Top 25 Best Great Lakes Colleges in the US | 2022 Rankings

Superior, Erie, Michigan, Huron, and Ontario are collectively known as the Great Lakes. They also share that name with the region in the US. The Great Lakes region is well-known for its mighty bodies of water, but the colleges in the area are equally impressive.

For this list, the following states are included in the Great Lakes region: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Here are the top 25 best colleges in the Great Lakes region. Check them out below.

Top 25 Best Great Lakes Colleges for 2022

The University of Chicago receives over 34,600 applications though only about 2,000 were accepted. Therefore, the school has a 6% acceptance rate. The school is made up of their undergraduate college and five graduate research divisions. They also have campuses all over the world from Hong Kong to Paris.
Location Chicago, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 17,452
Edward Sorin founded the University of Notre Dame in 1842 as a private Catholic research University. Their motto is “Vita Dulcedo Spes” or “Life, Sweetness, Hope” – referencing the Virgin Mary. The school’s teams are known as the Fighting Irish, and wear the colors blue and gold. Their mascot is the very iconic leprechaun. Currently, just over 12,500 students attend.
Location Notre Dame, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 12,683
Top majors at Northwestern University are econometrics and quantitative economics, journalism, psychology, drama, and neuroscience. A founding member of the Big Ten Conference, top sports for the Wildcats include football, basketball, baseball, and cross country/track. Willie the Wildcat cheers them on and the colors are purple and white.
Location Evanston, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 22,448
A fairly large school, the University of Michigan has over 48,000 students attending, which includes about 31,300 undergraduate students. The two most commonly chosen majors are Computer and Information Sciences and Business Administration. However, economics, mechanical engineering, and experimental psychology are also popular.
Location Ann Arbor, MI
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 48,090
Hillsdale’s motto is “Virtus Tentamine Gaudet” or “Strength Rejoices in the Challenge.” The school has a 96% first year retention rate and a 9 to 1 student to faculty ratio. All students who attend are required to take courses on the “Great Books,” the United States Constitution, and science courses. 88% of students will graduate within 6 years.
Location Hillsdale, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,526
The University of Wisconsin - Madison was the first public university in the state as it was founded when Wisconsin received statehood in 1848. Their motto is “Numen Lumen” or “Divine Light.” It’s also the largest employer in the state as it has over 21,600 faculty and staff. There are 136 undergraduate majors with Economics, Computer and Information Sciences, and Biology being the most popular.
Location Madison, WI
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 44,257
The University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign is a public land-grant research university. It was one of 37 universities that came out of the Morrill Land-Grant Act. When the school opened, there were only 77 students and 2 faculty members. Today, over 50,000 students attend, including over 34,000 undergraduates.
Location Champaign, IL
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 51,605
A land-grant research university, Ohio State is known as a Public Ivy. Getting its start in 1870, it was originally known as the Ohio Agriculture and Mechanical College. The Buckeyes take part in the Big Ten Conference and are well known for their football program. With over 1,000 athletes, other popular sports at the school include track, baseball, ice hockey, and fencing.
Location Columbus, OH
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 61,391
Kenyon College has produced Rhodes Scholars, Truman Scholarship winners, Fulbright recipients, and Marshall Scholarship winners. Famous alumni have included former United States President Rutherford B. Hayes, actor Paul Newman, and Calvin and Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson. The school has a 37% acceptance rate.
Location Gambier, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,750
Case Western Reserve University has slightly more graduate students (55%) than undergraduate students (45%). The school is known as the “Yale of the West” since its campus imitated Yale’s. Computer Science is the most popular major, followed by Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering.
Location Cleveland, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,874
Oberlin College is the oldest coeducational liberal arts college in the country. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music is also the oldest operating conservatory within the United States. They accept only 35% of students. 77% will graduate within 4 years (86% within 6). Oberlin College’s motto is “Learning and Labor.”
Location Oberlin, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,863
Wheaton College was founded by evangelical abolitionists in 1860 and would become a stop on the Underground Railroad. Business is by far the most popular major at the school. Athletic teams are known as The Thunder. They wear blue and orange and compete in the NCAA Division III in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.
Location Wheaton, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,004
Purdue University is a public land-grant research university. Alumni include Neil Armstrong, Orville Redenbacher, and Drew Brees. The university accepts about 67% of students. The most popular major is Computer Science, followed by Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.
Location West Lafayette, IN
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 45,500
Bloomington is the flagship and largest campus of Indiana University. Past students have included the current Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, Hunger Games author, Suzanne Collins, and the co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. A majority of incoming students are from Illinois and Indiana, but students will come from all over the country to attend.
Location Bloomington, IN
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 43,260
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology focuses on math, science, and engineering. It was originally founded as the Terre Haute School of Industrial Science in 1874 in an effort to teach technical training to assist with railroad construction. It would get its current name in 1971 after financial support from the Hulman family. The top major is Mechanical Engineering.
Location Terre Haute, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,038
Miami University - Oxford’s motto is “Prodesse Quam Conspici” in Latin, which means “To accomplish without being conspicuous.” The 10th oldest public university in the United States (1809), they accept 92% of applicants. Athletes, known as the Miami RedHawks, compete in the Mid-American Conference and National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
Location Oxford, OH
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 19,716
Denison University is an undergraduate school that is highly selective, only accepting 28% of students who apply. 90% of freshmen will stay on after the first year and 80% will graduate within six years. Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Mass Communication/Media Studies, and Research and Experimental Psychology are popular areas of study.
Location Granville, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,293
Michigan State University is one of the largest universities when it comes to enrollment. Some alumni have included Magic Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Dan Gilbert, and Sam Raimi. Athletes are known as Spartans and they compete in the Big 10 conference wearing green and white. 79% of the students on campus are undergraduates.
Location Lansing, MI
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 49,809
Located in Greencastle, Indiana, DePauw University was founded in 1837 as Indiana Asbury University. DePauw’s motto is “Decus lumenque reipublicae collegium” in Latin, which means “the college is the splendor and light of the common good.” Economics, Speech Communication, and Computer Science are the three most popular majors.
Location Greencastle, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,972
Founded in 1881, the school would become the first coeducational Catholic university in the world in 1909. 11 schools and colleges can be found at the Milwaukee campus, but the school also features more than 68 doctoral and master’s degree programs. Top areas of study include Biomedical Sciences and Registered Nursing.
Location Milwaukee, WI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,819
Wabash College is a small undergraduate men’s school. They accept just under 63% of applicants and have a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio. The student paper, The Bachelor has been in publication since the early 1900’s. Economics, Rhetoric and Composition, History, and Political Science and Government are among the popular majors.
Location Crawfordsville, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 867
Many students at Butler University are from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Butler offers more than 60 majors, 8 pre-professional programs, and 19 graduate programs. The Bulldogs compete in the Pioneer Football League and Big East Conference. Butler Blue IV, a bulldog, is the school’s official live mascot.
Location Indianapolis, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 5,515
Also known as K College, Kalamazoo College is the leading producer of Peace Corps out of small liberal arts colleges. Their motto is “Lux Esto”, which is Latin for “Be Light.” The most popular major is Biology, followed by Psychology and Business. Kalamazoo College has an 88% first year retention rate.
Location Kalamazoo, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,286
Lawrence University was the second coeducation institution (founded in 1847) in the US. The three most popular majors are Music Performance, Economics, and Biology. Many alumni went into careers in politics, music, and sports. The campus sits along the winding Fox River. The bachelor’s degree is the highest level of education offered.
Location Appleton, WI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,442
Known as the Titans, athletes attending Illinois Wesleyan University wear green and white. The university has an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio and a 78% four year graduation rate. The liberal arts college’s motto is “Scientia et Sapientia” or “Knowledge and Wisdom.” Illinois Wesleyan does not charge students an application fee.
Location Bloomington, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,629

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Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.