What Are the CUNY Schools?

Looking to attend college in NYC? Discover how CUNY schools put a college education within reach and what the application process looks like.
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Updated on November 20, 2023
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The City University of New York (CUNY) comprises 25 colleges spread throughout the five boroughs of New York City (NYC). The largest urban university network in the country, CUNY schools enroll more than 225,000 students and award over 50,000 degrees annually.

While CUNY makes postsecondary education more accessible for students in NYC, picking between the schools can be difficult.

We'll dive into the CUNY system, look at the individual CUNY colleges, and offer tips for choosing a school and applying.

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An Overview of the CUNY School System

The CUNY system began with the founding of the Free Academy in 1847 — the first free public university in the country. More than 175 years and two dozen new campuses later, the CUNY system continues its tradition of putting education within reach of NYC learners.

CUNY students have access to community colleges, four-year programs, graduate degrees, online learning, and on-campus housing. The system's schools and programs emphasize NYC-specific issues and workforce development — leading to over 80% of graduates remaining in the city.

The CUNY schools are a cornerstone of New York higher education, explains Lonnie Woods, a college admissions expert and professor at Columbia University. CUNY prides itself on being inclusive and diverse, says Woods. It serves as a vital force for enhancing social mobility and plays a fundamental role in the heartbeat of New York City.

List of All CUNY Schools
School Location Acceptance Rate Total Enrollment (Fall 2022) In-State Tuition & Fees (2022-23) Out-of-State Tuition & Fees (2022-23)
College of Staten Island CUNY Staten Island 100% 10,248 $7,490 $15,440
CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College New York City 50% 19,854 $7,464 $15,414
CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College New York City 100% 17,444 $5,170 $8,050
CUNY Bronx Community College Bronx 100% 6,715 $5,206 $8,086
CUNY Brooklyn College Brooklyn 55% 14,195 $7,440 $15,390
CUNY City College New York City 67% 14,489 $7,340 $15,290
CUNY Graduate School and University Center New York City 8,733 8,733 $7,410 $15,360
CUNY Hostos Community College Bronx 100% 4,904 $5,208 $8,088
CUNY Hunter College New York City 48% 22,970 $7,382 $15,332
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York City 51% 13,921 $7,470 $15,420
CUNY Kingsborough Community College Brooklyn 100% 15,042 $5,252 $8,132
CUNY LaGuardia Community College Long Island City 100% 13,064 $5,218 $8,098
CUNY Lehman College Bronx 55% 13,015 $7,410 $15,360
CUNY Medgar Evers College Brooklyn 88% 3,640 $7,352 $15,302
CUNY New York City College of Technology Brooklyn 82% 13,087 $7,320 $15,270
CUNY Queens College Queens 69% 17,001 $7,538 $15,488
CUNY Queensborough Community College Bayside 100% 9,573 $5,210 $8,090
CUNY School of Law Long Island City N/A 699 $5,479 $8,989
CUNY Stella and Charles Guttman Community College New York City 100% 842 $5,194 $8,074
CUNY York College Jamaica 59% 6,446 $7,358 $15,308
Source: NCES

How to Choose a CUNY School

CUNY schools vary in size, tuition, competitiveness, and program selection. Finding the right school for you requires research and consideration of your individual interests.

Just like every other college, fit is going to be determined on a case-by-case basis given the factors that matter most to each applicant, such as cost, campus culture, and academic rigor, says Woods.

While you can look through each school's website and speak with an academic advisor over the phone, Woods suggests visiting the campuses of the schools of interest to ensure a good fit before applying.

You can also chat with current CUNY students and alumni to learn more about a school's culture and reputation.

How to Apply to CUNY Schools

The CUNY application process is easy and accommodating. Once you have narrowed down your search to a handful of schools, visit the CUNY application portal to get started. Follow these steps to complete the application.

1. Compile Your Application Materials

All undergraduate CUNY applications must include complete high school transcripts. Other supporting documents may include extracurricular achievements, recommendation letters, and personal statements or essays.

Applications to Baruch College, Hunter College, and Queens College require essays on specific topics.

Through the spring of 2025, submitting your SAT/ACT scores is optional.

2. Fill Out One Application

As a freshman, CUNY's One Application allows you to apply to up to six CUNY colleges at once. You can also select the Macaulay Honors Application for consideration at one of eight CUNY schools with honors programs.

3. Submit Before the Deadline

The majority of CUNY schools have either rolling admission throughout the year or a February 1st deadline for the fall semester and a September 15th deadline for the spring semester.

There are a few CUNY schools that have unique deadlines to pay attention to.

4. Pay an Application Fee

The CUNY application costs $65 for first-year students and $70 for transfer students. Fee waivers may be available for current CUNY students, veterans, and applicants who are either unemployed or using public assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions About CUNY Schools

How many CUNY schools are there?

There are 25 CUNY schools, including at least one in each of the five NYC boroughs. The CUNY system started with the City College New York (formerly the Free Academy) and most recently added the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.

What is the #1 ranked CUNY school?

The top-ranked CUNY school varies by the organization doing the ranking, but Baruch College has a reputation as being one of the best CUNY schools in many ways.

Brooklyn College and the City College of New York also receive top marks from students and employers.

What's the difference between SUNY and CUNY?

There are a few differences between CUNY and the State University of New York (SUNY). One of the most notable is that CUNY schools are located in NYC, while SUNY schools are located throughout the state of New York. SUNY has 64 campuses in total, but none are located in NYC.

What is the biggest school in the CUNY system?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the title for biggest CUNY college belongs to Hunter College, with nearly 23,000 students.

In terms of land size, the College of Staten Island is the largest, with a campus size of over 200 acres.

What is the cheapest CUNY school?

Among CUNY schools, the lowest tuition rates come from the CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). According to the NCES, the BMCC's 2021-22 tuition rates and fees were $5,170 for in-state students and $8,050 for out-of-state students.

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Portrait of Lonnie Woods III

Lonnie Woods III

Lonnie Woods III has over 10 years of professional higher education experience. As a student affairs administrator, professor, and professional development consultant, his work and research examine the career competencies of students pursuing the arts.

Woods has worked at Pratt Institute, Maryland Institute College of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York University, The George Washington University, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. He holds a bachelor of science in fine art photography from Towson University and a master of arts in higher education and student affairs from New York University. Lonnie currently serves as a professor within the arts administration master's program at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Woods is a paid member of the Red Ventures freelance Education Integrity Network.

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