downtown champaign photos plus student climbing wall

Welcome to C-U, an inspiring community

Our location

We are in East Central Illinois, two hours south of Chicago, two hours west of Indianapolis, and three hours northeast of St. Louis. You can get to Chicago via the Amtrak train and bus companies.

The cities of Champaign and Urbana (total population 130,000) are right next to each other. Each has its own downtown with restaurants and shops. Champaign is the larger of the two and has an enjoyable nightlife scene. In between the two cities is Campustown on Green Street, which caters mostly to students. It has a mix of local and national chain restaurants, bars, shops, and high-rise apartments.

Outside the cities, beautiful Allerton Park, Homer Lake Forest Preserve, and Kickapoo State Park are welcome (and nearby) getaways for students who enjoy hiking or canoeing.


We love it here and we hope you do, too.


Hear from MCB PhD students about what makes the University of Illinois, School of Molecular & Cellular Biology, its four departments, and Champaign-Urbana a great place to spend the next chapter of your life.


Affordable housing

You will find a variety of reasonably priced housing in Urbana and Champaign. The university maintains housing for single and married graduate students, and many private apartments and rental houses are also available near the campus.

Explore university housing  Learn about off-campus community living

Reliable transportation

Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) provides bus service throughout CU; the buses are free for UIUC students. Hop on the Amtrak at Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign and head north to Chicago or points south. Willard Airport is in Savoy, minutes from CU, and charter buses can take you to Chicago's airports.

The Grad College's Guide to Transportation

Campus life

The University of Illinois campus boasts beautiful green spaces like the Quad and historic buildings such as the Illini Union, which is home to a bowling alley and several eateries. On game days, you can tailgate and root for the Fighting Illini football team at Memorial Stadium or cheer on the volleyball team at the always electric Huff Hall. The School of MCB buildings are just east of the Quad, and affiliated interdisciplinary institutes and centers (Beckman InstituteCarl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology) are all within a five-minute walk. Just across the street from MCB is the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, where students can catch orchestra performances, live theatre, or events such as the Ellnora Guitar Festival.

Take a photo tour of campus.


Champaign County: Outside of Ordinary


Urbana's Market at the Square, the Illinois Marathon, Saturday tailgates, Hardy's Reindeer Ranch, Ellnora Guitar Festival. Discover all that Champaign County has to offer.