Illinois Tech Sees Unprecedented Growth as Undergraduate Applications and Admissions Surge 35% Year-Over-Year

Powered by unique educational programs that give students real-world learning opportunities and expand access to STEM education, Illinois Institute of Technology’s enrollment continues to buck national trends


An Illinois Tech student smiles while walking on campus

CHICAGO—May 8, 2024—Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) has recorded a remarkable increase in student applications and enrollments, marking the highest numbers in three decades. Amid a nationwide trend of declining enrollments, Illinois Tech has experienced a surge in interest, evidenced by a 35 percent year-over-year increase in fall 2024 undergraduate applications and admissions.

This significant uptick follows a three-year period of growth, with the number of first-year applicants doubling from approximately 5,900 in fall 2021 to more than 11,800 for fall 2024. That places Illinois Tech well above national averages, with its 2023 first-year student enrollment growth being three times higher than the national average and four times that of private, nonprofit, four-year colleges, according to the latest National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data.

“It’s thrilling to see Illinois Tech lead the way in student growth during these challenging times,” said Illinois Tech Provost Kenneth T. Christensen. “Our commitment to making a high-quality education with real-world impact accessible to all is clearly resonating with a diverse array of students. This growth is not just in numbers, but it reflects a deeper engagement and interest in our unique educational offerings.”

Backing up Illinois Tech’s founding mission to provide education to all is the fact that 30 percent of the university’s students are first-generation and 35 percent are Pell Grant-eligible.

Since 2010—and particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic—undergraduate enrollment for colleges nationwide has dropped for the first time in decades, down 5.6 percent from fall 2019 to fall 2023. Student surveys point toward finances as a potential factor.

Comparatively, Illinois Tech has consistently focused on improving student outcomes and earnings relative to college costs. Recent rankings data reflects this with the most recent Wall Street Journal/College Pulse 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. list ranking Illinois Tech #1 in Illinois overall and #16 in the nation for salary impact relative to the cost of attendance. Additionally, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2024 Best National University Rankings, Illinois Tech ranks #29 on its Best Value Schools list and in top 100 universities nationally.

“This remarkable surge in applications and admissions is a testament to the growing recognition of Illinois Tech’s multidisciplinary degrees, which are centered on experiential learning pedagogy and yield exceptional career outcomes for our graduates,” said Mallik Sundharam, Illinois Tech’s vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. “Our recent accolades in national rankings further underscore our dedication to providing a top-tier education that prepares students from all walks of life for success in the workforce. We are humbled to witness such overwhelming interest in Illinois Tech, and we eagerly anticipate welcoming a talented and diverse cohort of students to our community.”

Illinois Tech’s unique offerings include its Elevate program, which gives students guaranteed access to a suite of hands-on experiences such as internships and research opportunities. Illinois Tech pioneered experiential learning 30 years ago with its Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program, bringing students from various disciplines together to tackle real-world challenges and develop essential 21st-century skills.

Recent Illinois Tech programs have focused on broadening access for diverse student groups, including first-time students, first-generation learners, and transfer students. Initiatives such as Discover+, which allow students to start their educational journey before deciding a major, and Illinois Tech Ascend, a collaboration with City Colleges of Chicago, give students the flexibility to chart their own paths. The recently announced Runway 606 initiative, a partnership with Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago that accelerates students’ progression from high school to an advanced degree, epitomizes this expansion of STEM education pathways.

For lifelong learners, Illinois Tech has partnered with Coursera to offer four industry-aligned degree programs in business, data science, and information technology, incorporating industry credentials into academic qualifications with courses mapped to industry standards and offering course credit for industry certification. Hundreds of learners from around the globe are already enrolled in these groundbreaking programs.

“At Illinois Tech, our commitment is measured by our dedication to access and student success,” said Sundharam. “We define ourselves by our ability to welcome and support students from all backgrounds, striving to eliminate barriers to higher education attainment.”

Illinois Institute of Technology

Based in the global metropolis of Chicago, Illinois Tech was born to liberate the power of collective difference to advance technology and innovation 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 access to hands-on experiences, personalized mentorship, and 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 city's living lab, 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