Illinois Tech Ranked Among Nation’s Top 100 Universities
Illinois Institute of Technology is ranked #98 in the United States according to the latest iteration of U.S. News & World Report’s Best National University Rankings, released on September 18, 2023.
Illinois Tech is ranked #12 for earnings of graduates and #29 in the nation on the publication’s Best Value Schools list. The publication also rated Illinois Tech in the top 100 universities for engineering, computer science, and social mobility. This year’s rankings followed the trend of ranking organizations revamping their metrics to focus on student success outcomes, social mobility, and return on investment in higher education.
“This distinction acknowledges the established influence and tangible worth an Illinois Tech degree brings to a student’s career,” says Kenneth T. Christensen, Illinois Tech provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Our ongoing rise showcases how the conversation in higher education is evolving to emphasize factors like providing lasting value for learners, which validates Illinois Tech’s long-standing focus on student success and our drive to reimagine education to advance technology and progress for all.”
Illinois Tech vaulted ahead in this year’s U.S. News & World Report rankings due in part to critical updates to the ranking methodology that increased the weight allocated to student outcomes, Pell graduation rates, and new rankings factors, including first-generation college-goer graduation rates and graduate earnings—all of which positively align with Illinois Tech’s core mission and historical impact.
These updates to long-used rankings metrics are part of a widespread reexamination of the value of a college degree to better align with the real reasons students choose to pursue higher education. “There are plenty of reasons students attend a particular college or university,” writes U.S. News’ Robert Morse, chief data strategist, and Eric Brooks, principal data analyst. “But the top ones, according to several different surveys…relate to academic reputation, cost of attending, and return on investment.”
Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal released its WSJ/College Pulse 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. list, with Illinois Tech ranking #23 in the United States out of the 400 top colleges across the country and #1 in Illinois, in large part due to similar methodology changes that incorporate measures of diversity and shine a light on student outcomes, including graduation rates and earning potential of graduates.
Following the same trend, U.S. News rankings this year “increased the emphasis on how often schools’ students from all socioeconomic backgrounds earned degrees and took advantage of information on graduate outcomes that was not available until recently,” Morse and Brooks write. Illinois Tech broke into the top 100 Best Colleges by those measures and vaulted ahead in the social mobility and best value lists.
According to this year’s U.S. News rankings metrics, Illinois Tech is #1 in Illinois and #12 in the nation for earnings of graduates.
U.S. News added a new factor to this year’s calculations to better reflect the role of higher education in delivering career outcomes for students: graduate earnings. The Wall Street Journal used the same earnings metric in its 2024 Best Colleges list, released in early September, which found that Illinois Tech delivers on average $55,793 in value add above the median salary of Illinois high school graduates. The publication estimates that this helps students recover their entire college investment in fewer than two years, demonstrating the clear return on investment of an Illinois Tech education.
Illinois Tech’s rise in rankings reflects the university’s long-term focus on career outcomes and reinforces Illinois Tech’s strong showing in student success measures in other recent rankings.
Like this year’s U.S. News rankings, the Wall Street Journal used an updated methodology emphasizing graduate outcomes such as job placement and post-college earnings. Illinois Tech boasts a strong record of post-graduation earnings, with more than 90 percent of its 2022 graduates obtaining full-time employment or continuing their education through graduate studies and with 2022 graduates reporting a mean average starting salary of $75,352 for undergraduates and $87,258 for graduates, well above the national average.
Illinois Tech is #29 on this year’s U.S. News Best Value Schools list, which ranks the colleges with the highest academic quality and lowest net cost of attendance.
The calculation takes into account a school’s academic quality and the net cost of attendance for an out-of-state student who received the average level of need-based financial aid because, according to U.S. News, “The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.”
Illinois Tech’s commitment to quality includes new programs designed to increase access to a world-class education for all students, including Discover+, which enables students to explore multiple disciplines before choosing a specialization or a multidisciplinary major, and Ascend, which offers a seamless transition from high school to a bachelor’s degree, complete with mentorship, career coaching, scholarships, and internship opportunities.
Illinois Tech ranked #76 in the country for social mobility in this year’s U.S. News list, reflecting the university’s steadfast commitment to its founding purpose.
Illinois Tech was founded on a mission of social mobility, and the university has remained a beacon of opportunity for students from all economic backgrounds for more than 130 years. Illinois Tech is also #1 in Illinois and #35 in the nation for high earnings and economic mobility in a college rankings tool created by The New York Times earlier this year, allowing a user to prioritize different factors. In that same New York Times rankings research, Illinois Tech ranked #4 in the U.S., #1 in the Midwest, and #1 in Illinois for high earnings combined with racial and economic diversity. Illinois Tech was established during a transformative era in industrial history to educate the children of Chicago’s meatpackers, steelworkers, and machinists, preparing them to become engineers, physicists, and architects, and still today, Illinois Tech is #1 in the state for lifting students from families in the lowest 20 percent to the top 20 percent of income, proving the university’s commitment to leveraging high-quality STEM education to advance technology and progress for all.
Among the measures jettisoned from this year’s rankings are alumni giving and high school class standing. “Over time, U.S. News has placed greater weight on the outcome measures of quality, such as graduation rates, graduation rate performance, and social mobility, and de-emphasized admissions data and dropped from the current rankings input measures such as acceptance rates and alumni giving rates,” U.S. News explains, noting: “These changes are consistent with education experts’ growing emphasis on outcomes in assessing the performance of complex institutions such as colleges.”
“Illinois Tech defines itself by the achievements of our students rather than by selectivity and exclusion,” says Mallik Sundharam, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. “It’s our responsibility as an institution of higher learning to help students from all academic backgrounds thrive in their journey to academic and career success and not provide barriers to obtaining a degree. We take pride in our commitment to access, consistently attracting more than 30 percent first-generation students and 35 percent Pell-eligible learners, steadfastly upholding our original mission.”
Illinois Tech’s well-established expertise and success in delivering career readiness and proven career outcomes for students culminated in the launch of the Elevate program.
“After more than 10 years of evaluating student journeys—their experiences, achievements, and career trajectories—and crafting a data model through rigorous analysis of student success indicators, we introduced the Elevate program,” Sundharam says. “We understand that top-tier resumes aren’t simply drafted in a student’s final college year. Instead, they’re cultivated through a succession of significant experiences during their invaluable years with us. Our goal is to assist students in developing these standout resumes packed with profound experiences, ensuring they’re poised to excel in a continually evolving job landscape.”
Illinois Tech’s one-of-a-kind Elevate program is a product of Illinois Tech’s efforts to adapt to the future needs of the workforce and to help reimagine the future of education. The Elevate program—a commitment to job readiness that incorporates a robust suite of hands-on experiences focused on preparing students for career success—contributed to a record-breaking surge in applications for this semester.
“Everyone understands that the learning journey extends beyond the boundaries of convocation and commencement,” says Sundharam. “We’ve delved into understanding today’s students and anticipated future market needs. This led us to refine our academic programs, emphasizing student success before, during, and beyond their education at Illinois Tech. Our mission is to redefine higher education and provide genuine value to our students across their lifelong professional journeys.”