The best colleges for computer science in Illinois include a contender for best-in-the-nation, with seven colleges accredited in computer science by ABET.
Computer science prepares you for a job as a software developer—named the best job in America by U.S. News and World Report. Software developers code the systems, programs and apps that we couldn’t live without, and they get paid well to do so. The Occupational Outlook Handbook reports a median annual salary of $105,590, and these jobs aren’t going away. The OOH predicts 21% job growth over the next ten years.
In this article, we’ll summarize the colleges and universities that offer computer science programs in Illinois, along with our top five. You can also check out College Guidepost’s rankings for the best value colleges in computer science, as well as the best overall.
Ranking the best colleges for computer science in Illinois is no easy task, with esteemed public and private institutions on the list. We’ll start with some honorable mentions.
Honorable Mention: Monmouth University and Illinois State University both offer computer science programs accredited by ABET. Southern Illinois University actually has two campuses with ABET accreditation, and DePaul University’s computer science program is also respected. In other states, these colleges might crack the top 5, but Illinois just has too many good computer science programs.
5. Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago’s only technical university comes in 5th in our rankings, but don’t be deceived—this is still an incredible university. Illinois Tech was ranked 1st in the Chicago region in occupational earnings power, the 36th best value in the nation (U.S. News), and a top 25 STEM college (Forbes). Honestly, they’ve won too many awards for us to list here.
With under 3,000 enrolled undergraduate students, Illinois Tech offers the smaller campus experience of a private university. First offering computer science courses in 1959, the university offers so many computer science programs it will be hard to choose. These majors include a new B.S. in artificial intelligence.
The downside? Illinois Tech’s tuition and fees run over $50,000 a year. Ouch. If you can afford it though, Illinois Tech is a great university for computer science.
4. University of Illinois at Chicago
While all the attention goes to the 1st university on this list, the University of Illinois at Chicago has been building a strong reputation, both overall and in computer science. Washington Monthly named ranked the university an astonishing 31st overall, ahead of the pricier private schools in Illinois: University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, and Illinois Tech. Wow.
UI Chicago’s computer science program is accredited by ABET, and their graduate program is ranked 64th in the nation by U.S. News. Best of all, their in-state tuition and fees are under $18,000 a year. The University of Illinois is easily the 2nd best value in Illinois for computer science. The second best value is a big deal, because the best value school (ranked 1st on this list) turns away most of its computer science applicants.
3. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private university in Chicago’s Hyde Park, enrolling around 6,000 undergraduate students and over 10,000 in its graduate schools. This prestigious university’s tuition structure is intriguing. Annual tuition is over $57,000, but according to their website, “UChicago guarantees free tuition for families with incomes under $125,000 per year (with typical assets), while families earning less than $60,000 (with typical assets) will have tuition, fees, and room and board covered by financial aid.”
With these grants potentially wiping out the huge tuition sum, the University of Chicago is an excellent choice for computer science, where its program is ranked 30th in the country by U.S. News.
2. Northwestern University
Northwestern, a private research university based in Evanston, cracked the top 10 in U.S. News’ best college rankings. Their 8,000 undergraduate students enjoy a 6:1 student to faculty ratio, offering a personal educational experience.
Like the University of Chicago, Northwestern has a frightening sticker price over $56,000. Like the University of Chicago, they also attempt to address need with grants rather than loans, so don’t let the sticker price keep you from looking into their program.
With 95% of Northwestern graduates “employed, freelancing, or continuing their education six months after graduation (2016)”, Northwestern is a wonderful choice for computer science majors.
1. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
Illinois’ flagship university has a rich history in computer science research and practice, and computer science undergraduates average a 33.7 on the ACT. More importantly, 97% find employment or go on to an advanced degree after graduating, with an average starting salary of $99,741.
Annual in-state tuition for the computer science major is just over $17,000. For a computer science program ranked 3rd in the nation by CSRankings, it’s an absolute steal. If you can get through the selective admissions process, the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign is by far the best college in Illinois for computer science. The great tuition rate is a cherry on top, and a very valuable cherry at that.
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to see the best colleges for computer science in another state, you can find the index here.