Best Colleges in Illinois by Salary Potential

Don’t enroll before you find out how much your bachelor’s degree is worth. Check out this list of Illinois’s best four-year colleges by earning potential.

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Bachelor's Only
Salary data for alumni who earned a bachelor's degree and did not go on to earn any additional degrees.
All Alumni
Salary data for all alumni who earned a bachelor's degree, including but not limited to those who went on to earn additional degrees from any school.
Rank 
School Name 
School Type
Degree Type 
School Sector 
Early Career Pay
 
Median salary for alumni with 0-5 years experience
Mid-Career Pay
 
Median salary for alumni with 10+ years experience
% High Meaning
 
% alumni who say their work makes the world a better place
% STEM Degrees
 
% degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering or math subjects
1Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$61,600$117,50043%22%

1University of Chicago
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$61,600
Mid-Career Pay$117,500
% High Meaning43%
% STEM Degrees22%
2Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$62,800$115,90048%64%

2Illinois Institute of Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$62,800
Mid-Career Pay$115,900
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees64%
3Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$61,500$115,80047%20%

3Northwestern University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$61,500
Mid-Career Pay$115,800
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees20%
4Party School, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$61,000$113,80045%36%

4University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$61,000
Mid-Career Pay$113,800
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees36%
5Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$53,700$107,80047%21%

5Lake Forest College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$53,700
Mid-Career Pay$107,800
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees21%
6Private School, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$54,100$104,70047%38%

6Bradley University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$54,100
Mid-Career Pay$104,700
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees38%
7Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$53,800$103,80043%15%

7DePaul University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$53,800
Mid-Career Pay$103,800
% High Meaning43%
% STEM Degrees15%
8Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$64,000$102,200N/A0%

8Resurrection University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$64,000
Mid-Career Pay$102,200
% High MeaningN/A
% STEM Degrees0%
8Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$55,000$102,20048%31%

8University of Illinois at Chicago
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$55,000
Mid-Career Pay$102,200
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees31%
10Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$52,900$101,500N/A0%

10St. John's College-Department of Nursing
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$52,900
Mid-Career Pay$101,500
% High MeaningN/A
% STEM Degrees0%
11Liberal Arts School, Private School, Religious, Sober SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$51,500$101,30055%12%

11Wheaton College (Illinois)
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$51,500
Mid-Career Pay$101,300
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees12%
12Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$66,600$98,70087%6%

12Rush University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$66,600
Mid-Career Pay$98,700
% High Meaning87%
% STEM Degrees6%
13Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$51,400$94,80047%20%

13Northern Illinois University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$51,400
Mid-Career Pay$94,800
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees20%
13Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$51,900$94,80045%15%

13Loyola University Chicago
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$51,900
Mid-Career Pay$94,800
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees15%
13Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$47,900$94,80048%24%

13Knox College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$47,900
Mid-Career Pay$94,800
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees24%
16Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$49,700$93,60048%10%

16Illinois State University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$49,700
Mid-Career Pay$93,600
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees10%
17Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$51,100$93,30043%18%

17Illinois Wesleyan University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$51,100
Mid-Career Pay$93,300
% High Meaning43%
% STEM Degrees18%
18Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$49,200$93,10045%9%

18North Central College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$49,200
Mid-Career Pay$93,100
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees9%
19Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$51,300$92,50053%19%

19Principia College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$51,300
Mid-Career Pay$92,500
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees19%
20Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$48,200$89,90059%10%

20Saint Xavier University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$48,200
Mid-Career Pay$89,900
% High Meaning59%
% STEM Degrees10%
21Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$49,100$88,30053%17%

21Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$49,100
Mid-Career Pay$88,300
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees17%
22Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$58,500$88,000N/A0%

22Saint Anthony College of Nursing
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$58,500
Mid-Career Pay$88,000
% High MeaningN/A
% STEM Degrees0%
23Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$46,900$87,80048%11%

23Roosevelt University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$46,900
Mid-Career Pay$87,800
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees11%
24Liberal Arts School, Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$46,600$87,00043%29%

24Augustana College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$46,600
Mid-Career Pay$87,000
% High Meaning43%
% STEM Degrees29%
25For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$50,300$86,90050%21%

25Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$50,300
Mid-Career Pay$86,900
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees21%
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The Prairie State contains over 100 four-year colleges, and PayScale’s College Salary Report has the data to help you identify the Illinois colleges with the highest paid graduates. Some of the most famous include the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Top employers in the state include Allstate Insurance and State Farm.

For the Illinois colleges in the PayScale database, one college with highly paid undergraduate alumni at zero to five years after graduation is a private school, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). After at least 10 years of work experience, that earning potential climbs significantly, probably because of the school’s extremely strong STEM focus. (A high percentage of degrees awarded at IIT are in science, technology, engineering or math subjects.)

But some of the highest mid-career salaries overall go to alumni of another private school, The University of Chicago. This world-class private research university comes in with high median salaries despite fact that only about a quarter of degrees awarded are in STEM subjects. This goes to show that a liberal arts degree can pay off.

When we include alumni from Illinois colleges with graduate degrees in our calculations, we see a slight uptick in the early and mid-career earnings at most schools, with a few exceptions, like Wheaton College.

The Midwest is a haven for private schools, especially those with religious affiliations. It’s interesting to note though that only one of these schools, Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, is classified as a sober school by The Princeton Review.


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