Colleges in Upstate New York: Full List of 50+ Schools

Considering colleges in upstate New York? Explore the region's top schools with our comprehensive guide.
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Reese Lopez is a writer with over a decade of experience in the education field. After earning his BA in English from Evergreen State College, he worked as an English language instructor and tutor. Reese also writes fiction and performs in the local ...
Updated on November 20, 2023
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Margaret Weinhold is an associate editor for BestColleges, where she focuses on core content. She is passionate about increasing visibility and accessibility around higher education. Margaret holds a BA in English from the University of Virginia....
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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.

1. Cornell University

  • 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.

Cornell also offers online master's degrees and certificates through its eCornell program.

2. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • 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.

3. Colgate University

  • 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.

All Colleges in Upstate New York
School Total Student Enrollment Avg. Annual Net Price Acceptance Rate Number of Applicants
Alfred University 1,813 $26,183 51% 7,091
Bard College 2,591 $25,214 46% 6,482
Binghamton University 18,312 $19,535 42% 41,642
Canisius College 2,630 $19,635 78% 4,131
Cazenovia College 745 $17,238 75% 1,490
Clarkson University 3,953 $32,450 78% 6,594
Colgate University 3,176 $27,074 12% 21,109
Cornell University 25,582 $26,060 7% 69,195
Culinary Institute of America 3,124 $33,499 95% 1,887
D'Youville University 2,619 $21,755 84% 3,115
Daemen University 2,642 $20,273 80% 2,752
Dominican University New York 1,407 $23,747 89% 1,614
Elmira College 657 $24,040 96% 1,456
Empire State University 9,407 $9,704 100% N/A
Excelsior University 17,166 NA 100% N/A
Hamilton College 2,055 $24,503 12% 9,899
Hartwick College 1,103 $22,396 60% 3,553
Hilbert College 877 $16,930 95% 1,354
Hobart and William Smith Colleges 1,607 $24,259 68% 5,082
Houghton University 833 $21,550 77% 974
Iona University 3,621 $28,827 96% 6,228
Ithaca College 5,239 $35,858 75% 12,446
Keuka College 1,250 $28,397 93% 1,734
Le Moyne College 3,301 $23,309 78% 7,066
Manhattanville College 2,240 $24,702 84% 3,338
Marist College 6,396 $39,364 63% 10,966
Medaille University 1,727 $14,992 69% 1,689
Mercy University 8,615 $15,879 86% 7,891
Mount Saint Mary College 1,918 $23,439 88% 2,604
Nazareth College 2,639 $31,620 84% 3,911
Niagara University 3,858 $18,165 90% 3,836
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
Siena College 3,634 $30,842 80% 8,344
Skidmore College 2,686 $33,389 26% 13,183
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 Brockport 6,424 $16,261 68% 7,683
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 Cortland 6,658 $18,304 60% 11,711
SUNY New Paltz 6,964 $19,592 58% 13,228
SUNY Oneonta 5,918 $18,129 73% 9,895
SUNY Oswego 7,058 $17,376 83% 12,555
SUNY Polytechnic Institute 2,850 $13,799 82% 2,919
Syracuse University 21,772 $43,651 52% 41,489
The College of Saint Rose 3,307 $23,294 78% 2,456
Union College 2,096 $41,136 47% 8,458
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
Utica University 4,242 $22,372 81% 3,367
Vassar College 2,516 $30,603 19% 11,412
Source: NCES

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. 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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