A world-class university

World-class thumbDownload this as a PDF document

Since its founding in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been committed to excellence in research, teaching, and public engagement.

Significant Resources

Among the University’s most significant resources is its talented and highly respected faculty. Many faculty members are recognized for their exceptional scholarship, with memberships in the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and  the National Academy of Engineering; and as recipients of the Nobel Prize, Crafoord Prize in Biosciences, Japan Prize, National Medal of Science, Pulitzer Prize, and Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, and MacArthur Fellowships; and by such organizations as the National Endowment for the Humanities, Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Academy of Education, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Elite Scholarships

Each year, Illinois students receive some of the world’s most elite scholarships. The campus has a history of sending at least one student per year to Cambridge on a prestigious post-graduate fellowship. Other prestigious scholarships awarded to Illinois students recently include the Rhodes, Truman, Marshall, Gates, Goldwater, Churchill, Luce, and Fulbright Scholarships. And Illinois undergraduates who have studied abroad have earned National Security Education Program Boren Scholarships.

Alumni Successes

Another prime indicator of the University’s excellence is the success of its alumni: 11 alumni are Nobel laureates, 158 Guggenheim Fellows and another 17 have won Pulitzer Prizes.

Academic Resources

Academic resources on campus are among the finest in the world. The University Library is one of the largest public university collections in the world, housing more than 10,500,000 volumes, over 6,000,000 manuscripts, periodicals, and other non-print materials, and more than 65,000 journals. In addition to the main library, there are more than 37 departmental libraries and divisions throughout campus, including the largest US engineering library, state-of-the-art agricultural library, and the world-renowned Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The library’s computerized cataloging system was the first in the world to serve as the primary access to a large academic library. More than 53,000,000 users worldwide access the online catalog annually.

Leading in Supercomputing

A world leader in supercomputing design and applications, the University is home to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, developer of the internet browser Mosaic(TM), which revolutionized the use of the World Wide Web. Students have access to over 3,500 computer terminals in classrooms, residence halls, and campus libraries. Seventy-six percent of classrooms and over 130 buildings allow wireless connectivity.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Research

Scholars, both faculty and students, find the University an ideal place to conduct inter- and multidisciplinary research. The most visible example of the University’s commitment to such study is the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, where 12 research groups from 30 University departments work within and across three broadly defined themes: biological intelligence, human-computer interaction, and molecular and electronic nanostructures.

The Institute for Genomic Biology houses up to 400 researchers in three broad Program Areas: Systems Biology, Cellular and Metabolic Engineering, and Genome Technology. The Energy Biosciences Institute, formed in 2007 is unique in both its scale and its partnership between BP, academia and others in the private sector.

Undergraduate Education

The University has a fundamental commitment to undergraduate education. Over 30,000 undergraduate students are enrolled in nine undergraduate divisions, which together offer over 5,000 courses in more than 150 fields of study. The divisions are the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; College of Applied Health Sciences; College of Business; College of Media; College of Education; College of Engineering; College of Fine and Applied Arts; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Institute of Aviation.


Undergraduate admission is highly selective. In the 2007 Freshmen class, students in the middle 50 percent had ACT scores between 26 and 31 and 55 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating classes.

Graduate Enrollment

The University enrolls over 11,000 graduate and professional students in more than 100 programs. It is among the top eight universities in number of earned doctorates awarded annually in the United States.

Public Engagement

Also integral to the University’s mission is a commitment to public engagement. Each year about 2.7 million Illinois residents participate in scores of conferences, institutes, credit and noncredit courses, and workshops presented on campus and statewide. The University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H, nutrition intervention, and other programs in rural and urban settings. Research and class projects take students and professors outside their classrooms and laboratories to share expertise and technical support with Illinois farmers, manufacturing firms, and businesses. In a typical year, students log more than 78,000 volunteer hours in blood drives, day care centers, prisons, senior citizen centers, and tutoring programs through the Office of Volunteer Programs. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) opens it doors to "curious minds over age 50" to attend intellectually stimulating courses, small group discussion and lunch time lectures.

The Arts

A major center for the arts, the campus attracts dozens of nationally and internationally renowned artists each year to its widely acclaimed Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Designed by alumnus Max Abramovitz, an architect of New York City’s Lincoln Center, the facility has four indoor theaters and an outdoor amphitheater. Together, they host more than 350 performances each year. The University also supports two major museums: the Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, second only to the Art Institute of Chicago among Illinois public art museums housing over 9,000 works of art in its permanent collection; and the Spurlock Museum, a museum of world history and culture, which holds in its collections approximately 46,000 artifacts from diverse cultures and varied historical time periods.

Major Facilities

Other major facilities include the multipurpose Assembly Hall (16,500 seats), which hosts concerts, convocations, theater, and sporting events; Memorial Stadium (70,000 seats), site of Big Ten Conference football games; and the Campus Recreation Center – 470,000 square feet of recreational space between two newly expanded campus recreation and wellness centers, the largest recreational facilities of its kind on a university campus.


Located in east central Illinois in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign (combined population 180,000), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the state’s flagship public university.

This content managed and updated by Public Affairs.