These Are The 10 Best Colleges For Economics Majors In Illinois

Using science and data, we can tell you which colleges in IL offer the best opportunities for economics majors.

John McLeanby John McLeanRankings - 2 years ago

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You know there are a ton of great reasons to major in economics — the job prospects, the intellectual challenge, and the chance to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest thinkers of all time.

But what program in Illinois offers the most to would be economics majors?

We at Zippia decided to take a look at the data on the 312 institutions of higher learning in the Prairie State to determine which programs offer the best career opportunities for economics majors.

After the dust settled, we’re left with this set of the top colleges for economics majors in Illinois:

  1. University Of Chicago
  2. Northwestern University
  3. University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
  4. University Of Illinois At Chicago
  5. University Of Illinois At Springfield
  6. Benedictine College
  7. DePaul University
  8. Wheaton College
  9. Illinois Institute Of Technology
  10. Northern Illinois University

If you go to one of these schools, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.

But for the rest of you — keep reading and we’ll get to just why these schools have some of the best economics programs the Prairie State has to offer.

How We Determined The Best Econ Schools In Illinois

Economics is, at its core, the study of choice under constraints. When it comes to identifying the best economics schools we wanted to approach the ranking like economics major would, by looking at data on how schools perform and comparing them to one another.

What better way to optimize your choice?

So with that mind, we looked at the following data from the NCES (National Center For Education Statistics) and College Scorecard data from ED.gov to understand what economics department offer the best career opportunities:

  • Career Results
    • Mean Earnings After 6 Years
    • Mean Earnings After 10 Years
    • Ratio of people working to not working after 10 years
  • Economics Emphasis
    • Percentage of Graduating Class That Are Economics Majors (Larger the better)
  • School Performance
    • Admissions Rate (More selective the better)
    • Graduation Rate
    • Average Cost Of Attendance (Lower is better)
    • Average amount of debt

It’s hard to argue with a selective school that features economics and produces strong earning potential for your career.

After we had this data, we looked at the 312 institutions of higher learning in Illinois. We then ranked each of these schools for each of the criteria above with 1 being the best in any given criteria.

Next, we averaged the ranks for each school to create an “Economics Quality Index”. The school with the best score on the “Economics Quality Index”, University of Chicago, earned the distinction of being the ‘Best College For Economics’ in Illinois.

1. University Of Chicago

University Of Chicago, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 14,467

If the University of Chicago’s economics department didn’t win this, you might think our methodology was flawed right? This famous department is the most exclusive in the state, where only 8.8% of applicants are admitted. That means it’s a solid program.

Students leave UIC earning the highest salaries of any economics department in Illinois as well, and 93% of students make it all the way to graduation.

2. Northwestern University

Northwestern University, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 20,236

NU’s department of economics is one of the largest departments in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Its faculty have won many awards for the quality of their teaching.

Graduates make the 2nd-highest salaries post graduation, and a whopping 95% of students who begin the econ program at Northwestern actually graduate.

3. University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 44,087

Numbers geeks who like lots of other math nerds to cozy up to would find the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana charming.

It’s a lot easier to get into the University of Illinois’ flagship campus than it is the two programs above. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a quality program, though. Econ graduates are the 4th most wealthy after leaving the U of I, and 84% of students here graduate, which is still a really solid number.

4. University Of Illinois At Chicago

University Of Illinois At Chicago, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 29,080

UIC is one of the easiest programs to get into, and it’s one of the least expensive economics degrees in the state. That means you get a bang for your buck here; students leave UIC earning the 6th-highest salaries, and the number of graduates still working in the field a decade later is the 12th-highest in Illinois. That means lots of UIC alum with which to network.

5. University Of Illinois At Springfield

University Of Illinois At Springfield, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 3,303

The small enrollment at UIS means lots of up close and personal attention and a much less expensive economics degree. Students leave this program with the 4th-lowest debt, but earn above average salaries 10 years out.

6. Benedictine College

Benedictine University, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 6,516

This small college in Lisle, IL has a great econ program. For a school of its size, what’s really impressive is that there are more Benedictine economics graduates still working in their field than there are for other major institutions such as Northwestern and UIC.

Plus, Benedictine grads outearn UIC grads both 5 and 10 years outside of school.

7. DePaul University

Depaul University, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 23,799

Besides going to school right in Chicago proper, there are other perks for an economics degree at DePaul. Its grads command the 8th-highest salaries, and more than 70% of students who begin the program earn a degree, which is far above the state average.

8. Wheaton College

Wheaton College, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 3,300

Little Wheaton might have the smallest econ department in the state, but that might be good news for some math geeks. Some eye-opening stats: Wheaton is 2nd in the state with an 87% graduation rate for its economics students, and only one other program in the state sees its grads still working in their field a decade after leaving school.

9. Illinois Institute Of Technology

Illinois Institute Of Technology, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 7,792

This smallish, well-known program is known for graduating successful students. Only University of Chicago and Northwestern graduates are paid higher salaries when they leave school. This program is much harder to get into than most other programs in Illinois, and it’s one of the most expensive as well.

10. Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University, Illinois

Source: Wikipedia

Enrollment: 20,200

Only 56% of students who attempt to be accepted into the Northern economics program are admitted, making it one of the tougher programs to enroll in. However, post-graduation salaries are above average, and students leave school with one of the lowest debts in Illinois.

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