Blackburn College is a four-year coeducational private liberal arts college located in Carlinville, Illinois, United States which is the county seat of Macoupin County, Illinois (a part of the Metro-East region of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area). It was established in 1837 and named for the Rev. Gideon Blackburn. Blackburn is one of only seven federally recognized work colleges in the United States, and it has the only student-managed work program, enabling students to gain leadership experience as they manage other students. All resident students are required to work, but the program is optional for commuter students. Each student that works receives a tuition discount for the hours they work in the work program. It is also the least expensive private college in Illinois.
The work program was first instituted at Blackburn College in 1913 in order to provide access to higher education to individuals with the academic ability, but who were lacking the financial means. While cost reduction remains an important value of the work program today, there is an emphasis on the opportunities it provides for student learning. The work program is intended as a vehicle for personal growth including leadership opportunities and community involvement. Most students work a minimum of 160 hours each semester (10 hours a week) in partnership with faculty and staff to help provide virtually all services essential to college operations. By sharing, belonging, and contributing through their work, students gain an added sense of community and individual responsibility, while also establishing some lifelong friendships. This combination of academic preparation and practical work experience uniquely prepares students for meeting the challenges of life, career, and any post-graduate experience.