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Is University of Chicago better/more prestigious than the University of Illinois at Chicago?
Is University of Chicago better/more prestigious than the University of Illinois at Chicago?2021-11-25 20:13:02【Mr_于】
I worked at UIC for 5 years in the late 1980s. I have a number of friends and colleagues at UC and UIC, both faculty and former students.
The answers in this thread are all pretty good. I will try not to repeat too much.
Short answer: Absolutely 100% more prestigious.
In reputation, UC is a world class institution, (think MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Cal tech), and is among the top 10 schools in the US on anyone’s list and almost certainly the number 1 school in the entire midwest on everyone’s list. This “ranking” is general, because in specific disciplines the reputation of the school rises or falls depending on the decade and the faculty in that discipline at the time. In some areas, UC has always been very very strong and in some just very strong.
UIC is a flagship state university that started as a commuter school on Navy Pier in Chicago in the 1940/1950s, transformed into the Chicago Circle Campus in the 1960s, and then reinvented itself in the 1980s as a second pillar of the University of Illinois - anchored by the much older and better established Urbana Champaign (UIUC) campus.
I was a recruited as a faculty member in 1986. The school at the time was abuzz with the mission of raising its reputation, first to try to reach UIUC high class, and then perhaps even to be the UCLA of Illinois to UIUC’s Berkeley. The reputation improved as more faculty were hired but it still today does not approach the reputation of its sister institution UIUC and it is a far cry from UCLA. It took decades for the old faculty to move on and the newer ones to make an impression, and there was and is a lot of old wood that likes to mark its territory. The school suffers from poor state management, budget crises, bureacracy, and nepotism.
UIC today is greater than it has ever been in a number of ways:
- The campus has been renovated and improved from the original “creative” disaster of its first concrete two-tier design.
- The faculty has some world class scholars and a host of some very fine people just below the top class.
- The student body IMO is the most diverse of any university I have ever visited in the United States. (in my Algortihms class there in 2013 the number of students out of 80 whose native language was English was 6). This diversity is inadvertantly and serendipitously the most interesting and unique feature of the school, giving it potential that no other school can match.
Does a school’s reputation correlate with quality of education and research? I would say generally yes, and sometimes.
Which is better: Northwestern University or University of Chicago?
Over the past few years, I have conducted extensive research into both UChicago and Northwestern as well as visited UChicago numerous times and Northwestern once. Both are elite institutions and attract the best scholars from around the globe.
I would say UChicago is ahead of Northwestern intellectually, though not by “leaps and bounds.”
The main reason I see UChicago intellectually ahead of Northwestern at the undergrad level is because of UChicago’s Core. The Core requires students to take 15 total courses over their four years in the humanities, civilization studies, arts, biological sciences, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, and social sciences.
Northwestern, in contrast, has distribution credits. For example, let’s say you are an engineering major. Northwestern will require you in addition to your major to take a few classes in the social sciences to fulfill these distribution requirements. However, you are able to decide exactly what classes you want to take. You’re not into art or civilization studies? You won’t have to take those at Northwestern, unlike UChicago.
UChicago attracts and accepts a rare breed of applicants who are intellectually curious about a vast range of disciplines. UChicago’s goal is to build in each student a solid foundation in a multitude of areas, while Northwestern gives its students the flexibility to carve their own paths.
Since UChicago students are required to take certain classes in a variety of disciplines while Northwestern students are able to pursue areas they find appealing, I believe this gives UChicago students a leg up intellectually because they are exposed to so many more areas of study, which challenges and strengthens their views and perspectives.
Also, because most students at UChicago take the same Core classes, the discussion in the classroom unintentionally moves outside and is discussed at lunch or at a late night gathering, for instance. Because a classics and neuroscience major, for example, take the same Core courses, they are able to initiate an intellectual conversation about last night’s philosophy reading. You normally don’t see this on a campus with an open curriculum, like Northwestern.
The Core is the perfect curriculum for someone looking to enhance his/her knowledge in several fields while also completing his/her major; I believe it builds a solid foundation for the student moving forward.
How good is University of Illinois, Chicago for architecture?
Excellent. At one time during the 80s & 90s, UIC’s program for architecture was one of the best in the nation. It still is quite good, and Chicago is one of the most perfect cities to live in to study architecture given how many incredible examples of different styles of buildings are on display for anyone to admire and study—especially for architecture students.
Requirements and criteria for the university of Illinois at Chicago
The schools website doesnt give specific requirements. You just apply and they will evaluate your application. There are always certain circumstances that can change their decision, so they dont give specific requirements because it would scare people away from applying.
How is the University of Chicago ranked higher than Stanford?
Tl;dr: The methodology favors UChicago’s culture, and its reputation among academia.
UChicago is higher ranked than Stanford (US News) because UChicago is better at generating the right stats for the methodology. You could call it gaming the system, but that’s a little unfair since it’s not all deliberate. According to Parchment.com’s statistics
Here’s a step by step walkthrough of the indicators that go into the ranking:
Graduation and retention rates
UChicago has a graduation rate of 86%. Stanford, only 75%. The difference is cultural. Stanford is a highly entrepreneurial and career-oriented school. Many people drop out of Stanford to pursue their business ideas or do other things.
Meanwhile, UChicago is known for sending a lot of people to grad school. If you’re trying to get into a good grad school, the last thing you want to do is drop out of undergrad. So the studious culture at UChicago lends itself to a higher graduation and retention rate.
Undergraduate academic reputation
This seems like a very fuzzy section. This section is supposed to account for “intangibles” via an opinion survey of various academics and high school counsellors.
I don’t have the raw scores to compare Chicago and Stanford, but I suspect UChicago would come out on top. Stanford has fantastic academics, no doubt. But historically UChicago has a very close knit and rosy relationship with academia. Everything from the Common Core curriculum to the anti-grade inflation teaching philosophy adds a subtle shade of approval in the ivory tower.
So the fact that academics were surveyed, rather than employers or the general population, gives UChicago an edge.
Class size is 40% of this category. UChicago wins out on class size—78% of classes at U of C have <20 students, versus 71% at Stanford. UChicago places great emphasis on making classes smaller, and interactions with the professor more personal. I applaud this approach and believe that Chicago’s win here is well deserved.
Another 35% of this category is average faculty salary, adjusted by cost of living. There are two key parts here.
- Using average salary as opposed to median salary means that a college is higher ranked if its distribution is positively skewed, i.e. the professors at the very top make a lot of money. I don’t know about Stanford, but I do know that UChicago keeps several high profile professors on retainer by offering them huge sums of money. This drives up the average, even though the median would not be as affected. However this is just speculation.
- Cost of living is the big one. Living in Chicago isn’t cheap, but it’s nothing compared to Boston or the Bay Area. That fact alone would greatly skew Chicago’s faculty salaries to appear higher.
Is better paid faculty better faculty? I have no idea.
U.S. News also weighs the proportion of professors with the highest degree in their fields (15 percent)
As I said before, UChicago is very academically inclined. It wouldn’t surprise me if the professors there were higher up the ivory tower, especially compared to a school like Stanford which hires from more diverse backgrounds (possibly with fewer years of formal education).
This section is worth less than the previous ones. It looks at SAT/ACT, which UChicago wins out on. I suspect this has to do with athletics. No offense to athletes, but their scores just aren’t as high.
Also considered are what percent of the student body was top 10% of their high school class, which is probably subject to the same effect as SAT score. Athletes would drive down Stanford’s numbers, plus UChicago’s reputation as a mega-brain school doesn’t help.
However, Stanford has a lower acceptance rate than UChicago. A rare win for Stanford in the rankings.
Per-student spending, I’m sure both schools spend a lot. I can’t seem to find hard numbers.
“Graduation rate performance”, basically US News runs a regression and gets an expected graduation rate. UChicago’s graduation rate is probably higher than expected, due to the cultural emphasis on post-college education, so this nets U of C some more points.
And alumni giving. Personally after our family has paid tuition I feel like we’ve given enough, but for some reason people feel compelled to give even more. I don’t have access to the full data but at 5% of the total ranking this section isn’t that huge of a factor.
What is your review of University of Illinois at Chicago?
It was a terrific experience for me. As an undergraduate, I commuted there and worked full-time. Like Jessica Yeager, I also graduated from there with an M.A.T. in history, so I fully concur with every that she said. In addition, I have just finished another degree (M.Ed in curriculum and instructional studies) because of UIC’s reputation, particularly in regards to urban education. There are a lot of great perks to attend, especially if you are a graduate student. If you are an undergraduate, and want a true college experience, then UIC may not be the place for you. But if you were like me—a working undergraduate student paying for college—then UIC is full of people just like you. Almost everybody works a job while studying at UIC as a student, so UIC is unlike other universities in this respect.
Here’s what I wrote for another question about being a graduate student at UIC and the perks the university has to offer as a graduate student. It may just help you:
I attended the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1987–1995 for both a double B.A. in history and political science as well as graduate degrees in history and education. I have just completed my M.Ed. in curriculum and instructional studies this year, so I would like to think I am qualified to answer this question about the perks of attending my alma mater. Where do I begin?
First, it all depends on what type of graduate degree you are pursuing. One applies to a graduate college based on the strength of their program and the faculty members behind it whose courses you will be taking. I am a high school history teacher at an urban high school, and I selected the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) because their College of Education is cutting edge when it comes to research and studies on urban education and they concentrate on African-American and Latino students specifically—who happen to be the cultural and ethnic make-up of my student body. Since I had previously attended UIC for my undergraduate and graduate pursuits more than twenty years ago, you could say I went with the devil I know best—that and the fact the program specializes in the type of school that I have taught in for the last twenty-one years. I did not want to take the risk of attending a school I have never attended before and find out it was not the right fit.
Chicago boasts many fine universities, such as Northwestern, Loyola, Depaul, and the University of Chicago, but they are all private institutions and their tuition rates are quite high and out of my price range. So one perk is definitely a better financial deal. There are cheaper education programs for teachers near where I live (which is next door in Oak Park), but I went with UIC because they specialize in urban education using the Chicago Public School as its laboratory. I have classes with top-notch professors who lead the research in education reform and who are a powerful influence on the State of Illinois’s Board of Education (it was UIC who led the way in getting the state to improve the school principal and superintendent certification and training requirements). As I have said before, there are cheaper education programs for teachers, but UIC is still affordable, more so than the private universities. Northwestern and University of Chicago maybe ivy-league and boast truly beautiful campuses (UIC’s architecture can be characterized as brutalism in its architecture), but cost-wise, it’s the better financial deal.
Another perk is the diverse student body. UIC is rated in the top five U.S. universities in student diversity. I am taking classes with a great mix of both local and international students, and the viewpoints and contributions of the student body is incredible and insightful. In my latest class, there is a generous mix of Latino, African-American, white, foreign-born Asian, and Muslim students—a definite melting pot. Getting their perspectives on issues raised in the class is an education onto itself and a valuable cultural resource and tool for any student.
Another good perk about UIC’s graduate programs is that they are rigorous. UIC does not play around. It’s serious business when you are enrolled in a graduate program. My M.A. in history required blood, sweat, and tears to complete. I had language requirements to fulfill, master’s thesis to complete in a semester (Cloaked as a “seminar paper”—don’t let the name fool you. It was a damned thesis and treated as such.), and an exit graduate examination on my major and minor areas of focus that took a week to complete. Imagine every day sitting and writing for six hours on three questions. Failing one question meant failing the entire examination process. Every program has different requirements, some not as rigorous as others. My current graduate program does not have a language or thesis requirement, but there is a great deal of work and the professors make you tie it into what you are doing in order to make it as practical as possible. Many of my classes do not have exams but projects to complete that require thorough mastery of the material studied in class and its application to the real world. It takes as much time if not more to complete than preparing for mid-term or final exams and just as nerve-wracking. Write to your professors and ask them for their course syllabi to get an idea of what they require and how they will assess you for their classes.
For graduate students in education, UIC offers most of its course at night between the hours of 4 pm and 8 pm. This is perfect for the working teacher or administrator. UIC also offers two types of summer-term schedules: a four-week and an eight-week section for some courses. But most graduate courses are usually offered during the morning and afternoon.
UIC is also a Tier I research institution. That means the university is truly focused on cutting-edge research, and they have a fine faculty to carry out that research. You’ll be rubbing shoulders with professors who have made their mark on the latest research, but, again, it all depends on which area you are pursuing in your graduate degree. UIC is great in some respects, like engineering, computer science, mathematics, architecture, medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, history, philosophy, and education, but it is weak in other areas. Do your homework to find out where UIC stands in a particular field.
What about the location? You are stone’s throw away from downtown. You can easily access the city and UIC is easy to get to by way of the CTA. You have the entire city as your backyard. Already Chicago is equal to New York in cuisine, the city boasts many fine museums and other cultural institutions to spend a day within, and Chicago has an incredible array of different neighborhoods to explore. Take advantage of that!
Now for the drawbacks:
- It’s not strong in every single graduate program. Do your homework and research where it stands. Try looking at U.S. News and World Report to see where UIC ranks in certain areas.
- Ugly architecture. The university has made great strides in beautifying the campus, but many of the buildings are still Orwellian in their design.
- Not all of the professors are great instructors. They maybe leading experts in their research fields, but that does not translate into being excellent teachers. Do your homework and ask around to find the good professors. Visit or email them and ask questions.
- It doesn’t boast a first-class library like University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library or the Newberry Library downtown. It’s sufficient, but that’s it.
- Not every course in the graduate catalog is offered in reality. Check this out since what the catalog boasts can be misleading. Do your homework and ask people is certain courses you are interested in taking are even being offered. When they are offered is important, too. Some are offered only during spring or summer terms, or at certain times of day. I initially wanted to pursue a graduate degree in museum studies, but the program only offers courses in the morning and afternoon—not good for someone who works 7 am - 4 pm.
- The politics of UIC leave a lot to be desired. UIC is notorious for its petty academic and administrative politics, but thankfully, its usually confined to the people who work there and not the students who attend, but you still get some spillover. It’s a great place to be a student, but not for the employee who works there and has to deal with the Byzantine politics of their colleagues and administration. But that’s academia for you!
- There are many hidden financial costs. Some programs require that you spend extra money. They’ll charge you for health insurance automatically unless you provide proof of insurance directly. In addition, if you are a full-time student, they will charge you $140 for a train pass to encourage you to take the train. Great for some people, but not great for those who commute a long way by car or who do not wish to take the train home late at night. There is no getting out of this charge.
So to summarize the perks of attending UIC as a graduate student:
- A great research university with a terrific academic reputation.
- It’s location is easily accessible and you have the great city of Chicago at your fingertips. Bike there, drive there, or just take the train.
- It’s affordable—more so than other institutions. It is not the cheapest, but it will not break you financially. I went there full-time for eight years straight while working full-time and only came out with $5000 in debt—and that was incurred during my last year there. Manage your money and you should do fine.
- It boasts a diverse student body. It’s like the United Nations on the campus and most students have said they feel welcome on the campus.
- It’s rigorous and challenging. People respect UIC graduates because of it. Employers hire us because of it. I proudly hang my framed degrees on my walls and tell people I am a graduate of that institution.
- A flexible summer school in most cases.
- It possesses many great graduate programs. Out of all of the local universities, I have never seen as many programs than those being offered at UIC.
If you make your choice to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago for graduate school, then welcome aboard!
And if you choose to attend UIC as an undergraduate, you’ll still have a great experience like the one I had. I like to think that UIC helped make me the person I am today. It offered many wonderful academic experiences and connected me to my first real job as a teacher, and I am still teaching at the same school for the last twenty-two years!
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