Enrollment Surge: Illinois Tech Sees Its Biggest Growth in More Than 30 Years


Illinois Tech Sees Strongest Enrollment Growth in More Than 30 Years

Illinois Institute of Technology is experiencing skyrocketing enrollment growth, with a 23 percent increase over last year’s enrollment and the highest fall enrollment in more than 30 years. This surge in growth represents the most significant overall undergraduate and graduate enrollment in more than three decades—with a more than 35 percent increase in undergraduate applications and 37 percent growth in graduate applications received for this fall semester—and coincides with Illinois Tech’s jump in national rankings, due in part to the extraordinary career outcomes for its graduates.

Illinois Tech’s enrollment growth is bucking national trends. According to the latest National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data, Illinois Tech’s 2023 undergraduate enrollment growth is three times higher than the national average and four times higher than the national average for private, nonprofit, four-year colleges.

As momentum builds and more and more students are choosing to enroll at Illinois Tech, distinguished alumni are celebrating the university’s rightful place in the spotlight and its enduring legacy of innovation and recognizing it as the beacon of opportunity they’ve always known it to be.

“Illinois Tech was the premier technological university in the Midwest. I knew I wanted to go there even before my high school years,” says Martin “Marty” Cooper (EE ’55, M.S. ’57), “Father of the Cell Phone,” inventor, entrepreneur, futurist, alumnus, and Life Trustee at Illinois Tech. “Illinois Tech courses included the most advanced technology as well as laborer and ‘hands-on’ opportunities. Many graduates were CEOs and top managers. Job opportunities at top salaries were plentiful. For someone like me who wanted to be an engineer and innovator, it was perfect.” 

Cooper earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Illinois Tech and went on to lead the creation of the world’s first cell phone at Motorola (a company co-founded by another visionary Illinois Tech alumnus, Paul V. Galvin, in 1928). His teams introduced numerous breakthroughs in the wireless industry. He is a long-term member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Technology Advisory Council and the National Academy of Engineers and is widely published.

Illinois Tech’s innovative programs and academic offerings have continuously helped improve access to high-quality STEM education amid a challenging long-term higher-education environment. Despite the national trend of dwindling numbers of traditional college students, Illinois Tech’s strategic emphasis on delivering exceptional career value and expanding its reach to a broader base of learners and to fresh international markets stands as a beacon against this tide.

Innovative Programs Increasing Access and Opportunity

As Chicago’s only comprehensive tech-focused university, Illinois Tech has charted a path for the future that is focused on career readiness and inclusion in the pursuit of educating the next generation of technology leaders.

Signature programs, such as Discover+ and Illinois Tech Ascend, epitomize the university’s dedication to broadening access to a top-tier education. Other Illinois Tech programs, such as Elevate and Tech+, create pathways for students to develop the twenty-first-century skills that employers seek and are the product of partnerships with global industry leaders to ensure that every learner has access to a high-quality, future-forward education.

By seamlessly blending academic excellence with industry-aligned qualifications, Illinois Tech sets a new standard for education, unlocking doors for students from diverse backgrounds.

Illinois Tech’s one-of-a-kind Elevate program—a commitment to job readiness that incorporates a robust suite of hands-on experiences that are focused on preparing students for career success—contributed to a record-breaking surge in enrollment this semester. Illinois Tech pioneered experiential learning, launching the Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program nearly 30 years ago. IPRO joins students from diverse majors to work in teams to solve real-world problems, often on behalf of project sponsors. In this required program, students gain twenty-first-century skills in literacy, such as social and emotional learning, teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Earlier this year Illinois Tech announced a partnership with Coursera to offer four new industry-aligned degree programs with performance-based admissions, incorporating industry credentials into academic qualifications with courses mapped to industry standards and offering course credit for industry certifications. Hundreds of lifelong learners  are already enrolled in these groundbreaking programs, which are designed to remove barriers to access and to provide a pathway to a high-quality education for all students. 

“We are deeply committed to our founding mission as an opportunity engine that advances technology and innovation for all,” says Illinois Tech President Raj Echambadi. “Illinois Tech continues to produce among the best student outcomes in the nation because our whole community of faculty, staff, and alumni is united in the belief that every student deserves an experiential, work-relevant education that fuels their future career success.”

Rising Through the Ranks

From the Wall Street Journal to U.S. News & World Report, Illinois Tech’s innovative efforts have propelled it to a high rank among the nation’s elite institutions. 

In the Wall Street Journal/College Pulse 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. list of the 400 top colleges in the United States, Illinois Tech ranks #23 in the nation, #1 in Illinois, and second in the entire Midwest region. Illinois Tech is also #1 in Illinois and #16 in the nation for salary impact relative to the cost of attendance. According to U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best National University Rankings, Illinois Tech ranks #29 on its Best Value Schools list, #98 on its Best National University Rankings, and in the top 100 for engineering, computer science, and social mobility. 

“This recognition only reiterates the inherent value of an Illinois Tech education,” says Illinois Tech Provost Kenneth T. Christensen. “We’ve honed our curriculum to prioritize student achievement and career readiness throughout their academic journey and beyond. We’re here to transform higher education and deliver unparalleled value to our students at every stage of their professional life.”

Illinois Tech is seeing increased recognition in these lists in part because rankings entities updated their methodology aimed at measuring an institution’s research and innovation impact, student success and career outcomes, and enhancing social mobility: all metrics where Illinois Tech excels. 

Illinois Tech: Opportunity Engine

There is growing higher-education consensus and recognition of Illinois Tech’s success in improving access and creating opportunity. According to the 2023 New York Times College-Access Index, Illinois Tech ranks #35 on its list of Top U.S. Colleges with the Greatest Economic Diversity.  

“At Illinois Tech, we measure ourselves by access and student outcomes, defining ourselves by who we can include and work to break down barriers to obtaining a degree,” says Mallik Sundharam, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at Illinois Tech. “We’re proud that this focus on access has proven to bring more than 30 percent of first-generation students and 35 percent of students who are Pell-eligible to our campus, consistently supporting our founding mission. Illinois Tech’s one-of-a-kind Elevate program guarantees that students participate in hands-on experiences and receive personalized mentorship. Elevate represents our commitment to job readiness, and it has historically helped our students succeed in their careers and beyond. It is clear that Illinois Tech’s continuing legacy as an engine of opportunity has helped propel the university’s rise.”