832 (2020–21)
  • Address: 6601 W College Dr, Palos Heights, IL 60463

Trinity Christian College is a private Christian college in Palos Heights where students get all the attention to be known, the chance to be a leader, and the opportunity to explore.

Trinity Christian College stands out for its Christian perspective and commitment to academic rigor.

With a welcoming community, a range of academic programs, and a focus on service-learning, Trinity Christian College provides students with a values-driven education in a supportive environment.


9. Chicago State University, Chicago

  • Phone: +1 773-995-2000
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 1,496 (2020–21)
  • Address: 9501 S King Dr, Chicago, IL 60628

Chicago State University is a predominantly black public university in Chicago and the most affordable public school in the city. CSU in Chicago plays a crucial role in providing accessible education and fostering diversity.

With a commitment to urban education, CSU offers a range of programs, a diverse student body, and a strong connection to the city’s vibrant culture, making it an excellent choice for those seeking an inclusive and dynamic educational experience.


10. North Central College, Naperville

  • Phone: +1 630-637-5100
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 2,384 (2020–21)
  • Address: 30 N Brainard St, Naperville, IL 60540

North Central College is a private college in Naperville, Illinois, affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The school has nearly 70 areas of study in undergraduate majors and minors in both undergraduate and master’s programs.

Nationally, the college combines state-of-the-art facilities with cutting-edge programs to help students exceed their personal best. North Central College in Naperville combines the charm of a small-town setting with a commitment to excellence in education.

With a strong emphasis on experiential learning, a diverse array of programs, and a vibrant campus life, North Central College provides students with the tools they need to succeed academically and personally.

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11. Elmhurst University, Elmhurst

  • Phone: +1 630-617-3400
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 2,791 (2020–21)
  • Address: 190 S Prospect Ave., Elmhurst, IL 60126

Elmhurst University is a private liberal university in Elmhurst, Illinois. The college has a tradition of service-oriented learning and is celebrated for its comprehensive education and commitment to community service.

With a range of academic programs, supportive faculty, and a focus on experiential learning, Elmhurst University provides students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in a diverse and dynamic world.

Keep in mind that Elmhurst has an affiliation with the United Church of Christ.


12. University of St. Francis, Joliet

  • Phone: +1 800-735-7500
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 1,519 (2020–21)
  • Address: 500 Wilcox St, Joliet, IL 60435

The University of St. Francis is a private Franciscan institution that offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs on campus and online. The college blends Franciscan values with a commitment to academic excellence.

With a range of undergraduate and graduate programs, a close-knit community, and a strong emphasis on service, the University of St. Francis provides students with a values-driven education that prepares them for leadership and service.


13. National Louis University, Chicago Campus

  • Phone: +1 888-658-8632
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 3,485 (2020–21)
  • Address: 122 S Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603

National Louis University is a private university with its main campus in Chicago. NLU opens its doors to both undergraduate and graduate students in more than 60 programs across its four colleges.

NLU Chicago Campus is a hub for innovative education and community engagement.

With a focus on urban leadership, diverse programs, and a commitment to social justice, NLU offers students in Chicago a unique educational experience that prepares them to make a positive impact in their communities.


14. McKendree University, Lebanon

  • Phone: +1 618-537-4481
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 1,436 (2020–21)
  • Address: 701 College Rd., Lebanon, IL 62254

McKendree University is a nationally ranked, private university offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in Lebanon, Illinois. The college offers a blend of academic excellence and a strong sense of community.

With a focus on experiential learning, a range of undergraduate and graduate programs, and a campus known for its friendly atmosphere, McKendree University provides students with a personalized education that prepares them for success in their chosen fields.


How much does it cost to enroll in Illinois small schools?

Tuition costs for small schools in Illinois vary widely, generally ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 annually. However, factors like the specific institution, program of study, and residency status can influence the overall cost.



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