Best Colleges in New York

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The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. Manhattan. New York City goes by many names. On its own, it would be the 20th largest economy in the world!

But its not just the home of Broadway and Wall Street that makes New York State so great. It also houses sites like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and the American side of Niagara Falls just outside of Buffalo.

A while cities like Albany or Syracuse aren’t as celebrated as New York City, they each offer their own baskets of culture, professional sports, and entertainment.

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Top 10 Best Colleges in New York

Rank School Location
1 Columbia University New York, NY
2 United States Military Academy West Point, NY
3 Cornell University Ithaca, NY
4 Colgate University Hamilton, NY
5 Hamilton College Clinton, NY
6 Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
7 Barnard College New York, NY
8 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY
9 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
10 New York University New York, NY

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New York also offers countless job opportunities. Students there attend some of the most famous and celebrated universities in the country. The purple and white of New York University is a traditional starting place, as those colors represent one of the best private universities in the United States. NYU is joined by other great private institutions such as Cornell University and Columbia University, which are often ranked among the top universities in country and even the world!

Are there Affordable Colleges in New York?

There are also strong public schools for in-state students, such as SUNY Binghamton, which maintains a population of more than 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The State University of New York system also has locations in Buffalo, Albany, and Stony Brook.

New York is also home to the famed United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. Students can pursue a fantastic education, while also committing themselves to serving their country through military service. Other schools in New York also offer ROTC programs for students looking to attend some of the other great schools in the state, while still maintaining the service element.

Best Colleges in New York Badge

What are the Best Colleges in New York?

College Choice considers several factors including institutional excellence, student satisfaction and return on investment to develop rankings. Institutional excellence looks at stats such as graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratios and endowment sizes to judge each school’s ability to follow through on providing an excellent education for each student. Student satisfaction measures how satisfied current and former students felt with the services and programs offered at each school. And finally return on investment looks at the financial benefits students are likely to receive from the school’s education, weighed against the costs of attendance. In the end, we believe these 25 schools represent the best schools that the great state of New York has to offer.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Columbia University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Columbia University is a private research university located in Upper Manhattan, New York. Columbia has the oldest college in the state of New York and is one of only nine colleges founded prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The school has just under 4,000 academic staff members, who serve a population of around 8,000 undergraduate and almost 20,000 postgraduate students.

    Program Features

    Columbia is divided into twenty different schools and colleges, which include Columbia College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Some of the most popular undergraduate majors include:

    Economics Political Science/Government Nursing Computer Science

    Columbia offers a number of global research outposts, in places such as Amman, Jordan and Nairobi, Kenya. There are also a wide range of both Masters and Doctoral degree programs available for postgraduate students.

    Notables

    Columbia University is a member of the Ivy League college system. Columbia is one of the most selective institutions in the country, often ranking in the top-5 lowest acceptance rates in the country. Columbia was the first school in the United States to grant a medical (M.D.) degree, and is the institution in charge of annually awarding the famed Pulitzer Prize.

  2. United States Military Academy
    Location

    West Point, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The United States Military Academy, more commonly known as West Point, is a four year federal service academy located in West Point, NY. West Point was founded at the direction of President Thomas Jefferson during his 2ndinaugural address in 1801. Students are referred to as cadets and agree to follow the Cadet Honor Code: a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.

    Program Features

    West Point enforces a broad ranging academic curriculum, which also emphasizes cadets military leadership performance. Students take classes in a number of scientific fields, including:

    Mechanical Engineering Systems Engineering Economics Military Science

    Upon graduation students receive a Bachelors of Science degree. All students are also required to participate in athletic activities during their time at the school.

    Notables

    West Point allows for foreign students to attend the university, and upon graduation these officers are commissioned in the armies of their home countries. Domestic graduates are generally given the rank of second lieutenant, and end up joining the United States Army. West Point is known for its unique culture, including its own lexicon used among students and instructors.

  3. Cornell University
    Location

    Ithaca, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Cornell University is a private research university located in Ithaca, New York. Cornell has more than 23,000 students, over 14,000 of which are undergraduate students. The school is co-educational and non-sectarian, and celebrates a diverse student body from all 50 states and more than 120 countries.

    Program Features

    Cornell is divided into seven undergraduate and seven graduate divisions. Each division has almost a complete say over the process and standards for admission into their programs. Popular undergraduate majors include:

    Biology Economics Computer Science Mechanical Engineering

    Cornell maintains postgraduate programs in law, medicine, business, veterinary medicine, and a number of other subjects. There are also dual degree programs available for students interested in multiple fields.

    Notables

    Cornell is one of three private land grant universities in the United States, and operates a number of undergraduate colleges as contract colleges. These contract colleges are state-supported through the State University of New York system. The Veterinary College is also a contract college.

  4. Colgate University
    Location

    Hamilton, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Colgate University is a private liberal arts college located in Hamilton Village, New York. Colgate has a little under 300 academic staff members and around 3,000 undergraduate students. Though the school maintains a small student body in a rural area, the colleges endowment in nearly $1 billion.

    Program Features

    Colgate offers 55 separate undergraduate fields of study, which cumulate in a Bachelor of Arts degree. Popular majors include:

    Economics Political Science English International Relations

    The school also has 22 semester long off-campus study groups, including international options in Australia and Japan. Students can also study in Washington D.C. or at the National Institutes of Health.

    Colgate also has a small Master of Arts in Teaching program, which graduates anywhere between 3 and 7 students per year.

    Notables

    Colgate is NCAA Division I school, playing in the Patriot League conference under the nickname of The Raiders. Colgate uses a wood boiler to heat its campus, which produces no carbon emissions. Initiatives like this helped the school to receive a perfect sustainability score from the Princeton Review, as well as to be one of only 24 schools to make their Green Honor Roll.

  5. Hamilton College
    Location

    Clinton, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Hamilton College is a private liberal arts college located in Clinton, New York. Hamilton became coeducational in 1978, after merging with its sister school Kirkland College. The student body of around 1,800 students is now evenly split between men and women.

    Program Features

    Hamilton is solely an undergraduate institution, offering 56 areas of study, including 43 individual major options. Students are also welcome to design their own interdisciplinary concentration, though most students choose to pursue:

    Economics Mathematics Psychology Political Science

    Hamilton graduates receive a Bachelor of Arts degree. The college also offers dual degree programs with the Columbia School of Engineering and Dartmouths Thayer School of Engineering.

    Notables

    The school was named after Alexander Hamilton, who was one of the trustees of the schools founding charter. Hamilton is a member of several liberal arts college organizations, such as the Oberlin Group and the Annapolis Group. The schools athletic teams are nicknamed The Continentals.

  6. Vassar College
    Location

    Poughkeepsie, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Vassar College is a private liberal arts college located in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York. Vassar was the first degree-granting institution of higher education for women in the United States. In 1969, Vassar became coeducational, and now serves a population of around 2,500 undergraduates.

    Program Features

    Vassar offers Bachelor of Arts programs for around 50 undergraduate majors. Vassar also has the Independent Major, where a student can design their own course of study. Most student choose to pursue:

    Biology English Political Science Economics

    Vassar does not offer graduate programs. All classes are taught by full faculty members, with no teaching assistants or graduate students.

    Notables

    Each major has its own graduation requirements, but all students must show proficiency in a foreign language before graduating. Students must also complete a freshman writing course and at least one quantitative course.

  7. Barnard College
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Barnard is a private womens liberal arts college located in New York City, New York. Barnard was founded in response to Columbia Universitysrefusal to admit female students, and is considered one of the oldest womens colleges in the world. Columbia and Barnard have shared an official affiliation since 1900.

    Program Features

    Barnard confers a Bachelor of Arts degree on graduates, for study in approximately 50 different areas. The most popular courses of study at Barnard are:

    English Psychology Political Science Economics

    Barnard students graduate with a degree from Columbia University, as a part of the schools official affiliation. The schools share classes, clubs, academic buildings, and a number of other resources.

    Notables

    Barnard is a member of the Seven Sisters organization, which is an association of seven prominent womens liberal arts colleges. Students may fulfill part of their Barnard study requirements at other schools, including the Julliard School and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

  8. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Location

    Troy, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Renesselaer Polytechnic Institute is a private research university located in Troy, New York. RPI also maintains campuses in Hartford and Groton, Connecticut. The schools founders sought to make a university for the application of science to the common purpose of life.

    Program Features

    Renesselaer is divided into five schools: Architecture, Humanities, Engineering, Arts, and Social Sciences. The scientific origins of the school make it no surprise that its most popular majors revolve around the S.T.E.M. fields. The most popular academic programs at RPI are:

    Mechanical Engineering Computer Science Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering Chemical Engineering

    Overall the school has more than 145 degree programs, which include study at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels.

    Notables

    RPI often describes itself as the oldest technological university in the English-speaking world. The school has been ranked among in the top-ten for the median salaries of its recently graduate alumni. In 2004, Forbes ranked RPI as the most connected campus in the country in terms of Wi-Fi.

  9. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Rochester is a private, nonsectarian research university located in Rochester, New York. Rochester has around 10,000 total students, split almost evenly between undergraduate and graduate students. There are around 1,200 academic staff members and the schools endowment is nearly $2.5 billion.

    Program Features

    Rochester offers more than 200 academic majors through their bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs. Many students at Rochester choose to study:

    Nursing Biology Economics Music

    Rochester is home to the Easton School of Music, which is often noted for high rankings and the academic contributions of its faculty.

    Notables

    Rochester offers multiple opportunities for students to extend their studies into a fifth year. The Take Five Scholars program and the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) Scholarship allow students to pursue areas unrelated to an academic major, or to pursue an entrepreneurial idea that would impact the local area.

  10. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    New York University is a private research university located in New York City, New York. The main campus is located in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, with other campuses throughout other portions of the city. NYU has around 50,000 students, who are equally split between undergraduate and postgraduate study.

    Program Features

    NYU has more than 10 schools and college, as well as a number of international locations in areas such as Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. NYU students typically choose to pursue:

    Business Economics Psychology Cinematography

    NYU also offers postgraduate studies in law, nursing, public service, medicine, and a number of other programs. Students may pursue bachelors, masters, or doctoral degrees.

    Notables

    NYU counts 37 Nobel Laureates and more than 30 Pulitzer Prize winners amongst its alumni base. The school is one of the best fundraising institutions in the country, and has an endowment of more than $3 billion. They also offer international houses including the Maison Francaise and the Ireland House.

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