Illinois Tech Sees Record-Setting Applications Contributing to 78% Growth Over the Last Four Years

Illinois Institute of Technology’s historic 20% surge in undergrad apps and 50% increase in spring graduate enrollments fueled by historically proven strength in career preparedness, post-graduation earnings, and guaranteed hands-on career experiences


Illinois Tech students

CHICAGO—April 14, 2023—Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) has experienced a record-breaking surge in applications, with undergraduate applications up by more than 20% and graduate applications up by more than 40% compared to last year, including consistent applications growth from underrepresented minority students and first-generation college goers, and a 31% increase in applications from women. This growth highlights the increasing interest in Illinois Tech’s career-ready, adaptable, and market-focused approach to education, including a curriculum designed with experiential learning at its core, geared toward preparedness for the jobs of the future. This career-focused approach has contributed to a 78% increase in applications over the last four years. Illinois Tech is also tracking a 47% increase in completed graduate applications and a whopping 138% increase in point-in-time growth in graduate admits compared to last year.

It’s clear that students are deciding where to apply and enrolling based on factors where Illinois Tech excels: future earnings potential, economic mobility, career readiness and proven career outcomes. 

Illinois Tech ranks #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 allowing a user to prioritize different factors. Illinois Tech boasts a strong record of post-graduation earnings, with more than 90% 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. In fact, Illinois Tech is number one in the state for lifting students from families in the lowest 20% of income to the top 20%, number one in the Chicago region for occupational earning power, and third in the nation in upward economic mobility among highly selective private universities.

Potential future earnings is consistently shown to be one of the most important factors influencing application decisions. Recent research from The New York Times and Morning Consult surveying 2,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 19 and another 2,000 between the ages of 22 and 30 found that likely earnings after graduation is one of the most important factors in the college decision-making process for college-bound students—rating four times more important than the average among other factors. Post-graduation earnings is also one of the rare factors where high school students and recent graduates’ views wholly align. Future earnings potential is driving where students apply, and their return on investment from their degree once they graduate. 

The significant surge in applications and a 25% increase in undergraduate enrollment this past fall semester demonstrates that Illinois Tech’s focus on relevant, technology-focused education through hands-on experience resonates with students. Technology and business pathways are the areas that have seen some of the biggest increases in applications, with a 33% increase in College of Computing applications, and an enormous 44% in applications to study at Illinois Tech’s Stuart School of Business. 

Economic mobility has been a core component of Illinois Tech’s mission since its founding more than 130 years ago. Illinois Tech is working to fulfill its founding purpose of educating first generation college-goers and expanding access representation in technology: 40% of this year’s undergraduate applicants are the first in their family to attend university, a proportion that has remained consistent over the last four years even as total applications grew by 78%. 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. This year has also seen a significant increase since last year in applications from women, validating Illinois Tech’s work to redefine the stereotype of what it means to study and work in technology.

“The transformative power of education is at the heart of Illinois Tech’s mission,” says Mallik Sundharam, Vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. “Our consistent growth in underrepresented minority student applications and 40% of applications from first-generation college-goers demonstrates our dedication to advancing technology and progress for all and creating opportunities that transcend social and economic barriers.”

The Elevate program is another example of the value of an Illinois Tech education. Founded in 1890 in a rapidly changing, industrial society to educate the children of Chicago’s meatpackers, steelworkers, and machinists to become engineers, physicists, and architects, Illinois Tech has stayed true to its founding promise to serve as a place of opportunity for all students, regardless of their economic backgrounds.

The university’s flagship Elevate program, launched last fall, embodies Illinois Tech’s commitment to anticipating future workforce needs and reimagining the future of education. Eligible students participating in the Elevate program gain hands-on experience through outside-the-classroom opportunities, such as internships, research programs, and study away opportunities. Elevate is open to all students, including graduate students. 

“With more than a decade of assessment of the student journey—experiences, success, and career outcomes—and after developing a data model with extensive analysis of student success variables, we’ve created the Elevate program as a tailored plan for our students’ academic and career growth,” says Sundharam. “We know that the most effective resumes aren’t merely written in their senior year of college, but are built through a series of meaningful experiences during their precious time with us. Our objective is to help students construct those exceptional resumes with meaningful and impactful experiences, ensuring they graduate job-ready and prepared to succeed in a dynamic job market."

Illinois Tech anticipates that graduates who successfully complete the Elevate program requirements will be positioned to receive a job offer after graduation, perhaps in a timeframe as short as six months, and if they do not, they may be eligible for the university to assist them with taking graduate level coursework or acquiring additional upskilling at Illinois Tech. 

“Elevate represents a new approach to higher education—not only does this model focus on skills that are industry-ready and industry informed, it has the potential through hands-on and virtual experiences to bring opportunities for more students from all backgrounds, allowing them the chance to explore and gain industry experience at leading companies years before their peers,” said Raj Echambadi, President of Illinois Tech. “We hope that this new model of commitment to experiential learning and lifelong partnership with our students sets a new standard in higher education.”

The link between hands-on experience and future earnings is clear. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 91% of employers seek job candidates with work experience, and on average, 80% of eligible interns receive a job offer. Illinois Tech’s own data shows the role that hands-on experience plays in promoting successful outcomes: students who have completed an internship are more than 25% more likely to find full-time employment and have at least $10,000 higher median starting salary than peers who have not completed an internship. 

Illinois Tech applicants are convinced about the importance of career readiness—among those who chose to enroll at Illinois Tech last semester, “preparation for career and job opportunities” was selected as the most influential factor by nearly half (48%) of respondents in a recent survey; also among the top reasons, 37% said “internships and other applied and experiential learning” was a persuasive reason to choose Illinois Tech.

“We all know that learning doesn’t begin at convocation and end at commencement,” says Sundharam. “We have looked deeply at the students of today and the market demands of tomorrow and took the opportunity to tailor our academic offerings by focusing on student success before, during, and after their time at Illinois Tech. We’re working to shift the definition of what it means to truly bring value to our students throughout their careers.” 

Illinois Institute of Technology

Based in the global metropolis of Chicago, Illinois Tech was born to liberate the collective power of difference to advance technology and progress for all. It is the only tech-focused university in the city, and it stands at the crossroads of exploration and invention, advancing the future of Chicago and the world. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. Illinois Tech students are guaranteed hands-on experiences and personalized mentorship, leading to job readiness, through the university's one-of-a-kind Elevate program. Its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Its faculty and alumni built the Chicago skyline. And every day in the living lab of the city, Illinois Tech fuels breakthroughs that change lives. Visit

Media contacts

Petra Kelly
Communications Director
Illinois Institute of Technology
Cell: 773-771-1064 

Kevin Dollear
Communications Manager
Illinois Institute of Technology
Cell: 773-860-5712