Illinois Wesleyan stands out among the thousands of colleges and universities in the nation, compared on a wide range of factors by a growing number of publishers. (While we have good reason to brag, we believe the very best way to judge your best-fit college is to visit campus.) 

What Others Say About Us  

No. 4 in Nation – 'Incredible Liberal Arts Colleges On the Rise'

Illinois Wesleyan is No. 4 in the nation on  College Gazette 's list of  10 Incredible Liberal Arts Colleges On the Rise , based on "amazing success over the past 15 years" in programs, student/alumni accomplishments, faculty accolades and other similar metrics.

College Gazette, 2019 

Best Value

Top 100 Private Liberal Arts Colleges

In its Best College Values for 2019, Kiplinger ranks Illinois Wesleyan in the top 100 among the nation's private liberal arts colleges. This marks the 12th consecutive year that Illinois Wesleyan has been included among the national leaders in this ranking of academic quality and affordability.

 Kiplinger's Personal Finance, 2019


Top Earners

In its first-ever college ranking,  The Economist  named Illinois Wesleyan graduates as top earners nationally and in Illinois, with $54,600 median earnings compared to the average college graduate’s $42,751.

Based on an analysis of a broad range of data in the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard,  The Economist  ranked Illinois Wesleyan graduates as 1st of any Illinois institution and in the top 6 percent nationally among 1,275 four-year colleges and universities.

The Economist, 2015  

Top University

Illinois Wesleyan is ranked 135 among 968 institutions nationally in the  Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education  2019 rankings – placing the University among the  Journal 's top tier in the increasingly competitive field of higher education. IWU earned high scores for  resources,  based on the faculty-student ratio and finances per student;  outcomes,  based on graduation rates, graduate salaries and loan repayment rates; and  engagement , based on student surveys.


Wall Street Journal/ Times Higher Education, 2019

#25 Best Colleges in the U.S.

Illinois Wesleyan is No. 21 on WalletHub's ranking of the  Best Colleges in the U.S.  Their analysts compared primarily undergraduate colleges across 26 key measures to determine where prospective students can expect to receive top-notch education at the lowest price points. Metrics ranged from student-faculty ratio to graduation rate to post-attendance median salary.

WalletHub, 2019


Top Best Value Colleges in Illinois

SmartAsset looked at retention, scholarships and salary to determine which schools return the best value to students, and ranked Illinois Wesleyan among the 
top 10 Best Value Colleges  in Illinois. 

 SmartAsset, 2020

#5 - Best Colleges in Illinois

Illinois Wesleyan University is named No. 5 among the  25 Best Colleges in Illinois , in a ranking  based on both academic quality and return on investment (how much you’ll end up paying for college versus what you can expect to earn once you’ve graduated).



College Choice, 2018


Best College for Your Money

Illinois Wesleyan is among 
MONEY Magazine's Best Colleges for Your Money 2019 , based on 26 measures of  educational quality, affordability, and alumni success.

 Money, 2019


Grateful Grads

Illinois Wesleyan is listed on  Forbes'   Grateful Grads 2019 , an index of alumni success and happiness based on giving back to support their alma mater.

Forbes, 2019

Best Overall

Emphasis on Creativity and Spirit of Inquiry

The Fiske Guide to Colleges describes Illinois Wesleyan as a college with an emphasis on creativity and the spirit of inquiry. "The school provides a multitude of paths down which one can travel and it is up to the student to decide which path to take," one student reported. "IWU allows you to become who you want to be, but only if you let it."


Fiske Guide to Colleges, 2019

Top Tier Institution

A top-tier institution, Illinois Wesleyan ranked No. 80 among national liberal arts colleges in the  U.S. News & World Report  2020 rankings of “ Best Colleges. ” Illinois Wesleyan consistently ranks high in graduation and retention rates and small class sizes, which are key measures of quality and value. In addition, IWU is ranked among  Best Value Schools  – those with highly ranked academics and a low net cost of attendance after need-based financial aid. Illinois Wesleyan is also listed among the  Top Performers on Social Mobility , based on opportunities and outcomes for economically disadvantaged students.


U.S. News & World Report, 2020

Best Colleges

Illinois Wesleyan has been included in  The Princeton Review's annual listing of  Best Colleges  every year since the list's inception in 1989. Students surveyed describe Illinois Wesleyan as “a small school that oozes big opportunities,” where they feel confident about getting a job straight out of college.

The Princeton Review, 2020

No. 10 Best College in the Midwest

Business Insider  named Illinois Wesleyan University the No. 10 college in the Midwest, after noting that many of its top 100 schools fell in this region and deserved additional notice. Their rankings highlight schools that provide a quality education and graduate students on time, set graduates up to earn well-paying jobs early in their career, and create a memorable and enjoyable campus experience.


Business Insider, 2016

Colleges of Distinction

Illinois Wesleyan is described as "a  true renaissance university  where students are encouraged to explore all of their interests," and "Students have a host of compelling opportunities to enrich their education with off-campus experiences that might involve spending a year at Pembroke College/Oxford University or perhaps a semester in Washington D.C. through American University."


Colleges of Distinction, 2020 

Best "Secret"

Outstanding but Underappreciated

Jay Mathews, educational columnist for  The Washington Post , ranked Illinois Wesleyan 10th on a list of 100 "outstanding but underappreciated" colleges in the United States. His book,  Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That Is Best for You , was published in 2003 by Prima Publishing. In 2012, Matthews revisited these top 10 colleges in his column in  The Washington Post.

The Washington Post, 2012  

Best Kept Secret

Author Peter Arango wrote, "If this book accomplished nothing other than bringing Illinois Wesleyan to the attention of the college bound, I would be delighted. Not only is Illinois Wesleyan the model of the effective, responsive, well designed, thoroughly successful small liberal arts college/university, it is also an institution that hums with positive energy and which engenders deep feelings of attachment and loyalty among its students and graduates. I won't say that this is a university that time forgot (many of its buildings are state-of-the-art), but there is a sense of mutual respect and affection that  sets this solid college apart  from many of its peers."

 America's Best Kept College Secrets, 2019

Most Accessible & Affordable

Accessible & Full of Opportunities

Illinois Wesleyan is included in the College Access & Opportunity Guide, a group of roughly 260 colleges committed to serving and supporting first-generation, low-income, and minority students on their campus and in their community.


College Access & Opportunity Guide

Excellent Opportunities

ScholarMatch named Illinois Wesleyan to its  College Honor Roll  of schools offering excellent opportunities for low-income and first-generation students.

Public data from the federal government and other public college data collection sites were used to evaluate 1,400 schools in areas of financial aid, academic strength, student support services, and post-graduate success – with specific consideration given to low-income students’ needs.

Scholar Match, 2016

Best Colleges Without Application Fees & Hidden Gem in the Midwest

Illinois Wesleyan University  was ranked among the  Top 25 Best Colleges Without Application Fees  and #2 among  Hidden Gems in the Midwest  | 2020 rankings. These selections recognize Illinois Wesleyan as a leading institution in the country based on factors including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other key metrics as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

 College Raptor, 2020 

Best By Region

Best Liberal Arts College

Illinois Wesleyan is No. 1 on the  Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois  and among the  Best Small Colleges in America , based on analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education, along with reviews from students and alumni.

Niche, 2019 

Best Colleges in Illinois

Illinois Wesleyan University is No. 9 among the  Best Colleges in Illinois , using recent government data to analyze the most important school performance markers, including acceptance, retention, graduation and enrollment rates. These metrics indicate a university’s overall quality and help determine which schools best prepare students for their professional careers., 2020 


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