Best universities in New York

Explore the top universities in New York using data from the Wall Street Journal / Times Higher Education US College Rankings 2017

November 3 2016
What is the best university in New York?


New York, New York, the city that never sleeps! What better place to spend your student years? Four years won’t be nearly enough time to exhaust all there is to see and do in New York City but if you’re up to the challenge, it’s definitely worth a try.

Just exploring the city’s museums is an education in itself, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim. Each of the city’s neighbourhoods has its own individual character and you’re bound to find your favourite spot. You might get a taste for the hipster lifestyle in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, or become a regular urban rambler on the well-trodden path of New York’s High Line, in the contemporary art district of Chelsea.

Resources: top universities worldwide 

- Best universities in the United States
- Best universities in Canada
- Best universities in Europe
- Best universities in the UK
- Best universities in Asia
- Best universities in Australia
- Best universities in South America
Plus: New York features in 2017's Best University Cities

For theatre fans, students in New York will often benefit from reduced ticket prices to the opera, Broadway and off-Broadway performances. Universities slightly outside the city offer the best of both worlds, with the community spirit and rural setting of a campus university with New York City an easy drive or bus journey away. While the State of New York is often overshadowed by the city that shares its name, the Finger Lakes region in particular is one of the most picturesque areas of countryside in New England. 

New York University

Among the top institutions in NYC is New York University, located in the heart of Manhattan. Washington Square Park is the epicentre of NYU activity with many of the university’s halls and academic buildings nearby. Departments are located across the river in downtown Brooklyn.

Resources: top universities in Europe

- Best universities in France
- Best universities in Germany
- Best universities in the Netherlands

Founded by the statesman Albert Gallatin in 1831, NYU was established to serve students from all walks of life. Today, New York University is up among the top universities in the US in terms of academic rankings. It is also one of the largest private universities in the country with more than 40,000 students, and is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.

One of NYU’s annual traditions is the Strawberry Festival, a chance for students to celebrate the end of exams and enjoy a slice of the longest strawberry cheesecake in New York City. 

Columbia University

Located in Upper Manhattan, Columbia University is the fifth oldest university in the country and the oldest in New York State. The university was founded in 1754 as King’s College. Post-revolution, the institution was renamed Columbia College and in 1896 became Columbia University to reflect the collection of colleges that had been brought together, including Barnard College for women in 1891.

Joseph Pulitzer founded Columbia’s prestigious School of Journalism in 1912. In the 1930s, Columbia School of Law produced two Supreme Court Chief Justices, Charles Evans Hughes and Harlan Fiske Stone. The Columbia University campus on Morningside Heights has been home to the university since 1897. The architect Charles Follen McKim was inspired by the classical architecture of ancient Greece. Columbia University Medical Centre has its own 20-acre campus in Washington Heights, two miles further north. 

Here’s why Columbia might be a good choice if you want to be rich

Cornell University

Cornell University, founded in 1865, is an Ivy League university that consistently performs highly in world rankings. Cornell University’s 2,300-acre campus is located in the picturesque Finger Lakes region of New York State.

The campus is vast enough to contain hiking trails for students to explore. Nearby Ithaca has a reputation for being a favourite with foodies. One of the university’s traditions is the annual Dragon Day parade in late March. Architecture students parade a giant dragon across the campus where it is pitted against a phoenix created by students from the rival College of Engineering.

The university has a number of locations in New York City, including Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Science in Upper Manhattan.

University of Rochester

It may not be as well known among international students but the University of Rochester has made pioneering advances across different subjects, including mathematics, social sciences, medicine and music. 

The university has a distinct approach to studies: its own “Rochester Curriculum”. Unlike other university programmes, there are no required subjects and students must take courses in humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. There are a number of competitive fifth-year programmes that allow undergraduates a tuition-free year to study a subject unrelated to their major, or pursue an innovative entrepreneurial project.

The main campus is next to the river that leads to Lake Ontario. The institution provides a smaller, more communal environment than that found in many city universities.

The best universities in New York State, according to the WSJ/THE US College Ranking 2017

University City WSJ/THE rank
Columbia University New York 3
Cornell University Ithaca 9
New York University New York 33
Colgate University Hamilton 54
University of Rochester Rochester 58
Hamilton College Clinton 60
Vassar College Poughkeepsie 75
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy 78
Barnard College New York 80
Union College Schenectady 102
Syracuse University Syracuse 106
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester 128
University at Buffalo Buffalo 130
Stony Brook University Stony Brook 134
Clarkson University Potsdam 136
Skidmore College Saratoga Springs 139
Yeshiva University New York 141
Hobart and William Smith Colleges Geneva 157
St Lawrence University Canton 186
SUNY Binghamton University Vestal 190
Ithaca College Ithaca 194
Molloy College Rockville Centre 194
Fordham University Bronx 197
Siena College Loudonville 197
Manhattan College Riverdale 223
SUNY University at Albany Albany 229
Adelphi University Garden City 256
Pace University-New York New York 269
Pratt Institute Brooklyn 271
Houghton College Houghton 273
Sarah Lawrence College Bronxville 277
CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College New York 290
Nazareth College Rochester 301
CUNY City College of New York New York 305
Bard College Annandale-On-Hudson 311
Hofstra University Hempstead 325
St Joseph's College-New York Brooklyn 347
Hartwick College Oneonta 347
CUNY Hunter College New York 350
CUNY Brooklyn College Brooklyn 360
Le Moyne College Syracuse 375
LIU Post Brookville 379
St John Fisher College Rochester 381
Marist College Poughkeepsie 388
Canisius College Buffalo 398
St John's University-New York Queens 402
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse 405
CUNY Queens College Flushing 414
New York Institute of Technology Old Westbury 420
LIU Brooklyn Brooklyn 423
SUNY New Paltz New Paltz 423
Wagner College Staten Island 439
The New School New York 448
St Bonaventure University Saint Bonaventure 453
Alfred University Alfred 461
College of Mount Saint Vincent Bronx 473
CUNY Lehman College Bronx 501-600
Niagara University Niagara University 501-600
Manhattanville College Purchase 501-600
Roberts Wesleyan College Rochester 501-600
St Francis College Brooklyn Heights 501-600
Iona College New Rochelle 501-600
SUNY Cortland Cortland 501-600
SUNY College at Brockport Brockport 501-600
SUNY Geneseo Geneseo 601-800
The College of Saint Rose Albany 601-800
SUNY Plattsburgh Plattsburgh 601-800
Elmira College Elmira 601-800
Daemen College Amherst 601-800
Concordia College-New York Bronxville 601-800
SUNY Oneonta Oneonta 601-800
SUNY Farmingdale State College Farmingdale 601-800
SUNY Oswego Oswego 601-800
SUNY at Fredonia Fredonia 601-800
SUNY Buffalo State Buffalo 601-800
Cazenovia College Cazenovia 601-800
Keuka College Keuka Park 601-800
SUNY Potsdam Potsdam 601-800
SUNY Maritime College Throggs Neck 601-800
CUNY York College Jamaica 601-800
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York 601-800
Marymount Manhattan College New York >800
St Thomas Aquinas College Sparkill >800
CUNY College of Staten Island Staten Island >800
Mount Saint Mary College Newburgh >800
Dominican College Orangeburg >800
SUNY Purchase College Purchase >800
SUNY College at Old Westbury Old Westbury >800
Nyack College Nyack >800
Hilbert College Hamburg >800
Medaille College Buffalo >800

Editor's note: The information on this page was correct at the time of publication. Since then, Times Higher Education has reissued the US College Rankings. For the most up-to-date 2017 US College Rankings results, always use the overall league table. Click here for more information

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