2023 Best Undergraduate Nursing Schools in Illinois

2022-2023 Nursing Colleges of Distinction

Published: September 1, 2022

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: DePaul University | Illinois State University | Illinois Wesleyan University | Lewis University | Loyola University Chicago | North Park University | Olivet Nazarene University | Saint Xavier University | Trinity Christian College | University of Illinois at Chicago | University of St. Francis | Frequently Asked Questions

The path to becoming a nurse is undoubtedly a long and arduous process that requires hard work and dedication. With a shortage in capable and compassionate nurses, it is becoming increasingly important that nursing programs are well rounded, highly accredited, and focused on student success. Colleges of Distinction is proud to recognize schools with these very programs, ones that fully support future nurses along (and beyond!) their undergraduate journey. These institutions, already highly regarded for their commitment to the Four Distinctions, go the extra mile with their cutting-edge nursing degrees.

Our Illinois top colleges for nursing offer students an exciting place to learn and thrive, as proven by the following:

Stability and excellence as core tenets of these nursing programs. Not only have these programs been awarding degrees for more than 10 years, but faculty are continually recognized for their impressive experience and research.

Validation from the ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing) and/or CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) for their commitment to quality and student success.

Practical experiences that provide ample opportunities for students to apply their knowledge to the real world through internships, mentorship programs, and volunteer opportunities.

High mastery rates in such standardized exams as the NCLEX and HESI A2.

Dedicated advising and counseling available specifically for nursing students.

Liberal arts exposure to make students culturally competent, well-rounded individuals with superior critical thinking and leadership skills.

High-impact practices embedded into the curriculum.

Industry connections cultivated by faculty and staff to help students build their network and find meaningful work.

DePaul University

Chicago, IL ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

With over 300 undergraduate programs, the breadth of academic excellence at DePaul is vast and varied. The university’s world-class faculty are experts in their field who bring their years of experience to the classroom every day. Although DePaul’s faculty are conducting groundbreaking, award-winning research everyday, their biggest priority is the success of their students. Classes are small to maximize engagement between students and professors. Students are challenged to meet their potential and inspired to reach their goals.

Whether it’s a mission to Mars or the supply chain on steroids, there are new and exciting problems for DePaul students to solve. Research is integral to the student experience, so students will find many opportunities to make their mark on the world. Research isn’t reserved just for STEM majors, either. Students are encouraged to explore undergraduate research opportunities regardless of their major. Faculty are active participants and leaders in various professional organizations, centers, and initiatives that focus on research and creative activity.

Acceptance rate 70%      •      Net price $33,319
Total Undergrad Population 21,922     •     Setting City: Large     •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 71%      •     Retention rate 83%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 17:1

Click here for available majors

Illinois State University

Normal, IL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Illinois State University serves a diverse student body through immersive, career-minded programming across a range of subjects. The university prides itself in its core values: Pursuit of Learning and Scholarship, Individualized Attention, Diversity, Integrity, and Civic Engagement. Thanks to these pillars, the university motto, “gladly we learn and teach,” truly speaks for itself.

Each spring, undergraduate and graduate students all have the opportunity to present their research, scholarship, and creative projects at the annual Research Symposium. Participation in this university-hosted event allows students to practice presenting to an audience, networking, and understanding the overall process of high-quality research.

Acceptance rate 81%      •      Net price $20,933      •      SAT Range 1020-1220      •     Students submitting SAT scores 79%
Total Undergrad Population 20,720     •     Setting Suburb     •     Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 68%      •      Retention rate 84%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 19:1

Click here for available majors

Illinois Wesleyan University logo stacked

Illinois Wesleyan University

Bloomington, IL ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Where the multitalented go to learn. Illinois Wesleyan is a true renaissance university at which students are encouraged to explore all of their interests. Double majors in diverse subjects like physics and music are common. Students have a host of compelling opportunities to enrich their education with off-campus experiences that might involve spending a year at Pembroke College/Oxford University or perhaps a semester in Washington D.C. through American University.

The community surrounding Illinois Wesleyan offers distinctive opportunities for students who look to supplement their classroom experiences with off-campus learning experiences. The best example of this is the Action Research Center, which coordinates research projects undertaken by Illinois Wesleyan University students, faculty, and staff in partnership with groups in the larger central Illinois community. Current projects include work on McLean County’s ten-year plan to end homelessness, a tutoring and mentoring program, and work with the Ecology Action Center to reduce pesticide use.

Acceptance rate 57%      •      Net price $32,545      •      SAT Range 1100-1300      •      Students submitting SAT scores 65%
Total Undergrad Population 1,636     •     Setting City: Small     •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 82%      •      Retention rate 87%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

Click here for available majors

Lewis University

Romeoville, IL ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Lewis University, guided by its Catholic and Lasallian heritage, provides students a liberal and professional education, grounded in the interaction of knowledge and fidelity in the search for truth. Lewis promotes the development of the complete person through the pursuit of wisdom and justice. Fundamental to its Mission is a spirit of association, which fosters community in all teaching, learning, and service.

The Doherty Center for Aviation and Health Research was established to promote scholarship and innovation in the fields of health and aviation and to create mutually beneficial partnerships with business and industry. Students work with faculty on projects that will have an impact on the aviation industry such as Determining the Hazardous Effects of Flight Deck Laser Illumination Events.

To encourage entrepreneurship, the University hosts the Business Plan Competition, which is open to all undergraduate and graduate students. Students formulate an idea, develop a business plan, and pitch their idea to a panel of judges. The winner(s) of the competition earn $5,000 to be used towards their business venture.

Acceptance rate 66%      •      Net price $20,022      •     SAT Range 1010-1220      •     Students submitting SAT scores 73%
Total Undergrad Population 6,437     •     Setting Suburb     •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 70%      •     Retention rate 80%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

Click here for available majors

Loyola University Chicago logo with school seal

Loyola University Chicago

Chicago, IL ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Superior education in a world-class city. An outstanding, nationally lauded institution, Loyola University Chicago continues to advance the 450-year-old Jesuit tradition of rigorous academic study grounded in the liberal arts. Loyola helps students prepare for meaningful careers with top programs in business, the sciences, and other disciplines, along with opportunities for internships in Chicago and beyond. Loyola’s well-rounded, transformative education will help each student develop as a whole person—intellectually, physically, socially, and spiritually.

Loyola’s Career Development Center (CDC) provides all of the resources students need to start their careers after graduation. The CDC annually lists thousands of jobs and internships and helps students and alumni connect with prospective employers for job opportunities and making connections before and after graduation. The CDC also provides mock interviews, job fairs, resume referral services, and regular internship newsletters.

Acceptance rate 71%      •     Net price $37,731     •     SAT Range 1130-1330      •     Students submitting SAT scores 100%
Total Undergrad Population 16,893      •      Setting City: Large      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 76%      •      Retention rate 85%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

Click here for available majors

north park university chicago logo

North Park University

Chicago, IL ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

Founded in 1891, North Park University prides itself on its deep Christian roots and its commitment to providing a world-class education in the liberal arts, professional studies, and theology. North Park’s location in Chicago offers students a unique opportunity to learn, serve, and develop their faith in an increasingly diverse community.

Crux is a living-learning cohort in which first-year students are inspired to develop their identity in Christ while experiencing the city. Coursework, experiential learning, mentorship, and discipleship training comprise the Crux experience, earning students college credit while living and learning within an on-campus cohort. They also complete multiple service projects to further develop a life of community engagement.

Acceptance rate 44%      •      Net price $19,320      •      SAT Range 940-1122      •      Students submitting SAT scores 77%
Total Undergrad Population 2,831     •     Setting City: Large     •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 59%      •      Retention rate 75%      •     Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1

Click here for available majors

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, IL ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

Faith is at the heart of superior academics, nationally competitive athletics, thriving social atmosphere, and countless ministry opportunities at Olivet.

In fine arts, Olivet’s School of Music and Department of Art and Digital Media have consistently earned the Apple Distinguished School designation since 2014 for their participation in the iLearn@Olivet initiative. Launched in 2013, iLearn@Olivet utilizes iPad technology for every music major, ensemble, core art course. The technology is also utilized by music and art faculty and staff members.

Students have the opportunity to thrive in an environment that prepares them for technology-driven industries. The Reed Hall of Science features a three-story wing dedicated to studying technology and innovation, and the Walker School of Engineering is equipped with state-of-the-art engineering design labs.

State-of-the-art academic facilities include Benner Library and Resource Center, information hub for digital and print research and communication; and Strickler Planetarium, one of the Midwest’s few all-digital planetariums, renovated in 2008 with the same technology in Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.

Acceptance rate 67%      •      Net price $20,006      •      SAT Range 970-1190      •     Students submitting SAT scores 70%
Total Undergrad Population 3,764     •     Setting Suburb     •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 65%      •     Retention rate 75%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

Click here for available majors

Saint Xavier University

Chicago, IL ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Celebrating 175 years in 2021, Saint Xavier University is a distinguished four-year private institution founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846. Chicago’s oldest Catholic university and the first Mercy college in the United States, Saint Xavier provides a transformative educational experience to 3,600 students at its Chicago campus with more than 40 undergraduate programs and nearly 30 graduate program options in the College of Arts and Sciences, Graham School of Management (GSM), and School of Nursing and Health Sciences (SONHS) as well as a variety of program options in Continuing and Adult Education. SXU is consistently recognized as one of the best in the Midwest.

One of the core values of Saint Xavier University is service, and as such, SXU features programs and classes that encourage students to make the most of their education. This includes things like study abroad programs, internships, community service projects, and student-driven research to ensure a well-rounded experience.

Students benefit from an active, collaborative learning environment. Professors are readily available to offer the necessary support, encouragement, and intellectual stimulation. Perhaps most significantly, students acquire lifelong skills in writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving, prepared to take on every sphere of life.

Acceptance rate 79%      •      Net price $13,326      •     SAT Range 950-1120      •      Students submitting SAT scores 79%
Total Undergrad Population 3,764     •     Setting City: Large     •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 55%      •      Retention rate 78%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 16:1

Click here for available majors

trinity christian college logo

Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, IL ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

Trinity Christian College has been changing students’ lives since 1959, having been begun by a group of entrepreneurs who wanted to develop Chicago-area Christians who would put their faith into action, not just believe. As a smaller college, Trinity provides students with individualized attention, harnessing an extensive network throughout Chicago in order to make a difference in the world. Trinity faculty help students discover their passion and develop it into incredible achievement. Through a Biblically informed liberal arts education, the College community endeavors to provide an environment of Christian integrity and love, enhancing and supporting the entire learning experience.

Trinity’s community believes strongly that service is not something to be done exclusively in the summer or over spring break; rather, it should be woven into the fabric of their lives. At the core of the Office of Community Partnerships and Service-Learning (OCPSL) is a strong college-organization relationship with valued partners. Through reciprocal relationships with these community partners, Trinity is able to serve not only students, but the larger community as well. Trinity seeks to equip local organizations with dedicated, responsible student volunteers and interns. It’s with these partners that the College prepares its students to be “active members of a community based on the Biblical requirements of justice, humility, and love.”

Acceptance rate 64%      •      Net price $23,177      •      SAT Range 980-1180      •     Students submitting SAT scores 75%
Total Undergrad Population 1,086     •     Setting Suburb     •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 64%      •     Retention rate 80%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1

Click here for available majors

University of Illinois Chicago wordmark and logo

University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago, IL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Located in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, UIC helps students unleash their potential. Students enjoy 87 bachelor’s programs, a low student-to-faculty ratio, and award-winning professors who are regarded as experts in their field. The University of Illinois at Chicago is proud to support one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse campuses in the nation, so every member of the community has a place in which to learn and thrive.

UIC is proud to offer students unique ways to live and learn on campus. Living-learning communities comprise of committed students who share a common interest. Students can choose from 15 different communities with topics ranging from Pre-Health to Women in Science and Engineering. Each community has a peer mentor who works within the group to make sure students have the best experience possible. Students also enjoy the benefits of making deeper connections with peers, having built-in study buddies, and gaining easy access to experiential learning opportunities that are relevant to their field of study.

Acceptance rate 73%      •      Net price $12,614      •      SAT Range 1030-1250      •      Students submitting SAT scores 82%
Total Undergrad Population 33,518     •     Setting City: Large      •     Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 63%      •      Retention rate 82%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 18:1

Click here for available majors

Read more about UIC’s nursing program

University of St. Francis logo

University of St. Francis

Joliet, IL ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, IL, is a Catholic university rooted in the liberal arts. As a welcoming community of learners who are challenged by Franciscan values, everyone at USF is mindful of the compassionate, peacemaking tradition that encourages the pursuit of knowledge, faith, wisdom, and justice. USF strives for academic excellence in all programs, preparing women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership.

The College of Business’ “Small Business Incubator,” located at USF’s downtown St. Bonaventure Campus, allows Entrepreneurship students to work with businesses to help develop their own startup. College of Nursing students utilize the SIM Lab and Skills Lab, getting hands-on experience in simulated hospital environments before working with real patients. USF even offers a cadaver lab to give biology and pre-health sciences students the opportunity to expand their understanding of anatomy through hands-on dissection. For College of Education students, the annual Chrysalis Retreat gives students time to reflect on themselves and their passions to become teachers.

Acceptance rate 60%      •      Net price $16,761      •      SAT Range 970-1180      •      Students submitting SAT scores 76%
Total Undergrad Population 3,529      •     Setting Suburb     •     Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 60%      •      Retention rate 81%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 13:1

Click here for available majors

What it’s like to attend nursing schools in Illinois and other FAQ:

What are average tuition costs in Illinois?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in Illinois is $6,389 for in-state students at public institutions, $19,374 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $22,171 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest nursing degree program in Illinois

North Park University has an average net price of $19,320 making it the least expensive nursing degree program in Illinois that made our list.

Easiest nursing degree program to get into in Illinois

Illinois State University has an acceptance rate of 81%, with an SAT range of 1020-1220, making it the least exclusive college with a nursing program on our list.

Nursing degree program with lowest student debt in Illinois

University of Illinois at Chicago has a median total debt after graduation of $17,250. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

See The Top Nursing Colleges of Distinction of 2022-2023

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