What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Ivy League Schools in Illinois: Does Illinois Have Ivies?

What’s Covered:


Although there are no Ivy League schools in Illinois, the Prairie State is home to a number of fantastic colleges and universities, including top-ranked schools (like the University of Chicago and Northwestern University), Public Ivies (like UIUC), and Jesuit institutions (like Loyola University Chicago).


Are There Ivy League Schools in Illinois?


There are no Ivy League schools in Illinois. The Ivy League is a group of eight academically excellent universities located in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that are known for their long histories, selective admissions, and extensive resources.


Academics are what spring to mind when most people think of the Ivy League, but the name actually comes from athletics. The term “Ivy League” is thought to have been penned by sportswriter Caswell Adams in the 1930s—when writing about a football game between Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, he referred to the schools as old “ivy-covered” universities.


While Illinois is not home to any of the eight historic Ivy League schools—Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale—it does boast some prestigious and academically rigorous institutions of its own.


Top 10 Non-Ivy League Schools in Illinois


Illinois does not have Ivy League schools, but it is home to several top colleges, which are well regarded nationally and have the academic rigor similar to the Ivies.




Acceptance Rate

Undergraduate Enrollment

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL



Northwestern University

Evanston, IL



University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign | UIUC

Champaign, IL



Illinois Wesleyan University

Bloomington, IL



Illinois Institute of Technology | Illinois Tech

Chicago, IL



Wheaton College (Illinois)

Wheaton, IL



Loyola University Chicago

Chicago, IL



DePaul University

Chicago, IL



Augustana College

Rock Island, IL



Bradley University

Peoria, IL




1. University of Chicago


Location: Chicago, IL

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,600


The University of Chicago isn’t a member of the Ivy League, but that doesn’t keep it from being considered one the best colleges in the country. CollegeVine ranks the University of Chicago as the seventh-best school in the country, while the website Niche ranks it eighth on its 2024 list of colleges with the best academics in America.


The University of Chicago is known for attracting a quirky student body. Prospective students have the chance to show off their personalities on their application through an optional two-minute-long video. Its renowned essay prompts further help the University uncover idiosyncratic undergraduates. For example, look at this 2022-23 prompt, which was inspired by Sonia Chang, Class of 2025, and Mirabella Blair, Class of 2027:


“A jellyfish is not a fish. Cat burglars don’t burgle cats. Rhode Island is not an island. Write an essay about some other misnomer, and either come up with and defend a new name for it or explain why its inaccurate name should be kept.”


2. Northwestern University


Location: Evanston, IL

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,800


There is no shortage of famous Northwestern alumni, including author George R. R. Martin, actress Kathryn Hahn, actor/director Zach Braff, supermodel Cindy Crawford, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers. Musician Pharrell Williams also attended Northwestern for two years before dropping out.


Almost as well known as Northwestern’s illustrious alumni is the University’s academic quarter system (three quarters of 10 weeks each), which allows students to engage in a balanced and wide range of activities. For example, 73% of undergraduates combine two or more areas of study and about half of undergraduates participate in a global learning experience.


3. University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign | UIUC


Location: Champaign, IL

Acceptance Rate: 60%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 34,700


The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign isn’t an Ivy League school, but it’s commonly grouped with a number of colleges considered Public Ivies—a collection of public institutions of higher learning known for excellent academics, abundant resources, and high rankings. UIUC places an impressive 56th (out of 1,520 schools) on the website Payscale’s list of best value colleges.


In addition to a stellar academic environment, UIUC has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s top party schools. The website Niche ranks it 9th on its 2024 list of top party schools in America and 5th on its 2024 list of best Greek life colleges. There are 87 Greek organizations found on the University’s campus—49 fraternities and 38 sororities—and 6,366 undergraduates participate in Greek life.


4. Illinois Wesleyan University


Location: Bloomington, IL

Acceptance Rate: 45%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,600


Illinois Wesleyan University is relatively small compared to the preceding colleges on this list; however, it delivers big results to its undergraduates. The school boasts an average retention rate of 85% and an 81% six-year graduation rate (well above the approximate 68% average for private nonprofit schools).


Benefitting Illinois Wesleyan students are small classes—the average class size is just 16 students. The school prioritizes experiential learning, with two-thirds of students conducting research, and 71% completing at least one internship during their time at the University. The school provides study abroad programs in more than 70 countries and delivers a program to serve just about every academic discipline it offers.


5. Illinois Institute of Technology | Illinois Tech


Location: Chicago, IL

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,900


The Illinois Institute of Technology is the only technology-focused university in Chicago, the third-largest city in the U.S. The school offers more than 50 majors in tech-focused disciplines like engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, and applied technology. Illinois Tech alumni can expect positive outcomes; the college ranks 72nd on Payscale’s list of best value colleges.


Illinois Tech is one of just 21 schools that are members of the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), a group of private engineering colleges that includes Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and the Cooper Union. Illinois Tech attracts students from across the globe; 19% of undergraduates are classified as international students.


6. Wheaton College (Illinois)


Location: Wheaton, IL

Acceptance Rate: 86%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,300


Wheaton is a private college guided by the Christian faith. Its Christ at the Core curriculum fosters a distinctly Christian understanding of the liberal arts—combining traditional liberal arts classes with biblical and theological foundation courses.


Students at Wheaton are required to attend chapel three times a week to graduate (they’re allowed just 11 absences per semester). The school follows a strict set of rules known as the Community Covenant, which prohibits alcohol and tobacco and forbids premarital sex.


LGBTQ+ youth will want to know that Wheaton College makes Campus Pride’s Worst List, a list of the “absolute worst, most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ+ youth” in the United States.


7. Loyola University Chicago


Location: Chicago, IL

Acceptance Rate: 77%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,800


Loyola University Chicago is one of the 27 Jesuit colleges in the U.S. The University stresses the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, which translates to “care for the whole person.” The school encourages students to not only grow their minds, but also their bodies and spirits. The Jesuit tradition also prioritizes community, and Loyola students log more than 100,000 volunteer hours annually in Chicago.


Loyola University Chicago is known for its gorgeous campus, which manages to be both in the heart of the city and on the shores of Lake Michigan. Architectural Digest ranked the University’s library among the world’s most beautiful. While the Chicago campus is what attracts many students, the school has another campus in Rome.


8. DePaul University


Location: Chicago, IL

Acceptance Rate: 69%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 14,200


DePaul University offers more than 130 majors in fields ranging from Accountancy to Women’s and Gender Studies. It even offers unique majors like Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies; Comedy Arts; and Jazz Studies. The University features a low 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio and small classes (there are fewer than 40 students in the average class). 97% of courses are taught by professors.


Chicago plays a large role in the education of DePaul students. More than 125,000 alumni live in the Chicago metro area and thousands of internship and career opportunities are available to students. Students are encouraged to get off campus and explore—they receive an unlimited pass (for the time they’re enrolled) on CTA buses and trails, allowing them to take in the culture of one of the nation’s largest and most interesting cities.


9. Augustana College


Location: Rock Island, IL

Acceptance Rate: 69%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,300


Augustana is a small private liberal arts college that has taken big steps to improve its affordability. No student pays full price at the school and in 2021, the school awarded more than $70 million in institutional financial aid. It’s committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of high-achieving students from families with lower incomes. Every student may receive up to $2,000 through Augie Choice to support an internship, research project, or travel experience.


Augustana College believes in the power of mentorship. First-year students are supported by a first-year advisor, a first-year peer group, and an advisor in their major and minor fields. A network of advisors and career coaches continue to provide assistance throughout a student’s entire college experience.


10. Bradley University


Location: Peoria, IL

Acceptance Rate: 76%

Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,300


Bradley was founded in 1897 and originally called the Bradley Polytechnic Institute. The University is located in Peoria, which is three hours from Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, offering students a vast number of internship and career opportunities. Peoria is the second-largest metropolitan area in Illinois and offers a charming blend of big-city benefits and small-town charm.


Bradley’s architecture is notable in Peoria. Its 10-story residence hall is the tallest point in the area, while the University’s Olin Hall has a greenhouse on its rooftop. The University’s Bradley Hall, Westlake Hall, Hayden-Clark Alumni Center, and Hartmann Center all feature limestone from the same Indiana quarry.


What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?


Whether you’re applying to an elite Ivy or to one of the best schools in Illinois, CollegeVine can help add clarity to college admissions. The 10 schools listed above are very selective, but your odds will vary based on the strength of your personal profile. Our free admissions calculator uses data points like GPA, test scores, and extracurricular activities to estimate your admissions odds at more than 1,600 schools nationwide. It can even show you how you stack up against the competition.

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.