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 2022 list of The Best Colleges for Getting a Job based on Department of Education College Scorecard data.

Zippia, 2022

#2 Best Liberal Arts College in Illinois

In its list of 2023 Best Liberal Arts Colleges, Niche ranks Illinois Wesleyan as No. 2 in Illinois and among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America. Niche rankings are based on analysis of key statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and millions of reviews.

Niche, 2023

#4 Best Bachelor's Degree College in the Country

In its rankings of four-year institutions that award almost exclusively bachelor’s degrees, the Washington Monthly evaluated colleges based on what they do for the country. Illinois Wesleyan is No. 4 in the U.S., based on contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and promoting public service. 

Washington Monthly, 2022

Best National Liberal Arts College


In rankings that combine results of the most respected college ranking systems with the averaged ratings of thousands of real student reviews from around the web, College Consensus named Illinois Wesleyan to its Top 100 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges. 

College Consensus, 2022

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. Only about 14% of America’s 2,700 four-year colleges are profiled in the book. Students surveyed describe Illinois Wesleyan as “a small school that oozes big opportunities.” Read more.

Princeton Review, 2023

#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

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

Best Colleges in the U.S.

Illinois Wesleyan No. 31 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

#5 Best Colleges in Illinois

College Choice named Illinois Wesleyan University 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, 2021

America's Top Colleges; Grateful Grads

Illinois Wesleyan was named to the Forbes 2022 America's Top Colleges list. This list boasts the nation’s top schools in highest graduate salaries, lowest debt, highest retention, proven leadership and entrepreneurial success, and high graduation and retention rates. Illinois Wesleyan was also listed on Forbes' Grateful Grads 2019, an index of alumni success and happiness based on giving back to support their alma mater.

Forbes, 2022

Best Colleges

Illinois Wesleyan University is No. 7 among the Best Colleges in Illinois, using recent government data to assess important markers of academic outcomes and affordability – aimed at identifying schools that provide students with the skills needed to graduate and successfully enter the workforce., 2022

Best and Most Interesting

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, 2023

U.S. News Best Colleges

U.S. News and World Report has identified Illinois Wesleyan as the 3rd ranked school among 76 baccalaureate institutions in the Midwest awarding degrees in diverse fields. Also in the U.S. News & World Report's 2022-23 Best Colleges, Illinois Wesleyan earned the following notable rankings: Best Value - Regional Colleges Midwest #10; Undergraduate Teaching - Regional Colleges Midwest #3.

U.S. News & World Report, 2023

#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, 2022

Top Quality School 

Illinois Wesleyan is identified as a top 10% school nationwide in College Factual's Best Colleges Ranking, created to help students find the best quality colleges in the U.S.

College Factual, 2022

Best Colleges that Pay You Back

Money iconIllinois Wesleyan University is ranked the No. 1 liberal arts college in Illinois, and No. 32 among the best liberal arts colleges in America, according to Degree Choices. Illinois Wesleyan is also the top liberal arts colleges in Illinois for earnings and "earnings plus," using recent government data to analyze how long it takes students to pay back their educational investment after attending.

Degree Choices, 2022

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

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. Money analyzed dozens of data points on quality, affordability and student outcomes. 

Money, 2022

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, 2022

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

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 

Award iconIllinois Wesleyan University was ranked among the Top 25 Best Colleges Without Application Fees in 2020 and #2 among Hidden Gem Colleges in the Great Lakes Region 2022 rankings. These selections recognize Illinois Wesleyan as a leading institution 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, 2022