Looking to gain support for their “institution of learning of Collegiate grade”, about 30 Illinois lawyers, teachers, doctors, and farmers petitioned the United Methodist Church in 1850 to gain the funding to open Illinois Wesleyan University. With a motto of “Knowledge and Wisdom” and a vision of engaging students both on campus and in the real world, Illinois Wesleyan began offering liberal arts backed education that “shall shed brightness on all land around and send down floods of light and blessedness upon generations yet to come”.
Today, Illinois Wesleyan still continues to offer that brilliant commitment to education and experiential learning, offering 50 major courses of study to its student body of about 2100 (from 33 states and 23 countries). Located in Bloomington, IL, they offer Bachelor degrees and pre-professional programs that offer an education steeped in opportunities for hands on work. Whether your major swings to Nursing (their school was established in 1959 at IWU) or Music (their College of the Fine Arts offers a Bachelor of Music and Music Education), the blend of liberal arts with each program ensures “students will see the interconnectedness of knowledge and develop a spirit of inquiry”. Their pre-professional programs also offer great starts for students looking to pursue course from Medicine to Law.
Though Illinois Wesleyan University has no distance learning degree programs (though online classes are offered and there is a wealth of online learning aids and resources), they are known for offering the first distance learning program in the US. Modeled after the University of London’s program, 1873-1910 saw IWU offering non-residential/external degrees, all without any online access at all. Their library materials are accessible online and they host a Digital Commons on their website, an internet repository of the university’s scholarly research meant to foster scholarly collaborations and create a place to showcase faculty/student works.
Research is a big part of IWU, with numerous opportunities for internship and faculty/student research projects. Looking to give to the community around, their Action Research Center helps students match their research projects to community service work to aid both in their end goal. Their study abroad opportunities are also extensive, with a long standing relationship with Oxford, as well as placements in 70 countries, a UN program, and a ranking nationally in the top 40 for study abroad programs in the US. 50% of students study abroad at IWU at some point in their education.
IWU prides itself on its student success, with a 90% retention rate after the first year and 9 out of 10 students completing their Bachelor degree in four years. They do this with faculty that engages students, whether in class (where an 11-1 ratio creates a more personal attention to learning) or in joint research endeavors.
The IWU semester schedule follows a format of 4-4-1, with a May semester of 3 week intensive coursework on one class that meets for multiple hours five times a week. Many students use this 3 weeks to participate in service projects or internships, or simply to complete an extra course in a focused environment.
Dedicated to the liberal arts and hands on learning since their inception, Illinois Wesleyan University continues to offer a great value education steeped in the type of learning that creates opportunities after college.