Student Life

Life on the Silicon Prairie

Urbana-Champaign is a place where people come together to bring big ideas to life. We're home to the tech incubator University of Illinois Research Park and surrounded by some of the richest farmland in the world. Our campus community is home to a wide range of exceptional research and scholarship, but what truly sets us apart is a collaborative environment that leads to groundbreaking discovery, innovation, and partnerships that invite new ways of thinking and working. CHBE’s Cultural Resource Guide to Champaign-Urbana was created by our Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) to highlight some of the food and experiences that our community has to offer.

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Unique "Micro-Urban" Community

Urbana-Champaign is on an accelerated development track, emerging as a leading example of a "micro-urban" community—a population center of less than 250,000 with a set of highly desirable attributes commonly found in larger cities. Our vibrant arts/culture/nightlife scene, internationally diverse population, strong technology base, and commitment to societal issues coupled with a world-class university make this an ideal place to live, study, and work. Plus, we are just a few hours away from three metropolises: Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.

Better Living, Less Hassle

  • #2 on American Institute of Economic Research's Best College Towns based on demographics, quality of life, and economics
  • #2 among national peer institutions for cost-of-living
  • 80 parks spanning nearly 1,000 acres in Urbana-Champaign alone (and many more within a short drive)  provide an abundance of swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, camping, and biking opportunities
  • 19 intercollegiate sports programs keep the excitement of Big Ten athletics ever-present on campus
  • Easy commutes, a designated "bike-friendly" community, and an award-winning mass transit system (free with campus ID) make it quick and simple to get from here to there

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Explore our campus and community

Points of Interest

  • Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is a nationally renowned venue, attracting theater, musical, and dance performances from entertainers from around the globe. 
  • The Illinois Marathon offers races for all skill levels from 5K to a full 26.2-mile race. This scenic course takes you through Champaign-Urbana, and can even help you qualify for the Boston Marathon. 
  • PYGMALION Festival brings hundreds of musicians, innovators, artists, comedians, and anyone else with someone to share to the local area. 
  • Ebertfest was started by Illinois alum Roger Ebert. It brings together writers, producers, actors, directors, and film buffs to celebrate films that haven’t received the recognition they deserved during their original runs.

Student Organizations

Our graduate students are engaged in several student organizations and activities including the Graduate Student Advisory Council that organizes our graduate research symposium and various events to help knit together our graduate student body.  

Find Your Community


Check out the Alma Cam! 

Wondering what it looks like on our campus right now? Check out live footage of our most beloved statue on campus, Alma Mater.