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 2019

December 3 2018
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.

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. 

Choosing a university in New York can be a daunting task, so we've collected the best universities in the state based on the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings 2019 to help you decide. 


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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. 

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.

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.

Founded by the statesman Albert Gallatin in 1831, NYU was established to serve students from all walks of life. Today, New York University is 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. 

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.


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The best universities in New York State

New York Rank 2019 WSJ/THE US College Rank 2019 University Town
1 4 Columbia University New York
2 11 Cornell University Ithaca
3 27 New York University New York
4 =51 University of Rochester Rochester
5 =53 Colgate University Hamilton
6 58 United States Military Academy West  Point
7 59 Barnard College New York
8 =67 Hamilton College Clinton
9 72 Vassar College Poughkeepsie
10 =83 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy
11 93 Union College Schenectady
12 =112 Syracuse University Syracuse
=13 =120 University at Buffalo Buffalo
=13 =120 Skidmore College Saratoga Springs
15 =132 Hobart and William Smith Colleges Geneva
16 =135 Stony Brook University Stony Brook
17 =142 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester
18 =148 Yeshiva University New York
19 173 St Lawrence University Canton
20 =174 Binghamton University, State University of New York Vestal
21 =178 Clarkson University Potsdam
22 =203 Fordham University Bronx
23 209 Molloy College Rockville Centre
24 =217 Pratt Institute Brooklyn
25 =231 Hofstra University Hempstead
26 =240 Ithaca College Ithaca
27 =245 Sarah Lawrence College Bronxville
28 =248 Siena College Loudonville
=29 =251 Adelphi University Garden City
=29 =251 Manhattan College Riverdale
31 =266 Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Albany
32 =268 State University of New York Albany Albany
33 =287 CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College New York
34 290 Houghton College Houghton
=35 =293 Bard College Annandale-On-Hudson
=35 =293 CUNY City College of New York New York
37 =316 Pace University-New York New York
=38 =320 CUNY Hunter College New York
=38 =320 St John Fisher College Rochester
40 =334 SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse
=41 =339 Canisius College Buffalo
=41 =339 The New School New York
43 =347 CUNY Queens College Queens
=44 =380 Hartwick College Oneonta
=44 =380 Wagner College Staten Island
46 =390 Nazareth College Rochester
47 =396 New York Institute of Technology Old Westbury
48 =398 Marist College Poughkeepsie
49 =406 St John's University-New York Queens
50 =418 SUNY New Paltz New Paltz
51 =431 Le Moyne College Syracuse
52 =443 CUNY Brooklyn College Brooklyn
53 471 St Joseph's College-New York Brooklyn
=54 =484 Iona College New Rochelle
=54 =484 SUNY Cortland Cortland
55 =492 St Bonaventure University Saint Bonaventure
56 =498 Elmira College Elmira
=57 501-600 Alfred University Alfred
=57 501-600 CUNY Lehman College Bronx
=57 501-600 Daemen College Amherst
=57 501-600 LIU Post Brookville
=57 501-600 College of Mount Saint Vincent Bronx
=57 501-600 Roberts Wesleyan College Rochester
=57 501-600 SUNY College at Brockport Brockport
=57 501-600 SUNY Geneseo Geneseo
=57 501-600 SUNY Oneonta Oneonta
=57 501-600 SUNY Oswego Oswego
=57 501-600 SUNY Plattsburgh Plattsburgh
=57 501-600 The College of Saint Rose Albany
=69 601-800 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York
=69 601-800 CUNY College of Staten Island Staten Island
=69 601-800 CUNY York College Jamaica
=69 601-800 D'Youville College Buffalo
=69 601-800 LIU Brooklyn Brooklyn
=69 601-800 Manhattanville College Purchase
=69 601-800 Marymount Manhattan College New York
=69 601-800 Niagara University Buffalo
=69 601-800 SUNY Buffalo State Buffalo
=69 601-800 SUNY Farmingdale State College Farmingdale
=69 601-800 SUNY at Fredonia Fredonia
=69 601-800 SUNY Maritime College Throggs Neck
=69 601-800 SUNY College at Old Westbury Old Westbury
=69 601-800 SUNY Potsdam Potsdam
=83 > 800 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry
=83 > 800 SUNY Purchase College Purchase
=83 > 800 Touro College New York

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