Best Colleges in New York

We ranked the best colleges in New York. Read about different schools and find a program that can help launch your career.

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by Whitney Sandoval

Published on May 17, 2022 · Updated on May 26, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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New York, also known as the Empire State, is well known for New York City. While the "City that Never Sleeps" is home to many Fortune 500 companies, illustrious performing arts centers, and the stock market, New York is more than "the Big Apple." Upstate New York offers outdoor adventures in the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls.

Because of these opportunities and its diverse landscape, New York is an exciting state to live in while you pursue a college degree. There are hundreds of colleges in New York to choose from, including many top schools. New York residents have access to several scholarship opportunities, some of which cover the full cost of tuition.

Studying in New York allows students the opportunity to intern and make connections at prestigious companies and to immerse themselves in a diverse cultural experience. Popular majors in New York include business management, finances, and visual and performing arts.

Top Degree Programs in New York

Best Online Computer Programming Programs Best Online Journalism Programs Best Online Media Communications Programs Best Online Communications Programs Best Online Business Management Programs Best Online Political Science Programs Best Online Public Relations Programs Best Online Social Science Programs

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

New York Employment Outlook

New York's employment outlook is positive. The unemployment rate has been steadily decreasing since October 2021, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The March 2022 New York unemployment rate is projected at 4.6%, which is down 1.1% from October 2021. According to Payscale data from May 2022, the average annual salary in New York is $82,000.

Several jobs in various industries are in high demand in New York. From careers in public service and healthcare to trade jobs and service industry jobs, many career fields across the state are experiencing high demand.

5 In-Demand New York Jobs

High School Teacher

High school teachers provide instruction for students in secondary school in one or more subject areas such as science, English, or a foreign language. Teachers plan and design educational units, as well as create and administer assessments. Using data to inform their instruction, teachers differentiate content to meet each student's needs.

Median Annual Salary, May 2021: $61,820
Job Outlook 2020-30: 8% projected growth

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers plan and construct public and private projects. They also design and maintain infrastructure while keeping projects within regulation requirements. Civil engineers may specialize in specific parts of the planning and building process or oversee and manage projects. Civil engineers may need to present findings to various groups.

Median Annual Salary, May 2021: $88,050
Job Outlook 2020-30: 8% projected growth

Registered Nurse

Often working as the bridge between patients and their doctors, registered nurses assess patients and listen to their concerns. Nurses work to educate patients and the community on health and can provide advice for patients. Nurses can specialize in specific areas like neonatal care, rehabilitation, or public health.

Median Annual Salary, May 2021: $77,600
Job Outlook 2020-30: 9% projected growth

Market Research Analyst

By analyzing market conditions, market research analysts help businesses monitor what services and products consumers want. Market research analysts study the information and compile data to help companies make important decisions around their products and services while maximizing their company profits.

Median Annual Salary, May 2021: $63,920
Job Outlook 2020-30: 22% projected growth

Human Resources Specialist

Assisting with the hiring and retention of staff, human resources specialists help facilitate training for new and existing staff members. Human resources specialists onboard new employees, explaining employee benefits. They also help resolve conflict and advocate for employees to management when needed.

Median Annual Salary, May 2021: $62,290

Popular Career Paths in New York

Political Science Marketing Healthcare Administration Public Policy Accounting Business Administration Criminal Justice Liberal Arts

Best Accredited Colleges in New York

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

#1 Online College in New York

Columbia University in the City of New York

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 5%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $1,948
Undergrad, out of state | $1,948
Graduate, in state | $2,318
Graduate, out of state | $2,272-$2,670

Founded in 1754, Columbia University maintains a storied history and caters to students across the educational spectrum. Known as a renowned research and teaching institution, standout degrees include biophysics, environmental chemistry, jazz studies, and public health. The school maintains a highly selective enrollment, but takes a holistic approach and does not set minimum GPA or standardized test score requirements.

Students who decide to study online can take advantage of Student Services Online, which offers access to online library resources, tutoring, and various support centers for academic, emotional, and professional help.

#2 Online College in New York

Cornell University

School Information
Location Ithaca, New York
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Year
Undergrad, in state | $41,958
Undergrad, out of state | $62,456
Graduate, in state | $20,800-$62,456
Graduate, out of state | $20,800-$62,456

Cornell University maintains five campuses throughout the state, including its flagship location in Ithaca. The university uses the Common Application and requires students to provide a writing supplement, school report, counselor recommendation, teacher evaluations, and a midyear report alongside official transcripts.

The university provides several support services for online students, including open admissions for classes taught through continuing education and summer sessions. As of 2022, the university offers 80 majors, including Africana studies, engineering physics, and global development.

#3 Online College in New York

New York University

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 16%
Graduation Rate 85%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Semester
Undergrad, in state | $26,885
Undergrad, out of state | $26,885

Avg. Cost per Credit
Graduate, in state | $1,999
Graduate, out of state | $1,999

With a student body of more than 50,000 learners, New York University has provided higher education opportunities since 1831. Students can choose from more than 100 majors, including cybersecurity, emerging media, human development research and policy, and neural science. 

Prospective degree-seekers can apply through the Common Application. Admission requirements include high school transcripts and letters of recommendation. NYU is currently standardized test-optional.

#4 Online College in New York

Colgate University

School Information
Location Hamilton, New York
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Year
Undergrad, in state | $61,594
Undergrad, out of state | $61,954

Established in 1819, Colgate University is a private liberal arts institution based in Hamilton, New York. This elite private university has more than 3,000 students and offers 56 diverse majors covering academic topics such as anthropology, Asian studies, and Women's studies. Colgate currently only confers undergraduate degrees.

Prospective Colgate students must submit a completed application and all associated fees. Additionally, Colgate requests two teacher recommendations, one guidance counselor recommendation, and official high school transcripts. ACT/SAT scores are currently optional, but students can include them to supplement required materials.

#5 Online College in New York

Vassar College

School Information
Location Poughkeepsie, New York
Admission Rate 24%
Graduation Rate 91%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Year
Undergrad, in state | $61,940
Undergrad, out of state | $61,940

Vassar College is an elite, private liberal arts college located in New York's Hudson Valley. Vassar is home to about 2,500 students and offers 51 majors for undergraduate degree-seekers. Vassar students gain a strong liberal arts foundation, and popular majors include economics, English, and political science.

Established in 1861 as a women's college, this elite institution is open to all applicants. Vassar is highly selective and considers academic performance, personal attributes, and the strength of admission essays. Prospective students can apply through the Common Application.

#6 Online College in New York

Hamilton College

School Information
Location Clinton, New York
Admission Rate 16%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Year
Undergrad, in state | $62,050
Undergrad, out of state | $62,050

Established in 1793, Hamilton College is a small, elite private institution based in upstate New York. Hamilton only confers bachelor's degrees and has an enrollment of about 2,000 undergraduate degree-seekers. Hamilton offers 44 majors, and students work with advisors to create a unique plan of study mirroring academic and career goals.

Hamilton ranks alongside some of the most competitive and selective schools in the United States. Prospective Hamilton students typically have a strong academic record, and the school also considers extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, and personal essays.

#7 Online College in New York

Skidmore College

School Information
Location Saratoga Springs, New York
Admission Rate 30%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Year
Undergrad, in state | $60,302
Undergrad, out of state | $60,302

Skidmore College is an elite private institution that offers bachelor's degrees to more than 2,500 undergraduate students. Established in 1903, this liberal arts college offers 44 majors, and popular options include economics, English, and environmental studies. Additionally, Skidmore partners with schools like Syracuse University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Clarkson University to offer 4+1 duel-degree programs.

Prospective students can apply through the Common Application and must submit two teacher evaluation reports. Skidmore encourages applicants to complete an admission interview.

#8 Online College in New York

University of Rochester

School Information
Location Rochester, New York
Admission Rate 30%
Graduation Rate 87%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Semester
Undergrad, in state | $29,138
Undergrad, out of state | $29,138

Avg. Cost per Credit
Graduate, in state | $1,640-$2,185
Graduate, out of state | $1,640-$2,185

The University of Rochester (UR) is a private research institution in upstate New York. Established in 1850, this mid-sized university has an enrollment of over 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students. UR offers more than 160 academic majors including engineering, biomedical sciences, and various health-related areas.

Prospective students must submit an online application along with high school transcripts and teacher and counselor recommendations. While not required, the school highly recommends applicants complete an admission interview.

#9 Online College in New York

Union College

School Information
Location Schenectady, New York
Admission Rate 43%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Avg. Cost per Year
Undergrad, in state | $61,308
Undergrad, out of state | $61,308

Founded in 1795, Union College is a private liberal arts institution located in Schenectady, New York. Union College only offers bachelor's degrees, and the school has a full-time enrollment of over 2,000 students. Popular majors pull from academic areas like social sciences, English language and literature, and visual and performing arts.

Union College applicants can apply through the Common Application and must submit high school transcripts, a personal essay, and teacher and counselor recommendations. Union College is currently a standardized test-optional institution.

Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in New York

How many colleges are in New York? true

When you include all public and private colleges, as well as community colleges and trade schools, there are almost 300 schools in New York. The state houses two major university networks, State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY), that encompass schools across the state.

New York has many public and private four-year universities, including New York University and Syracuse University. The state is home to two Ivy League colleges, Columbia University and Cornell University.

How much does it cost to go to college in New York? true

The average cost of tuition for all students in a four-year college in New York for the 2019–2020 academic year was $23,875, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, the cost of studying in New York depends on several factors, including each school's tuition and fees, your living expenses, and your commute.

Those who receive in-state tuition typically pay less in tuition and fees than those who are considered out-of-state. New York also offers scholarship and grant opportunities to New York residents. However, the cost of living is high in many areas of New York. The cost of living in New York City is 129% higher than the national average.

What is the cheapest college in New York? true

In terms of tuition, the cheapest colleges in New York are all part of the CUNY or SUNY networks, with the CUNY colleges being slightly cheaper. For in-state students, the cost of tuition at CUNY is estimated at $6,930, while the tuition costs at SUNY is estimated at $7,070.

Because the cost of living can vary between cities in New York, when determining the cheapest college you should also consider the cost of living in each area. While New York City is well above the national average, several areas like Buffalo are actually lower than the national average.

What qualifies for free college in New York?

Through the Excelsior Scholarship, students who are enrolled full-time in an associate degree or bachelor's degree program at a CUNY or SUNY college are eligible for free tuition. Students must be able to show proof of New York residency for at least 12 consecutive months before their starting term.

Interested students must also earn less than $125,000 in gross adjusted household income and apply for FAFSA and a tuition assistance program. After you graduate, you must live in New York for the same amount of time that you accepted the scholarship money for, otherwise the scholarship converts into a loan.

Is it hard to get into NYU?

Despite the college's increase in applications, NYU remains a very selective school. In fact, in 2020, NYU only accepted 15% of applicants, which was the lowest acceptance rate in the school's history. In 2021, NYU's acceptance rate dropped even further to 12.8%.

The 2020 median SAT score of selected applicants was 1500, and this median score went up to 1540 in 2021. According to its website, NYU seeks a wide variety of students with a mix of talents, interests, and goals.

Image Source: Diane Robinson Photography, Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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