Greater Peoria is home to highly respected schools, colleges and universities—all working to prepare youth for careers in a rapidly changing world. In addition, there is an abundance of opportunities for adult professionals seeking a midlife career change. Whatever your objective, you’ll find everything you need here at home.
PRIMARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
From Lincoln to Chillicothe, central Illinois boasts top-notch schools with world-class learning opportunities. Morton, Dunlap and Richwoods are among the top high schools in the country, while the Tremont and Washington districts have been ranked among the top five percent in Illinois for student performance. Dunlap School District 323 ranks as downstate Illinois’ top school district and includes Banner Elementary School, which was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2019.
Peoria Public Schools is the region’s largest school district, offering the International Baccalaureate program, advanced placement courses, and community partnerships with the Peoria Riverfront Museum, Caterpillar Inc., Bradley University, Illinois Central College and other institutions. The Woodruff Career and Technical Center provides career and technical training, while Quest Charter Academy offers a STEM curriculum centered on math, science and technology skills.
Several area schools offer Montessori education—a unique environment designed to teach children to think creatively—while a range of faith-based schools and private institutions like Peoria Academy offer first-class options. From Pekin’s acclaimed career and technical education program to the Dunlap Eagles Robotics Team to the Peoria Chinese Language School, opportunities for hands-on learning exist around every corner.
Founded in 1897, Bradley is a top-ranked private university offering 5,400 students the resources of a larger university—with the personal attention and experiential learning opportunities of a smaller college. Bradley offers undergraduate and graduate programs in business, communications, education, engineering, fine arts, health sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and technology. It is located on an 85-acre campus in Peoria, with students from across the U.S. and around the world.
More than 185 majors and academic programs are available, including programs in business analytics, data science, game design, internal auditing and sports communication. The graduate school offers more than 30 graduate, doctorate and certificate programs, including physical therapy and online advanced-degree programs in nursing and counseling.
Bradley students can develop their leadership skills in more than 240 student organizations—including the nation’s most successful speech program. Bradley is also home to multiple fraternities and sororities, NCAA Division I athletics, and club and intramural sports.
A Bradley education emphasizes convergence, an interdisciplinary approach that offers additional opportunities for students to be leaders and solve real-world problems. Building on this idea, the university opened a new, $100 million-plus Business and Engineering Convergence Center last fall, seeking to break down the barriers and silos between the engineering and business disciplines.
Bradley offers an abundance of experiential learning opportunities—from internships and practicums, to undergraduate research, community service and study abroad—and requires all graduates to complete at least two of these experiences. With 93 percent employed or pursuing other postgraduate experiences within six months of graduation, Bradley graduates are well prepared for their next step in life.
Bradley is routinely ranked among the best universities in the nation. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Bradley as the top Illinois regional university and fourth overall regional university in the Midwest. The Princeton Review ranked Bradley’s game design program among the top 15 undergraduate programs in the U.S. and first in Illinois for the fifth consecutive time in 2019, while the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranked Bradley as the top university in Illinois and among the top 25 private universities in the nation for student engagement.
More than 70,000 Bradley alumni worldwide include former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, L.A. Dodgers commentator Charley Steiner, Pulitzer Prize winner Renée C. Byer, Oscar winner Tami Lane and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL COLLEGE
Illinois Central College is committed to meeting students where they are, offering flexible career paths in more than 170 areas of study. ICC students can earn a certificate to join the workforce and start a career, complete a two-year associate degree, or take transferrable classes to pursue a higher degree at a four-year institution.
ICC offers more than 40 student organizations and clubs, on-campus housing, intramural sports, and eight intercollegiate athletic teams, making it easy for students to stay active and involved. The ICC Educational Foundation proudly awards over 600 scholarships each year, removing financial barriers and providing access for all to a higher education.
Offering a high-quality education at an exceptional value, ICC can boast of many achievements, both locally and nationally:
- The agricultural department belongs to the Community College Alliance for Agricultural Advancement, which partners with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is at the forefront of research. Ag students conduct field trials at on-campus research plots, a demonstration farm and a constructed wetland—making ICC the only college in the nation with all of these practices on one tile system. In addition, the Livestock Judging Team has placed both individuals and teams in the top five of 13 national contests.
- Among health careers programs, the nursing assistant program graduates close to 500 students each year, making ICC the top educator and producer of CNAs in the region. The respiratory therapist program has received 100-percent positive placement evaluations since 2014, and 78.5 percent of students pass the national board exam on their first attempt, compared to the national average of 67.3 percent.
- ICC students can earn general science credits while learning in an outdoor classroom at spectacular U.S. locations. Courses include the Southwest Field (with stops at Zion Canyon and the Grand Canyon) and the Rocky Mountain Field (with stops at the Badlands and Black Hills). ICC is one of the only community colleges in the country to offer this experience.
- GM-ASEP students train on a fleet of nearly 20 vehicles donated by General Motors, and have a near-100 percent job placement rate at graduation.
- ICC’s culinary program is accredited by the prestigious American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accreditation Commission and won the 2019 “Best in the Midwest – Education/Institution/Business/Industry” designation from the Heart of Illinois Hospitality Association.
Eureka College initiates transformational growth in its students through a diverse range of learning and service opportunities. Eureka graduates are educators, innovators, change-makers, community leaders… and even the 40th president of the United States, Ronald W. Reagan, Class of ’32.
With an enrollment of nearly 700, Eureka College offers more than 30 different majors and a variety of minors and preprofessional programs. In a highly personalized setting, students may tailor their educational experience to their individual needs and interests. Rather than mandating a list of content requirements, Eureka College focuses on instilling a set of 10 capabilities before graduation—including analytical inquiry and problem solving, ethical reasoning, scientific literacy and civic responsibility. Upon graduation, the job placement rate is 97 percent.
Under its “Uniquely Eureka Advantage” program, Eureka has committed to graduating students in four years (or the fifth year is free), a four-year tuition freeze, an experiential learning award to all new students, and opportunities to study abroad and participate in campus activities.
In addition, Peoria Promise and Illinois Central College have partnered with Eureka College to offer opportunities that strengthen the education-to-employment pipeline for area students. The “Uniquely Eureka Promise” offers qualifying transfer students of Illinois the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree at no cost.
At Eureka College, being a college student is a hands-on experience, where the friendliness and comfort of a small campus community is coupled with the support and encouragement to take your learning outside the classroom—and hold the world in the palm of your hands.
HEALTHCARE AND TECHNICAL TRAINING
Integral to the region’s standing as downstate Illinois’ healthcare hub is the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, part of one of the largest public medical schools in the nation. UICOMP offers high-quality physician education, recruits renowned doctors to the area, conducts extensive research and provides exceptional patient care.
UICOMP educates about 240 medical students and nearly 300 physician residents and fellows each year. Sixty percent of the area’s primary care providers have trained at the University of Illinois for medical school or in one of its physician training programs. The college also leads cutting-edge research in cancer, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, and is a collaborator of Jump Simulation, a world-class simulation center and virtual hospital capable of replicating all areas of patient care, using actual medical equipment combined with state-of-the-art simulation technology.
Methodist College is a private, four-year institution offering certificate, baccalaureate and master’s degree programs in nursing, healthcare management and human services. Bradley University and the Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing offer a range of nursing degrees and programs, while Illinois Central College offers degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of health-related careers.
Greater Peoria is also home to numerous schools for technical training. Midwest Technical Institute provides vocational training and courses in the allied health and mechanical trades industries, while numerous area schools offer training in cosmetology, esthetics, barbering and more. PP