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
All Alumni
RankSchool NameSchool TypeEarly Career Pay
Mid-Career Pay
% High Meaning
% STEM Degrees
Rank:26School Name:Roosevelt UniversitySchool Type:Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$47,800Mid-Career Pay:$89,700% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:11%
Rank:27School Name:Benedictine UniversitySchool Type:Private School, Religious, Research UniversityEarly Career Pay:$50,200Mid-Career Pay:$89,400% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:6%
Rank:28School Name:Augustana CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$47,800Mid-Career Pay:$88,900% High Meaning:43%% STEM Degrees:29%
Rank:29School Name:Elmhurst CollegeSchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$49,600Mid-Career Pay:$88,500% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:9%
Rank:30School Name:University of St FrancisSchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$49,200Mid-Career Pay:$88,200% High Meaning:68%% STEM Degrees:4%
Rank:30School Name:National Louis UniversitySchool Type:Private School, Research UniversityEarly Career Pay:$46,800Mid-Career Pay:$88,200% High Meaning:63%% STEM Degrees:0%
Rank:32School Name:Monmouth CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$48,800Mid-Career Pay:$88,100% High Meaning:46%% STEM Degrees:15%
Rank:33School Name:Western Illinois UniversitySchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$46,200Mid-Career Pay:$85,900% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:13%
Rank:34School Name:Olivet Nazarene UniversitySchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$49,100Mid-Career Pay:$85,800% High Meaning:62%% STEM Degrees:7%
Rank:35School Name:University of Illinois at SpringfieldSchool Type:Engineering, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$46,900Mid-Career Pay:$85,600% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:54%
Rank:36School Name:Eastern Illinois UniversitySchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$46,100Mid-Career Pay:$85,000% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:7%
Rank:37School Name:Northeastern Illinois UniversitySchool Type:State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$47,200Mid-Career Pay:$84,900% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:15%
Rank:38School Name:North Park UniversitySchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$46,000Mid-Career Pay:$84,300% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:5%
Rank:39School Name:Trinity International University-IllinoisSchool Type:Private School, Religious, Research UniversityEarly Career Pay:$45,700Mid-Career Pay:$84,100% High Meaning:51%% STEM Degrees:0%
Rank:40School Name:Dominican UniversitySchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$48,700Mid-Career Pay:$83,700% High Meaning:46%% STEM Degrees:5%
Rank:41School Name:Aurora UniversitySchool Type:Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$46,300Mid-Career Pay:$83,400% High Meaning:56%% STEM Degrees:2%
Rank:41School Name:Millikin UniversitySchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$45,900Mid-Career Pay:$83,400% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:7%
Rank:43School Name:Rockford UniversitySchool Type:Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$44,900Mid-Career Pay:$83,200% High Meaning:58%% STEM Degrees:4%
Rank:44School Name:Columbia College ChicagoSchool Type:Art, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$45,600Mid-Career Pay:$82,800% High Meaning:39%% STEM Degrees:1%
Rank:44School Name:School of the Art Institute of ChicagoSchool Type:Art, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$46,400Mid-Career Pay:$82,800% High Meaning:41%% STEM Degrees:0%
Rank:46School Name:Trinity Christian CollegeSchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$47,000Mid-Career Pay:$82,600% High Meaning:61%% STEM Degrees:5%
Rank:47School Name:Illinois CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$45,000Mid-Career Pay:$81,700% High Meaning:54%% STEM Degrees:27%
Rank:48School Name:McKendree UniversitySchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$45,400Mid-Career Pay:$81,300% High Meaning:58%% STEM Degrees:7%
Rank:49School Name:Eureka CollegeSchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$44,400Mid-Career Pay:$80,800% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:14%
Rank:50School Name:MacMurray CollegeSchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$43,700Mid-Career Pay:$79,700% High Meaning:82%% STEM Degrees:3%

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College Student

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.