Liberal Arts Colleges in Illinois with Degree Program Summaries

There are more than 20 liberal arts colleges within Illinois. Read an overview of the ten largest schools, program information, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

In the state of Illinois, liberal arts colleges offer students the opportunity to earn bachelor's degrees in a wide variety of fields, such as art, music, philosophy, foreign languages, the social sciences and the natural sciences. The following ten schools represent the largest of these 4-year institutions, many of which offer Bachelor of Arts programs, Bachelor of Science programs or the option to pursue a specialized graduate program. The comparison table showcases each school and its program offerings and tuition info.


Augustana College

Established by Swedish settlers in 1860, Augustana College is located in the city of Rock Island and is affiliated with the Lutheran Church. Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree through one of several departmental or interdisciplinary majors. Departmental programs include anthropology, classics, geography and history. Interdisciplinary programs include women's and gender studies, Asian studies and environmental studies.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Arts
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $34,614*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city

Aurora University

The suburb of Aurora houses this university, which is an independent liberal arts school with full- and part-time programs as well as residential and commuter options. Undergraduates can choose from approximately 40 majors, such as creative writing, nursing, disabilities studies and religion. Some of the graduate programs center around education, business and social work.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Science
    Bachelor of Social Work
    Bachelor of Science in Nursing
    Master of Arts
    Master of Science
    Master of Business Administration
    Master of Social Work
    Doctor of Education
    Doctor of Social Work
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $20,100*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb

Elmhurst College

In the suburb of Elmhurst, Elmhurst College was founded in 1871 by a group of protestant reformers represented by the German Evangelical Synod of North America. The college began offering Bachelor of Arts programs in 1924. Currently, the school also has programs leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Liberal Studies and a Bachelor of Music. Among the 50 majors are philosophy, chemistry, urban studies and marketing. Graduate students can pursue a Master of Arts, Master of Education, Master of Science or a Master of Business Administration.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Fine Arts
    Bachelor of Science
    Bachelor of Liberal Studies
    Bachelor of Music
    Master of Arts
    Master of Education
    Master of Science
    Master of Business Administration
    Master in Professional Accountancy
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $31,650*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb

Illinois Wesleyan University

The liberal arts foundation at Bloomington's Illinois Wesleyan University ensures that each course helps students develop their oral communication and written skills. It also exposes them to different liberal arts topics while allowing them to focus on categories of their interest. Some of the 50 majors involve accounting, music, history and cognitive sciences; pre-professional programs vary from pre-dentistry and pre-engineering to pre-physical therapy and pre-veterinary sciences.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Fine Arts
    Bachelor of Science
    Bachelor of Music Education
    Bachelor of Music
    Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $37,954*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city

McKendree University

McKendree University was founded in Lebanon as the state's first higher education institution; it's affiliated with the United Methodist Church. With 46 majors, 4 master's and one doctorate program, this school provides students with plenty of liberal arts options to consider. Bachelor's degree programs cover various fields of study, such as athletic training, economics, philosophy and art. The master's programs are in clinical mental health counseling, education, nursing and business education, while doctoral students can pursue a program in education.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Science
    Bachelor of Business Administration
    Bachelor of Fine Arts
    Bachelor of Music Education
    Bachelor of Science in Nursing
    Master of Arts
    Master of Science
    Master of Business Administration
    Doctoral of Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $25,340*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb

Millikin University

Based in Decatur, Millikin University uses a performance-learning approach to equip students with the practice to succeed after college. This performance may involve market research, internships, co-teaching, presentations or businesses. Communication, art therapy, English education and information systems are some of the majors undergraduates can pick from. The three graduate programs include Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Science
    Bachelor of Fine Arts
    Bachelor of Music
    Bachelor of Science in Nursing
    Master of Science
    Master of Business Administration
    Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $28,612*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city

North Central College

The city of Naperville is home to North Central College, an independent private institution with a history dating back to 1861. Today, the school offers over 55 majors leading to either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. Some majors include global studies, actuarial science, organizational communication and theater. Graduate students have the opportunity to earn one of seven master's degrees, some of which include a Master of Arts, a Master of Leadership or a Master of International Business Administration.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Science
    Master of Business Administration
    Master of International Business Administration
    Master of Leadership Studies
    Master of Arts
    Master of Science
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $31,071*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city

Olivet Nazarene University

Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, affiliated with the Church of Nazarene, has roughly 100 fields of study. A sampling of majors include zoology, child development, exercise science and fashion merchandising. There are also studies in Christian education and children's ministry, among others. Numerous graduate programs are available in fields such as nursing, business, education and counseling.

  • Programs Offered: Associate of Applied Science
    Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Science
    Bachelor of Music
    Bachelor of Science in Nursing
    Bachelor of Science in Engineering
    Bachelor of Social Work
    Bachelor of Practical Ministry
    Bachelor of Business Administration
    Master of Arts
    Master of Business Administration
    Master of Organizational Leadership
    Master of Ministry
    Master of Science in Nursing
    Doctor of Education
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $28,090*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; small suburb

Trinity International University

This Evangelical institution has locations in Deerfield and South Chicago with more than 30 majors along with master's degree programs. A law school and divinity school are also part of the liberal arts institution. A Bachelor of Arts program can be pursued in a variety of study areas, such as business, graphic design, biology and social science. Dual BA/MA degrees can be earned in bioethics, leadership and intercultural studies.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts
    Master of Arts
    Master of Business Administration
    Master of Education
    Master of Divinity
    Master of Theology
    Doctor of Ministry
    Juris Doctor
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $25,840*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb

Wheaton College

The town of Wheaton, a large suburb west of Chicago, is home to Wheaton College, which was established by the Wesleyans of the Presbyterian Church in 1853. Today, the school offers roughly 35 traditional undergraduate programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music or Bachelor of Music Education. Undergraduates can also select majors in specialized areas, like engineering, Asian studies and military studies. Graduate students have the opportunity to earn a Master of Arts degree in teaching or specialized theological fields, as well as doctoral degrees in biblical and theological studies or clinical psychology.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts
    Bachelor of Science
    Bachelor of Music
    Bachelor of Music Education
    Master of Arts
    Master of Arts in Teaching
    Doctor of Philosophy
    Doctor of Psychology
  • Tuition & Fees (2012): $30,120*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Liberal Arts Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
Augustana College 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Bachelor of Arts $34,614*
Aurora University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Arts,
Bachelor of Science,
Bachelor of Social Work,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Arts,
Master of Science,
Master of Business Administration,
Master of Social Work,
Doctor of Education,
Doctor of Social Work
$20,100*
Elmhurst College 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Arts,
Bachelor of Fine Arts,
Bachelor of Science,
Bachelor of Liberal Studies,
Bachelor of Music,
Master of Arts,
Master of Education,
Master of Science,
Master of Business Administration,
Master in Professional Accountancy
$31,650*
Illinois Wesleyan University 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Bachelor of Arts,
Bachelor of Fine Arts,
Bachelor of Science,
Bachelor of Music Education,
Bachelor of Music,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
$37,954*
McKendree University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Arts,
Bachelor of Science,
Bachelor of Business Administration,
Bachelor of Fine Arts,
Bachelor of Music Education,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Arts,
Master of Science,
Master of Business Administration,
Doctoral of Education
$25,340*
Millikin University 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Bachelor of Arts,
Bachelor of Science,
Bachelor of Fine Arts,
Bachelor of Music,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science,
Master of Business Administration,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$28,612*
North Central College 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city Bachelor of Arts,
Bachelor of Science,
Master of Business Administration,
Master of International Business Administration,
Master of Leadership Studies,
Master of Arts,
Master of Science
$31,071*
Olivet Nazarene University 4-year, private not-for-profit; small suburb Associate of Applied Science,
Bachelor of Arts,
Bachelor of Science,
Bachelor of Music,
Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Bachelor of Science in Engineering,
Bachelor of Social Work,
Bachelor of Practical Ministry,
Bachelor of Business Administration,
Master of Arts,
Master of Business Administration,
Master of Organizational Leadership,
Master of Ministry,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Education
$28,090*
Trinity International University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Arts,
Master of Arts,
Master of Business Administration,
Master of Education,
Master of Divinity,
Master of Theology,
Doctor of Ministry,
Juris Doctor,
Doctor of Philosophy
$25,840*
Wheaton College 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Arts,
Bachelor of Science,
Bachelor of Music,
Bachelor of Music Education,
Master of Arts,
Master of Arts in Teaching,
Doctor of Philosophy,
Doctor of Psychology
$30,120*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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