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

Great College for Getting a Job

Illinois Wesleyan University ranks #7 in the nation and #1 in Illinois on Zippia's 2021 list of The Best Colleges for Getting a Job based on Department of Education College Scorecard data.

Zippia, 2021

#7 Best College in Illinois

In its 2021 Best Colleges list, Niche ranks Illinois Wesleyan as No. 7 in Illinois.

Niche, 2021

Best National Liberal Arts College

College Consensus named Illinois Wesleyan to its Top 100 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges. 

College Consensus, 2021

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 7% Nationally for Low Loan Default Rate

Illinois Wesleyan University was ranked by in the top 7% nationally for all colleges and universities for lowest loan default rate (1.40%).

LendEDU, 2020

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

#6 Best Colleges & Universities in Illinois

Illinois Wesleyan is No. 6 on WalletHub's ranking of the Best Colleges & Universities in Illinois and No. 29 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, 2021

#2 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois

In Niche's list of 2021 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois, Illinois Wesleyan University ranked #2 for Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois. To determine the ranking, Niche reviewed "academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni".

Niche, 2020

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 academic quality, affordability, 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, 2020


Best College for Your Money

Illinois Wesleyan is among MONEY's Best Colleges 2022, a listing of the schools that successfully combine quality and affordability. The Money team evaluated more than 2400 four-year colleges on 24 measures in three areas: quality, affordability and outcomes.

Money, 2022

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

Top College Value

In Money's 2020 Best Colleges list, Illinois Wesleyan ranked #250 out of 739 for best colleges in America based on value.

Money, 2020

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

Continually ranked as a top-tier institution, Illinois Wesleyan is listed No. 89 among national liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News & World Report 2022 rankings of “Best Colleges.” The University 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 – and the Top Performers on Social Mobility, based on opportunities and outcomes for economically disadvantaged students. 

In the inaugural 2022 U.S. News & World Report ranking of Best Undergraduate Nursing Programs, Illinois Wesleyan is the top-rated nursing program at any private, liberal arts university.

U.S. News & World Report, 2021

Best Colleges

Open book with lightbulb iconIllinois 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, 2021

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, 2021

Best "Secret"

Outstanding but Underappreciated

Book icon with 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


Best Colleges Without Application Fees & Hidden Gem in the Midwest

Award iconIllinois Wesleyan University was ranked among the Top 25 Best Colleges Without Application Fees in 2020 and #2 among Hidden Gems in the Midwest | 2020 and 2021 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, 2021

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

Building iconIllinois 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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