Is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a Good School?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (also known as U of I or UIUC for short) is a public research institution that was founded way back in 1867 and is in Urbana and Champaign, Illinois.

U of I, which is the flagship institution of the entire University of Illinois system, is attended by 56,607 students, around 61% of whom are undergrads.

There are more than 170 majors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the most popular of which among students include accounting, business and engineering.

A party school, U of I, has an acceptance rate of 60%, and tuition and fees cost $17,138 for local residents and $35,110 for non-local ones.

It is given these rankings by US News: #41 in National Universities and #13 in Top Public Schools.

The following are some quick stats about UIUC that every student planning to apply to it should know:

  • Location: Champaign and Urbana, Illinois
  • Founding date: 1867
  • Motto: Learning and labor
  • Campus size: 1,783 acres
  • Campus type: City
  • School type: Liberal public land-grant research university
  • Reputation: Party school
  • Selectivity level: Moderately selective
  • Number of majors: 172
  • Popular majors: Accounting, Business, Chemistry, Communication, Engineering, Psychology, Social Sciences
  • Student body: 52,679 (as per Common Data Set 2020 to 2021)
  • Students per class: 2 to 9 in most classes
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1
  • Retention rate: 94%
  • Graduation rate: 85%
  • Athletic affiliation: NCAA Division I
  • Color: Orange and blue
  • Mascot: The Belted Kingfisher
  • Number of varsity teams: 21
  • Sports: Baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, wrestling
University Illinois Urbana Champaign
University Illinois Urbana Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Rankings

US News ranks the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign #15 in Top Public Schools and #47 in National Universities.

Meanwhile, Niche ranks it #1 in Top Public Universities in Illinois. UIUC is ranked #3 in Best Value Colleges in Illinois and #23 in Best Public Colleges in the US by College Simply.

Want to fill your college list with nothing but highly ranked colleges and universities because you have a solid application?

Then UIUC is definitely worthy of a spot.

It’s not unlikely for you to come across the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when checking out college rankings, including especially those that pit public institutions against one another.

But if you are aware of the fact that UIUC is a flagship school, then seeing its name almost all the time should not come as a shock.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the school’s other rankings by different college rankers:

  • #1 in Best Public Colleges in Illinois (College Simply)
  • #3 in Best Colleges in Illinois (College Simply)
  • #4 in the Midwest (Forbes)
  • #6 in Most Liberal Colleges in Illinois (Niche)
  • #11 in Public Colleges (Forbes)
  • #15 in Best Big Colleges in America (Niche)
  • #21 in Best Colleges for Veterans (US News)
  • #31 in Top Colleges (Forbes)
  • #61 in Best Value Colleges in the US (College Simply)
  • #82 in QS World University Rankings (
  • #135 in Best Value Schools (US News)

With the availability of various clubs and organizations as well as all sorts of merrymaking, it isn’t surprising, too, that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the best party schools in the country.

As a matter of fact, Niche ranks it #1 Top Party School in Illinois, #3 in Best Greek Life Colleges in America, #8 in Top Party Schools in America, and #32 in Colleges With the Best Student Life in America.

Meanwhile, back in 2015, UIUC was named the top party school in the nation by the Princeton Review.

UIUC has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve met so many people who I love and the environment is incredible. Overall it’s just the picturesque college experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Acceptance Rate at UIUC

A little more than half of all graduating high schoolers applying as freshmen students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign get accepted.

With an acceptance rate of 59%, it has a moderate selectivity level. In Illinois, UIUC is one of the institutions with the lowest acceptance rates.

According to UIUC’s admissions officers themselves, the school has a whole-context holistic review.

This means that it’s not just your GPA and test score that could help you win an acceptance letter but also many other parts of your application, from your admissions essay to your work experience.

If you believe that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign considers all sorts of academic and non-academic factors in evaluating applicants, think again.

Despite being highly ranked and popular in The Prairie State and across the US, its admissions officers do not take into account some factors many colleges and universities do.

Here are the different admissions factors UIUC doesn’t care about:

  • Class rank
  • Recommendation letter
  • Interview
  • Alumni member relations
  • Religious affiliation
  • Demonstrated interest

When crafting your application, see to it that you have an impressive academic rigor, GPA, test score, admissions essay, extracurriculars and talent or ability as they are the most important.

Personal qualities, residence, volunteer work and work experience are considered, too, but not as important as the rest.

But great news: applying earlier might increase your admissions chances! We will discuss this matter in a few, so make sure that you keep reading if UIUC is your top-choice school.

As mentioned earlier, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the institutions in the state with the lowest acceptance rates.

The following are the top 20 most selective schools in Illinois:

University of ChicagoChicago6%
Northwestern UniversityEvanston9%
Judson UniversityElgin39%
Benedictine UniversityLisle42%
Methodist College of NursingPeoria44%
University of St. FrancisJoliet46%
North Park UniversityChicago48%
Northern Illinois UniversityDeKalb48%
Eastern Illinois UniversityCharleston53%
North Central CollegeNaperville54%
Rockford CollegeRockford54%
Lake Forest CollegeLake Forest55%
Greenville CollegeGreenville56%
School of the Art Institute of ChicagoChicago57%
Augustana CollegeRock Island57%
Blackburn CollegeCarlinville57%
Western Illinois UniversityMacomb57%
Northeastern Illinois UniversityChicago58%
Olivet Nazarene UniversityBourbonnais58%
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaign and Urbana59%

How to Get Into UIUC

Applicants cannot apply Early Decision to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as the school does not offer such an admission plan.

However, it has Priority Decision in addition to Regular Decision, which allows applicants to apply early without having to attend the school when accepted.

Here’s the deal with UIUC’s Priority Decision: while it’s true that it allows you to apply ahead, you will hear back from the admissions office at the same time as everybody else.

But, as mentioned earlier, applying Priority Decision might increase your chances of getting an acceptance letter — the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s website itself says so.

This is especially true if you are applying to one of the school’s most selective programs, which tend to have limited slots.

Also, unlike Early Decision, Priority Decision is not binding — you are not obligated to attend UIUC if accepted.

Want to make sure that your application to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be considered?

Then see to it that you don’t forget these important admissions-related deadlines:

Priority Decision1-NovMid-February
Regular Decision5-JanMid-February

GPA You Need to Get Into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Having a high GPA is important in order to increase one’s chances of being accepted into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The school, like many colleges and universities, does not have a published minimum GPA requirement.

However, the middle 50% of admits have GPAs from 3.50 to 3.94.

Being a moderately selective school, it goes without saying that UIUC applicants need to have impressive high school GPAs if they want to receive an acceptance letter.

University Illinois Urbana Champaign
University Illinois Urbana Champaign

The good news is that there is no minimum GPA requirement for those who are interested in applying.

The bad news?

The middle 50% of first-year students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for the past three years as of this writing, at least, have high school GPAs ranging from 3.50 to 3.94.

This means that only 25% of admits had lower GPAs than 3.50, while a whopping 25% of admits have higher GPAs than 3.94.

As a general rule of thumb, the closer your high school GPA to the upper range, the better.

Besides the GPAs of the middle 50% of admitted students, UIUC has also published the middle 50% of the standardized test scores of applicants welcomed to the campus as freshmen.

They are as follows:

  • SAT – 1300 to 1500 (without writing)
  • ACT – 28 to 34
  • TOEFL – 103 to 110

UIUC Cost of Attendance and Tuition

The total cost of attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a year is $33,060 for in-state students and $50,850 for out-of-state students.

The tuition and fees cost $16,866 for Illinois residents and $34,316 for non-Illinois residents.

It’s perfectly normal for out-of-state students to have a higher cost of attendance than in-state students.

Residing outside Illinois?

Don’t be surprised if your tuition is double the tuition of someone who resides in the state.

At other public institutions, out-of-state tuition costs can be up to three times higher than in-state tuition costs — sometimes even higher! In any case, make sure that the pros outweigh the cons of studying out-of-state.

Related Article: 425 Colleges Charging In-State Tuition for Out-of-State Applicants

Here’s the estimated breakdown of the cost of going to UIUC:

Tuition and fees$16,866$34,316
Room and board$12,494$12,494
Books and supplies$1,200$1,200
University of Illinois Cost of Attendance

By the way, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, like at most institutions for higher education, the tuition varies from program to program.

It’s because of this why, on the Cost and Aid page of UIUC’s website, the cost of attendance can range from $33,060 to $38,154 (in-state) and $50,850 to $55,944 (out-of-state).

What Is UIUC Known For

Six years from their initial enrollment, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduates earn around $49,000 per year.

On the other hand, ten years after attending the school for the first time, they make about $66,500 per year. Average annual earnings can vary based on many different factors.

The majority of business leaders said that the college where an applicant went to is either not very important or not important at all.

But let’s be honest — a degree from a flagship school such as UIUC can make your resume a complete standout.

My experience at UIUC has been a roller coasted. Overall it’s a pretty good school. Student life is great. They provide many opportunities for students to enjoy themselves. Course work can be overwhelming. Some professors help others don’t.

It’s most likely because of this why the annual earnings of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduates, ten years from the time they started to go to the school, are 94% higher than what’s considered the national median for individuals employed across all industries.

The national median, by the way, is equivalent to $34,300.

How much money you can make armed with a UIUC degree can vary. Factors such as your major, location and previous work can have an impact on your paycheck.

The following shows the average initial annual earnings of UIUC graduates according to major:

Computer Science$92,200
Computer Engineering$78,000
Industrial Engineering$72,600
Electrical Engineering$70,000
Communications Engineering$70,000
Chemical Engineering$69,300
Mechanical Engineering$67,200
Civil Engineering$62,900
Food Science and Technology$41,000
Communication and Media Studies$38,100
Political Science$36,200
English Language and Literature$28,500

Famous U of I Alumni

Wondering what sort of possibilities a UIUC experience could bring?

Below are some of the most recognizable people who graduated from or once attended the academic institution you are planning to apply to:

  • Jon Corzine – Former US Senator and the 54th Governor of New Jersey (2006 to 2010)
  • Jesse Jackson – Second African-American to run for the US presidency
  • Lew Allen – Tenth chief of staff of the US Air Force
  • Arnold Orville Beckman – Funded the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, which gave rise to Silicon Valley
  • Nick Holonyak – Creator of the first visible LED
  • Wallace Carothers – Developer of nylon, thus laying the foundation of the synthetic-fiber industry
  • Larry Ellison – Co-founder and former CEO of Oracle Corporation
  • Marc Andreessen – Co-author of Mosaic and co-founder of Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz
  • Max Levchin – Co-founder of a company that went on to become PayPal
  • Steve Chen – Co-founder of YouTube
  • Jawed Karim – Co-founder of YouTube
  • Ron Popeil – Inventor of Veg-O-Matic, Pocket Fisherman and other infomercial products
  • Scott D. Altman – Former NASA astronaut who is a veteran of four Space Shuttle missions
  • Roger Ebert – First person to receive a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism
  • Hugh Hefner – Founder of the Playboy magazine
  • Stuart M. Kaminsky – Author of the novel A Cold Red Sunrise, which won the 1989 Edgar Award
  • Ann Weldy – Author of six lesbian pulp fiction novels known as The Beebo Brinker Chronicles
  • Gene Hackman – Award-winning actor whose career spanned over six decades
  • Alan Ruck – Best known for playing the best friend of the titular character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Greg Lewis – Football coach and former football player for the NFL
  • George Halas – Former professional football player associated with the NFL from its inception
  • Deron Williams – Former basketball player for UIUC and the NBA
  • Kenny Battle – Former basketball player for UIUC and various NBA teams

So, Is UIUC a Good School?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a good school for students who wish to earn a degree from a well-known institution whose campus is big and the population is diverse.

Besides having over 170 majors, UIUC also offers a great Greek life and social events, which is why it’s a party school.

Whether you are a certified vlogger or just love watching all sorts of online videos, you might find this UIUC fact interesting: two of the three co-founders of YouTube, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, studied Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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