10 Best Football Colleges in Illinois 2024

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Football colleges in Illinois combine academics and sporting activities, creating a fine balance between sporting and intellectual learning.

With the variety of higher education opportunities available to student-athletes nowadays, deciding which path to take can be challenging. You can use our list of the Best Football Colleges in Illinois as one tool to aid your choice.

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However, we created a list of Illinois’s top 10 best football Colleges after carefully examining each provided educational opportunity. We consider a variety of variables that are all scientific measurements to determine this rating. 

These considerations include the institution’s general excellence, as evaluated by our Best Colleges ranking, and its level of athletic competition. Therefore, besides having a strong athletic team, the school must provide an excellent education to rank well.

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Does Illinois have Football Colleges?

There are numerous football Colleges in Illinois. These football Colleges have football clubs. Some of the colleges include:

  • Northwestern University
  • University of Chicago
  • Wheaton College Illinois
  • Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Augustana College
  • Knox College
  • Lake Forest College
  • North Central College
  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Elmhurst University

How Many Are College Football Teams in Illinois?

Surprisingly, there are numerous football teams in Illinois. Currently, there are 459 football teams in the State of Illinois.

These football teams bear different names and symbols and are found in different colleges in the State.

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For Further Reading, check: 10 Best Football Colleges in South Carolina

Does Illinois have Ivy League Schools?

Illinois doesn’t have any Ivy League schools. A collegiate league in Northeast America is called the Ivy League. 

The Ivy League has evolved to represent a distinct educational quality over time. As a midwestern state, Illinois does not have any Ivy League institutions.

You would also find these helpful: 10 Best Football Colleges in Ohio

What are the Best Football Colleges in Illinois? 

The 10 football Colleges in Illinois that are considered the best are: 

1. Northwestern University

#1 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$63,246,903

TEAM REVENUE

995

ACADEMIC PROGRESS RATE

Northwestern is a prestigious private institution in the Chicago Metropolitan Area in Evanston, Illinois. With 8,095 undergraduate students enrolled, it is a mid-sized university.

Given that Northwestern University’s admittance rate is under 9%, admissions are incredibly difficult. Journalism, psychology, and economics are common majors. 95 percent of students graduate

However, according to our rankings for 2023, Northwestern University is the top football school in Illinois for undergraduates. In Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University is a private non-profit institution that awarded 2,770 bachelor’s degrees in 2018–19.

On the other hand, the Northwestern squad recently earned $63,246,903 in income and spent $32,136,417 on expenses. This translates to a $31,110,486 annual profit for the sporting franchise. With a remarkable academic development rate of 995, the squad demonstrates that its players are concerned about academics.

Therefore, those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will have more opportunities to connect with their teachers because of the school’s 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. In our rankings of overall quality, Northwestern also performed highly. On our list of general qualities, it came in first.

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2. University of Chicago

#2 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$641,173

TEAM REVENUE

$59,298

AVG TUITION & FEES

The University of Chicago is a private university that John D. Rockefeller founded in 1890. For more than a century, it has shaped higher education and the intellectual lives of undergraduates. 

Consequently, with a 217-acre campus on the shores of Lake Michigan, the University of Chicago has produced 94 Nobel laureates, the most of any American university. Researchers at the University of Chicago were the first to split an atom, measure the speed of light, and create the discipline of sociology. 

The College, which includes on-campus law, business, molecular engineering, and medical schools, is the university’s largest academic division. It also includes 11 graduate divisions and professional schools.

Therefore, if you enroll at the University of Chicago, you’ll join some of the top athletes in the world. In this year’s rankings, the school was ranked second.

This rather sizable institution of higher learning is located in Chicago, Illinois. 2,024 students received bachelor’s degrees from a private, non-profit institution in 2018–2019.

However, the football team of the University of Chicago earned $641,173 in income.

With a student-to-faculty ratio of 5 to 1, it is clear that the institution is dedicated to assisting its undergraduate students to succeed. UChicago is ranked highly in this rating and second overall in quality.

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3. Wheaton College Illinois

#4 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$647,870

TEAM REVENUE

$37,700

AVG TUITION & FEES

The epitome of a Christian liberal arts college, Wheaton College serves as the academic haven for a varied community of intellectually aspirational and deeply devoted Christians who seek world-class education in a supportive atmosphere.

Wheaton College Illinois took third place out of the 28 Illinois colleges included in this year’s rating. This Wheaton, Illinois-based small private, not-for-profit university conferred 720 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Financially speaking, the Wheaton College Illinois football team earned $647,870.

Also, the institution performs a great job keeping its students, with a freshman retention rate of 93%. Additionally, Wheaton College Illinois was ranked #4 in overall excellence.

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4. Illinois Wesleyan University

#6 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$434,374

TEAM REVENUE

$49,488

AVG TUITION & FEES

Illinois Wesleyan is focused on three things: people. Opportunities. Accomplishment.

You will discover a supportive and collaborative environment, whether it is among the academics, staff, or your friends. IWU will offer the contacts you need to realize your dreams while you explore your passions and identify your strongest suit. 

There’s a reason it is number one for jobs: during your time with the school, you’ll compile a portfolio of achievements that stand out and instantly earn respect in the workplace. Simply said, IWU will agree to assist you in pursuing your interests and achieving success.

However, Illinois Wesleyan University took the #4 spot out of the 28 Illinois colleges included in this year’s rating. A small, private, non-profit university called Illinois Wesleyan is located in Bloomington, Illinois. In 2018–2019, 434 bachelor’s degrees were given out.

Financially speaking, Illinois Wesleyan’s football team earned $434,374 in revenue.

Beginning students at the school are more likely to remain there. The retention rate for freshmen is 89 percent. Additionally, Illinois Wesleyan secured a spot on our list of the best colleges. It ranks among the top 10 percent of all colleges in its field.

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5. Augustana College

#10 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$793,936

TEAM REVENUE

$43,610

AVG TUITION & FEES

Augustana College ranked five out of the 28 Illinois colleges in this year’s rating. Rock Island, Illinois, has a tiny private non-profit school called Augustana. In 2018–2019, 855 bachelor’s degrees were granted.

However, the Augustana Football team generated $793,936 in income during the season.

Beginning students at the school are more likely to remain there. The retention rate for freshmen is 87 percent. In addition to where it placed in this ranking, Augustana also performed well on our list of overall quality. It ranks among the top 20 percent of all the institutions examined for this analysis.

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6. Knox College

#12 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$293,069

TEAM REVENUE

$48,168

AVG TUITION & FEES

Knox College ranked number six on Illinois’ Best Colleges for Football list this year. The small private, not-for-profit institution based in Galesburg, Illinois, conferred 367 bachelor’s degrees to deserving students in 2018–19.

Also, in terms of money, Knox University’s football team earned $293,069 in revenue.

Beginning students at the school are more likely to remain there. The retention rate for freshmen is 87 percent. Knox also ranks in the top 20 percent of our overall quality ranking, which speaks something about the caliber of education it provides.

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7. Lake Forest College

#13 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$400,273

TEAM REVENUE

$48,424

AVG TUITION & FEES

Lake Forest College did fairly well with a position of #7 in the 2021 Best Colleges for Football in Illinois list.

However, a few students attend Lake Forest, which is in Lake Forest, Illinois. This university conferred 453 bachelor’s degrees to deserving undergraduate students in 2018–19.

Also, financially speaking, the Lake Forest Football team earned $400,273.

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8. North Central College

#17 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$782,089

TEAM REVENUE

$40,040

AVG TUITION & FEES

As a globally renowned school, we equip our students to go beyond what they think is possible both in and out of the classroom. Its faculty members enjoy teaching, and this passion results in excellent experiences and opportunities for students inside and outside the classroom.

Furthermore, students at North Central are supported by excellence to discover their passion and pursue specialized jobs. They influence our campus thanks to access to cutting-edge facilities and unique programs.

North Central College performed admirably on the Best Colleges for Football in Illinois list in 2023, at number eight. Located in Naperville, Illinois, this small private non-profit university conferred 872 bachelor’s degrees in 2018–19.

Also, North Central University’s football team earned $782,089 while spending $694,276. As a result, the squad generated a profit of $87,813 for the institution.

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9. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

#3 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$58,155,936

TEAM REVENUE

970

ACADEMIC PROGRESS RATE

Because countless opportunities are available, anyone can pursue their impossibility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

It is, however, a leading university with a history of innovation, and we provide a demanding, forward-thinking environment to support your success. On campus, you’ll find a sense of belonging, equity, openness, and useful resources to help you along the journey.

You can move forward fearlessly with the strength of a UIUC degree, ready to take charge and effect positive, long-lasting change.

Also, on the Top Colleges for Football in Illinois this year, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign came in at number nine. This enormous institution of higher learning is located in Champaign, Illinois. 8,983 students received bachelor’s degrees from the public university in 2018–2019.

The UIUC Football team generated $58,155,936 in revenue and spent $23,418,953 on operations. As a result, the squad generated a profit of $34,736,983 for the school. The team’s academic growth rate is 970.

The school’s impressive freshman retention record of 92 percent indicates that students are satisfied enough with it to return for a second term. 

Additionally, UIUC is ranked #3 for overall quality in Illinois, which is one of the reasons the school is on the list, in addition to its rating as one of the Best Colleges for Men’s Football in Illinois.

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10. Elmhurst University

#19 in Quality

IN ILLINOIS

$647,187

TEAM REVENUE

$37,754

AVG TUITION & FEES

Elmhurst University performed admirably on the Best Colleges for Men’s Football in Illinois list in 2021, at number 10. 

However, Elmhurst is a tiny college found in Elmhurst, Illinois. This university conferred 863 bachelor’s degrees on deserving undergraduate students in 2018–19.

Also, the Elmhurst Football team generated $647,187 in income during the season.

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What are the Best Junior Colleges in Illinois for Football?

There are many junior Colleges in Illinois. Here are the ones that are considered the best for football:

  • Danville Area Community College
  • Harper College
  • College of Lake County
  • Sauk Valley Community College

Also read: 10 Best Football Colleges in Ohio

What Division (d1) Football Colleges are in Illinois?

The highest level of intercollegiate athletics recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, which welcomes players worldwide, is NCAA Division I (D-I). 

The D-I Football Colleges in Illinois include:

  • University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign
  • Illinois State University
  • Loyola University Chicago

Also Read: 10 Best Football Colleges in California

What are the Division 2 (d2) Football Colleges in Illinois?    

The National Collegiate Athletic Association oversees Division 2, an intermediate division of football (NCAA). 

Even though Division 2 football players compete in a less intense athletic environment than NCAA Division 1 football players, they are nonetheless incredibly talented!

The D-2 Football Colleges in Illinois include:

  • McKendree University
  • Quincy University
  • University of Illinois at Springfield

This will also interest you: 10 Best Football Colleges in Texas

What are the Division 3 (d3) Football Colleges in Illinois?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States has a division called Division III (D-III). 

D-III comprises schools and institutions with sports departments that don’t provide athletic scholarships to student-athletes.

The D-3 Football Colleges in Illinois include:

  • Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Knox College
  • Augustana College

Also Read: 10 Best Football Colleges in the UK

How To Join Football Clubs in Illinois

Illinois FC hopes to give all young players a chance to realize their full potential in soccer by giving them access to a safe, enjoyable, and challenging environment.

To join the  football clubs in Illinois, Click Here

Conclusion

Football Colleges in Illinois are great as it helps shape the youth athletically.

I hope this article will give you insight into the College to attend and join their football team if you are interested in football.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best college football team in Illinois?

Northwestern University

Is Lake Forest football d1?

It is an NCAA Division III

Which state has the most NFL teams?

California and Florida, with three NFL teams each. 

Does Illinois have an NFL team?

Yes it does

References

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