To identify the Best Colleges in New York for 2019 we averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores from around the web to produce a unique College Consensus rating for each school. You won’t find a more comprehensive ranking of the top colleges and universities in New York anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Columbia University in the City of New York
Union College (NY)
New York University
University of Rochester
St Lawrence University
Hobart William Smith Colleges
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
St Bonaventure University
Sarah Lawrence College
SUNY College at Geneseo
Le Moyne College
Rochester Institute of Technology
Ranking the best colleges and universities in New York is pretty close to a fool’s errand. The fourth most-populous state in the US, and one of the densest, New York has more than 200 schools, from the renowned State University of New York (SUNY) system – quite possibly the world’s foremost public higher education system – to two Ivy League universities, Columbia and Cornell. New York’s small (and not so small) liberal arts colleges are models of the form, in many cases literally, including the first women’s college in the US (Vassar College). The Cooper Union, on the other hand, brought European-style polytechnic education to America, while also establishing itself as one of the nation’s few entirely free colleges.
Of course, New York is a center of American culture, from theater and TV to music and art, and the best colleges in New York have served as the alma mater for some of the best-educated Hollywood stars, the highest-educated comedians, the most educated rappers, and the top college bands. New York’s colleges and universities educate more CEOs, industry leaders, and billionaires than any other state; of course, the higher education system in New York gives us a disproportionate number of political figures as well. While New York’s influence may seem unstoppable, the state’s higher education helps ensure that New York continues to dominate in the next generation.
The Biggest Apples: What Makes the Best Colleges in New York
New York’s higher education excels in the areas where New York dominates. After all, students can get a degree in finance or management anywhere in the nation, but why not from Wall Street? Pioneering business and finance schools stand just blocks from the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, providing students first-hand experience, internship opportunities, and the networking necessary to go into business way ahead of the competition. Whether it’s theater, filmmaking, writing, or art, students in New York may be as little as blocks or no more than a train ride from the epicenter of the field. In fact, in many cases (like NYU’s influence on Greenwich Village), the best colleges in New York have actively pushed culture and art forward, rather than just teaching and hosting it. Law, medicine, and engineering are all critical parts of New York professional life, and some of the finest law, medical, and engineering schools are in New York City, helping to educate a professional class that can keep up with the demands of the City That Never Sleeps.
The Big Apple does not have a monopoly on the best colleges in New York, either. Upstate New York is lousy with top-tier liberal arts colleges (as a New Yorker in a 1930s gangster movie might put it), schools of a caliber that sets them alongside the top colleges in New England – names like Skidmore, Union, and Bard. These are the kinds of schools that define elite, attracting some of the most promising young people in the world with the combination of low student:faculty ratios, high-level mentorship, and connections to virtually every field. Outside of NYC, students can also find some of the top STEM research universities in the world – Rochester Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic, and more. The state of New York has especially made a reputation on some of the greatest regional colleges and universities in the nation – schools that, in many other states, would blow the competition away. That’s what New York does best.
Where Do the Best Colleges in New York Go From Here?
From the beautiful countryside and forests of upstate, to the Adirondacks and Catskills in the southern and western regions, to the mega-metropolis of New York City, the best colleges and universities in New York show the rest of the world how higher education is done. While other states work to bring their higher education system in line with modern changes in the workforce and economy, New York is driving those modern changes. So what can the schools of the Empire State do? Keep excelling, that’s what, with exemplary schools. That may mean building some of the best college dorms in America, That may mean taking an active role in protecting the environment, as in some of the best river and lake colleges. New York has the power to transform higher education for minority students, or to eliminate student loans. Whatever New York’s best colleges decide to do, the rest of the country will follow them there.