Updated on May 23, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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Illinois State University (ISU) is a four-year, public, research institution located in Normal, Illinois. Founded in 1857, the school is the oldest public university in the state. The university promotes a culture of innovative and introspective growth, encouraging students to adopt the core values of learning and scholarship, diversity and inclusion, respect, collaboration, individualized attention, civic engagement, and integrity. Students can choose from bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.

Overview of Illinois State University (ISU)

The university functions as a diverse community of scholars who are all committed to fostering a small-college atmosphere with large-university opportunities. It made the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of America’s best public national universities, as well as Washington Monthly’s list of national universities for the institution’s contributions of the public good.

The student population is just under 20,900, with the majority of students enrolled in undergraduate programs. With 900+ instructional faculty members, the student-to-faculty is ratio 19:1. While class sizes vary, it’s generally relatively easy for students to receive one-on-one attention from their professors. Additionally, 85% of classes are taught by professionals rather than graduate assistants. Further, 97% of the professors employed by the university hold the highest degrees possible in their fields, making them highly informed and reliable experts.

General Information

School Type Public
Campus Setting Suburb: Midsize
Campus Housing Yes
Student Faculty Ratio 19:1
Graduation Rate 70%
Year Founded 1857

Student Enrollment

Total Students20,878


Undergraduate Student

Male 8,213
Female 10,038

Graduate Student

Male 1,183
Female 1,445

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ISU Acceptance Rate and Admissions


Male 6,128
Female 10,023


Male 4,964
Female 8,219

Acceptance Rate82%

Male 81%
Female 82%

Enrollment 3,841

Male 1,605
Female 2,236
Application Fee $50
High School GPA Required
High School Rank NA
High School Transcripts Required
College Prep Courses Recommended
Recommendations NA
SAT/ACT Required
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Required
Application Deadline April 1
Common Application Accepted No

Illinois State University Tuition Cost & Financial Aid

Illinois State University was ranked by College Factual as the 22nd Best College for the Money out of 1,200 schools in the United States. The institution also locks tuition costs for newly enrolled students so that rates do not fluctuate for four years. In the fall of 2020, the undergraduate tuition rate for on-campus, Illinois residents enrolled in 15 credit hours of classes was $25,169 for the academic year. Non-resident students, on the other hand, paid $36,693. This total does include room and board, which was valued at $9,850 for both residents and non-residents.

It’s also worth noting that out-of-state students may qualify for in-state tuition. Select students from other states can receive savings of approximately $11,000 per year as long as they reside in a bordering state, have defined talent in the fine arts, and are admitted to the university as a freshman with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

The Financial Aid Office at Illinois State University is also dedicated to helping students find ways to pay for college. Aid options include scholarships, grants, loans, and government-funded work-study. Approximately 89% of full-time, beginning undergraduate students enrolled at the institution receive some form of financial aid.

Average net price 2018-2019
Net Price $20,093
Average Total Aid $9,729
Students Receiving Financial Aid 89%
Room & Board $9,850

Sticker Price

  • Tuition In-State - $15,319
  • Tuition Out-of-State - $26,843
  • Books and Supplies - $820
  • Room & Board - $9,850
  • Other - $5,764


Illinois State University offers a number of major and minor programs for undergraduates, as well as several pre-professional pathways for students preparing for employment in well-regarded fields like medicine, physical therapy, and law.

Students can choose from one of seven academic colleges:

  • College of Applied Science and Technology
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Education
  • Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts
  • Mennonite College of Nursing
  • Milner Library

The retention rate for first-time, full-time, undergraduate freshmen enrolling in 2018 was over 84%, making it one of the highest in the nation. This is well above the national average retention rate of 68%. Part-time bachelor’s students had a retention rate that was slightly lower, totaling 56%. Regardless, these rates indicate that the majority of students enrolled at the university were happy with their overall experience, as they chose to return for further study in 2019.

Illinois State University students are also known to complete their degrees on time. Commonly referred to as the “Student Right to Know”, graduation and transfer-out rates show whether or not students regularly complete their degrees or certificate programs within a standard amount of time (typically four years). In 2013, the graduation rate for full-time, first-time, undergraduate degree-seeking freshmen was 70%.

Student Population Total

Student Population 20,878

Evening Classes : No
Online Learning : Yes

Most Popular Programs & Majors

(# of Diplomas Awarded by Subject)

All Business Majors 1,049 Total Graduates / 23%
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 251 Graduates
Finance, General 208 Graduates
Accounting 150 Graduates
Business Administration and Management, General 140 Graduates
All Education Majors 677 Total Graduates / 15%
Elementary Education and Teaching 255 Graduates
Special Education and Teaching, General 154 Graduates
Early Childhood Education and Teaching 63 Graduates
Physical Education Teaching and Coaching 60 Graduates
Health Professions and Related Programs 396 Total Graduates / 9%
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse 183 Graduates
Audiology/Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathology/Pathologist 69 Graduates
Dietetics/Dietitian 35 Graduates
Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Technologist 26 Graduates
Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs 283 Total Graduates / 6%
Speech Communication and Rhetoric 105 Graduates
Public Relations/Image Management 79 Graduates
Mass Communication/Media Studies 66 Graduates
Journalism 33 Graduates
Visual and Performing Arts 264 Total Graduates / 6%
Art/Art Studies, General 73 Graduates
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 67 Graduates
Visual and Performing Arts, Other 50 Graduates
Interior Design 30 Graduates
All Other Diplomas 42%

Outcome & Salary

The majority of students enrolled at Illinois State University graduate and graduate on time. Of the full-time, first-time, degree-seeking undergraduates who entered the institution in the 2011-2012 academic year, 69% of them received bachelor’s degrees. While only 50% of part-time, first-time degree-seeking undergraduates who enrolled at the same time received bachelor’s degrees, this statistic was higher for non-first-time undergraduates. Of this demographic, 63% received their bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, 77% of non-first-time undergraduate students enrolled full-time received bachelor’s degrees.

Graduates Salary
College Grads Early Career Salary $52,100
College Grads Average Salary $65,095
College Grads Mid Career Salary $97,100
Return on Investment (ROI)
10 Year Salary Earnings Potential $650,950
20 Year Salary Earnings Potential $1,621,950
Cost of Education (Net Price) 4 Year $80,372
10 Year Projected ROI $570,578
20 Year Projected ROI $1,541,578
No College Education Salary Comparison
National Average Salary $38,792
10 Year Projected Income $387,920
20 Year Projected Income $775,840

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