Colleges in Upstate New York: Full List of 50+ Schools
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New York City may get more attention, but upstate New York holds its own when it comes to earning a higher education.
The region is home to many top-ranked schools, including Ivy League institution Cornell, major members of the SUNY system, and prestigious liberal arts colleges like Colgate and Vassar.
If you're researching colleges in New York, the upstate area is well worth exploring. Our guide to colleges in upstate New York offers information on top schools, cost of living, and answers to common questions.
3 Popular Colleges in Upstate New York
Here are three popular colleges in upstate New York to check out. We chose these based on factors like number of applicants, academic rigor, and overall prestige.
- Avg. Annual Net Price: $26,060
- Acceptance Rate: 7%
- Total Student Enrollment: 25,528
A member of the Ivy League, Cornell ranks highly among upstate New York colleges in selectivity and prestige. Located in Ithaca, the school is consistently recognized as one of the best in the country, boasting 50 Nobel laureates among its faculty and alumni.
- Avg. Annual Net Price: $39,127
- Acceptance Rate: 65%
- Total Student Enrollment: 6,774
Based in Troy, Rensselaer ranks among the top technological colleges in upstate New York. The school focuses on research and education in biotechnology, computational science, and nanotechnology.
Rensselaer also offers online courses, certificates, and graduate degrees in subjects like business and mechanical engineering.
- Avg. Annual Net Price: $27,074
- Acceptance Rate: 12%
- Total Student Enrollment: 3,176
A small private school based in Hamilton, Colgate ranks among the most selective liberal arts colleges in upstate New York. Serving just over 3,000 students, Colgate maintains a 9-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring you'll receive close attention from professors.
The school offers 56 undergraduate majors in areas such as history, biochemistry, and women's studies.
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List of All Colleges in Upstate New York
We've created a list of all four-year nonprofit universities in upstate New York. You can use the table below to compare data on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants.
While the precise region of upstate New York is not clearly defined, here we've included a complete list that covers the region north and northwest of New York City — including the Hudson Valley.
The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Note that schools with fewer than 500 undergraduates were not included in this list.
|School||Total Student Enrollment||Avg. Annual Net Price||Acceptance Rate||Number of Applicants|
|Culinary Institute of America||3,124||$33,499||95%||1,887|
|Dominican University New York||1,407||$23,747||89%||1,614|
|Empire State University||9,407||$9,704||100%||N/A|
|Hobart and William Smith Colleges||1,607||$24,259||68%||5,082|
|Le Moyne College||3,301||$23,309||78%||7,066|
|Mount Saint Mary College||1,918||$23,439||88%||2,604|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||6,774||$39,127||65%||16,863|
|Roberts Wesleyan University||1,573||$24,341||100%||1,006|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||16,790||$39,600||67%||23,976|
|Russell Sage College||2,266||$22,456||74%||1,737|
|Sarah Lawrence College||1,696||$42,781||50%||5,186|
|St. Bonaventure University||2,602||$26,004||81%||3,774|
|St. John Fisher University||3,621||$28,312||73%||4,200|
|St. Lawrence University||2,279||$33,283||63%||5,172|
|St. Thomas Aquinas College||2,033||$21,745||89%||1,861|
|SUNY at Albany||17,075||$17,714||68%||25,976|
|SUNY at Fredonia||3,491||$15,795||85%||4,597|
|SUNY at Purchase College||3,182||$19,434||75%||5,747|
|SUNY Buffalo State University||7,173||$13,812||86%||12,292|
|SUNY College at Geneseo||4,184||$19,557||75%||9,069|
|SUNY College at Plattsburgh||4,738||$17,625||70%||6,872|
|SUNY College at Potsdam||2,607||$15,310||83%||3,170|
|SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry||2,012||$20,928||70%||2,466|
|SUNY College of Technology at Canton||2,836||$14,049||95%||2,280|
|SUNY College of Technology at Delhi||2,612||$16,592||83%||3,621|
|SUNY New Paltz||6,964||$19,592||58%||13,228|
|SUNY Polytechnic Institute||2,850||$13,799||82%||2,919|
|The College of Saint Rose||3,307||$23,294||78%||2,456|
|United States Military Academy||4,393||N/A||12%||12,559|
|University at Buffalo||32,332||$18,524||68%||30,939|
|University of Rochester||12,039||$39,775||39%||19,966|
Cost of Living in Upstate New York vs. New York City
If you're considering college in New York, cost of living can be a deciding factor.
In general, living in a smaller town upstate is exponentially less expensive than living in New York City. In fact, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research, New York City has the highest cost of living of any city in the United States.
And you won't just save on housing living upstate. Other expenses like transportation, food, and entertainment are also significantly cheaper. Only healthcare expenses remain roughly the same, with just a 2% increase recorded between Albany and Manhattan.
Why Study in Upstate New York?
- Great Schools: Upstate New York is home to top-ranked schools such as Cornell, Colgate, and Vassar.
- Low Cost of Living: Most college towns in Upstate New York are far more affordable than New York City.
- Lower Tuition: Public schools like SUNY at Albany offer lower tuition rates than New York private schools.
- Small Town Experience: Smaller cities like Rochester, Syracuse, and Ithaca offer a more relaxed pace of life.
- Access to NYC: At many colleges, you'll be only 2-3 hours from New York City by bus or train.
Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Upstate New York
What Ivy League colleges are in upstate New York?
The only Ivy League college in upstate New York is Cornell University, based in Ithaca. Founded in 1865, Cornell is home to around 26,000 students and accepts just 7% of applicants each year.
How many colleges are in upstate New York?
Based on the region north and northwest of NYC, there are over 60 four-year nonprofit colleges and universities in upstate New York. This includes major public colleges like the University at Buffalo, midsized schools like Syracuse University, and small liberal arts schools like Skidmore College.
What colleges in upstate New York are online?
Many upstate NY colleges provide online learning options. The SUNY system offers more than 750 online programs available at all levels of study, including undergraduate, graduate, and certificates. Other top universities in upstate New York, including Cornell and Syracuse, offer 100% online programs as well.