Overview of ACES

More Than Meets The I

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) has been an integral part of the University of Illinois from day one. Although proudly ranked among the top 30 agricultural schools worldwide, today we are more than agriculture. ACES is a diverse college with top-rated programs in engineering, finance and economics, nutritional science, and more. While our faculty and student body have various specialties and areas of interest, we are all working toward a common goal of improving daily life for people around the world.

An ACES Education

We owe our success to putting our students first, supporting them with a compassionate and close-knit academic community.

 

15 to 1 Student to Faculty ratio

By being in ACES you get all the advantages of Big Ten university, but with the small class sizes that make for a close-knit, quality learning experience.

 

80 percent participate in experiential learning

We value learning by doing. Our students complete internships, volunteer, travel around the country, and participate in the over 400 study abroad opportunities available at the University of Illinois to get hands-on experience in their field of study.

 

3.5 million dollars in scholarships

The College of ACES is also dedicated to helping students be financially successful. Each year 3.5 million dollars in college scholarships are awarded to our students. These scholarships are made possible by generous alumni and friends of the college.

 

74 percent four-year graduation rate

ACES boasts both a 91 percent freshman retention rating and a 74 percent four-year graduation rate, the highest graduation rate in the nation among comparable programs, according to US News & World Report. Our graduation rate is also more than double the national average for public universities (33%, according to the U.S. Department of Education). This means students are both staying and succeeding in ACES.

 

87 percent employed or continuing education

Within six months of graduating our students are employed or looking to further themselves by attaining a graduate degree or other advanced designation. About one third of graduates choose to pursue advanced degrees in a wide variety of fields including science, business, medicine, health and well-being, and education.

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The ACES Impact

The lessons taught in our degree programs are rooted in research, and our goal is to share that research not just with our students, but with communities around the world.

Global Impact

Our five overarching research areas cover Food and Agriculture, Environment and Water, Family and Communities, Health and Wellness, and Data and Technology.

Different country flags hung in a building

Research in each of these areas has the potential to improve lives on a global scale. To tackle this research, ACES partners with institutions around the world, allowing researchers to work with and learn from each other. Our researchers are currently engaged in efforts in over 120 different countries.

Our Research Areas  International Engagements

 

Local Impact

University of Illinois Extension, based out of the College of ACES, has been leading community outreach efforts since 1914.

Two graduate students in a cornfield with a crop scouting robot

Extension specialists and educators employed across the state share knowledge learned through university research with local communities via training programs, educational workshops, and more.

Illinois Extension Programs

 

Faculty Impact

At the heart of everything ACES does is our world-class faculty and staff. Faculty in all ACES departments are conducting research and shaping lessons in engaging, impactful ways.

Faculty member and her graduate student in a laboratory

To help foster a greater understanding of the scope of their work, faculty in each of our programs have written summaries of their research and education efforts. These summaries highlight not only what their work entails but also briefly explains how their efforts impact our students and communities.

Read About What We Do and Why It Matters

 

History

The University of Illinois is recognized worldwide as one of the great public universities, and the College of ACES has been there from day one. The university timeline stretches back to the mid-1800s, when activist and Illinois-based professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner started a movement to provide higher education for anyone in the nation who aspired to learn. The movement was heavily backed by farmers and industrial workers, who then made up over 85 percent of the population of Illinois.

In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-Grant College Act, donating public lands for the purpose of creating colleges for “the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts.” Thirty-seven land-grant institutions devoted to this purpose were created in March 1868 thanks to the 1862 Morrill Act, including the University of Illinois (originally Illinois Industrial University).

ACES professor Cyril Hopkins (right) and his assistant, James Pettit, taking soil samples in the Morrow Plots, April 1904.
ACES professor Cyril Hopkins (right) and his assistant, James Pettit, taking soil samples in the Morrow Plots, April 1904.

The Urbana-Champaign location of the university happens to have some of the richest soils in the world. This was quite the boon when the Hatch Act of 1887 established the Agricultural Experiment Station, bringing a new research focus. Later on, in 1914, the knowledge gained from college research and other university efforts was made accessible to each state’s citizens through the Smith-Lever Act, which created the Cooperative Extension System. University of Illinois Extension operates to this day offering educational programs and materials to residents in all of Illinois' 102 counties.  

Today the College of ACES has broadened its horizons to teach and research not just agriculture, but multiple fields of study that can improve lives around the world. To stay up to date on our most recent activities, browse our news section and subscribe to our newsletter.

College of ACES News