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

Will I be able to Find a Job?

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.

  11. Cooper Union
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, more simply known as Cooper Union, is a private college located in Manhattan, New York. The school was originally founded on the idea of open access to education, and offered full scholarships to all students admitted. Present students are guaranteed merit-scholarships representing at least half of their costs, with a sliding scale up to full scholarships.

    Program Features

    Cooper Union is divided into three schools: Architecture, Art, and Engineering. These schools most commonly see students pursue study in:

    Studio Art Electrical and Electronics Engineering Mechanical Engineering Architecture

    Students can pursue both undergraduate and graduate education in these fields. There are 57 full-time academic staff and just under 1,000 students.

    Notables

    In 2015, a decree was made in the New York Supreme Court requiring the school to establish a plan for returning to their tuition free model. The goal being that by March 2018 the school should have a plan to make educational attainment at the school tuition-free for all students yet again.

  12. SUNY Binghamton
    Location

    Binghamton, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    State University of New York at Binghamton, also known as Binghamton University, is a public research university with its main campus in Vestal, New York. The school also has separate campuses in Binghamton and Johnson City, New York. Binghamton originally started as a small liberal arts college, but has since grown to a doctoral-granting institution.

    Program Features

    Binghamton currently has eight colleges and schools, including Arts and Sciences and Nursing. The schools most popular majors include:

    Economics Psychology Accounting Biology

    Binghamton also offers graduate school studies in areas such as pharmacy, education, and management. There is also a separate Graduate College, which offers more than 70 areas of study, for masters and doctoral students.

    Notables

    There are more than 600 academic staff members at the school, who work to support a student body of over 13,000 undergraduate and 3,6000 postgraduate students. The schools athletic programs compete at the Division I level of NCAA athletics, under the team name of The Bearcats.

  13. Union College
    Location

    Schenectady, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Union College is a private liberal arts college located in Schenectady, New York. The school was originally an all-male educational institution, but began integrating women into its student body in 1970. There are now just over 220 academic staff members and 2,000 students attending the school.

    Program Features

    Union is comprised of 21 academic departments, offering studies across a wide range of liberal arts disciplines. Most students at Union College tend to choose areas of study including:

    Economics Mechanical Engineering Psychology Political Science

    More than half of students engage in some sort of study abroad program during their time at the school. There are also mini-terms offered during winter break or at the beginning of summer vacation.

    Notables

    The school is sometimes referred to as the Mother of Fraternities, given that many prominent fraternal organizations were founded at Union. The college offers themed-apartment style housing for students who wish to live together in one of Unions apartment-style houses.

  14. Marist College
    Location

    Poughkeepsie, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Marist College is a private liberal arts college located in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York. Marist also has a branch in Florence, Italy, which supports one of its many study abroad programs. The college was founded by Catholics educators looking to prepare brothers for careers in education. The school maintains an affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church.

    Program Features

    Marist currently offers 56 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as 21 certificate programs. The schools most popular academic programs are:

    Communications Business Psychology Fashion

    Marist offers 12 Masters degree programs for postgraduate students, which are divided between the schools six undergraduate colleges and the school of Global and Professional Programs.

    Notables

    Students are not required to have an affiliation with the Catholic Church to attend the school, though the Campus Ministry is the largest campus organization. Maris is partnered with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, which is found in Hyde Park.

  15. Skidmore College
    Location

    Saratoga Springs, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Skidmore College is a private liberal arts college located in Saratoga Springs, New York. The college has around 211 academic staff members, who serve a student body of around 2,600 undergraduate students. There is also a small population of around 15 postgraduate students.

    Program Features

    Skidmore offers around 60 areas of study, which can lead to either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. The most common majors for students at Skidmore are:

    Business Psychology Economics English

    Despite their small postgraduate population, Skidmore does not offer any postgraduate degrees.

    Notables

    Skidmores campus includes cultural elements such as the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and the Arthur Zankel Music Center. The college was originally founded as a vocational school for professionally training young women, before evolving into a full liberal arts college.

  16. SUNY Stony Brook
    Location

    Stony Brook, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The State University of New York at Stony Brook, also known as Stony Brook University, is a public research university located in Stony Brook, New York. The school was originally founded as the State University College on Long Island. SUNY Stony Brook is one of only five universities in New York that is a part of the Association of American Universities, and the only public one other than SUNY Buffalo.

    Program Features

    Stony Brook has thirteen different schools and colleges, which support both graduate and undergraduate study. At the undergraduate level, the most popular majors are:

    Health Services Studies Psychology Biology Business

    Stony Brook offers graduate study in professional areas such as dentistry and medicine. They also offer a number of other more general graduate programs through their separate Graduate School.

    Notables

    Stony Brook is the largest single-site employer on Long Island, with almost 15,000 employees and over 2,000 academic staff members. There are also more than 25,000 students who attend one of the universities three campuses (West, East, Southampton).

  17. Clarkson University
    Location

    Potsdam, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Clarkson University is a private research university located in Potsdam, New York. The school also has graduate and research facilities in the Albany region and Beacon, New York. The school is attended by around 4,300 students and has an academic staff of around 300.

    Program Features

    Clarkson offers programs for undergraduate, graduate, and early college students. There are more than 50 majors and minors, which students can pursue. Many students at Clarkson decide on:

    Mechanical Engineering Civil Engineering Industrial and Engineering Management Chemical Engineering

    Clarkson has a number of student exchange programs with schools in Europe and Australia, such as the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

    Notables

    The Co-Founders of band Blue Oyster Cult attended Clarkson together. Clarkson has highly successful mens and womens collegiate hockey teams, both of which compete at the Division I level.

  18. Fordham University
    Location

    Bronx, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Fordham is a private research university located in New York City. The school was founded by the Catholic Diocese of New York in 1841, and maintains its official affiliation with the Jesuit Catholic Church. It is the only Jesuit University in New York City.

    Program Features

    Fordham offers degrees in over 60 disciplines and areas of study, with some of the most popular majors including:

    Communications Business Psychology Finance

    There are multiple ROTC programs offered through Fordham and partnered schools such as the SUNY Maritime College. Its military science program claims notable alumni such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Notables

    Fordham has a highly successful collegiate baseball team, which holds the record for the most NCAA Division I baseball victories in history. Fordham offers a full-tuition scholarship and other benefits for post-9/11 veterans of the U.S. Military.

  19. Manhattan College
    Location

    Riverdale, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Manhattan College is a private liberal arts college located in The Bronx, New York. The school was founded by the Lasallian branch of the Roman Catholic Church, and maintains an affiliation with the church through the present day. Manhattan was also originally an male-only college, but became coeducational in 1973.

    Program Features

    Manhattan has five schools that offer undergraduate degrees: Arts, Business, Education, Health, and Engineering and Science. These schools host over 60 academic programs, of which the most popular are:

    Civil Engineering Communications Finance Mechanical Engineering

    There are a number of pre-professional programs such as pre-law and pre-dental. However, the school itself offers graduate study mostly in education, engineering, and business.

    Notables

    Manhattans track team is known for being highly successful. They have won a number of Indoor/Outdoor track championships, and have seen teams break individual and team world records. The school is also credited as the origin place of the Seventh Inning Stretch tradition in major league baseball.

  20. Ithaca College
    Location

    Ithaca, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Ithaca College is a private liberal arts college located in Ithaca, New York. The school is nonsectarian and coeducational. There are around 800 academic staff members and around 7,000 full-time students.

    Program Features

    Ithaca has five schools that together offer more than 100 degree programs. The most popular undergraduate majors are:

    Business Administration Radio, Television, and Digital Communication Public Relations Cinematography

    Ithaca is particularly known for its Roy H. Park School of Communications, which is considered one of the top journalism, film, media, and entertainment schools in the country.

    Notables

    Ithaca has a number of famous and well-known alumni from their media and communications programs, which bolster the reputation of the school. These include the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Robert Iger, andBonesandBuffy the Vampire Slayerstar David Boreanaz.

  21. Baruch College-CUNY
    Location

    New York City, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Bernard M. Baruch College, more commonly known as Baruch College, is a public research university located in Manhattan, New York. Baruch is a part of the City University of New York public school system. They have around 1,200 academic staff members and just over 18,000 total students, most of whom are undergraduates.

    Program Features

    Baruch is comprised of the Zicklin School of Business, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, and the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. Students at Baruch general prefer to pursue:

    Finance Accounting Merchandising and Buying Operations Corporate Communications

    There are also several doctoral programs that Baruch offers through the CUNY Graduate Center. Options include business, finance, information systems, and marketing.

    Notables

    The Baruch College of Business has a corporate-university partnership with JP Morgan Chase. They also have a joint J.D./M.B.A. program with Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School.

  22. SUNY Geneseo
    Location

    Geneseo, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The State University of New York College at Genesco, colloquially known as Geneseo, is a public liberal arts college located in Geneseo, New York. The school was originally founded in 1871 as the Wadsworth Normal and Training School, which focused on educating future teachers. But they have since grown into a full-size liberal arts college, with more than 5,600 students.

    Program Features

    Genesco offers almost 50 majors to undergraduate students.. The most popular programs at the school are:

    Education Business Biology Psychology

    There are also five graduate programs, which are all at the masters level. Most graduate programs involve education, but there is also a Masters in Accounting program.

    Notables

    Genesco receives grants from NASA to support outer-space related research on-campus, which gives it the designation of being a space-grant institution. Almost half of Genesco students participate in study abroad programs during their studies, with popular destinations including Rome and Athens.

  23. Syracuse University
    Location

    Syracuse, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Syracuse University is a private research university located in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse traces its roots back to the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary and the Methodist Episcopal church. Though the school has identified as nonsectarian since 1920, it does still maintain a relationship with The United States Methodist Church.

    Program Features

    Syracuse has nine undergraduate colleges and schools, which together offer more than 200 undergraduate majors. Popular majors include:

    Psychology Information Studies Finance Economics

    Syracuse also offers Masters and doctoral programs through its Graduate school, as well as through specialized programs from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Syracuse also offers 24 Certificate of Advanced Study Programs.

    Notables

    Syracuse is home to the Institute for Veteran and Military families, which is the nations first interdisciplinary academic institute singularly focused on advancing the lives of the nations military veterans and their families. Syracuse also has one of the nations best college basketball programs, including a national championship in 2003.

  24. SUNY Albany
    Location

    Albany, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The State University of New York at Albany, also known as UAlbany, is a public research university located in Albany, New York. The school is divided into three campuses split between Albany, Guilderland, and Rensselaer. The school has around 19,000 students, of whom around 14,000 are undergraduates.

    Program Features

    Albany has nine schools and colleges, which together offer 50 undergraduate majors and 125 graduate degree programs. At the undergraduate level, Albanys most popular majors are:

    Psychology Biology Sociology Economics

    There are a number of graduate degree programs available, both at the Masters and doctoral levels. Schools offering these programs include the schools of business and engineering, among others.

    Notables

    UAlbanys athletic programs compete in the Division I segment of the NCAA, under the nickname The Great Danes. UAlbany has a number of cultural treats, including a contemporary art museum and the New York State Writers Institute.

  25. SUNY at Oswego
    Location

    Oswego, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The State University of New York at Oswego, also known as Oswego State, is a public college located in Oswego, New York. The schools main campus is located lakeside in Oswego, while a secondary campus is located in Syracuse. Oswego was originally founded as the Oswego Primary Teachers Training School, but broadened its scope to a full liberal arts college in 1962.

    Program Feature

    Oswego offers more than 100 academic programs, most of them at the undergraduate level. Many students at Oswego choose to major in:

    Business Psychology Radio, Television, and Digital Communication Criminal Justice and Safety Studies

    Academics programs are divided through the schools of arts and sciences, business, education, and communication. Graduate programs are offered in areas such as business, nursing, and studio art, among others.

    Notables

    SUNY Oswego is the only SUNY campus to offer a degree in Software Engineering. One of its most famous traditions is the Bridge Street Run, which is a pub crawl that takes place during the spring semester on the last Friday before finals week.

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